Author: Tim Sayles

La fine

The 2011 FD World Championship finished up on Friday with HUN 70 taking top honors, closely followed by DEN 21 and NED 26  Results from both fleets can be found here.

The early 09:00 start did not work out as the morning northerly continued to slowly die out and the race was first race was abandoned.  The fleet went ashore with racing postponed.  Then return to the course at noon, but no racing started untill 14:00 at which point 3 races were run for both fleets, making for a very long day, but the  scheduled 9 races were run. 

There was a lot going on and we should be getting more descriptions, photos and wrap ups from contestants.  Check back with us over the next few days and we should have more details.

Garda Lays Down

Thursday was to be the first day of the final Gold/Silver fleet series but the wind was no where to be seen.  Even such famous sailing venues as Garda can have their off days, it seems.  And yet while we are here for racing, there is something very satisfying about looking up at the mountains surrounding the lake.  The fleet floated around for a couple hours but racing was finally called off.  In an attempt to finish the racing on Friday without the use of a reserve day on Saturday, racing was scheduled to begin at 09:00 on Friday with the potential for 3 races.  We shall see how that works out. 

The Breeze Fills In

Still going left, but less concentration and more open lanes

Garda revealed more patterns on Day 2 as more wind filled in, particularly for the second race of the day.  With more pressure, winds were more even over the course allowing for more open lanes to develop.  As on previous days, most of the fleet went left toward the shore but rather than short tacks up the side, ventured out toward the center.  A number of boats went right. Because sections of the course there were lifted and with fewer boats to maneuver around, they did reasonably well.

Serge and Tim planned to go right on race 1.  But after a reasonable start, could not find a lane to go right and when they did, fouled a boat when attempting to duck.  After a 720 they were well out of the pack and off pace.  On the second reach the spinnaker pole launch line broke.  So they decided to take a DNF and headed back to shore for a quick repair in order to be ready for the second race. 

Coming in at the same time was FD builder Dirk Bogumil (GER 199) with a foot long gash in the side of his brand new boat.  Ouch!  The rear of the boat had plenty of water.  Dirk was out for the day, but after a quick patch appeared ready for Day 3.

USA 36 in for a quick fix between races

Lin and Richard in USA 36 had reasonable two races, though not as good as the previous day.  Taking advantage of the time between races, Lin came back in for a quick fix on some headsail issue.  Paul and Pavel had a much better pair of races, finding stride and no major issues. 

Jonathan and Nigel struggled some along with others and had some issues as the wind piped up in the second race.  Almost the entire fleet was on the second grommet.  One of the interesting features of the left side during this second race was that it was possible to go too far into the bank.  While some found better lift, it was at the price of more turbulent breezes that began to wrap round points along the shore.  Again, more lessons to put into the lexicon of Garda breezes. 

After racing a dinner with music was provided at the sailing club.  Anna Gorbold had organized a trip to Venice for the day and could not be there.  (We expect a full report!)  Tim and Vicki took their entourage to dinner in the town and enjoyed more of the shops and sounds.

Opening Races

Heading downwind as seen over the rooftops in Malcesine

The opening races for 2011 WC were both exhilarating and sobering for many.  After two races HUN 70 is on top, closely followed by DEN 21 and NED 25.  Lin and Richard in USA 36 had 12th and 16th place finishes.  The rankings are based on scores across the 4 groups, so standings are somewhat tenuous, particularly at this early stage.

Race 1 was similar to the practice race, with mostly trapezing conditions and most of the fleet heading left to the shore to work up to the weather mark along the bank.  No boats in the center and only a handful on the right side.  The concentration of all boats up the shore makes for difficult sailing as everyone is constantly fighting for clear air with many boats in close proximity.  One is tempted to go just a little farther to the center for a bit of relief from the congestion but the drop off of wind pressure is quite noticable, so back into the fray you go!  Once the port layline is reached everyone heads out to the top mark, only to head back to the shore for the reaching leg, again giving no relief to the clear air problem.  Even on the downwind leg, heading to the shore breeze was the only option to find pressure and speed.

Race two was a bit different.  The big story here was that on USA 251, Serge recognized a very big 20 degree left shift just before the start which, along with the breeze the had gone up to perhaps 15 kts called for going right.  So in this case 251 headed right soon after the start.  Strangely, few in the fleet recognized this shift. Tim and Serge were 2nd around the top mark and kept this strategy for the second upwind.  In spite of a detached spinnaker sheet the team held onto a leading position until after rounding the final mark, when having caught up to the end of the other fleet, was forced to perform a crash tack when a boat just to leeward tacked onto starboard.  251 capsized and ultimately finished a disappointing 45th.

Back on shore after the race, Paul Scoffin in NZL 145 compared notes with Tim.  On the second upwind leg they had also gone right but in spite of blistering speed, failed to realize the same gains 251 had the first beat.  Early in the leg the wind was down about 10 degrees, but did come back up.  It could be that the wind had filled in much more close to the left bank with largely the same angle and minimized the advantage.  The advantage 251 found going right in the first beat may have just been a one time occurrence.  More likely in the next days, the common strategy will be to slug it out with the fleet, crawling up the left bank.

In other news, ROU 100 was apparently looking elsewhere when coming upon NED 31.  See full size on the FD Forum.

Sailing Instructions Revised

Competitors look at group assignments on the notice board

The Sailing Instructions were revised following concerns raised by competitors regarding the fleet size the course layout, plus other time limit issues.  Peter Hinrichsen, acting as Championship Commodore for this event, announced the changes at the Competitors Meeting on Sunday.  The new SIs call for the fleet to be split into four groups – red, green, blue and yellow – that will sail in rotating pairs for the first 6 races.  (In other words there are two starts per race sequence.)  For the remaining three races competitors will be assigned to a Gold and Silver fleet, based on overall scoring in the first set of races.  Groups are designated by 3 foot ribbons attached to the mainsail’s top batten.

The course has been set to the standard Olympic Gold course, with a triangle, windward-leeward legs and windward finish.  Course length will be approximately 7 miles. Time limits have been set to 90 minutes for the full race, 30 minutes to the first mark and boats finishing over 30 minutes after the first boat will be marked DNF.

Groups have been assigned.  The method for assignment is not known at this time, although the groupings appear to be fairly random.  Otherwise, normal rules apply for the most part- 5 minute starts, etc.  Perhaps the new SIs will be posted online.  The club withheld an electronic version of the original to post here, apparently realizing a change was happening.

Practice Race and Opening Ceremony

A lone FD heads out early to catch some of the strong 7am Northerly

The Practice Race held on Sunday include one start for the entire fleet as the new Sailing Instructions were not yet available.  The warning was to be at 13:00 but was moved to 15:30. An initial start that included over 100 boats was abandoned as it was not apparent where the start line was.  A local police RIB launch was there with a mark on board but seemed an unlikely mark and about a third of the fleet moved up to what was a wing mark.  Realizing the mistake at about 1 minute, all the boats started to drive down onto the start line with resulting pandemonium.

A second start allowed the fleet to head off upwind.  Most of the fleet headed left, then proceeded to the shore where they commenced to short tack up the side.  Sometimes the tacks would take boats 3 or 4 boat lengths off the bank.  Then only going out a few minutes before tacking back into the side. What was going on was solid pressure that clung to the side.  Sailing back toward the center for a short distance you could feel the pressure drop out, a sign to head back to the shore.

The wind pressure in the center of the lake was quite weak and virtually no one sailed there.  Some boats went right, seeing higher pressure.  However the wind angle was perhaps 20 degrees lower than the left, so in spite of better speed, the left had significant advantage.  The entire dynamic played out the entire race and most learned to stay to the left, hugging the shore.  Downwind was the same.  Even on the running leg, boats went straight for the shore for the pressure.

Competitors collect for a march through Malcesine for the Opening Ceremony

In fact few if any boats actually finished the practice race as the wind was dying, it was close to 17:00 and, well, it was just for practice.  However, the lesson was learned: consistent short-tacking skills would likely pay off this week.  While locals say the wind patterns change all the time during the afternoon, this is something we will need to be used to.

Tomorrow the WC begins. Off to town we to where we all walked through town in a parade by country to the town green were we were fete with local cuisine, wines and beers.  Quite an official opening.  An interesting side note, Jonathan McKee was in town sailing a Melges 20 regatta and spoke briefly from the podium, recalling his Gold Medal at Los Angeles.

Practice Race Today

Things have been hectic for everyone as spouses and friends arrive, making connections, figuring out how to meet up and, for me, dealing with a cold.  Paul Hemker, John Best and the rest of the measurement team have now processed most of the 135 boats competing here. 135 boats, 19 countries.  I haven’t had confirmation, but this may be the largest World Championship the class has ever had.  This is how it is being reported in a local Italian press release. You’ll have to do the translation yourself!  Watch that page (now on the “Racing at Garda” menu item above) as it may have ongoing results.  We’ll keep you posted on that. 

Waking up every morning here at Garda is really thrilling.  Overlooking the lake on the side of the mountain we can see dozens of kite and wind surfers taking advantage of the early morning wind.  Hearing churchbells bup and down the shore as we sip morning expresso. 

Today we have a practice race and will see how we manage 135 boats on a start line.  There is a rumor the fleet may be split, but we shall see.  We have been comparing notes on the winds here as all boats have been out practicing. A variety of patterns that do shift from day to day.   This evening we all participate in a parade through the town.


Gerrard & Stephano position container as crane operator lowers

The team has been arriving over the past few days and on Monday June 27 the container arrived with the boats.  There is always a little anxiety as the container doors are opened and we take a quick look around to see if there is any damage.  No problems!  And so we all breathed a quick sigh of relief and set about unpacking.  Usually everything is fine, although a few years back on a trip to Spain, an anchor point welding gave away and a boat dropped down a few inches. But we typically tie at least two safety lines so significant damage was averted.

So far, Gorbolds have arrived, along with Lin, Paul Scoffin and myself.  There are maybe a half dozen other boats set up as well.  Jonathan and Nigel have been out, though the rest of us are knee deep in boat games.  And enjoying Italy.  More pictures will be here soon, as we are still trying to get reliable internet and connections set up.

Boats arrive in Italy!

Last week Kurt, our fearless shipping coordinator told us, “Keep your anxiety in check FD people!”And well we should have.  This evening we got the following note:

Container was off loaded in Genoa on Jun-19 15.00 hrs. We are proceeding with Customs clearance. It will take us 3.5 hours to deliver from here. I think there is a very good chance you will have your boats there in time for the event. I know you expected nothing less. Stay tuned. Travel safe.


Kurt Hemmingsen

So good news.  We will continue to endeavor to keep our anxiety in check and in a week we’ll be assembling our boats on the bank of Lake Garda.  We expect nothing less!

Follow Us on the Garda! Blog


All the US sailors, families and friends going to the World Championships at Malcesine on Lake Garda in Northern Italy thought it would be fun to share the trip with everyone.  So we have set up a Web log page to do just that.  Just click the Garda! menu item on the right side of the USA Class home page and you can see what we are up to, hear from some of the competitors and officials. and maybe even chat with a chef from that tiny cafe we liked so much.  We’ll try to keep you up to date on the goings on and of course links to daily and overall results. The Worlds run from June 30 through July 9, but most of us will be there before that, practicing, preparing and just enjoying what Italy has to offer.