After a number of false starts a small group of U.S.Â Â Flying Dutchman sailors finally committed to doing the World Championships in Nelson, New Zealand. The initial indecision centered around only three teams being prepared to make the trip. Once USA 153 (Doug and Michael), USA 36 (Lin and Kim) and NZL 145 (Paul and Brendan) finally committed to shipping their boats, all the necessary arrangements were quickly made. USA 87 (Jim Algert and Bruce Barrett) became a last minute addition.
When Kathy and I returned to the United States late 2004 after living in Italy for nearly four years, we had to relocate to the east coast due to Kathyâ€™s work commitments. We chose Orange Park, Jacksonville from five options, for various reasons, one being that water was close by and I could return to sailing once again.
Was it worth it? A typical question after a mediocre performance. In my case the answer is an emphatic yes, not only because it was such a beautiful venue but also lessons learned. Catching up with old friends and acquaintances was also a big highlight.
Pavel and I arrived had no preconceived idea how we would perform, as we had not sailed together for over a year before the Nationals. We had decided to refurbish US-1453, a 1984 Lindsay, with the latest ideas that included new spars and foils. What we found at this years worlds, was that we were lacking in most departments including equipment, large fleet experience,against teams that I firmly believe have improved since we last sailed against them. Therefore, Lin and Richard’s placings are probably more indicative of the state of the US FD standard than ours.
I won’t go too much into the starting issues as Lin has already commented elsewhere, but I will add that there seems to be different standards between regattas as to what the RC will tolerate. I agree with Torban Graels recent comments and feel that a crackdown on starting at this level would make racing fairer. His comment on bringing out the black flag for the first start, certainly at this level, and perhaps making it for the formed triangle only, combined with a consistent tough stance by the RC’s, could cut out the nonsense that currently persists.
The regatta got more difficult for us after race six, when the fleet was split into gold and silver. Being in the gold fleet, we found that being grouped with the top sixty-five boats meant even more aggressive starting techniques and less clear lanes and gaps to maneuver in. This meant that it became even easier to have poor results if you made even the slightest of mistakes. The decision to run three gold/silver fleet races on the final day and with the morning race being abandoned after the second windward leg, effectively made it a four race day. This took its toll, and left me both physically and mentally exhausted. A lesson here is to get fitter.
The basis for attending the Worlds on Lake Garda was to gain a realistic perspective of where we are at present and use this as a platform to build toward getting internationally competitive for next years worlds in Santa Cruz. In our case, some of the system changes we made saw knock-on effects that caused handling difficulties. These probably wouldn’t have been so obvious if we hadn’t been competing at this level. The aim now is to finesse these improvements as well as spend some time on the water together. There is a steep mountain to climb and the journey for us begins today.
A better day for the US team. Paul and Pavel led at the first mark on the 1st race; got passed by Hungarians in the 2nd reach. Stayed in touch and 4th in that race, 2 boat lengths behind 2nd place. Pretty exciting stuff. Staying on top requires not only good starts in such a large fleet, but also consistency in boatandling that minimizes mistakes. HUN 70 has been sailing together as a team for many years and in addition to being great sailors, their teamwork is really something to see…if you get close enough to watch!
The wind was stronger as the fleet left the club, so much that pretty much everyone had preset on second grommet. However it backed off a bit and back down to 1st the fleet went. The lighter – although still full trapezing breeze meant back to close left shore hugging as the center lake pressure got noticably soft.
In the 2nd race Lin and Richard were 2nd at the top mark and held on to finish with a great 3rd placing. The wind had kicked back up, going to to near 2nd grommet conditions. Here, the left was still favored but a transitional band developed between shore and center breezes that could be quite gusty and a helming challenge.
Paul and Pavel were 12 th until last beat and then broke their boom and had to retire. The gooseneck insert fitting separated from the boom section. Serge and Tim had their own damage issues. As they avoided a particularly ugly gybe mark rounding mashup of 5 other boats, an AUT boat came flying into the fray and hit 251’s hind starboard side, taking out a chunk of rail. Yes, a protest was called. AUT acknowledged.
After Race 6 the fleet was reassigned to a Gold and Silver fleet for the final 3 races, based on standing. Current results here. Lin and Paul attained Gold status while Jonathan/Nigel, Paul/Peter and Serge/Tim decided Silver was more to their liking. 3 races left. Interestingly, the reserve day was scheduled for the last day, which means WC 2011 could be over Friday.
A hectic last few weeks saw Pavel twice flying from Pennsylvania to Jacksonville enabling us to complete the refit and just make it to Connecticut, just in time to relaunch NZL-145 for race one of the US Nationals. Immediately after, the boats bound for the Worlds were loaded into a container, and it was with great relief that we saw the container doors close with NZL-145 inside.
We now look forward to competing in the World Championships on Lake Garda the venue of the “85” World Championships and the associated article that got me interested in sailing FD’s.
Paul, Jimmy Tutten and Pavel (l to r) checking that we have an FD