Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Sails of White Nights: Waka Racing in Russia at a World Tour Qualifier

by Garth Ellingham

Welcome to St Petersburg... 10 degrees, heavy rain, no wind, 3 knots of current and a racing area the size of a rugby field! Despite this the boys are in high spirits and looking forward to our second grade 1 event.

Last week we were in Poznan, Poland for a grade 3 event. This was on a lake that reminded us a lot of the familiar Lake Pupuke. It was fairly cold, either very light or windy, similar size and surroundings. It was sailed in funny little trailer sailors, Skippy 950’s. There were 12 teams competing, 10 from Poland and 1 from Brazil. They split the round robin into 2 groups as they only had 4 boats and 2 days of racing. We went through our round robin taking out all 5 races with only one them being close where we came from behind to roll the guy just before the finish line.

We then won both our quarter final and semi finals 2-0. We were very strong in the pre starts and won most of our races by coming of the starting line in a comfortable position and when required did the business with the boat handling.

The final was against one of Poland’s best, Marek Stanczyk who is ranked a few places in front of us. We knew this was going to be tough and had to be at the top of our game to beat him. Race one we lost by a wind shift up the first beat and then we won the next two. We were then up 2-1 only having to win one more to take out the regatta. He fought back well and took the next race comfortably making the last race the decider. Score 2-2. We controlled most of the pre-start before being forced to split tack off the line. We were behind by two lengths at the top mark and couldn’t quite roll him downwind. His lead stayed the same for the rest of the race with us throwing everything at him. We attacked again on the downwind but the short course got us in the end and he won by a couple of lengths.

We were a tad gutted with 2nd place as we were so close but knew we didn’t sail badly at all throughout the regatta. We were just beaten by a slightly better team in the finals who really knew how to sail the boats fast. Hopefully we can hit a higher level for this next event.

We flew out of Warsaw on Monday morning arriving in St Petersburg in the afternoon. The sailing area is very small and has a strong 3-4 knot current that runs down the course. We believe we can use this to our advantage as it is much like sailing off the Squadron. We are all pumped and ready to take on the best, hoping to come out with a top result on these very tricky waters.

Thanks to all of you for supporting and following us. We must also thank Stefan Goldwater of Widex, South Pacific Sporting Trust, Line 7, RNZYS and Simon Dickey of Frontend Design for all their help and Support!!

Waka Racing
Sails of White Nights

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