Practice races are funny things, especially at a World Championships. Sailors, being a superstitious lot at the best of time, are especially prone to strange rituals, tend to treat it as a semi race, pretending the result doesn’t matter. However, psychologically is must be better to your mental preparation if you do well. The top sailors, who have experience of many really big events, have strategies for coping with this, and particularly when things go wrong, but those lower down the fleet can get spooked if things don’t go to plan.
Not that this happened in the ‘A’ Cat practice races though. The Practice is for everyone, not just the sailors. The race committee need to know how long the course set will take, how good the sailors are on the line. The sailors, obviously, need to know how their setting perform in race trim and using the regatta designated gear they selected, as after 11am, they won’t be allowed to change anything unless it get unreparably damaged and the jury say you can change. Also the rescue crews, mark layers need to know the things they are dealing with. These guys probably have not see the ‘A’ Cats perform before, so need to be aware of their characteristics. In finally, the official media guys need to work out which position give them the best coverage and return the best shots.
As it was with today’s racing. This is the first official World Championships with the fleet split into its twin divisions. Hervey bay was a test event for this. The two divisions, the Classic and the Open, are to be raced on the same course, but at different times: two morning races for one division, and two in the afternoon for the other. They then alternate the following day. The conditions may well change, but no matter, the two fleets are not competing with each other so it should work out well.
This time the Open foiling division went off first. They got away cleanly, most at the committee boat end of the line, with only the odd little shunt in the medium (10-12kt) conditions. Very few sailors managed to get the boats foiling upwind in these conditions, but those who did made big gains. Most of the fleet tended to go to the right of the course, however the odd one tacked back across the middle to the left in search of better foiling winds. One such was Phil Robinson NZL. He then approached the first mark on Port to region the fleet and round in a close 5thposition and slotted into the leading pack led by Kuba Surowicz POL, with his POL team mate, Tymo Bendyk, chasing close behind. The rest of the fleet, spread by some 7 minutes, followed along. But by the next lap, it was Manual Calavia ESP in the lead from Phil Robinson., Kuba having slipped to 3rd.
But, in the end what was learned from this race? The results don’t reflect the race as many sailors record a DNF by missing the line deliberately , for this superstitious reasons again. A few sailors showed good pace – Manuel, Stevie Brewin, Tymo, Kuba and Phil. These are all to watch. But a few, such as Mischa Heemskerk, and Bruce Mahoney didn’t race, preferring to keep their powder dry for the two races in the morning.
On the Classic fleet, it was Andrew Landenberger who dominated, as a Hervey Bay. His son, Andy, was also impressive and may be one to watch. Jacques Valantes SUI also had a good race, discovering the right side pressure first after a poor start made him tack off early. He led until Landy reeled him in on the second lap. But in the absence of Scott Anderson, their pace can only be guessed at in comparison, although the smart money would be on Landy again.
Next time it is the start of the big one. 11am for the Open, not before 1pm for the classics. This could be a light wind affair to for the first day at lease, so expect things to shake up a bit.
Photos - www.guppypix.com