Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Heartbreak in Slovenia for Waka Racing

by Garth Ellingham

This was a regatta we wanted to and knew we could perform at as we really like the bigger boats and know our crew work is sharp. Sailing was in the fully carbon fibre 'One Design Match', 37ft long yachts, DS37s. We started the regatta well with 2 wins on day one and one loss, which came against top ranked Ian Ainsle in 3-5 knots of breeze. We wanted the pin at the start, forcing him to tack off. With the daygetting late and the sea breeze had dying, he picked up a right hand shift right when he needed it. He crossed by two lengths and then sailed well to stay ahead.

Day two was much the same, very light again. This seems to be a very common trend in Europe!! We raced Keith Swinton our Aussie mate first. He won the start but we sailed well to keep it close. At the bottom mark he got a technical penalty which was handy for the boys. We stayed right on his tail upwind and did so round the top mark. He did a very good job of slowing up and managed to trap us, luffing us and getting the penalty off us. He then sailed off to win.

Winning our next two races we then lost to Italian Simmone Ferresse. We got the leeward start but he managed to hold us to the lay line. He lead round the top and bottom mark but we were still close enough to attack. Sailing upwind we seemed to be a lot slower than him. We changed a few things but couldn’t work it out. We might have picked up a bit of weed but we were not sure and he just sailed away to an easy victory. This was disappointing as we know we can beat him more often than not. With one race to go we put our opponent away comfortably to end day two with a 5-3 win loss ratio.

Day 3 of racing we had one race to go in the round robin. It was a must win for us to have a chance of getting in the semis. The race was against Jacopo Pasinni from Italy. We have raced against him in 3 regattas now and are fairly even. We had a very rough penalty go against us in the pre start when it was a clear cut penalty on him. However we came off the line better than him and had a small lead at the top mark. We then got another penalty sprung on us for having our bow sprit out in the two length circle. ( only 100mm as it didn’t fully retract when we dropped the genaker before the start) We did the one penalty turn immediately and then hoisted the kite. Putting pressure on him downwind we managed to gain buoy room at the bottom mark but he didn’t give it and got dealt an immediate penalty. This didn’t wipe our one off but it put him behind. Upwind we managed to sailed him far out to the right hand side of the course and did our turn behind him. This put us right on his tail at the top and with a clean slate. After all this he then hoisted his kite to early causing it to trawl in the water and we managed to sail around him while he had issues. What a race, just mayhem.

With 6 wins and 3 losses on the board we had a very good chance of making the semis. There were still four flights to go and Jure Orel (SLO) had to win them all against the top 4 ranked guys. As we watched him top one, two and then the third, he had to lose the last race for us to get in. He hadn’t been sailing well the first two days and we couldn’t believe it came down to this. If he won the race he top qualified, if he lost he finished 6th overall. That’s how close the points were. We watched him jam yet another start and then sail away for a comfortable win which ripped our undies. Yet another huge disappointment for the team, missing out on count back to finish 5th.

We had a really good de brief today and discussed all the things we need to improve on individually and as a team. We identified that we had been sailing really well and not much has to change there but our preparation off the water needs improvement. We feel a much more professional approach and better organisation in the team is needed to be able to take those one or two more wins needed to crack into the finals. Finishing 5th this is not the result we were after and a hard one to swallow.

We now have 7 weeks off where there are no more match racing regattas. We are trying to find some other sailing to do so if you know of anyone or anything let us know. We have all gone in different directions at the moment but are going to try and sail in Cowes Week together. Our next competition is in the USA for three grade 2 regattas at the end of August. We are hoping to come back bigger, better and with alot more hunger!!

We would like to thank Stefan of Widex, Pacific Sports Community Trust, Ian of Tax Management NZ, Line 7, RNZYS, Simon from Frontend Design and the WAKA Racing supporters club for all their help and generosity.

Waka Racing

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