Race day 3 – The Classic Division get a pounding.
We knew that today was going to be hard going. Only the Classic fleet raced today in Houston at the Beacon Group 2022 A-Class Cat Worlds, and the planned 3 races were curtailed to 2. The building sea state started to become potentially boat breaking and the winds were building to 18+kts, so Billy Richnow decided discretion was the best policy so people would live to sail another day.
23 of the 31 boats ventured out into Galveston bay today. By now, they pretty much know what to expect. A short and vicious chop gets up in the shallow waters of the bay, and as the wind had been blowing most of the night, the waves hadn’t died down much. Thus, the epic Classic fleet headed out to do battle. The classics are better suited to these conditions, but even they were finding it hard going towards the end. Survival mode was engaged by most of the fleet pretty early on. Very little downwind trapezing, other that on about 5 boats, the rest opting for caution in the washing machine conditions. The chance of stuffing into the back of a wave and pitch-polling was considered to great a risk. Even flying a hull and doing the Wild Thing was not common either.
The first race got off first time, as is usual in these fleets, and right away there was a right hand shift. The riders on the right hand end of the fleet soon spotted this and sailors such as Micky Todd ESP 7 and Ben Hall USA 99 started to overhaul the pin end starting boats like they were on an airport travellator. Plus being in clear air, they made hay whilst the sun shone. The wind say some 12kts, but the chop made this a hard slog uphill, even for these wave piercing designed boats. But, at the top mark it was yet again Andrew Landenberger AUS 308 showing the way, followed by his son Andreas AUS 300, with Micky chasing hard.
The left side of the course proved the most popular as very few boats gybed at the top, electing to reduce the chances of capsizing by reducing their risky maneuvers. Downwind, both the Landys were trapezing, and pulling out a decent lead, although Micky, who has never been seen trapezing downwind, tried to keep up, but in vain. If you can get out on the wire in these conditions, and get locked onto the boat’s footstraps, you will probably go a third faster, and deeper. There is some great video from our videographer, Nick Bowers, showing this on the event website.
The race continued in a similar vein. The left was the way both up and downhill, but the wind was inching up, together with the waves. Lower down the fleet, quite a few has spills as they dug their noses into the backs of waves and got tripped up. You need to basically sit on the rear beam in these conditions, and if you slip forward, then it’s Game Over.
Race 2 of the day was essentially a rerun, only with the wind getting up to 18tks. These boats can handle that with ease, but imagine driving over a ploughed field at 25mph in a sports car, then you get the picture. More boats went over, a rudder was lost and one unfortunate broke his mast as he may have had a mast seal fail and as he started to invert the boat, and the 9ft bay depth can’t accommodate a 9m mast tragically. In the end, it was the Landy show again, with him getting his 6th straight bullet, totally dominating this division. 2nd was Micky, ahead of OH Rogers USA 73 who has been battling his old rival, Ken Marshack USA 192, throughout this series. Baby Landy was down in 7th.
At this point, the PRO Billy, and his highly experienced team of formidable women race officers keeping him on the straight and narrow, decided that too much material damage was potentially happening here, and cancelled the planned 3rd race, sending them all back to the beach. The planned Open division racing in the afternoon was postponed too. With 6 races run for the Classics, and 5 for the open, at least we have a Championship, and high race scored can be dropped.
Unfortunately is look rather unlikely that any racing will be possible on Thursday as conditions are forecast to be somewhat fruity again. Now we look forward to the final day’s racing on Friday. The top 3 or 4 positions in the Classics are probably unlikely to change, barring breakages. However, with only 9 points separating to top 4 riders in the Open division, it is all still to play for there. We have everything crossed for a sailable Friday.