Laser Standard Worlds 2019 – Racing Pt 1

Day 1;

After an hour and a half delay on shore for the breeze to fill in, we finally got sent out at 11:20. We began racing in 6-8 knots from a North-Easterly direction.

Race 1 –10+ degree biased line towards the pin end. The majority of the fleet were starting near the pin. I had a decent gap about 1/3 of the way up from the pin with 40 seconds to go, but stupidly, I decided to bear away to check my distance to the line. In doing so, I reduced my leeward gap and ended up starting immediately to windward of the boat below me. A few tacks later and I managed to find a decent lane on port and tacked on to the next right-hander and sailed with clear air to the port layline. 29th at the top mark.

As there was a large left hand shift throughout the first leg, the priority on the reach was to go high, but having tacked in at the last minute at the top, that wasn’t really an option. Tried to work high on the reach, but was stuck in dirty air. 37th at the 2nd mark.

Started the downwind by going hard by the lee, but eventually straightened up and was making gains going boom-back rather than by the lee. Got a bit lost in the second half of the run and struggled to get back to the gate in dirty air. 42nd at the gate.

Rounded the left turn-gate, was already on the lifted tack and made some initial gains which I never consolidated. Continued out to the starboard layline and had to tack in to a persistent right hand shift. 47th at 2nd top mark.

Managed to work the middle of the run with decent pressure, and made some gains on guys who had sailed too much distance away from the rhumb line. 45th at 2nd gate rounding.

Held my position on the last reach, and carried on to the starboard layline of the finish line on the last upwind. I had a good lane, but when I tacked, got caught in a large patch of dirty/light air. Lost three places to the boats who went to the port layline. 48th.

Race 2 – 7 boats scored BFD in the 2nd start attempt. Started under a black flag with an even line. I was about 10 boats up from the pin, in a relatively un-cogested area. I was able to hold my lane until the port layline, but the breeze was in a long right hand phase for the first half of the beat. The Croatians who started at the pin got a bit of jump in the first lefty and were able to tack and cross before the layline. I ended up slighty overlaid in the left hand shift, but rounded the top in 20th.

I had to crash tack in to the top mark and ended up hitting the mark, then lost about 5 boats after doing my 360. worked the rhumb line on the reach, whilst the rest of the fleet sailed ‘the great circle route’; I rounded the 2nd mark in 22nd.

After initially wanting to go left on the downwind (looking downwind), I was getting covered and decided to head back across to the right. Worked in the middle right in decent pressure, but ended up sailing a bit too much distance to get clear air, and a group of boats in the middle caught up. 27th at the gate.

Worked the left side of the upwind after rounding the right turn gate. The guys ahead of me tacked 1/3 of the way up the beat in a small lefty. I continued on and the breeze went back in to a right hand phase. Ended up near the port layline, having lost a lot of boats in the right hand shift which stayed in for the rest of the beat. 41st at top mark.

Had a good lane with good speed down the middle of the second run. Managed to pass a few boats who sailed away from the middle. 37th at the 2nd gate, and stayed there on the last reach. Went for the starboard layline of the finish line, and lost one boat on the port layline in a left shift. 38th at the finish.

Overall disappointing day having lost so many places in the second half of each race. Tomorrow’s forecast has a bit more wind, which I’m looking forward to.

Lessons from the day;

  1. If in a good gap with <1min. to the start, just stay calm and hold your gap.
  2. Don’t be afraid to tack back to the middle of the second upwind. Assuming you’ll have clear air. It’s okay to be cautious of the ‘danger zones’ immediately after the gate, but tacking in the first 1/3 of the 2nd beat is good for consolidating early gains; especially when trying to mount a comeback.
  3. Need to commit early to high vs low path on the reach. Can’t get caught in the middle and in the dirty air of the ‘high road’ boats.

Day 2

12-16kts with a building, steep chop.

Race 3 – Fairly even line, but decided to start towards the pin as the previous fleets seemed to have a long left shift. The start was under a black flag, and I got a good start with a solid lane about 1/3 of the way up from the pin. The breeze slowly went in to a small left phase, but I had to wait for the boats above me to tack to get on to port. Sailed back to the middle, and tacked once I was hit by a right shift. Tacked just under the port layline and got a nice left shift to take me in to the top mark. 24th at the top.

Being in red fleet for today, we sailed an inner loop with a spacer leg after the top mark. Caught a few good waves in the first few minutes of the run and gained some ground. After that however, I lost my rhythm and got stuck in dirty/lighter air. I then had to try and work my way to the right of the course to try and find some clear air. Had trouble getting back to the mark under the converging fleet. 37th at the gate.

I didn’t want to make the same mistake as yesterday by not consolidating small gains on the second beat. So after sailing for a few minutes from the right turn gate, I tacked on to a small left shift. Sailed back to the middle and tried to work a few shifts there, but eventually I had to make my way to the left, after boats who had gone hard left made good gains there. Tried to minimise my losses to the left boats and rounded the top in 41st.

Gained a couple of boats on the reach and rounded the next mark in 39th. Tried working the middle of the run, with a bit better speed than the first one, but lost a place to my teammate Sam, who had a bit better pressure than me. 40th at the gate, and stayed there until the finish.

Race 4 – Nearly didn’t start this race…as I was sailing upwind immediately after the 5min gun, my clew strap came undone, and I was stuck above the start line trying to reattach my clew strap in 12 knots of wind. Finally got it back on with 2.5 mins to the start, but I didn’t really have a plan for the race. I decided to start near the pin, as there tended to be a major left hand shift on each upwind.

Immediately before the start there was a large left hand shift, and I started about 10 boats up from the pin, having nailed my transit with a good gap below me. The breeze keeps going further left, with my compass showing the furthest left shift we’d seen all day. I was able to hold my lane, and waited for about two minutes before I finally got the opportunity to tack and cross a big group of boats. I had a good lane, and good speed with Tom Saunders (NZL) above me, and Matt Wearn (AUS) and JB Bernaz (FRA) below me, but punched well in front. I was able to keep heading back towards the middle, as the breeze started slowly shifting back to the right. I crossed Phillip Buhl (GER) once he tacked in to the righty, but I thought the angle on port was still good. I sailed for a bit longer past GER before tacking after it shifted further right. It continued shifting right, I took the shift nearly the most of the way to the port layline. Tacked in to starboard lay and rounded the top in 5th.

I worked the middle right of the downwind, and made some gains on the boats who went left, but ended up losing one place. I had a much better technique this time around, only going by the lee after catching waves on a broad reach angle. It was too hard to catch waves by the lee, so gaining speed by hotting up and then soaking seemed to work well. 6th at the gate.

Rounded the right turn gate, and eventually tacked along with the a few of the guys in front of me. Sailed towards the middle with an average angle and average speed, and ended up tacking in a small righty. The boats behind me had made some bigger gains on the left. I did a crappy tack in to a  crappy lane, and eventually got squeezed out. I chipped back out to the port layline and rounded the top mark in 12th.

Lost a place to Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) on the reach, and then sailed the middle of the downwind with good speed thanks to my newly acquired technique. I gained a bit of distance on the boats in front of me, but stayed in 13th until the finish. Ended up 12th as one of the boats in front of me was UFD. This was easily my best race at a Senior World Championships, and it was great to be mixing it up with the top guys. Tomorrow’s forecast has a bit more wind still, so I’ll be looking to finish up qualifying on a strong note.

Lessons learnt today;

  1. Multiple boats tacking on the second upwind is usually good sign that you’re making gains.
  2. Downwind technique – see above.

Day 3

14-18 knots from a similar direction as yesterday, with a solid wind swell.

Race 5 – Pretty even line, and I started towards the pin as there seemed to be a trend towards the left. I had a decent lane, but was a little bit bow back due to an average acceleration. I then had to go high groove to try and pinch off the boats above me, and ended up losing a few boat lengths to the boats below me. This was enough for them to tack and cross in the first left shift, and I had to go a bit further in to it have a clear lane. It wasn’t looking to great at the time, and a pack of boats crossed me and then tacked above me. I was holding on to the leeward edge of that group, and then the wind started dialing up to the left coming in to the top mark. I tacked in to the starboard layline and rounded the top mark in 30th.

Doing the outer loop today, I went high initially on the reach, and then made some good gains thanks to consistent planing to round the wing mark in 27th. I then looked to utilise the same downwind technique from yesterday, and managed to stay fast with a good lane throughout the run. This was my best run of the regatta, and managed to jump up to 22nd. I worked the left of the second upwind, and made some gains on the boats that went right, but also lost a couple of boats. In the end though, I gained another two spots to round the top mark in 20th. I stayed there for the rest of the race. 20th at the finish.

Race 6 – Started in a similar position to the last race, with a better acceleration and was able to hold my lane for a good length of time. I think I was a bit bow back from the line, as a group a boats above me were a bit bow forward, so I had to wait for them to tack on the left shift which occurred after the start. The boats who started at the pin were able to tack earlier and got back to the first right shift, meaning they’d already got a bit of an advantage, so I was left a bit behind. Similar to the last race, I had a decent lane on port until I had a boat tack right in front of me. I was stuck in his dirty air, but stayed there for a while as we were in a big left hand shift.  I tacked on the first sign of a right-hander, and found a new lane on port to take me to the top mark. 30th at the top.

Worked the middle of the reach, and lost a single boat due to poor speed in the first half of the leg. 31st at the wing mark. Sailed down the middle right of the run, and managed to find a decent path back to the gate, meaning I stayed in 31st.

The 2nd upwind was a bit of strange one – the boats who rounded the gate immediately in front of me tacked early, and made some good gains on the right without any noticeable right shift. I worked my way over there to try and cash in to the same gains, but ended up missing the last big left-hander in to the top mark. 34th at the top.

Similar plan for the last downwind, but I ended up sailing a bit too much distance out of pressure, and lost a place to a boat who sailed closer to the rhumbline. I was 35th at the last gate, but managed to catch that place back up on the last reach. I stayed in 34th to the finish.

That’s the end of the qualifying series, and despite not sailing at my best the whole time, I’m pretty happy to finally make it out of bronze fleet for a first time at the worlds. 97th overall at the end of qualifying.

Lesson from the day;

  1. Once you’ve opened up a good lane after the start, use the space around you to sail at maximum speed to try and punch out from the boats around you. After both starts, I sailed a bit too much high groove after opening my gap, and lost valuable ground in to the first shift.

 

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