Reflections on the Worlds.
A couple of weeks on, the dust and smoke has settled and dispersed, the sailors will be resuming their lives, and may will be back at work, but possibly with a new image on their computer desktops, and a lucky few ones are still roaming the currently sunny British Isles as we speak. So, this is a good time to reflect on what was witnessed on the waters of Britain’s Jurassic coast and at the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Centre.
Our World Championships tend to stick in our minds for various reasons. But they usually leave one with an overriding impression of something or other. In Sopot, it was definitely food and the surrounding town that surprised and impressed many. In Hervey Bay, it was the Darren and Paul show, plus those bloody birds, all of whom should have been in a zoo and not waking you up at dawn by making their stupid noises. (Should that include the aforementioned gentlemen as well?) Obviously this year I have to declare an interest, but what about Weymouth?
It’s probably not the food, even though I think the sailors all found great places to eat and drink, hopefully they developed a taste for real cider and pasties. No birds, other than the traditional British seaside sound track of seagulls. From talking to people afterwards, it looks to have been the actual organization at the venue, having a massive hangar to work in and the race organization out on the water. We were very lucky to be able to take full advantage of the UK 2012 Olympic legacy by plugging right into their existing systems, something that the Struan and his team had known about all along, and was the factor for the venue being chosen in the first place. The cool understated efficiency and seamless way things were run was an eye opener for quite a few sailors, several of whom had distinct reservations about coming over to that cold, grey and wet island, and it’s argumentatively rebellious natives, sat on the edge of the continent.
The class has been praised highly by David Campbell-James, our PRO, together with the CEO Peter Allam and all his ground team at WPNSA. They were highly impressed by the friendliness and co-operation of the sailors towards them and to each other. ‘One of the nicest fleets we have ever hosted!’ Peter said more than once. Maybe it’s a Cat thing, but no arguments over boat spaces, no blocking slipways deliberately, no factional infighting. Anyone who needed any help found they had a whole bunch of willing and knowledgeable assistants. Darlings, you were all totally delightful and created a superb impression! This is a great testament to the class as a whole, so well done you!
This was the first time a whole 12 race series had ever been successfully sailed at such an event, and the PRO and his team must get the credit for this. I know one or two were moaning a little about not sailing out in the bay as they did for the GBR Nationals the week earlier though. However, the freak plague of huge jellyfish brought up on the storm the previous week made the race committee decide it was just too risky to foils and boats, hence the use of the harbor instead.
On the water, it was the Landy and Mischa show, as we have already mentioned. But, the margin of victory was noticeably reduced from previous years, particularly in the Open fleet. There were a few close finishes when the top three came across the line within 15 seconds of each other. But the champions’ abilities to ‘do the corners’ was the thing that looked to clinch it each time. Their boat handling in the maneuvers was the killer and where it was won and lost even though a few were actually faster in a straight line. Open sailors such a Dave Shaw NZL 270, Phil Robertson NZL 555, Tymo Bendyk POL15 were all superb on many occasions, but Mischa dropped it on fewer occasions guys! Time on the water was the winner when everything else was equal. Some sailors, as most do, had problems with consistent performances, sometimes getting good finishes, then sometimes poor ones. However, PJ stood out as constantly putting in good mid-teen finishes all the time. The weather was actually perfect for a real testing championships too. We had minimum 5 knot races, and we had some 20 knot races, and the winners were the ones who mastered it all, as it should be.
Techniques wise, it would seem that leeward trapezing in light airs has become a thing now. This seemed to work particularly well for the lighter sailors, with some of them trapezing between the hulls, Nacra style. Sandro Caviezel has a particularly balletic style using a one foot on the hull technique. One does wonder what happens if a sudden gust arrives though…. In anything over about 12 knots, upwind foiling is a must, and the angles sailed look to be getting higher as techniques are refined. Portland Harbour proved to be, as you were told, a foiling heaven. Those who couldn’t foil downwind now get slaughtered.
There are always new and innovative things seen around the boat park at any Worlds. Deck-sweeper sails have now become standard for the Open fleet, and now, specially cut sails, designed for Classics, have proved their worth. They are at least 1/2 knot faster upwind, and sail 1/2 degree higher and many are now changing their rigs to these. However, downwind in the light stuff, the original rig is still king. Masts still seem to be staying at the 9m level for now though. Rudder rake adjustments, allowed in the Open but not the Classic Division, have become widespread. One of the most interesting was on Sandro’s Schuerer where he had motorcycle throttle style controls on his tiller extension. He also has a cable controlled rudder connection hidden underneath the rear empennage extending from the rear beam to the hull ends, to smooth the exit airflow. The latest Exploder Ad3 now have ‘Cuban Fibre’ style hard trampolines, like those on the DNA F1s. These give them a very smooth deck look. However, I still can’t stop thinking that the under-tramp should be the stiff and smooth side, as that would make the airflow less turbulated maybe? The rudder winglets change shape with each season. Currently, stylish downward swept tips are the thing. The main foils are now the Z-27 series and their DNA equivalent derivatives have arrived in force too, providing more stable, lower drag foiling. These presented a few issues at measuring though, as they sometimes came over-long, requiring part of the tips to be removed for them to comply with the class 2.3m width dimensions.
The national fleets are now looking forward to their winter series, or their Southern summer seasons as circus now moves onto Cadiz next June first, then to the USA a year in October. It looks like we are all in for an exciting time to come, so just get practicing doing those corners people.