Second days races at Medemblik

Wednesday, was the same as Tuesday at the Medemblik Regatta Centre in Holland, except that the order was reversed, so it was stronger winds for the morning fleet, light wind for the afternoon races.  The pack was again shuffled randomly and the blue and yellow fleets where assembled with a different content to the day before.

This time, the two of the favourites for the crown were in different fleets, with Mischa Heemskerk on the new DNA F1 (NED 007) in the Yellow morning fleet and Darren Bundock on the new Exploder AD3 (AUS 888) in the Blue afternoon session.  Two races were scheduled and afterwards the Gold and Silver fleets would be drawn up by adding all the results together, temporarily discarding the worst result and then splitting the whole fleet in half. 

However, that was for later.  The morning breeze was perfect for the ‘A cat.  12-15 kt,  and reasonably steady.  The first start got away cleanly at about 11am and some of the fleet split off to the right, in search of better pressure.  However, the left group, including Mischa, found it earlier and at the top mark, true to form some 6 mins  later, rounded the top mark.  He was followed 60 seconds later by the close bunch of Adam Beattie, Exploder (AUS 14), Tymoteusz Bendyk, Exploder (POL 15), Emmanuel Dode, DNA (FRA 2), Pieterjan Dwarshuis, DNA (NED 28) and Giovanni Calabria, DNA (ITA 2).  All these foiling boats promptly pulled up their skirts, hopped onto their foils and chased after him, going down the same left side of the course.  The ones who had chosen the right side arrived a few minutes later.

At the bottom, most chose the right side this time, probably as the time taken to gybe at the mark and go back up the left would negate the advantage.  So most sailed a square course.  Mischa arrived back at the top again 10 mins later, just like the Nurburgring.  This pattern continued once more but with a battle for 2nd between Tymo and Adam.  In the end Mischa finished 1st with Tymo 2nd and Adam 3rd about 2 mins behind the winner.

Race 2 followed a similar wind pattern, except for a massive 20 degree windshift to the left half way through.  This resulted in most of the fleet being able to lay the top mark directly from the bottom.  It happened on the second lap when Mischa was on the left side, leaving him discovering he had now massively overstood the top mark.  So he tacked and sailed much freer than usual, with the result that his new DNA F1 could start to foil upwind.  In the 13 knot breeze, he was sailing upwind at some 21 kts and came blasting into the top mark. He only came off the foils when he lost his footing and slithered forward whilst on to the trapeze. He neatly pirouetted around it and set off for the spreader on a reciprocal course and foiled all the way home again.  Tymo and Adam were again the bridesmaids a couple of minutes later.  But by now, the wind was starting to drop.

Then the afternoon fleet arrived for their two races.  By now the wind was starting to swing more left. The race started in about 6 kts, one knot above the class minimum.  In this race Darren Bundock was racing Stevie Brewin, Exploder (AUS 4).  But also in the fleet was the German licht wintmiester Georg Rutter, on a C board non foiling Nikkita (GER2).  Dr Georg sails on the southern German lakes, lucky chap, so this wind was sent for him.  Bundy was first to the top, chased 15 seconds later by Stevie, Guido Schulte, Exploder C board (GER 85) and American ace Bruce Mahoney, DNA F1 (USA 311).  Little Georg was nowhere to be seen.

The fleet gybed sharply at the top spreader mark to get back into pressure they had found, or seen on the right of the course and followed it down to the bottom.  At the top again, the light wind experts started to make themselves felt.  Dominik Peikert, Marstrom (SUI17) crept up the fleet and going into deep low drag mode downwind, whilst the foilers who could still do so, went faster but further.  The net result was that Bundy won but Stevie ended in 4th after Dominik and Georg.

The last race waited until a new course was set after the wind backed even farther South.  The race was another light wind tactical affair.  To sail and ‘A’ cat in these conditions is a real challenge.  Frequently considered more difficult for normal sailors than in high winds, where technical skill can sometimes compensate for a lack of tactical skill.  Concentration tends to wander, the slightest error or mistake in a tack can leave you loosing several boatlengths as the boat gets up to speed again.  Shifts and gusts often mean the difference.  But the wily old Olympian and AC sailor is equal to it.  Finishing ahead but at least a minute, Bundy won.  Georg and Dominik beat Stevie into 4th.

So, the second day finished.  There were some complaints about the fact that some people ended up after the shuffle in fleets that sailed in high winds on both days, and some in light conditions.  However with only one course available, this was unfortunately inevitable given the two race per day session split.  Maybe sending out all sailors together and then swapping the fleets each race so each got a morning and afternoon race would have been fairer given the forecast.  But Medemblik is notoriously difficult to be certain on the conditions, so cope, as they say.

Now the fleets split finally into the gold and silver fleets, and the big guns finally get to race together.