Saturday, 9 October 2010

Extreme 40: A Day of Lessons for ETNZ

Emirates Team New Zealand Extreme 40 out of the water in Almeria. Image copyright OC Events.

by Warren Douglas

Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker, bowman Jeremy Lomas and grinder Winston Macfarlane have had a good introduction to top-level catamaran racing in the Extreme 40 series at Almeria, Spain.

Friday was practice day with a light 5-8 knot breeze.

Almeria, southern Spain. Image copyright Andalucia Junta.

With Australian multihull specialist Darren Bundock on board to help the transition from monohull tactics and boat handling to fleet racing catamarans in confined waters, Barker said: “It was a day of lessons and we learned a lot.

“We made a lot of fundamental errors – and that’s hardly surprising. We were up against a lot of very experienced cat racers who were sailing aggressively while we were erring on the side of caution.

“We have to find the balance between controlled aggression and stupidity in the multihull environment .... learning what we can get away with in terms of boat positioning and control.

“We’re not going to dominate in this fleet and there’s no point coming all this way, going racing like complete cowboys and then sitting out the regatta with boat damage. We won’t learn much sitting on the dock.”

Emirates Team New Zealand Extreme 40 out of the water in Almeria. Image copyright OC Events.

The boys’ results improved as the day went on, with 7th, 8th, 5th and finally a 3rd placing leaving Dean confident about the rest of the regatta. “We’ll get better at it. The confined courses and short races give only one option – get right in there.”

Tomorrow’s racing will start at 2pm, with two or three races outside the harbour’s confines. From 3.30pm racing will be inside the seawalls of Almeria’s harbour. The breeze will be light earlier in the day and is forecast to get up to 15 knots in the afternoon.

The Extreme 40s racing off Almeria. Image copyright Paul Wyeth/OC Events.

On his Kiwi Yachting Consultants blog, Barker commented:
"...we had 4 races, 2 with upwind starts and 2 with downwind. If learning just to start a multi is enough of a challenge, starting downwind adds a whole new element.

"We had placings of 7,5,3,8 which was ok but in every race there were a number of mistakes which cost us time or position. As you would expect we have a lot to learn... but it is all part of the change of class."

Emirates Team New Zealand
Extreme Sailing Series Europe