15th of May 2006, Portugal, IFWC European Championships

FW Europeans race report - by Steve Allen (AUS-0)

Day 1 - no wind.
Day 2
No wind for racing but, after it was called off, the wind came in around 7-9 knots and I just went sailing.

Day 3.
The wind came in late again and they waited for it and started some racing in about 7-12 knots .

We were split into two fleets, labelled blue and yellow, which they would remix after some races so that, hopefully, each sailor would compete against every other sailor during the event. This meant there were always two winners, two seconds, two thirds etc in each race. This day the blue fleet started first, then the women, then the yellow fleet, which I was in.

The wind being quite light and shifty, the fleet split almost in half at the start line, each half starting on either starboard or port tack. I went on port tack but the guys starting on starboard had much better wind on that side of the course, so I was around 5th or 6th on the first mark, with Arnon ISR-1, POR-5 and POR-78 in the leading positions. I felt I had very good speed on my new Gaastra sails, even going about 45 degrees deeper on the down wind, and was amazed when I rounded the bootom mark in 1st - it has been a long time since I had this kind of speed over the other guys - only to find the race was cancelled because many in the blue fleet, which Ross GBR-83 was also winning by a mile, had sailed too close to the beach and fallen off the plane in the light wind there. So they reset the course to keep everyone in the windy zone.

The blue group was again started first, with Ross GBR-83 taking an easy win on his 12m Vapor. I think Antoine FRA-192 was 2nd, Wojtek POL-10 3rd, and Hubert POL-25 was 4th. He also had excellent speed on his 11.5m Vapor and was actually ahead of Ross until, not realizing they had shortened the course so much, he overlaid the top mark by far and lost three places.

Then the wind dropped off and our yellow fleet could not race this day.

Day 4
Skippers meeting held at 7am as there was a forecast for wind early in the morning, but it was not enough to race, and so we were on the beach until the late evening wind came in around 6pm.

I went out with my 12m Vapor again but the wind was picking up and becoming quite strong, so I went back for my 11m. Unfortunately, just as I arrived to the start line, my 2005 mast broke just above the boom. I hope to soon have the new 2006 masts, which are reiforced in this area, so this does not happen again. As it looked like the boat was in no hurry to come to my aid, I unclipped my rig and began to swim my board towards the beach when, fortunately, the boat finally came, as it was a lot further to the beach than I thought. I then took my 12m again and just made it back in time for the start. I started on port tack just behind Pawel POL-124 and Jesper DEN, who both had slightly better starts than me. Pawel was the first to tack for the top mark and I thought he had tacked a bit too early, so I went a little further and tacked about the same time as Jesper. I was almost sure Pawel wasn’t going to make the mark, but then there was an extra gust and a wind shift just before the mark, lifting Pawel to round the mark in 1st with Jesper 2nd and me 3rd. Although overpowered on my 12m, I felt I was catching up on the down wind. Then Jesper slipped on the jibe and let me past. Pawel held a good lead was more or less un-catchable. The second downwind was extremely close for myself, Jesper and Arnon. Arnon had tacked a split second earlier than Jesper and myself on the top mark and just sqeezed ahead of us. Knowing I could sail deep down wind on my 12m, I went for depth on the last down wind while Jesper and Arnon went more for speed, and I jibed early for the bottom mark while Jesper and Arnon concetrated on each other. This move gave me a comfortable lead as I made the bottom mark easily and reached to the finish line in 2nd, with Pawel taking the win and Jesper 3rd.

After our start, the blue fleet had race 2, which I think Wojtek won with Hubert 2nd, flying on his 11m Vapor and amazing us all with his best back to back results ever at a European championship, and Ross 3rd. I am not sure which size he was on, but he had the closest finish in the contest, just squeezing out Gonzalo ARG3 on the finish line.

Race 2 for the yellow fleet. I raced back to the beach to rig up a smaller sail as it was quite windy. Jesper was going for his 9.8m, as he felt overpowered even on his 10.7m. I couldn’t find another mast for my 11m, so I went quickly to rig my 10m and rushed back to the start boat where the race director, Bruno, asked me what was with my sail numbers. I then looked up with complete disbelief and confusion as to how I could possibly have rigged up Huberts 10m instead of mine, and sailed out to the start without realizing it! I must have been so tired after trying to swim back to the beach before the last race, and so frantic and rushed that I didn't stop to look. I knew Hubert was racing with his 11m and I had seen Hubert's cousin rigging Huberts sail, which I had assumed was his 10m. So I rushed back to the beach again, grabbing my 12m, as there was no time now to rig my own 10m. Fortunately, there had been a general recall after five or so guys including Arnon, who had just broken his fin, went over early, so I was in time for the next start. Unfortunately, however, my frenzied brain must have been somewhere else this day and I took the wrong start time. The previous day I was sure they had raised the 5min flag at the same time as they dropped the general recall flag to save time and get the races in before dark. So, being nervous and frustrated with what I had done with the sails, I focused and checked the course, thought about my tactics, noted the time but not the flags, and started 1min early! And about 20 other guys, including some of the best sailors, followed me! To make matters worse, it was the black flag, meaning instant disqualification for anyone going over the start line in the last minute. This comedy of errors cost me dearly. With such terrible conditions and just one day left, with a last possible start at 4pm, it looked like there would be insufficient races for any discards.

They restarted this 2nd race for our yellow fleet only a few minutes before the last possible start time of 8pm. With almost half the fleet now disqualified, the door was wide open and Jesper took great advantage of the situation with a nice port tack start, tacking onto a perfect gust on the inside of the course to give him a solid lead, and winning this race comfortably.

Day 5

The last day and remixed fleets with me now in the blue fleet. Skippers' meeting at 6am (30 to 40 min before sun rise) as there was a forecast for stronger off-shore wind early this day. The wind was there this time and they set the course far out to sea, hoping to get the best wind there, and we all sailed out for a start at around 7:30 am. The yellow fleet went first this time followed by the women, then the blue fleet. The start was OK for the yellow fleet but then, just as the women started, the wind shut off. Actually, there was still enough wind closer to the beach where we could still have had a race. So they quickly moved the course a little closer in, but it was too late. The wind shut off completely during the next starting sequence, and we all spent about 1hr 30min struggling to get back to the beach against the current. The chance of enough races for a discard was looking bleak.

After a long wait on the beach until 3:25pm, the wind came in very light, around 7-10 knots, and they sent us out to try get one last race to make the contest valid. Again the yellow fleet started first, with Jesper having a good race until he tacked too early for the top mark and came off the plane, letting two guys past, and so lost his chance to win the contest. Then Wojtek pumped hard on the last down-wind to pass Jesper and get 3rd in this race and 2nd for the contest ahead of Jesper in 4th in this race and 3rd the contest.

My blue fleet started 6 min after the yellow fleet. The start was boat-biased and I had the best start by the boat, with Ross just below me. Ross tacked off to the other side of the course while I kept going another 100m or so before tacking to cover him. My hunch that the outside had better wind was correct, and by the top mark I had greatly increased my lead on Ross, who had also over laid the top mark a little. Ross and I, on our 12m Vapor sails, just left the rest of the fleet far behind and, beyond imagination, caught up to the yellow fleet. By the bottom mark I was already passing many in the yellow fleet. I went a little further on port tack to clear some sailors before tacking to the outside of the course. Ross followed my line, also passing guys in the yellow fleet with more speed and angle. Ross and I had such incredible speed in this wind that I managed to finish an incredible 7th in the yellow fleet, just 3 minutes behind the winner of that fleet that stated 6 minutes before me, and Ross was less than 1min behind me and minutes ahead of the guy in 3rd place in our blue fleet.

This last race gave Ross a very deservable win in the contest, ahead of Wojtek and Jesper. The wind continued to increase after this race, and we could easily have had more races, but it was not to be. With another race, I feel Ross and I could have very easily had 1st and 2nd on Gaastra/Tabou, Deboichet, given the speed we had here.

In every race, I ended up using my 12m Vapor, which was flying in the light wind and still handled incredibly well in the stronger wind. My fins registered were R16, R17 and R18 S +8 rake.

Best Regards,

Join the discussion

Peter Gallagher | 16th May 2006 (15:43:31)

All this about gaining time on the Yellow Fleet is a little confusing. Am I not right in thinking that the Yellow Fleet sailed a different (and longer) course to the Blue Fleet?
Not comparing "like with like", I would suggest?

Anonym | 17th May 2006 (14:06:27)

steve finally you got a normal board:)

bry | 20th May 2006 (16:56:13)

where is devon in the final results?

kj | 20th May 2006 (23:05:19)

23 rd in Open-Men

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