Posted by: Willie McBride | July 24, 2011

Homeward Bound

The last 24 hours have been a roller coaster of emotion for Tyler and I.  In the first race of the day, we port tacked the fleet (for the 3rd time this regatta!) in a huge left shift to put us very far ahead three quarters of the way up the first beat, however, a massive, fleet reversing pressure change evaporated our lead, and left us in 10th around the top mark.  In the next race, we started in a similar situation, ducking 2 boats on port, and sailing into pressure to round the top mark 2nd.  The wind went so far left over the course of the race that the leader could not lay the last mark with his kite up, had to douse, and allowed us to close the gap significantly.  We were able to hold our kite, and in the last gybe, the leading crew missed his footing out of the gybe, falling into the lake while we stuck our gybe, and planed past them for the win!  Our point calculations put us in 3rd place, and indeed, those of you who followed the regatta results online probably saw that we finished 3rd overall.  Unfortunately, a wild attempt by the Spanish team to recoup points that they lost that day by filing to have the race thrown out, was validated by the protest committee, and the final race was thrown out, putting us in 5th out of 155 boats overall.

The mood at the end of the regatta was bittersweet; although we are happy with 5th, it was a big disappointment to have a procedurally correct race thrown out on the grounds of “fairness” despite challenging (according to the protest committee, “unfair”) conditions all week long.  I am still reflecting on this and I’ll have a longer writeup when I get home, but all in all, the regatta was a challenging test, and we are really happy with how we sailed.

Congratulations to this year’s European Champions, fellow Americans, Zach Downing and Andrew Cates! They put together a great regatta to become the first (that I am aware of) American, 29er European Champs ever!

More update later, so check back!

Results can be found on the results tab at http://www.29ereuropeans.org/

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Posted by: Willie McBride | July 22, 2011

Final series racing

Today was the first day of final series racing, and we had another consistent day with a 5, 2, 12 to move us from 13th into 4th. At this point the non-discardable 13 is hurting, but hopefully tomorrow we’ll get enough races to put some more points on the fleet!

One more day!

Posted by: Willie McBride | July 22, 2011

Gold

Qualifying is finally over! Thanks to the mammoth efforts of the parents and coaches who have stepped in to help set marks, call the line, and run logistics on shore, we got in the 5th and final race needed for the qualifying series yesterday, and will be starting the final series this afternoon. We placed 13th in qualifying with a score line of (9), 9, 6, 6, 2, so we carry a non-discardable 13 into the next round, but aside from that, our scoreline is wiped clean.

We took many lessons out of the qualifying series, but I think that one of the most interesting lessons was one of regatta strategy. Of any of the boats around us, we were by far the most conservative, and as a result, the most consistent. While we threw a 9, only 2 boats ahead of us threw a 9 or better. In a 9 race series, this kind of consistency would be very beneficial, however with just 4/5 races counting towards our final score, and only 5 races in the qualifying series, it was clearly beneficial to take some extra risk in order to get some lower numbers. The next series will be interesting because it’s not likely that we will get a throwout. As a result, a conservative strategy will probably pay, but if we DO get 5 races, a more aggressive strategy would be favored.

So far the US has had a great showing with 4 boats in the top 25! Zach Downing and Andrew Cates, a San Diego team are currently leading the charge in 6th; we follow in 13th; Dane Wilson and Newt Cutcliffe, who I often coach in Santa Barbara, are in 15th; and Paris and Hans Henken are in 23rd. All of the US teams are feeling good after a nice, long sleep (this is the first day since day 1 that we haven’t had a first start scheduled for 8am), and we’re looking to move up today! Racing should start whenever the breeze comes up this afternoon, so stay tuned!

(results aren’t yet posted online, but photos are available on the media tab at http://www.29ereuropeans.org)

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Posted by: Willie McBride | July 20, 2011

Breeze on

Just got quite windy! We may be able to finish qualifying today after all. 20110720-093313.jpg

Posted by: Willie McBride | July 20, 2011

Euro style

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Posted by: Willie McBride | July 20, 2011

Hostile Takeover

After a coup last night by the international representatives, PRO duties are now in the hands of coaches and parents from NOR, GBR, USA and elsewhere. With the new team of mark setters, committee boat officials, and shore team, we finally got races this morning!

We sailed a 9, 6 with ups and downs in both races, and we’re waiting to find out where we stand. Currently the lake is glassy, and the other two fleets are on the water, but if they get a few more races, we’ll go back out thus afternoon to finish the qualifying series.

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Posted by: Willie McBride | July 20, 2011

Rain, wood, and waiting

It’s day 2, and after no racing yesterday, the race committee set an 8am start time for the day. We woke up at 6:00, hit the water at 7:15, and started our first real race at 8:30ish! Off the line we had a nice conservative start and great boat speed towards the favored side. When we tacked on starboard layline I thought we would round the first mark first, however, before we reached the mark the left came in hard, and we fell out of pressure. We rounded 3rd, and battled down wind against 4 boats, picking up 1 initially, but losing 2 late in the leg. Around the gate a bad gate decision dropped us to about 10th. We picked up 3 more boats around the rest of the course to finish 7th-ish.

In race 2, we came off the line with no
lane, played the first few shifts beautifully to pick back into the top 10, and rounded the top mark around 7th. We immediately started sailing a low mode, and promptly launched on the 6 boats ahead of us. We were first around the bottom mark, but half way up the next beat, the race was canceled for lack of wind…

We waited on the course for about 1.5 hours before it started raining and the fleet boycotted and sailed in. The race committee finally got the message, and postponed racing. One obstacle to racing right now is an island of trees and driftwood that floated into our course shortly before the fleet boycott.

The fleet is currently awaiting the rc’s next move…

Posted by: Willie McBride | July 18, 2011

Contingency Plans

This morning in the skipper’s meeting the race committee laid out the emergency plan incase of a storm on the lake: “If you are strong, sail in.  If you are not flip your boat, and wait for assistance”… Fortunately this afternoon when disaster struck, we were one of the “strong” teams.  We made it to the dock just as a wall of clouds made it to the first race course, and just got the cover on the boat before the torrential downpour started.  Most other teams weren’t as lucky, which made for a great GoPro opportunity…

(Video of epic thunder storm tomorrow)

In terms of racing… The first start of the regatta set up with a hugely pin favored line.  Realizing that the fleet was late to line up, we T’d up a port tack start, and 10 seconds after the start were CRUSHING!

Unfortunately the race was abandoned shortly after this picture was taken…   On the second start, we had a descent start, but good speed and smart strategy got us to the windward mark around 5th.  After narrowly avoiding the mark by gybing out and re-rounding in 7th or 8th, we made a smart decision to break from the pack to sail towards breeze that we saw in the distance, and rounded the leeward mark in 4th.  From there we picked off one more boat on another smart pressure call, but as we approached the finish line after 40 minutes of racing, the committee abandoned the race for lack of pressure…  At the end of the day we didn’t get any races.

Overall, we sailed very well despite the fact that we ended up with nothing to show for it, and we’re looking forward to an 8am start tomorrow!  Wish us luck!

Posted by: Willie McBride | July 18, 2011

Call in the national guard!

Shenanigans at the 29er European championship!  Since last night the organizing committee has been scrambling to organize the most basic aspects of the regatta including the sailing instructions, the fleet assignments and even the launching situation… If the breeze gets above 10 knots it takes Tyler and I about 4 minutes to get on and off of the launch ramp. With 150 boats that means that a start can’t happen until long, long after the harbor start flag is flown…  We’ll see what the organizing committee can do to correct things, but so far it’s not promising.

Posted by: Willie McBride | July 17, 2011

Human Trafficking

2 nights ago we headed down to Italy to eat in Cannobli, as food in Switzerland is almost 100% more expensive.  The van that we rode in had no back seats, so Tyler and I ended up on the floor of the van with sail bags, boat covers, and odds and ends.  The ride down the coast was smooth, save getting tossed from side to side as Mr. Mollarus sped down the windy, European road trying to stay ahead of crazy European drivers.  As we approached the border, looming checkpoint buildings with border police standing in the street reminded Andrew that he didn’t have his passport…  Of slightly greater concern to me was the fact that the van was essentially smuggling 2 American kids across the border without seat belts or passports!  As we neared the boarder Tyler stuck his head up to get a better view of the police and the check point…  Fortunately the boarder station was not checking passports, or even stopping anyone, so we just sped through with no problems.  Next time we’ll be ready to dive under the boat covers!

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