Kiel Week day 2

22 07 2008

So day 2 was an awful day for us.  The breeze was slightly higher than day one, and we just couldn’t manage to get the boat going all day.  It was offshore from day 2 onwards, so it was gusty and shifty, which didn’t help us finding the groove, but all in all we just sailed badly.  It wasn’t until the final race that we finally figured it out and hit the groove, but by then, after 4 races, it was too late and we ended with 3 bad scores.

On the final run of the 3rd race, we gybed on the layline and dropped to the knots to finish.  With about 100 metres to go (we were absolutely flying, in around 18 knots and slightly below the layline), we heard a massive bang.  After a few second of desperately checking the rig, everything seemed ok.  We finished, and dropped the kite.  I did a quick check of the rig, to discover that the shackle holding the spinny block to the top of the mast had exploded.  Great, one more race and we’ve just lost our spinny block.  Without a support RIB, we had to capsize and spend 10 minutes tying a new block to the mast tip.  Luckily we finished with about a minute to go before the next sequence, and got to the start line in time.

So day two dropped us into the silver fleet.  We had set out to pick up 4 top 14 results which would put us in gold, but a bit of inexperience and lack of racing this year meant that we had to spend the rest of the week in silver fleet.  Still, silver fleet is always pretty good quality (well, the top half is) so we packed up and went to prepare for tomorrow.

Kiel Week day one

3 07 2008

Ok So I’m going to try to recount the racing on each day for the 4 days we raced at Kiel week.  I meant to do this earlier, but we struggled to get wireless during the event.  I’ll try to keep it as factual as possible, so if I start talking about 50 knot gusts or dragons then I apologise.  I have a very active imagination…

ok, so day one gave us onshore breeze of around 16 – 18 knots with pretty big waves.  This was our first day of Grade 1 racing all year due to us missing Palma and Hyeres with family problems, and we couldn’t have asked for more difficult conditions.  Upwind we were wiring higher than usual to clear the steep waves, and downwind we were making big turns and choking the kite to keep us from pitchpoling.  Our aim for the day, due to us being a little rusty in strong wind and waves, was to get the boat round the track upright and get some decent starts.  We pulled some turns on as the breeze built (up to 34 on the shrouds) and started hunting for the gaps on the start line.

At our last event, we worked out a decent starting sequence of waiting for half the fleet to park up at around 1.30 to go before finding a hole and parking.  At between 1.30 and 30 seconds we would look for a double tack to put us right under the windward boat.  Judging our distance from the line, Jus would take the jib from me at 30 seconds and I’d pre-set the controls before triggering anything between 10 and 4 seconds to go.  Now for some reason, at 1.30 the entire fleet was parked up wing to wing on the VERY short startline.  Oh crap, plan B it is then.

We hunted for a smaller hole at the other end of the line and ending up starting front row but a little slow.  At the top we rounded 12th after clocking up some good lanes and having some pretty decent speed.  We pulled the bear away (easy stuff, our bearaways kicked ass all week, even in 25 knots) and popped the kite.  Down the runs we were rapid (new kite) and gybed in the waves without any problems.  We rounded the leeward mark (for some stupid reason, a big life raft full of photographers who were there all day but didn’t manage to take a single decent picture…) and ended up finishing the race 16th after dropping a few places at the second leeward mark.

Second race was very similar.  Lots of capsizing for many boats and plenty of kite choking downwind to slow the boat before we slam into the next wave.  Second race we finish 15th.

Final race, we nail the start and throw caution to the building wind by refusing to choke the kite in the waves.  We scream down both runs picking up places as other boats flip out.  We come into the final gybe on the second run (out of three), nail the boat onto the layline and charge into the mark, picking up another place to jump up to 4th.  As we round the leeward mark, following nose to tail with the guy in 3rd, we both hit the wire as Jus sheets in the main.  The guys we had just overtaken were gybe dropping round the mark in a pack, and we sailed into there big bad air at the wrong time.  The boat pitched into to windward without giving us a second to think, and we dropped back to 20th at the finish.  The day should have been much better with us finishing in 27th (gold fleet qulification standard after two days) if it wasn’t for the capsize.  We made a few mistakes that were so stupid but easy to fix with more practice, so we aren’t to unhappy with our work.

A few of the Brits had a great day.  Dylan and Alain and Rashley and Shrek both sailed blinders.

We got off the water and headed back to the tent for some Pasta and lots of water.

The Battle of Kiel

1 07 2008

So our first night in Kiel turned into a bit of a crazy time. This was 4 days before the first day of racing, so we decided to go out with the other Brits en masse for a few beers and a catch-up.

In the middle of the sailing centre was a huge tent with bars, lounge area, and a big stage for gigs. There was a pretty good German cover band playing, which pulled in some big crowds. I was standing up front with Jus, listening to the band cover “Nothing else matters” by Metallica. Although it was a chilled out moment, there was a group of about 5 Germans moshing away and smashing into us and the guys around us. After a few big bumps, a German chav turned round thinking it was us, and pushed Jus looking for a fight. Jus wasn’t going to take this from a Jerrie, so he stood his ground and pushed him back. Now, I’m not one to get into fights and I generally hate confontation, but if anyone ever looks like he’s going to swing at my little bro, I’m always going to step in. So I push my way up to this guy and tell him to back off in my best German (“Achtung, Back off Fritz…”). Suddenly without warning, some guy standing next to me punches me in the side of the head, twice. What looked like a little bit of agro suddenly turned into a full scale brawl. I spun round and smashed the guy in the face, dropping him to the floor, as 6 German chavs piled in throwing punches at Jus and me. After a few seconds of ducking and counter punching (Jus ducked a punch from the first German, countering with a sweet right hook to Fritz eye) as we hastily tried to get out of the way, Matt Gotterel (know as Shrek), Simon Marks and a few other Brits jumped between us and the mob to take the pressure. To add to the mix, some German 420 sailors we were camping with jumped in on our side to defend us. Everything quickly calmed down as more brits and a few Germans jumped in to even things up, with the chavs deciding it was a bad idea to continue and left.

The whole thing lasted only about 10 seconds, but we were all pretty shocked at how quickly it all kicked off. These guys were there to pick a fight, and took the first opportunity they could find. Luckily no-one we knew was badly hurt, although Jus got a black eye and lost his Aviators and one of our German friends was taken to hospital with a cut chin. I guess it’s just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I’m glad to say that the chavs came off worse. Hopefully that’ll teach them a lesson not to start fights in clubs, but to be honest you’d think they would have learnt from history (if they actually went to school) what happens when they pick a fight with the English.

Ready for Kiel

19 06 2008

So the boat’s packed up, van’s loaded and full of diesel (only £120 worth.  Bloody tax) and ready to go.  I’ve even packed my cricket bat to let me continue to practice the new Kevin Pietersen reverse pull shot (only to get promptly hit in the nuts).

It’s only a 7 and a half hour drive from Calais, and my Dad’s kindly offered to come along for the drive to hang out with the boys.  It’ll be great to see him as I don’t get to catch up with him much these days.  I’m sure he’ll help time fly by with endless stories of sailing around Cape Town, doing the crazy boat stuff they used to (generally involving sharks, BIG winds, waves, long distances, sharks, lobster diving and a healthy dosage of shark).  Either way, it’ll be great to have a second driver, even if he does continually remind me to keep two hands on the wheel and not to shout at other drivers because they are French…

Next stop, ze Germans..