Saturday, 28 August 2010

Baltic Match Tour - Finland: Knot the finish we were hoping for...

by Garth Ellingham

On the last day of the Baltic Match Tour, we raced in Helsinki. Unfortunately for us it was an unhappy end for us just missing out on the top 4 on count back. Going into our last 3 races we knew if won 2 out of 3 we would be safely through into the Semis.

Race 1 didn’t start well against Evgeniy Neugodnikov. After doing really good work in the pre start to set up to win the favoured end of the line we were judged over the line early. This meant we had to return behind the line and enabled Evgeniy to just cross us and take the favoured right hand side. Unfortunately from there we weren’t able to claw back enough to have a shot at him.

Race 2 was against Simone Ferrase who defeated us in the semi finals in Estonia. This time we took full revenge putting 3 penalties on him during the race and also coped one too. However we easily won this one.

Race 3 the decider against Keith Swinton. We always suspected that this would be the race that decided whether us or Keith would make the semis and as things worked out it did. After a great start we lead throughout the race but with Keith snapping at our heals. We approached the top mark maintaing our Starboard advantage but right on the lay line, which meant we had to do a tack set (slow manoeuvre) at the top mark. We have done this type of set hundreds of time with no problem but in this situation we got a knot in the mainsheet as we were trying to turn around the mark and this stopped the turn. Once we recovered Keith was now right behind us in the favoured inside position.

We decided to attack him while we still could, throwing a close gybe in front of him on to Starboard. We felt we had done this legally but the umpires once again had other ideas giving us a penalty. Once this happened we tried an aggressive luff to wipe the penalty off but the umpires ruled we did not give him enough time to keep clear giving us a second penalty. This effectively ended the race for us as we now had to take one of our penalties immediately. Keith went on to win the race and beat us on count back to make the Semi-Finals.

So another heartbreaking loss for the boys but we had a good sit down afterwards and talked about the entire Baltic Tour. We came to the conclusion that this tour was a very tough event. It was 9 days in a row and had a Grade 1 calibre field and that is why it was so beneficial for us.

We know deep down we’re not that far away from winning these regattas. We felt a few things hadn’t gone our way but that is how sport goes. Also the reason it had taken us a long time to adjust to these smaller boats (4 man boats) was that we have only match raced bigger 5 man boats this year. For us each crew members role onboard changes when the number of crew changes and we have struggled to adapt back to the smaller boats. However now we are feeling confident again and hopefully with our next regatta being the familiar Knickerbocker Cup in New York we can get a result that we have been trying so hard to strive for!

Waka Racing would like to thank our main sponsor Tax Management NZ and all the support we receive from the RNZYS, Frontend, Zhik , Wells and Co, PredictWind and Devine Consultants.

Waka Racing
Baltic Match Tour