Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Waka Racing: Open de Espana Wrap-Up

by Garth Ellingham

After 28 hours flying and over 16 hours waiting in airports we arrived in the beautiful town of Calpe, just over an hour's drive south of Valencia, for our first event on the WAKA RACING calendar, the Open de Espana.

Day 1 was a good day. Winning 3 and losing 2 the team was happy with the result. The day started great with a close victory over top ranked skipper and world number 3 Mathieu Richard. It continued with solid victories over Damien Iehl and Eugeny Neugodnikov. Losing the last race to Bjorn Hansen was stupid as we had a comfortable lead around the bottom mark and gave it away by tacking round first towards the right. Mistake: never give leverage to trailing boat, if right is favoured tack simultaneously.

Day 2 started against fellow Kiwi, Adam Minoprio. We lost the start and ended up getting bounced past the lay line on both beats, not being able to quite gain enough to attack him downwind. The second race was against an all girls team from Germany. We won the right at the start and had a handy lead which we held though out the race. Our third was against Morvan of France. Once again not pushing hard enough at the start we didn’t win the right and couldn’t get back at him.

With damage to a few boats we sat out the next race and sailed it at the end of the day. After a long break we raced the local Spanish sailor. Having a good start we sailed him to the right hand side of the course and held a small lead for the duration of the race to take a much needed win. Next we raced Lindberg (Fin), our start lacked confidence again, proving costly as we started to leeward a couple of seconds late and he was on the gun.

After this silly mistake we got pushed to the left hand side of the course, making it imposable to get back into the race and the favoured right hand side. Our last race of the day was the decider. We win we make the quarter final. We got the start we wanted and forced a penalty on him. With good pace up the first beat we had a two length lead at the top mark. With pressure on us down the run a gear failure on the pole didn’t help. A quick fix meant he was able to roll us but we were still in control. The bottom mark was messy and we rounded 1st but not tidy. The Jib got rapped round the forestay making us slow and low. He passed us slowly and then the very important boom vang broke. This made it impossible to sail fast upwind. He gained enough of a lead after all this to do his penalty and race over.

A disappointing result and end to the regatta coming 10th, as we showed a lot of promise and some good speed. A lack of experience at top level was key as we made a couple of costly and preventable mistakes which would have qualified us 3rd for the quarter finals. The team has taken many positives out of it and some great lessons. Having Andrew Taylor on the boat was invaluable and the 3 of us have learnt a ton.

As a team we would firstly like to thank Stefan Goldwater of Widex, the Pacific Sport Community Trust, RNZYS and Line 7 for the great gear. Also to the Waka Racing Supporters Club for their much needed contribution to the team and Simon Dickey from Frontend Design. Finally big thanks to Andrew Taylor for giving up his time to Sail with us.

Next stop for WAKA RACING is Valencia then onto Rimini, Italy for another qualifying regatta 2nd and 3rd of May.

Waka Racing
Open de Espana

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