Grand Prix Sailing

La Grande Motte set for Nacra 17 Worlds

 

 

La Grande-Motte – Nacra 17 World Championship © Didier Hillaire

 

From September 4th to 10th, 60 crews representing 25 different nations will battle it out on the Bay of Aigues Mortes challenging for the Nacra 17 World Championships.

This first major world championship event of the new Olympiad will be the first to feature the Olympic multihull in full foiling flying mode and sees the return of Rio’s three Olympic medal winning pairs to compete against each other in this exciting new configuration.

Among the eight teams which could be considered favourites are Argentina’s gold medal winners Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza and France’s Moana Vaireaux and Manon Audinet who will be racing on the French duo’s home training waters.

 

A New Era

Launched in 2012 for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the Nacra 17 – mixed Olympic catamaran – is in the throes of a revolution, the conversion to foils which make it fly. Training and racing time in this new foiling configuration available to the world championship contenders has been very limited so far and so the most are still on a relatively steep learning curve. This will be an important first world level test.

 

Who will succeed Billy Besson and Marie Riou?

France’s famous four times world champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou are taking time out to pursue different challenges and so are not competing this year, but are expected to reunite after Riou’s participation in the Volvo Ocean Race. And so these world championships will seek to find successors.

Among those who may step up and take the title are the hugely experienced gold medal winners Argentina’s Santiago Lange and crew Cecilia Carranza Saroli, silver medalists Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin of Australia and Austria’s Thomas Zajac and Tanja Frank.

Among those who finished in the top 10 in Rio is the British helm Ben Saxton who now sails with Katie Dabson, the New Zealanders Gemma Jones and Jason Saunder, Italy’s Vittorio Bissaro who is with Maelle Frascari or Spaniards Fernando Echavarri and Tara Pacheco.

From France Moana Vaireaux and Manon Audinet are at the top of a strong team of seven different crews lining up under the tricolour of the host nation. Most of them are very familiar with La Grande Motte and the waters there as they have regularly trained here over recent years.

Aside from the established names in the class this championship should see the emergence of many new faces: young sailors and crews from other classes such as the 49er or the foiling Moth. And as yet there are many unknowns about the handling and how to make the foiling Nacra 17 perform best on the different points of sail. So the 2017 World Championship promises to be open as well as exciting.

 

Yacht Club of La Grande Motte at the controls

The Yacht Club of La Grande Motte has organised and hosted dozens of major sailing events. They hosted and ran a very successful and popular 2014 Nacra 17 European Championship. An experienced team of 90 people are mobilized locally to run the championship. And already for more than 15 days there have been a dozen crews training on the world championship waters. And more are arriving every day.

 

The list of entries can be found here.

* Following a training accident on Wednesday, two times International Moth World Champion Bora Gulari will not now compete. US Olympian is reported to be making good progress after his release from the hospital.

 

Programme:

•Monday 4 September – 11h30: Security briefing & 13h55: Training regatta

•Tuesday 5 – Thursday 7 September – 10h55: Qualifying races

•Friday 8 & Saturday 9 September – 10h55: Fleet races

•Sunday 10 September  – 09: 55: Fleet races & 13h55: Medal Race

 

 

Danes & Brits take 9er world titles in Porto

 

 

FX gold for Denmark’s Jena Hansen and Katja Iversen at the 49er Worlds in Portugal – photo © Maria Muina / www.sailingshots.es

 

49er & FX World Championship at Clube de Vela Atlântico – Overall

 

Denmark’s Hansen/Iversen and Britain’s Fletcher/Bithell take their first ever World titles on intense final day in Porto

 

Another day meant another obstacle from mother nature at the 2017 International 49er and FX World Championship, where an unstable land breeze teased the gold medal fleets on Saturday morning for their 10am start. Both the men’s 49er and the women’s FX skiff started races in 6-10 knots of Easterly breeze, only to see the wind shut off completely as they headed to their respected finish lines.

Some of the 140 teams from 27 nations were jumpy with anticipation and all enjoyed the warm summer Portuguese sun as they waited on the water for the forecast Northerly to fill in, and after nearly 2 and a half hours, it filled quickly. 8 knots became 12 became 16 gusting near 20 knots, allowing the men’s 49er fleet to pick up four more races and complete their championship.

The women’s FX fleet sailed two races before heading back to shore, and with the race deadline drifting close, officials sent the top ten teams out to the medal racing course – a tight, intense racetrack putting boat-handling and boat-on-boat tactics at a premium for thousands of beach-goers just meters from the action.

Spectators were treated to a full brawl between these top female athletes, with three teams from three different continents battling for the all-important podium spots and the title of 2017 World Champion. It was Rio 2016 all over again, and when leading Rio Bronze medallists Jena Hansen and Katja Iversen (DEN) capsized with a huge lead during the penultimate race of the event, Rio Gold winners Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze pounced, taking a 2nd place with third place Alex Malone and Molly Meech (NZL, Rio Silver Medallists) took the win.

“We actually let the mainsheet go at the top mark to be sure we wouldn’t have any problems, and a huge gust hit us at that moment and took us over,” said Hansen.

“We got a little annoyed but it was not the end of the world, and we knew in the final race we just needed to be close to the Brazilians to take the win.”

They’d pass Grael and Kunze anyway, and as they hoisted their Danish flag over their heads their boat capsized, the duo popping up quickly on the overturned boat, hugging and laughing. Hansen said her year off from 49er sailing was just what she and Iversen needed to win.

“We rediscovered each other this week, and maybe the key to our week was our relaxed feeling. And now it’s on to the next thing!”

Hansen will travel to Lisbon to meet with her Volvo Ocean crew-mates aboard Vestas 11th Hour Racing next week.

“It was exciting to be battling for the win against the other teams on the podium in Rio,” said Grael, who said she was extremely happy with their result.

“It’s way beyond what we expected because of all the other things we’ve been involved with, and we came to this championship a bit unprepared.” She will also be heading to join a Volvo Ocean Race team in the coming weeks.

Kiwi duo Maloney/Meech couldn’t finish the regatta with the form they began with; despite a blistering performance in the earlier rounds and a lead through the first half of the championship, they were relegated to the bronze position.

The championship wrapped up with an award heavily featuring the volunteers who played a huge part in keeping the championship on track, followed by a party for all the sailors.

 

Gold for Great Britain’s Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell at the 49er Worlds in Portugal – photo © Maria Muina / www.sailingshots.es

 

Reigning European 49er Champions Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell (GBR) had a smoother road than the Danish champs to their first-ever World Championship win, but training partners James Peters and Fynn Sterritt still had a mathematical chance to take them down going into the final race of the championship.

“We knew we were guaranteed a silver going into the last race and the only way James and Finn could beat us was to win it with us getting 4th or worse,” said Fletcher, who stayed on top of Peters to the windward mark.

“We thought we’d done the job and the job was over, but we let them split from us and it was looking bad for a little while with us pretty far back,” he said. As they’ve done in race after race the European champions battled right back, eyes glued to Peters and Sterritt on the other side of the course.

“We were a little nervous but it was a long way for them to get into the lead, and that’s how it ended.”

Peters/Sterritt would complete the front row lockout for the British Sailing Team by taking their first Worlds podium, with Austrian standouts Benjamin Bildstein and David Hussl finishing out the money spots and the 2017 Worlds.

One secret spectator was especially interested in the results: Rio Gold medallist, new America’s Cup champion wing trimmer, Mapfre Volvo Ocean Race crew and 4-time World Champion crew Blair Tuke watched the finals from the water before joining the broadcast team in the studio to discuss the reasons for his trip to Porto.

“We’ve made it no secret that Pete and I love sailing the 49er, we’ll wait until the Volvo is over, see how the Cup shapes up, and we’d love to give the 49er fleet another crack,” said Tuke. When commentators pressed him to commit to his return, he made it clear it was a priority but stopped short of giving a date.

“It’ll be a year before the Volvo is finished, so we’ll have a chat then and figure out if we’re ready for the challenge of the 49er again,” he said.

 

Event website: 49er.org/event/2017-world-championship

 

 

Capsizes shake up FX semifinal leaderboard 

 

Photo © Ricardo Pinto

 

Day 5 – 49er & FX World Championship at Clube de Vela Atlântico, Porto

 

The Portuguese tradewinds were in full howl over Matosinhos, Portugal as Day 5 dawned on the 2017 49er/FX World Championships. With the top 20 qualifiers advancing to the gold fleet semifinal round and the remainder battling for silver, only the teams who could keep their boats upright would avoid falling in the results.

Olympic silver medallists Jena Hansen and Katja Iversen (DEN) have never won a World title, but the only top women’s team to avoid a capsize may be on the verge of their first. The powerful Danish team achieved a mid fleet first race in 12-15 knots, but there was no looking back from that point on as they went on to a 1,2,1 in the final three races.

“Katja and I talked a lot about the techniques and manoeuvrers so we were always on the same page,” Hansen said. She added that they ‘fell down on our butts a few times in the middle of a gybe, but we were always able to save it.”

Hansen and Iversen were still in the boat park hours after racing ended. We’re making some new trapezes to make sure they last for tomorrow,”

Hansen explained to a reporter. “Confidence in our gear is one of the most important things to have in this breeze.” When asked what message she wanted to send to her fans, Hansen pulled no punches. “Tomorrow you’ll see more kicking butt, we’ll be fully switched on as we are every day out there.”

Hansen/Iversen may sit on a significant 5-point lead, but if not for a single capsize from each of the three teams just behind, they might still be in fourth place. The most heartbreaking swim came surprisingly in the slightly lighter air of race 2, when the British Sailing Team’s Charlotte Dobson and Saskia – who’d sailed a perfect race to that point with a huge lead – flipped just meters from the finish. “We had an awkward angle for that final gybe right on top of the gate mark, and with the skewed waves it was a tough manoeuver and we didn’t get it done,” said Dobson.

Dobson/Tidey would currently lead the Championship had they sailed that final 20 meters without a hitch, but Tidey says it’s all part of sailing.

“That’s the game of sailing, isn’t it, and we’ve got another day to go out and give it our all,” she said. “You have those moments and you just have to put them out of your mind and reset, and just go out and give it everything you’ve got again.” Tidey and Dobson did just that: Their 3,4,4 results in the other races have them sitting in fourth place, and while it’s an uphill battle to get to the top of the leaderboard, Tidey says there is no quit in them. “We will go out there and send it around the course as the strongest team on the course, and give it socks!” Tidey said cryptically.

Olympic gold and silver medallists Grael/Kunze and Maloney/Meech each capsized once in the final, ultra-windy race, finishing seconds from each other in 10th and 11th position. They sit in the silver and bronze positions going into the final day of action.

As the FX fleets finished racing for the day, PRO David “CJ” Campbell-James abandoned all racing for the day. “31 knots on the course, massive seas, and no real prospect of any relief until sundown… it’s frustrating, but going out there now would be unsafe so we’ll resume in the morning,” said CJ.

 

 

Photo © Maria Muina / www.sailingshots.es

Men’s 49ers abandoned on penultimate day of worlds

 

Surprisingly for a team with a solid lead for what would be their first-ever World Title, 2017 European Champions Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell were disappointed to have missed more sailing.

“With the way we’ve been sailing in this breeze, we were looking forward to the opportunity to put more good finishes on the board and go have some fun,” said Fletcher as he inspected every inch of their boat.

The team scored three straight bullets to take the lead on Thursday, and with their boat in perfect preparation, they’re feeling good about their chances.

“Yesterday was awesome fun – it’s exactly why we sail the 49er, and a big confidence builder with the upwind and downwind pace we had,” said Fletcher. “We hope the breeze plays ball and we can put on a bit of a show for everybody.”

 

The End Is Nigh

The final day of racing begins at 1000 hrs on Saturday with the men’s 49ers, with the FX fleet following. Weather permitting, the medal races – short, intense races for the top 10 teams in each fleet – will take place in the early afternoon.

 

Event website: 49er.org/event/2017-world-championship

 

 

Big waves and strong northerly at 9er Worlds in Porto

 

photo © Ricardo Pinto

 

49er &  FX World Championship at Clube de Vela Atlântico, Portugal

 

Maloney & Meech rock FX fleet with four wins in big northerly

 

For four years, three teams have worked together as training partners for the benefit of them all, even as they battled at every event for gold and glory in the 49er FX, the women’s Olympic skiff class. They’ve fought over World and European Championships, they’ve fought over World Cups, and their battle for Olympic Gold wasn’t over until the final leg of the final race in Rio De Janeiro – and all three teams medalled.

We’re talking about Rio gold medallists Martine Grael/Kahena Kunze (BRA), silver winners Alex Maloney/Molly Meech (NZ), and Bronze winners Jena Hansen and Katja Salskov-Iversen (DEN), and it’s no surprise to anyone that three perennial performers top the 2017 World Championship leaderboard at the conclusion of the Qualifying Rounds for the 49er FX.

Meech says she was surprised with their blinding 1,2,1,1 performance in 15-20 knots of Portuguese Trades and combined seas of 2 metres.

“We’ve always liked windier conditions, but still we were surprised with our performance in such a tough fleet without the best starts,” said Meech, who runs the front of the boat while Maloney helms at the back.

“We were aiming for good, consistent results to finish out the qualification rounds, but Alex and I were really in sync with each other and sometimes that can be the most important thing.”

Maloney and Meech showed an incredible turn of speed on every downwind run in the sporty seas, but still, Meech was a bit surprised with their speed advantage over nearly every other team in their split fleet.

“Normally we’re in the front with the top boats upwind, but downwind was really tricky today just trying to deal with the big waves,” said Maloney.

Due to the fleet splits, the two Kiwi standouts haven’t yet faced Grael and Kunze at this Worlds, but they’re sure that the Brazilian gold medalists – along with Denmark’s Hansen and Iversen – will bring their best to the 20-boat Gold fleet tomorrow morning.

“We’ve trained with the Brazilians quite a lot over the past four years and with Katja and Jena as well, and whenever we’ve been sailing together with them,

we’re always pushing each other to the edge,” said Meech. Hansen agreed;

“We’re fast in part because they’ve helped to make us fast, and they’re fast because we’ve helped them too,” said the Danish skipper.

Past World Champions and Rio Olympians Tamara Echegoyan and Berta Betanzos suffered in the big breeze – a surprise to many who’ve followed these powerful, experienced sailors for years. Several ragged capsizes made it a long, wet day for the Spanish duo, but they held on to 13th place, escaping the gold fleet cutoff of 20.

As the women’s fleets returned to the Club de Vela Atlantico, the breeze picked up yet another notch, settling in at a brisk 20 knots from due North. Capsizes, gear failures, and even seasickness beat up numerous crews, but none of it fazed newly crowned European Champions Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell at all. The British Olympic skipper and his new-for-2017 crew (a former Olympic medalist in the 470 Class) couldn’t put a foot wrong today, taking all three races on the Alpha course and carrying a four-point lead into the Gold Fleet action on Friday.

 

© Maria Muina / www.sailingshots.es

 

Fletcher & Bithell come on strong with three bullets

 

It was moving day for Diego Botin and Iago Lopez, the young Spanish duo notching a 2,3,5 score to overcome yesterday’s UFD and move into second place overall – their best ever current position at a Worlds. For Botin the position is good but he knows it doesn’t mean much, especially with two boats tied with them on points.

“Everything will be decided tomorrow and Saturday, we’re basically starting over now,” said Botin, who nearly threw away Race 5 with a capsize at the top mark. “I dropped the tiller at the last tack at the top mark so we flipped, but we were lucky the wind was so strong and so many of the other boats had problems,” said Botin.

Lopez explained that the runs were extremely tough to handle; “The waves were nasty downwind, requiring big eases of the gennaker every five seconds or so,” he said. “Also finding a flat spot for the gybe was rare, and that’s why you saw so many teams overstanding the bottom marks.”

The strong German sailors we wrote about yesterday continued to excel in the big breeze, with two veteran and two youth teams advancing to Gold Fleet at the end of the day – double the number of any other nation. While the success of Schmidt/Boehme (3rd) and Heil/Ploessel (6th) after Day 4 surprised no one, youth sailors everywhere should rejoice to see two young German teams advance to the Worlds Gold Fleet for the first time. Nils Carstensen (22) and Jan Frigge (23) pulled an ultra-consistent 8,7,7 in the ultra-chaotic conditions to take 15th place after 6 races, while Jakob Meggendorfer and Andreas Spranger squeaked through into the semi-final round in the last available position – 20th place.

The 20 and 21 year old phenoms seem to eat big breeze for breakfast – they showed poise and speed far beyond their years in Kiel when the winds came on at the European Championship, and they continued their heavy weather excellence today in Porto despite several capsizes and a major equipment issue. “Strong wind is so fun, but we didn’t expect to be so fast against some of these teams,” said Meggendorfer. And fast they were; the duo recorded some of the highest speeds on the water today, recovering well from their capsizes to advance to the next round. “Our coach says boat speed is king, so even if we have some problems, at least we have that!” said Spranger.

 

photo © Ricardo Pinto

 

More Summer fun

Weather forecasts show a continuation of the summer trade wind pattern, with Northerly winds of 12-17 knots and lumpy seas on tap for a full day of racing on Friday.

Event website: 49er.org/event/2017-world-championship

 

 

First day of racing at 49er & FX Worlds

 

 

49er & FX World Championship at Clube de Vela Atlântico

 

After losing the first two days of the 49er and 49er FX World Championship to a lack of sailable conditions, Day 3 of the 2017 Worlds opened under yet another curtain of fog, rain, and light air. With a tantalizing breeze a few miles offshore just beyond the fog banks, frustration reigned ashore for sailors, coaches, and race officials as the waiting game continued.

At around 2 pm, the first rays of sun tickled the top of the masts just as the Northerly breeze began to flow, and a few minutes later, hundreds of faces were smiling as officials hoisted the flags and released the 49ers from the shore.

After day after day of waiting around on shore, the fleets leapt into action with more than 80 boats launching in just minutes before heading out to one of the 3 race courses just off the port of Matosinhos. Big rolling ocean swells with a light 4-7 knot northerly breeze providing enough power to get through the lump, but not much more.

Of all the teams, no one started the day stronger than Portugal’s own Olympic veterans Jorge Lima and Jose Costa – the duo took a bullet in race 1 and a 2nd in race 2 in their section.

“It was a good start to the regatta, but maybe the best work we did was in race 3,” said Lima, who had a terrible start to the final qualifier of the day.

“We’re proud of our performance in that race, coming back from near the back of the fleet and passing lots of teams thanks to a big right shift on the final beat,” he said. The team finished 13th in that race.

Lima and Costa are looking forward to the stronger wind and bigger waves forecast for the rest of the week – conditions similar to their training camp in Lima’s home port of Cascais. “We’re trusting the stronger weather forecast, and we’re looking forward to it,” said Costa.

Great Britain’s James Peters and Finn Sterritt continued the strong performance they showed during their bronze medal European Championship sail last month, scoring a 2,2,5 to lead all 49er fleets after three qualifying races. They lead a massive, 11-team strong British 49er effort, but surprisingly Peters/Sterritt are the only UK team in the top ten after three races – something that most expect to change rapidly when the breeze kicks in tomorrow.

German 49er sailors had a huge first day of racing and not just the veterans: Rio medallists Tommy Ploessel and Erik Heil finished their day in third place, ending the day with a 1,2 in the final two races. Meanwhile, Ploessel/Heil’s longtime training partners and rivals Justus Schmidt and Max Boehme did them one better; a 4,3,2 scoreline was good for second overall, just one point ahead of the Olympic vets and tied on points with the British leaders.

As strong as the top German teams were, the three German youth teams may have been even more impressive given their experience level. Tim Fischer and Fabian Graf lead the three-boat youth group, the pair sitting in 11th place after a 20,1,1 scoreline (the other two youth teams are in 18th and 19th place).

Graf said the key to their performance today was not complicated: You had to have a great start.

“With the light air and big swells, it was crucial to be able to hold your position for a long time after the start, so you had to have the freedom to work the boat through every wave,” said Graf, who alongside his squad mates spent the winter training in Kiel. “We, fortunately, had some time to get used to the ocean swell during our training here before Worlds and at Europeans in 2015, so we felt comfortable with our tuning and the more difficult technique required in the waves.”

Graf said their team’s training partnership has helped the entire German squad improve. “The three youth teams [Fischer/Graf, Meggendorfer/Spranger, and Carstensen/Frigge] all push each other really hard, and it makes a great combination with the help and advice we get from the more experienced guys like Tommy and Eric. The young German crew says they’re ready for more breeze tomorrow.

“Big waves make everything fun, and breeze means more boat handling – we like that,” said Graf.

 

 

 

With the women’s 49er FX fleets only able to complete two races for each of their two courses, results may not mean much, but despite missing a few months of training and the European Championship, Rio silver medalists Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) were back on the form they showed when winning the first ever FX World Championship in 2013, leading with 4 points.

Anxious to improve on their hard-fought Kiel European bronze-medal performance last month, Vicky Jurzcok and Anika Lorenz sit second on five points, with Denmark’s Hansen/Iverson and Finland’s Ruskola/Wulff tied on six each. Hansen said the afternoon racing was glorious.

“We took it easy in the morning thanks to frequent updates on Facebook from the Class, so we came down fresh and well-rested and had a great day on the water,” said Hansen. “The wind was really nice and we felt good around the course, and we’re looking forward to more of everything tomorrow: More wind, more racing, more sun…”

The shocker came from reigning European Champions Tina Lutz and Sani Beucke, pulling a 16,17 to sit in 35th place after two races.

“We’re not sure what’s going on, so we’ll just forget about today and start fresh in the morning,” said Beucke with her characteristic smile.

 

The Return of the Trades

European weather models are now predicting the return of the full fury of the Portuguese Trade Winds – the boisterous 15-25 knot northerly breezes that helped propel Portuguese sailors around the world during the Age of Exploration – by Thursday afternoon.

 

Event website: 49er.org/event/2017-world-championship

 

Staying at the cutting edge of the A Class Cat

 

 

 

With the end of the ‘A’ Class Catamaran World Championships, seeing Stevie Brewin (AUS) crowned for his third title now is a good time to reflect on what has been happening in the ‘Formula 1’ of small sailing cats over the last couple of years. The development class, conceived in late 1950’s, is never standing still.

Back in 2015, at Hellevoesluis, Mischa Heemskerk (NED) arrived with a revamp of an earlier sail shape he’d developed a few years earlier. The Decksweeper sail was designed to give the power lower down on the sail and thus keep the boat flatter. But, for displacement boats, the sail needed to give the boat some heel when going downwind, doing the ‘wild thing’ and flying a hull, reducing the drag for the best speeds.

He dropped the design back then, as no discernible benefit was observed. However, as a result of America’s Cup designs filtering back down to the ‘A’ Cat, and the advent of the foiling daggerboards, with their winged rudder systems, the need to keep the boats flatter became much more important. So, in the May he turned up at the Dutch Nationals and wiped the floor with the fleet. Beaten by some margin that weekend was one Glenn Ashby (AUS).

Fast forward to the September and to Punta Ala for the Worlds. Both sailing for the DNA factory team, Ashby had gone home, simply chopped a chunk off the top of an older sail and stitched on the same area at the bottom to create a decksweeper. In the ensuing regatta, he beat Mischa in every race, and by an increased margin each time. The decksweeper was here to stay for foiling boats.

The debate then started as to the foil design and to which shape was the best for whatever. This was made much more interesting by the famous ‘A’ class rule 8, which stated that all foils must be inserted from the top of the hull. The tips underneath to be no closer than 1.5m apart, and at no time during insertion and operation were any part permitted to go outside the 2.3m maximum beam. Of course, the class was free to decide to abolish rule 8, but it was decided to keep it in the narrowest of votes at the World AGM in 2015.

Fears of all sorts of wild board shapes and the ‘law of unintended consequences’ where boats could just become twin hulled Moths or something was averted and the very clever people in the class set about doing stuff, but all within the rules. The current shape is the Z foil, with subtle variations in shape, profile and longitudinal placement being fine tuned. Rake systems are becoming simpler and adjustment easier, at least when compared to the early pioneer’s designs. A variant has since filtered through to the Nacra 17 now too.

In late 2015/early 2016, two of the leading manufacturers suddenly released new models to the surprise of the class. First was the Polish Exploder Ad3. Designed by Spanish sailor and designer Gonzalo Redondo, it was a new take on their earlier A13/14/15 designs, but with altered beam and mast foot positions, the foils were moved further forward and the hull shape altered to incorporate more fore and aft rocker to allow lower foiling lift off speeds.

It was an immediate success commercially as it was noticeably easier to foil compared with the earlier designs that relied upon considerable circus skills to balance the boat and avoid that crowd-pleasing wipe out.

Then the Dutch firm, Holland Composites, unveiled their stunning looking DNA F1. The prototype was in a clear coated black carbon finish. Huge attention had been paid to the aero package on the boat. The beams had streamlined fairings to smooth the airflow over the trampoline. The tramp itself was made from carbon cloth and was stiff with a taut fabric under tramp.

Everything was hidden inside this sandwich, all the lines, and control sheets within this. It was sealed to the hull, so no air would escape upwards and created a tunnel hull effect. Even the tiller bar joiner was aero designed to be in the lee of the rear beam. It looked like a rocket ship. And sailed like one too in the hands of it’s co-designer Misha Heemskerk. He was simply untouchable in the 2016 Worlds in DNA’s back garden at Medemblik. However, costing more than the average Mercedes C class, it was a rich boys play thing indeed.

Foil shape and rudder tip shapes are still being played with, but the latest developments look to be in rig design. The deck sweeper, with its lower centre of power, has been fitted on mast cut down from the original 9m to about 8.3. This allows the bottom to get wider and further add power lower on the sail.

The new World Champ, Stevie Brewin, has been sailing in AUS with this rig setup very successfully.

However, he frequently sails in more breeze at his club and on the AUS circuit than many European and US sailors. He elected to use the full rig at Sopot for this very reason. Another school of thought is that this would just end up with a Laser sail in the end.

Tall, high aspect ratio may be the other way to go in the end, as we may not realize how efficient the ‘A’ cat rig actually is for its weight. Most use this sail with a curved carbon boom, however, Stevie has developed a boomless variant that works just as well, if you know how to use it.

The ‘A’ cat fleet and World Sailing has now officially designated two boat types as variants within the same class of boat. The non-foiling, or Classic, as it is officially called, has many more sailors than the sexy young foilers now seen at the front in such regattas. However, the international class association, IACA, has been keen to bring them all back into the fold under its protective wing, rather than let them all wander away muttering under their breath.

They now have a separate official handicap in both the SCHRS and PY systems. Many older sailors greatly enjoy the racing in the Classic fleets. Circus skills and super bendy legs are less common amongst these experienced veterans, but they still want to come to the party.

Also, the Classic is the ideal starter boat for the class. By learning all the skills and tuning techniques that this technical boat demands, they provide the best foundation course available. Many National associations now run parallel rankings for both fleets, and the race on the same courses. But beware of them in the light stuff. Classics will often get a win, as the much higher drag of the foiler’s underwear is a considerable slowing problem.

Now things are settling down a bit as far as platform designs are concerned. The Swiss manufacturer of the Scheurer G7 has been developed by the SUI sailor Sandro Caviezel, who has designed an extended empennage, filling in the space between the rear beam and the hull stern. This is designed to smooth the airflow out from under the hull and reduce drag further. Seems to work too in the higher winds.

But at the 2017 Championship, there was no groundbreaking technological development that trumped the rest of the fleet. The sailors had caught up with decksweepers, Z foils etc., and it looks like it is back to good old fashioned sailing skill. The new techniques have been mastered by many of course, but the racing was far closer than it had been for the last two years.

This year, a few figures stood out in the fleet. Local Polish sailors Tymuk Bendyk, Kuba Surowiec and Maciej Zarnowski were all up with the pace. Tymuk particularly loved the heavy stuff and he has sailed in those waters since the age of seven. Kuba likewise was always on the pace. Maciej put in solidly good results until his starboard bow was neatly severed in the first race of the windy Wednesday, rendering him out of contention despite getting redress for that race.

Mischa was always going to find it hard to retain his crown. His F18 World title has taken time away from his ‘A’ cat training, plus the lack of regular training partners didn’t help either. In the end, his campaign was probably over in race 2, when he capsized at the bottom mark whilst chasing Stevie, then fatally miscounted the laps, and put in another one.

Despite giving it everything, it cost him 29 places and the title. Darren Bundock (AUS) was on equal points with Stevie after the qualifiers, being in separate fleets and both led. But when they met in the medal races, the student beat the master. 5th was his final finishing position. Manuel Calavia (ESP) was awesomely fast. He showed great pace in the previous weeks Polish Nats by winning the event.

However, an OCS on race 2 hurt him fatally as it turned out. 10th was his eventual position. Dave Shaw (NZL) was the surprise find of this regatta. His hard work and training paid off spectacularly, and he was in the running to be on the podium until the last day of racing. And in the Classics, Pontius Johnson (SWE) on his black Marstrom was 22nd overall in the 125+ fleet.

With something for everyone, Sopot didn’t disappoint. Monday was a lovely 12-14 kts. Tuesday was 8-10, so marginal foiling was had, but it increased nicely later in the day. Wednesday was a full-on 17-19 kt blast with 3ft waves to match, but by the afternoon’s first medal race, it had moderated somewhat. But it was the Thursday racing that put pay to several podium hopes.

On a light wind day, in the second race, most of the hotshots took the left of the course in a light and shifting wind. Those who were forced to tack off at the start, due to being in dirty air or bad positioning, found themselves on the right of the course and in a huge shift and increased pressure, giving them all the jump on all the superstars over on the left. The lead was almost 2 mins in many cases.

Bruce Mahoney (USA) made the most of his opportunity and led for most of the race, being overtaken by Stevie on the last leg, but with a virtuoso display of light airs foiling, Bruce pipped him to the bullet by a boat length. Only Stevie had managed to claw his way back to the front. All the other title challengers were left languishing in the thirty and fortysomethings.

Before the regatta, it was predicted that the best reader of the wind would emerge at the top. Brewin was that man. He was equally comfortable in both the heavy and the light stuff, master of all the techniques needed to clinch his third World title. He is a truly great sailor and deserved his win.

The next big international events are in 2018 in July at Warnemünde GER, then the Worlds in Hervey Bay AUS, November 2018, then to Weymouth UK in August 2019.

 

“A” Class Catamaran Website

Source: Gordon Upton, Editor, A-Cat.org

as published on Scuttlebutt on August 27th, 2017

 

Cup capers continue in Auckland 

 

The proposed final development for Wynyard Quarter, looking south. © Sea+City www.seacity.co.nz

 

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com

 

Auckland venue:

The speculation over what will happen in Auckland is bubbling away.

The regatta will be held in Auckland, and in February 2021 – which is only three and a half years after Bermuda. That’s two of the three basic questions answered. The boat-type will apparently be answered when the Protocol is released in September.

Local media, without a lot of knowledge of the Cup, were quick to suggest a race course on the inner Waitemata. Lake Pupuke would be more suitable.

A bit of quick work with Google Earth will tell you that the Waitemata harbour is about half the width (and substantially less at low tide) of the Great Sound in Bermuda – and the Sound was tight to accommodate America’s Cup racing.

In turn, the course length in the Great Sound was about two-thirds of the course length in San Francisco – Cup courses just can’t keep getting shorter and shorter.

Plus, the Waitemata harbour is orientated east-west, and the prevailing wind SW/NE is diagonal across the harbour. Racing on the harbour will result in skewed courses which are an unacceptable comprise.

The next location option, off North Head, drops the racing in behind the influence of the 850ft high volcano Rangitoto in a sea breeze (a very common wind direction in February) – which will make the racing a complete lottery.

Fans wanting to view the racing from North Head (the closest vantage point) will have to endure traffic on the most congested road in New Zealand. Fans might put up with that for a once off Volvo Ocean Race start – but not on a regular basis of sitting in a car for four hours to see 40 minutes of racing.

The concept of stadium racing in the America’s Cup is flawed. In Bermuda, the fans in the grandstands saw about 60 seconds each race at the finish, and for the rest of the coverage, they relied on big screen coverage of the TV feed, plus what they could pick up in the distance out on the course. For sure it was a great day out, but even the brochure sold it as the chance to see the great entertainment in the America’s Cup Village, with the opportunity to first see some America’s Cup racing.

Racing further out into the outer Waitemata harbour/inner Hauraki Gulf is the only sensible option. But will require a seaworthy America’s Cup Class of which the AC50 is probably too small for a 15-18kt sea breeze with a moderate sea, and often wind against the tide as well.

 

Monohull v Multihull

Turning to the boat type – keelboat vs catamaran – a factor that seems to be overlooked with the former is Auckland’s three metre plus tides, which will require dredging for a keelboat base venue – to give all tide access.

Dredging and harbour intrusion is very difficult to get through a planning process in Auckland, with sailors being at the forefront of protest action on previously mooted projects.

A catamaran is much more practical, as they can operate in the normal Auckland harbour water depth – without any need for dredging. Wingsailed catamarans are not that easy to manoeuvre, tow and hoist – requiring some work before the Auckland bases are sorted.

The other big advantage of catamarans (for the reason of relatively shallow draft) is that other locations around the course such as Gulf harbour, Tamaki Estuary and other marinas can be used, which is not suitable for other than shallow drafted keelboats. There is plenty of existing infrastructure which can be used without the need for new facilities.

If they wished, prospective Cup teams could start training in Auckland this coming summer, using their existing catamarans and pick up valuable weather and performance data.

Emirates Team New Zealand has a huge advantage in this area – having worked up for two campaigns on these waters – first with their two AC72’s, and then having spent a lot less time in the AC50/AC45S, preferring the ‘Back Paddock’ off Browns Island for training.

Getting the teams out of the central City for the Cup build-up also has the advantage of the crews not having to battle with Auckland’s rush-hour traffic – which is in full flight at 6.30am.

It also reduces the pressure on the need for inner city accommodation with the price gouging that invariably occurs with major sailing regattas, significantly increasing the cost for visiting teams.

 

The Viaduct Harbour has been taken over by office and hotel complexes – leaving no room for America’s Cup bases. © Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz

 

Shore bases:

Already there has been some interaction with harbour protection groups and the Auckland Council.

But in contrast to the planning fiasco with the ‘Supes’ in San Francisco, the early submissions on base positioning are a lot more positive.

The only area that will work for bases is clearing the tanks and junk off the Wynyard Wharf area and turning that into a flat area that can be used by the teams for base construction, using prefabricated or temporary bases similar to that used in Bermuda.

What must not happen is that developers become involved in the way that occurred around the Viaduct Harbour development post 1995. Once the Cup was gone the reclaimed land was snapped up for apartments, hotels and expensive office buildings. If Auckland loses the Wynyard Wharf to developers there will be no more harbour space that can be used for future Cups, and taken public space.

Auckland’s legacy from this Cup and the Wynyard Wharf area must be a substantial area of public waterfront space, without any of the antics that have served to block public access in the past.

New Zealand is one month out from a General Election. A priority after the votes are counted is to pass America’s Cup empowering legislation, as was done for the 2000 Cup, to allow fast tracking of planning hearings and allow early demolition and construction to get underway.

Plans for the Wynyard Wharf area must include a permanent base for Emirates Team New Zealand and get the team out of their spartan accommodation in their current temporary base. In the development yet to come in Wynyard Quarter, the area that should be levelled and used for bases is currently being covered with tanks. Currently a modest 4.5 ha perimeter park is planned on two sides with the rest of the tanks remaining. Other graphics show the tanks removed and with yet more office and hotel space.

Despite the concept drawings, the latest signs are encouraging with Auckland Councillors being urged from within to follow Emirates Team New Zealand’s planning example and ‘throw the ball out as far as possible’ when conceiving options for the hosting of the America’s Cup. Expect some out of the box thinking. But don’t criticise Councillors and others coming up with some wacky ideas – provided they aren’t compromising the quality of America’s Cup competition.

 

Boat choice:

Those involved in the selection of the boat should be listening to the views of new generations of sailing fans and not hitting system reset on a type of boat which has grabbed the attention of a much wider sailing audience.

One of the issues with the AC50 revolved around having the bulk of the sailing team involved in ‘moving oil’ rather than focussing on active sailing functions.

Regardless of whether a monohull or multihull is chosen, there will need to be an onboard power source – whether it be battery driven for a catamaran, or diesel to drive a canting keel in a monohull.

The same happened in the 2010 America’s Cup, and wasn’t the major issue it initially seemed. Without an engine the Cup boats, mono or multihull will still be powered by contemporary galley slaves.

Using a more efficient engine will free crew to actually sail the boat, and get away from the ludicrous situation of the AC50 where at least half the crew were tied up on power generation and the remaining two or three shared daggerboard control, sail trimming, tactics, steering, tactics and navigation.

Essentially the 35th America’s Cup was a short-handed sailing event, marred by the snafus created when two people try to do the job of six. A big factor in Bermuda was how the functions were split between the crew, with Emirates Team New Zealand opting for a different functional split than the other five teams.

In Bermuda, how often were good races abruptly decided by one team sailing outside a boundary, because of a navigation error? Or even more ridiculous because the penalty for sailing outside a boundary was less than the distance lost by tacking or gybing with less than the required hydraulic pressure and consequent splashdown and stop. There was a situation where taking the penalty for sailing through a boundary was the lesser evil.

 

Nationality:

There’s an interesting recent angle on the proposed nationality rule – with Kiwi sailors complaining they can’t go and sail for other teams if they don’t make the cut for Emirates Team New Zealand.

The America’s Cup should not exist for the furtherance of individual professional sailing careers – with the hired guns being able to play off one billionaire against another for their services. That just drives up costs and adds little to the event.

There are plenty of other sailing events which cater for multi-national crews and professional sailors of all nationalities. The America’s Cup is a “friendly competition between foreign countries” and by implication, the crews should be nationals of those countries.

The solution for spare Kiwi sailors is to sail for another team, either on the trial horse or some other guise without being on board the race boat. If they are that good, they will be invaluable in lifting the performance of the nationals on the race boat. The alternative is to comply with the new Protocol’s nationality clause and get a passport of the country they wish to represent or work within whatever residency restrictions are in place.

The way to build interest in the America’s Cup is with a tight nationality clause – which lowers the payroll cost and attracts fans in the state of origin of the defending/challenging club.

The demise of nationalism in the last few Cups has been accompanied by the sanitising of the profiles of those at the top end being perceived by the viewing public as somewhat bland personalities.

Jimmy Spithill is the glorious exception with his ability to spark a story with a few words at a media conference or interview. Sadly, the real personalities of the Cup who could have gone head to head with Spithill were kept off the America’s Cup stage, right until the very end. Hopefully, the so-called ‘Dalton clause’, designed to curb adverse comment will be struck from future America’s Cup Protocols, and the competitive sparks can again fly.

 

 

 

 

 

Foiling double coming to San Diego

 

photo © SDYC

 

Moth & A-Cat North American Championships at San Diego South Bay

 

For the first time ever, this autumn the San Diego Yacht Club (SDYC) will host the both the Moth and A-Cat North American Championships back-to-back. The events will feature high-speed sailing on South San Diego Bay, off the beaches of Coronado at Crown Cove, in one person International Moth Dinghies and A-Cat Catamarans.

The Moth North American Championship will occur first, with three full days of sailing from September 29-October 1. When looking at both registration lists, competitors will travel from as far as New Jersey, Florida, and Canada to race in these high-performance events.

Matthew Knowles from Newport, Rhode Island, has participated in six Moth North American Championships and plans to attend this year’s event in San Diego. “San Diego is the new hot spot for Moth sailing in the US. Matt Struble has done a great job growing the fleet, and we are thrilled to be racing North Americans in San Diego this fall. It is hard to think of a better spot to race some of the fastest boats around.”

Another Moth sailor, Bora Gulari, who has competed in 8 prior North American Championships, is eager to race this fall.

“I am excited to get back to San Diego on my Moth. It is a great location to sail and it has been a while since the fleet was there. With the local fleet coming back strong, it’s time for us to return. I look forward to coming to the event.”

This event will feature a high level of competition as two competitors on the registration list, Zack Downing from San Diego Yacht Club and Andrew Brazier from Royal Canadian Yacht Club, recently sailed in the 2017 Moth World Championship in Malcesine, Italy held in July.

Downing stated that racing in the Moth Worlds in Italy was a great learning experience.

“I’m hoping to employ everything I learned about Moth tactics and boat setup at the North Americans in September to put together complete races and improve my consistency. My boat just arrived from Worlds and I’m looking forward to getting out on the water as soon as possible to start preparing. I’ll be making a few changes to my boat before the event as well. The local fleet has sailed out of the racing venue a couple times and there are usually perfect Moth sailing conditions in South Bay.”

After the Moth North American Championship, the A-Cat North American Championship will follow with four days of action-packed sailing from October 5-8.

Clearwater, Florida resident Robbie Daniel sails in many A-Cat Championships, including the A-Cat Worlds in Key Largo, Florida in 2007. “Getting the chance to sail A-Cats are like mixing the fun aspect of beach cat racing, with the high level of Olympic sailing. I sailed in San Diego for the 2008 Olympic trials. Sailing the exciting foiling A-Cat here brings back all those great memories. These boats and this competition, at a legendary location like this, will make for an amazing event.”

Though the final format of the championship will depend on the daily conditions, race organizers have scheduled three races on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and two races on Sunday.

Matt Keenan, who sails out of the Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, will also travel across the country this fall to compete. “Personally, I am looking forward to my second North Americans and first A-Class event on the West Coast. It will be exciting to see the whole class come together once again for some exciting and tight racing.”

Keenan also shares what he’s practicing on in the months leading up to the championship.

“With so much innovation in the class lately I have been focusing purely tuning and keeping the boat speed consistent on the foils, both up wind and downwind. The person who can find their groove and keep the boat high and dry on the foils, will likely be the next champion.”

Regatta Chairman Matt Struble, is not only organizing both of these events, but he has also won the A-Cat North Americans in 2015 and 2016.

“The Moth and A-Cat North Americans will be the high-performance events of 2017. The rich sailing history of San Diego Yacht Club is very helpful when organizing and running the North American Championships for boats that fly. San Diego South Bay is known as foiling heaven due to the lack of weeds, wind speeds between 10-15mph, small waves, and warmer water.”

SDYC Commodore John Reiter looks forward to hosting both events and propelling the modern style of sailing that these events will showcase.

“The sharp end of the development of our sport is with foiling boats, and we’re proud here at SDYC to help run great examples of this shift. Our membership has been on the bleeding edge of technology going back over one hundred years, with innovators designing and building some of the fastest racing designs and equipment of their time. While we’re not famous for flying boats, we are famous for pushing the limits of the sport and hosting incredible events. We welcome the athletes of all styles of sailing and hope their time here in America’s Finest City is productive, competitive, and most of all rewarding.”

The awards ceremonies will be held at the Loews Coronado Hotel after the completion of races on Sunday, October 1 and Sunday, October 8.

Eligible boats may enter online by paying the entry fee and completing and submitting the Official Registration and Entry Forms by September 20, 2017 (Moths) and September 27, 2017 (A-Cats).

SDYC would like to thank event sponsors; Harken, North Sails, Sailcloth Technology, Velocitek, and California State Parks.

by Emily Willhoft

 

 

Harry Mighell wins inaugural International WASZP Games

 

 

The International WASZP Games at Campione, Lake Garda

 

It was a fitting finale to the first International WASZP Games at Campione on Lake Garda. Harry Mighell from Sorrento in Victoria, Australia, did a horizon job on the fleet in light 7 – 10 knot marginal foiling conditions.

Race 9 started in a patchy light breeze from the South, that swung around the compass right from the start. The fleet of 53 WASZP’s packed the start line, low riding off on starboard tack. This time the shift further to true South forced the majority to take the left side of the course sailing low towards Malcesine on the East side of the Lake. A number of competitors fell into holes or off the foils stopping dead to let clusters of other WASZP’s past.

 

 

Harry Mighell – AUS

 

Rory Rose (GBR) from Aberdeen & Stonehaven YC in Scotland, led a group of the lighter youth sailors around lap 1, but the experience of Harry Mighell was enough for him to keep them in his sights. Harry rounded just behind Reed Baldridge (USA). Guillaume Rol, the 19 year old Swiss sailor and Stuart Appleby from WPNSA in the UK were up in the front pack.

Downwind, Harry Mighell pulled away leaving the young guns to try and defend their positions against the more experienced WASZP sailors. Back upwind for the second time and Mighell used the pressure in the middle section of the course to sail well clear, but the places were changing behind him as the breeze continued to oscillate.

 

Guillame Rol – SUI

 

Rory Rose held on to second and the kiwi Bruce Curson appeared to be reeling in the places just ahead of Joan Costa from Spain, his nearest rival overall. Reed Baldridge was slipping down the pack and his challenge for the overall title rapidly fading.

The last leg was a bit of a game changer, as the breeze begun to fade and the struggle to stay in pressure to foil becoming an absolute necessity.

Harry Mighell cruised across the finish line to win by a country mile. Harry was a key cog in the design and build team of the WASZP and it was a proud moment for him to win the inaugural International WASZP Games in the boat he was largely responsible for creating.

 

Reed Baldridge USA

 

Behind Harry, second to cross the line was a jubilant young Swiss youth sailor Guillaume Rol, enjoying his moment in the sun. Carving through the fleet for third was Kohei Kajimoto, one of the WASZP team who sails in Melbourne, Australia. In fourth was Joan Costa from Spain, who at only 17 years of age, sealed the Youth category. Behind Joan, another Spanish young gun, Ruben Booth, finished with his best performance of the championship. Reed Baldridge crept over in sixth to claim second overall in the championship.

Once the results were churned through the computer and the second discard taken into account, the finishing order for the top 10 looked like this:

 

Joan Costa ESP

 

 

Results (Top 10 after 9 races inc 2 discards) 

1 AUS 238 – Harold Mighell – 4,2,3,1,2,1,1,1,1 = 9pts

2 USA 2383 – Reed Baldridge – 1,1,2,3,3,3,2,3,5 = 15pts

3 AUS 2380 – Kohei Kajimoto – 9,6,5,2,4,2,6,2,ocs = 27pts

4 ESP 2167 – Joan Costa – 5,4,OCS,4,6,5,5,9,3 = 32pts

5 NZL 2382 – Bruce Curson – 11,8,6,5,8,6,4,5,7 = 41pts

6 FRA 44 – Pierre Leboucher – 6,9,7,6,12,7,7,7,9 = 49pts

7 AUS 2395 – Tristan Brown – 16,5,9,12,7,10,9,4,8 = 52pts

8 AUS 2390 – Dean Souter – 18,dnf,1,26,1,4,3,6,20 = 53pts

9 AUS 2389 – Gus Ekberg – 2,11,11,7,9,9,11,12,24 = 60pts

10 GBR 2078 – Stuart Appleby – 7,7,15,10,11,8,10.,8,13 = 61pts

 

NB: See below for full results

 

Mark Orams NZL

 

Category trophy winners

1st  Silver fleet (6.9m rig) – Nicolai Jacobsen (NOR)

1 Youth (-18 years) & first European – Joan Costa (ESP)

1 Female – Sara Winther (NZL)

1 Master (45 years+) – Mark Orams (NZL)

 

Speed Demon of the day was Mikel Vazquez from Spain with a speed of 18.3 knots in very light airs. Speed Freak of the Week was Bruce Curson on New Zealand with a top speed of 21.8 knots.

 

Stuart Appleby GBR

 

Before the final race of the WASZP Games, a Handicap Pursuit Race was staged whilst the wind was still too light to foil. Almost all competitors took part in this fun race and the format met with general approval.

David Lilburn from Royal Tay YC led throughout the first lap being chased by Sara Winther of New Zealand and Claudio Lenzi from Circulo Vela Bellano in Italy. As a faint breeze increased and some of the lighter sailors managed to briefly foil, the fleet condensed to an exciting finish. The winner was Stuart Appleby from Weymouth in the UK.

The WASZP team will be announcing further WASZP International Games events and a series of regional championship regattas in the near future. For more information please visit: www.waszp.com

 

Links: 

For more info on the class go to www.waszp.com 

facebook: WASZP Games

Photos credits: Martina Orsini

Videos by Oliver Hartas of Hartas Productions

Video links: https://www.facebook.com/waszpgames/

For more details email: Jonny Fullerton at regattaservices at gmail.com

 

WASZP wonderland on penultimate day in Garda

 

The International WASZP Games at Campione, Lake Garda

 

Day 3 of the International WASZP Games run by Univela Sailing Club at Campione, was blessed by perfect sailing conditions as the afternoon Ora filled in bang on time at around 1400 hrs.

In the morning the WASZP Games team trialled some new formats of racing with a short Slalom Course and some Drag Racing using reaching legs. As the wind was quite soft, marginal foiling conditions meant that the lighter sailors were quickest to get up on the foils and around the short course. Special mention goes out to two Swiss WASZP sailors, 19 year old, Guillaume Rol and 17 years old, Max Wallenberg, both from Société Nautique de Genève. They both gave the pros a run for their money.

After lunch the afternoon Ora kicked in bang on schedule for two more absolutely fantastic WASZP Championship Series races to leave the inaugural International WASZP Games title to be decided on the final day.

 

Race 7 of the championship started in fabulous foiling conditions, about 15 – 16 knots from 200 degrees for a two lap race. The majority of the 53 WASZP’s flew off the start line in a frenzy. This time regatta leader Harry Mighell from Australia tacked early at the committee boat end and quickly established a lead right in front of the Univela Sailing Club in Campione. But on lap 1, Dean Souter (AUS) rounded just in front of Harry and Reed Baldridge (USA) with one of the young Norwegian lads, Alexander Hogheim flying round in the top group.

Harry Mighell was able to soak downwind inside Dean Souter and gybe inside him to snatch the lead by the bottom mark. Back upwind Dean Souter dropped off the foils momentarily allowing Reed Baldridge to get past to challenge Harry Mighell. Mighell and Baldridge went head to head in a tacking dual at the final rounding of the windward mark. They rounded bow to stern and sped off downwind. Behind them, Bruce Curson from Wakatere BC in New Zealand was enjoying the windy conditions to move up to 4th and young Joan Costa from Spain in 5th.

 

On the last downwind the drama unfolded as Mighell again soaked low to maintain the inside track, but Baldridge suffered a bad gybe and found a wind hole to lose 2nd to Souter. Approaching the finish line Souter was rapidly closing in on Mighell with 50 metres to go when he face planted his WASZP into the lake. Despite being super quick to get his boat up he was low riding with Baldridge rapidly breathing down his neck. He got his boat up and accelerating but the awkward angle of the short finish line meant both sailors plunged their bows over the line capsizing simultaneously. Baldridge was judged to have just pipped Souter for 2nd. Bruce Curson and Joan Costa finished 4th and 5th a boat length apart. Some great speeds as the WASZP’s whistle past the committee boat.

 

 

The kiwis Marc Orams and Glen Sowry seemed to be enjoying a bit more breeze. As a master of the WASZP fleet and a very experienced sailor, we asked Glen what was the appeal of the WASZP for him:

“My passion has always been dinghy sailing, I was in the same year as Russell Coutts with P Class dinghy’s, then I did all the Olympic 470 stuff, right through to Americas Cup and Whitbread Round the World Races.”

“Interesting in NZ there are a lot of guys who are my contemporaries, who have been very good dinghy sailors back in the past, can still sail reasonably well and have been just captivated by the foiling gig. The idea of a one design foiling boat is just perfect for people like us.”

“We had the New Zealand WASZP Nationals earlier in the year and the top two sailors were outstanding youth sailors who adapted to the WASZP like a duck to water, but a lot of the other guys in the top 10 were guys in their 40’s and early 50’s who have been really good dinghy sailors.”

 

 

A short break, and back for the second and last race of the day at 1600 hrs in the glamour afternoon conditions. The race course crowded with a lot more support and spectator boats enjoying being on the water in the afternoon heat.

Dean Souter was well over at the pin end of the start and had to go back. Otherwise, it was a good start for the majority of the fleet, yet again wanting the right side of the course. Kohei Kajimoto who sails at Black Rock SC in Australia, went for the port tack start, ducking sterns on his way, to get to the shore first and tack for the top mark. Kohei led lap 1 from Harry Mighell weaving around downwind. Bruce Curson again up in the top group, Reed Baldridge going well and young Jack Abbott from Sorrento, Australia back to his best chasing fast.

Again a whole cluster of moths whistling downwind with smiles all over their faces. The back end of the fleet was concentrating really hard on they’re foiling gybes, most had only spent a few days in the boat before this regatta.

 

Down to the finish line for the second time, it was Harry Mighell attacking the leader, this time Kohei Kajimoto, by sailing lower angles. Yet again he pulled it off with the inside track at the final mark. It was now just a short downwind sprint to the finish, but alas more drama. A wind shift meant the last leg turned into a broad reach and Mighell came off the foils. Kajimoto glided past to windward but had to sail a high angle to maintain foiling. He took Reed Baldridge with him on a shy reach away from the finish line. Mighell remained lowriding until about 50 metres from the line when he popped back up on the foils to cut off the two reaching WASZP’s to regain the lead and take his second winning gun of the day.

In the scramble to the line, Kohei Kajimoto finished half a boat length ahead of Reed Baldridge. These three finished minutes ahead of the rest of the fleet after the big shift took effect. Tristan Brown from RFBYC in Perth, Australia floated across the finish line in fourth from Bruce Curson in fifth.

 

With only one more race scheduled for the final day, Harry Mighell extended his lead on 11 points. Reed Baldridge remains hot on his heels in second on 15 points. Third is Kohei Kajimoto on 27 points.

Sailing an excellent first WASZP regatta Joan Costa from Palamos in Spain is in fourth overall with 38 points and leads the under 18 year youth category. Joan believes his recent experience gained from sailing in the F18’s has come in handy at this regatta.

“I have only sailed the WASZP about 15 times before this regatta but I have raced cats. In the recent F18 Worlds I was second youth and 13th overall. The change from the F18 is only little for me, they are both fast boats. The main thing I like about the WASZP is it just fly’s!

Speaking of speed, the Speed Demon of the day was the flying kiwi Bruce Curson who registered 21,8 knots. Bruce finished with his best results of the championship, 4th and 5th to sit in fifth overall.

In the battle of the girls, there is a flutter of female WASZP’s in consecutive positions in the overall classification. Sara Winther from New Zealand is a few points ahead of Melissa Kalicin from Antigua and young Foss Fredrikke from Norway.

There are 7 sailors using the smaller 6.9m rig racing in the Championship Series. All 53 WASZP’s sail together but first of the smaller rigs is 15 year old Nicolai Jacobsen who is part of the Foiling Norway group. Nicolai is in 18th place overall.

There are a generous group of 10 Masters (45 years+), sailing the WASZP Games. This category is led by New Zealander, Marc Orams who is in 13th place overall.

Only one race is scheduled on the final day of racing to establish the first International WASZP Games champion. However, a second discard comes into play after the full 9 races are sailed so it is still all to play for. There will also be a Handicap Race on Saturday, which is not part of the Championship Series.

 

Results (Top 10 after 8 races inc 1 discard) 

1 AUS 238 – Harold Mighell – 4,2,3,1,2,1,1,1 = 11pts

2 USA 2383 – Reed Baldridge – 1,1,2,3,3,3,2,3 = 15pts

3 AUS 2380 – Kohei Kajimoto – 9,6,5,2,4,2,6,2 = 27pts

4 ESP 2167 – Joan Costa – 5,4,OCS,4,6,5,5,9 = 38pts

5 NZL 2382 – Bruce Curson – 11,8,6,5,8,6,4,5 = 42pts

6 FRA 44 – Pierre Leboucher – 6,9,7,6,12,7,7,7 = 49pts

7 AUS 2395 – Tristan Brown – 16,5,9,12,7,10,9,4 = 56pts

8 AUS 2390 – Dean Souter – 18,dnf,1,26,1,4,3,6 = 59pts

9 AUS 2389 – Gus Ekberg – 2,11,11,7,9,9,11,12 = 60pts

10 GBR 2078 – Stuart Appleby – 7,7,15,10,11,8,10.,8 = 61pts

 

Links: 

WASZP International Games website: http://bit.ly/WASZPGAMES17

For more info on the class go to www.waszp.com 

facebook: WASZP Games

Photos credits: Martina Orsini

Videos by Oliver Hartas of Hartas Productions

Video links: https://www.facebook.com/waszpgames/

For more details email: Jonny Fullerton at regattaservices at gmail.com