Official Event Website at http://www.cncm.fr/page/world-flying-fifteen
Words: Carlyon Knight-Evans
Lay Day After Nationals
We would like to thank all of you who have been following our daily reports and those that have offered words of support and encouragement. Given the keen level of following, I decided that we ought to give you a report from our lay day as well.
With no racing scheduled for Friday, it was an opportunity for Sam to finally complete his registration, which has been an ongoing saga, and for Michelle and I to reacquaint ourselves on Kerfuffle.
It was a beautiful sunny day, so Lucy, Howard and Joe decided to head out to explore one of the many sandy beaches in this part of Brittany with a picnic lunch, while the four of us (Sam, Albert, me and Michelle) went down to the Club to get in some much needed practice.
For those of you who have only experienced sailing on a Flying Fifteen in Hong Kong where our boats are crane lifted by Club staff for launching and retrieving, I thought it was worth outlining the heavy labour that is involved in launching and retrieving our boats each day here at the Centre Nautique de Crozon Morgat. They are clearly not used to lifting out much more than optimists or topaz. It is hard enough on a race day when there are plenty of volunteers around to help, but murderous on a lay day with no one around to pull out the boats out other than helm and crew. Attached you will see some photos from earlier in the week - generally with four people needed to get each boat up.
The retrieval process means that both helm and crew end up getting wet, although Howard has managed to perfect his delegation skills so that Joe gets to do all the 'wet work' in order that Howard's fleecy trousers remain dry. He has now perfected his disembarcation technique so that he finishes with a bellerinaesque flourish as his feet land back on dry terra firma.
Michelle and I had not checked the time for low tide, but having been assured it would be "no problem", we arrived back at the ramp after a couple of hours of sailing drills out on the race course to find that it was going to be a problem! Luckily Michael Clough (who some of you will know from Mallorca) was in the same pickle, so we joined forces and after pushing our road trolleys more than 15 metres out beyond the end of the ramp, we finally found water deep enough to get our boats to float onto our trailers. The next challenge was to drag the trailers through thick sand to get to the start of the ramp, followed by the long haul up the 10 degree ramp!
Twenty five minutes after we had started the boats were finally at the top of the ramp (it would have been longer if Michael had not given up and brought his car down the slip to bring up the second boat, much to the annoyance of the organisers) and we could finally catch our breath and prepare the boat for the first day of the Worlds as well as start to go through the Sailing Instructions for the week ahead.
There is nothing controvertial in these SIs, but I thought it might be useful to send some photos of the two available race areas that we will be sailing on as well as the four courses that the Race Officer can choose from. Hopefully these can give you a good idea of what we have ahead of us and might also help you make some sense of future race reports!
Given we had a big day ahead, the Hong Kong competitors chose to have a slap-up meal based around the fantastic available local Breton produce - crab, prawns, cheese, fruit, wine, etc. - that had been picked up in the morning from the local market. It was perhaps not the best idea given the sailing ahead, but definitely enjoyable!
We ended up having a more sensible night than was potentially on the cards, so we were all up early with much anticipation of the day's racing ahead.
With boats all prepared, we headed for the 10.30am briefing from the Race Officer who would be looking after racing for the coming week. He had clearly been briefed on the number of black flags that we had sailed under during the French Nationals and the main order of business was to highlight that under Rule 30 he would be using the I Flag and the Z Flag in preference of the Black. This caused quite a lot of confusion as sailors started discussing the nuances of each of the flags and how they worked in tandem - clearly expecting that the Fifteens were going to struggle to get away cleanly!
The briefing was short and sweet and the competitors headed back to their boats and started thinking about launching. Sam was quick off the block and had his new boat in the water before 11am. Howard and I took a more leisurely approach and dropped our boats down the ramp at around 11.30am. This was another opportunity for Howard to work on his 'keeping dry' routine, which he is close to perfecting.
However, as we prepared to launch we noticed the AP had been hoisted on the Club flagstaff. There had not been much wind in the morning, but there was a strong expectation that a sea breeze would kick in early afternoon.
Sam had gone out of the harbour and so was unaware that the chances of racing at 1pm was now pretty low. Howard and I instead paddled our boats round to the visitors jetty, tied up and waited for news - and waited, and waited. It was very pleasant sitting out in the sun, but before long it became tedious as no sign of the awaited sea-breeze materialised.
At about 1.30pm the Race Officer (with Lucy on board) headed out to Race Area Two and was followed by the mark laying boats, so taking this as a positive sign we got into our boats half an hour later, hoisted sails and made our way out of the harbour. While the AP was still up, we were convinced it couldn't stay up for much longer.
Big mistake! What wind there had been had completely dropped off. The sea was like a mill pond. We had no idea what Sam had been up to for the past three hours ... drifting, and chasing the few available puffs of wind and swimming to keep cool as Sam and Albert had both gone out in full length wet suits.
Shortly after 3pm the AP over A was hoisted - there would be no race on Day One - and the few Fifteens that had gone out of the harbour started to drift back with the lucky ones grabbing tows from the mark laying boats.
Typically, as we were hauling our boats up the long slip, the sea breeze that the Race Officer had been waiting for finally kicked-in, but far too late. It was agreed that this was the right decision given the formal opening ceremony for the Worlds was due to start at 7pm and competitors needed to get cleaned up and presentable for the local dignatories who had been invited to make their important speeches. As for the Nationals opening ceremony there were far too many speeches and these were all conducted in French but with the promise of wine and local Breton food to come, we dutifully clapped at the right times and waited for them to end.
With all the competitors in attendance, talk started to turn to the expected weather in the days ahead. While the forecast for Sunday looks reasonable, with a good chance that we can complete two races, looking out to Monday and beyond, the weather looks very challenging. Attached you can see the wind guru predictions for Monday (Lu), Tuesday (Ma) and Wednesday (Me), with wind speeds of 20 to 30 knots and gusts of up to 50 knots! This may blow out any racing after Sunday until Thursday or possibly even Friday. We'll keep you all posted.
With the threat of bad weather in the days ahead and the need to catch up on the priod day's inaction, the Race Officer had posted a notice on the ONB informing the competitors that we would be having two races today, under what promised to be sunny and light conditions.
Boats started launching shortly after 11am and by 12.15pm most boats were out of the harbour and heading down to the start, checking out the pressure and the course and going through final checks for what would now be the opening race of the regatta.
All seemed to be going well on the Hong Kong boats until around 25 minutes before the first warning signal when Kerfuffle suffered a potentially catestrophic spinnaker pole failure, with one end exploding during a routine light wind gybe as we were drifting down to the start in 5 knots of breeze. A quick decision was needed - do we attempt to sail without a spinnaker pole on a two race day or try to get back the Club, repair the pole and at least be able to sail the second race?
Given our previous experience (this happened in the Hong Kong worlds as well!) we knew that sailing without a pole was a sure way of ending up in the back of the fleet, I decided to head back to the Club all the while thinking through the repair that we needed to make and praying that the wind would not drop any further. Fifteen minutes later Kerfuffle was tied up on the "Visiteurs" pontoon as I sprinted up the slipway, ran down and opened the container, rifled through my spares and grabbed two new pole ends and a phillips screwdriver. After a quick sprint back to the boat, we were heading back out of the harbour and busy working on the process of attaching the new end. Within three minutes the pole was back in working condition and attention turned to the start-line, which was still around 200 yards away as we painfully watched the fleet going through their start sequence.
Then a miracle happened - shortly after the start, a rib sporting the First Substitute raced round in front of the fleet - they were being called back for a general recall! Within a couple of minutes we were back amongst the fleet and hailed the Committee Boat to let them know that we would be able to start the first race. With course 2 selected and with a full 1.2 nautical mile beat this was going to be a long race.
Having missed the start of the sequence for the re-start and Michelle being unfamilar with a 70 plus boat start-line it was perhaps not surprising that we did not have the best of starts, but quickly decided to head up the right with a plan to switch to the left of the course before midway up the first beat. This paid off handsomely and as we approached the top mark, we found ourselves in fairly exclusive company and were the first Hong Kong boat round in the 20s, followed by Howard and Sam 10 to 15 boats behind.
In the slow drift down to the gate, Howard and Sam both made reasonble progress, with Howard having caught up quite a few places. The next beat was in around 5 knots of breeze and with just light air it was important to keep the boat moving and limit the number of tacks to a minimum. The Hong Kong boats picked their way up the course and at the top mark Kerfuffle was once again the first Hong Kong boat round (in the 20s), with Howard hot on our heels. After rounding the gybe mark we struggled to keep the kite flying and the ten places of so that we had on Howard had evaporated by the time we reached the bottom mark, with Howard now the leading Hong Kong boat on the final beat to the finish.
With a target time of 90 minutes and the first boat time to finish limit of 2 hours, it was starting to be touch and go whether the first race would be completed in time. Why the Race Officer had not shortened at the bottom of the triange will remain a mystery, but fortunately the first boat did come home in time, with less than a minute to spare. With a 25 minute time cut-off for the following boats and in a dying breeze, it was increasingly likely that not all of the fleet were going to make it. Fortunately this was not a fate suffered by the Hong Kong boats, with Howard coming home in 33rd, we were 35th and Sam coming through in 48th place out of a 72 boat fleet. Pretty respectable and for Kerfuffle an amazing turnaround considering two and a half hours previously she was facing the prospect of missing out on the first race.
The fleet then drifted down to the start line to see whether the Race Officer was going to go ahead with a second race. At this point the wind had dropped further and most of the boats were heading towards the harbour expecting that there would be no more racing that day.
Fortunately, a new front started to come in and before too long we had 12 knots of breeze on the line and with course 3 indicated, the fleet got away cleanly for race two. Despite the increased wind strength, the race was relatively uneventful. We had quickly tacked onto port and managed to pick our way through the starboard tackers into clean air and at the top mark rounded alongside Howard, with both boats well placed in the 20s. The run down to the gate provided options - as we neared the gate, Howard went for the right side and we went to the left.
The last beat back up the course seemed to have gone well, but it was clear that Howard to correctly picked the optimal side and by the top mark we had slipped back a number of places with Sam now closely behind Howard.
The run down to the gybe mark was fairly sporty with boats starting to surf and plane and Michelle was experiencing heavy pressure on the spinnaker for the first time. Other boats were handling the 12 - 14 knots well and unfortunately by the finish further positions had been given up, so at the end we crossed the line in 58th. Howard won his Hong Kong match race with Sam and crossed in 30th with Sam a further eight places behind.
With two races completed the regatta was now truly underway, although with the fleet returning to the harbour under heavy skies and periodic rain showers we now had a good sense of the weather we are likely to be facing in the days ahead.
Despite a reasonable level of alcohol consumption on Sunday evening going over the events of Day Two - including Albert's very amusing demonstration of the Swedish Frog Dance which he had performed on Sam's new boat that afternoon between races (which unfortunately he would not less us video) - with strong wind and heavy rain, few of the Hong Kong competitors were able to get much sleep. This was perhaps made slightly more difficult with some team members feeling a bit apprehensive of the prospect of saling in 25 plus knots of wind the following day.
We woke to a wet and windy morning and after our usual morning rituals - washing, coffee brewing, packing of bags, sandwich making and grabbing of breakfast, etc, we piled into the cars and headed down to the Club ready for whatever was going to be thrown at us.
The sight that we were greeted to was not too friendly. As we came through the Club gates we saw that no boats had their covers off and there was no-one at all in the boat park - not a good sign. it turned out that everyone was huddled in the main room in the Club looking out the windows at the driving rain and discussing the likelihood of racing take place at some point today. With the wind gusting up to 60 knots, some were saying that there was no way we were racing today, while others were suggesting there was a possibility of racing after 3pm.
In the meantime, we checked out the posted results from yesterday - we had had Lucy's unofficial results after racing and had been too wet and cold to hang around for the formal results to be posted.
The corrected results were as follows:
Race One: Howard 34th, Carlyon 36th and Sam 49th.
Race Two: Howard 29th, Sam 37th and Carlyon 57th.
This left us in the overall standings as Howard in 30th, Sam in 43rd and I was in 46th place of the 72 boats competing.
However, Howard had some bad news from the Race Officer as he had not tallied off after racing the day before and will receive a 5 point penalty for Race Two, which will drop him to 34th on that race and to 36th place overall - a very costly mistake for not collecting his lanyard after retrieving his boat.
During this time the Race Officer had been deep in discussion with the International Jury and we were told that a decision on whether we would race today was imminent. We didn't have to wait too long before an L Flag was hoisted (meaning a notice to competitors had been posted on the ONB) and shortly after this was followed by the hoisting of AP over A - so there would be no racing today and the first race tomorrow was scheduled to start no earlier than 3pm.
Checking out what damage the wind was doing around the Club (the French Tricolor was almost a Dicolor - the red strip now almost detached) and seeing that some of the boats had been blown away from their set positions in the boat park, we scavenged for wooden blocks and stones to act as chocks to protect the Hong Kong boats from being blown into neighboring boats.
As there was to be no racing today, a decision was made for the Flying Fifteen International Council meeting scheduled for 9am on Tuesday to be brought forward to 12pm on Monday so while Howard stayed back at the Club to represent the Hong Kong fleet and discuss the important business of the future development of the class, the rest of us headed back to our Breton accommodation to decide what to do with ourselves for the rest of the wet and windy day ahead of us.
With the rain still lashing down we went to pick up Howard after his meeting and headed into town for a leisurely lunch followed by a trip to the local Hypermarche to stock up on food for the rest of the week. As we returned home, the sun came out and the more adventurous of the Hong Kong team headed out on a hike up to the cliff tops overlooking the race areas to check out the views and for a bit of exercise. From the cliff tops we could see that one of the competitors had decided to head out into the bay to see just how strong the winds were - it did not look very comfortable, which seemed to vindicate the Race Officer's decision to postpone racing until tomorrow.
So until tomorrow, when I hope I have some racing to report on ...
After a day of kicking our heels there was a mix of excitement, anxiety and tredipation as we waiting through the morning experiencing bouts of driving rain interspersed with bright sunshine. In between the showers I walked down to the Club to see what the sea state looked like and if there was any news on the possibility of sailing today. The initial prognosis was not good with reports of a consistent 25 knots across the bay and with white horses as far as the eye could see it did not look very inviting!
I headed back to the house with this news - although most of us still expected that we would be sailing. We are already behind schedule and needed to get one race completed today to have any chance of completing the scheduled races by Thursday. This was very much on our minds as we need Friday to pack the boats into the container and if this reserve day ends up being used for racing, we will packing the container in the dark, missing the prize giving and the gala dinner - not the best way to end a two week regatta.
We headed down to the Club just before 1pm and there was a promising level of activity in the boat park, so we started our own preparations and then headed up to the main meeting room to wait for news. The Race Officer and his international jury having sent out the mark laying boats to relay news of wind on the course, were huddled around their computers looking at the forecast. Just before 1.30pm confirmation went out to the fleet that with the wind at the start-line of around 17 knots we would be racing!
Boats started queing up to launch, although it was a bit like watching penguins about to dive into the sea worried about predators - no one wanted to go first - but eventually there was enough pressure building up behind that the leading boats had to head out.
We had an anxious moment while hoisting our main. It seemed to go up smoothly but then about a foot short of the top of the mast it jammed - with no movement up or down. Michelle and I tried pulling it back down the mast and heaving on the halyard, but to no effect. It looked we would be forced back to the Club and miss the day's racing, but then Michelle identified the halyard was being caught behind the job halyard and once pressure was let off the rig, the main slipped smoothly to the top of the mast and we headed out into the bay and down to the start line.
As on Day Two with our spinnaker pole issue, the mast problem meant that we missed the beginning of the start sequence, but managed to see that Course 4 had been set and were able to catch the time with one minute to go as the P Flag came down.
The line looked very biased as in prior days, although this time to the Committe Boat, which is where we headed. We ended up in a good position just below the Committee Boat and were well set, then realised that we were surrounded by the top five sailors who didn't seem too please to see us where they wanted to be. It was too late to move down the line, so we went for it. In 18 - 20 knots of breeze as the time ticked down to the start, Michelle did not look very comfortable as were being surrounded by boats shouting at us and each other using some very colourful language. With the significant line bias boats were concentrating around the Committee Boat and it was not surprising that the First Substitute came up immediately after the start, forcing the fleet round for another go.
As on Day Two, the Race Officer immediately reached for his I and Z Flags for the restart. Howard and I both decided to keep clear of the expected carnage around the Committee Boat as there had been no attempt to correct the line bias and headed out to the middle of the line. Sam decided to give it another go at the Committee Boat end. As the clock ticked down Howard and I had both closed on the pin-end boat so were both able to start in clean air and get away on the front row, albeit that we had given up quite a few boat lengths to those who had started at the other end of the line. We both headed up the left of the course, with Howard pointing high and maintaining good boat speed. Sam in the meantime had got away but was quickly swamped by the leading boats.
The first beat was quite a challenge with gusts of over 25 knots coming down the course and open bailers were essential as waves were frequently breaking over our bow. The Hong Kong boats were not relishing the conditions, with Howard making the top mark in the mid 30s and Sam a few places behind, with kerfuffle rounding in the mid 40s.
Given the challenging sea conditions, Michelle and I had agreed before the start not to fly the Spinnaker and while this was sensible given the challenges that we saw other boats having flying theirs, it ultimately cost us quite a lot of places and we went through the gate in the low 60s.
In the meantime, Howard was holding his own in the middle of the fleet and he and Joe were enjoying the surfing conditions. Sam and Albert though were slipping back down the fleet.
The second beat was more of the same with gusts continuing to hit 25 knots and a number of boats were broaching in the short seas the fleet was racing through. Sam was having trouble with his pole - it seems that this is set up slightly differently than his previous boat and kept caching his jib when tacking - so was giving up more places. We managed to pick up a few of the positions we had lost on the downward leg - although there was a sense of inevitability that we would be giving these back before too long!
The wind was gradually lessening as boats turned back down the course towards the gybe mark - this leg was quite processional with few positions changing - although the wind was was still strong enough that there were a couple of spinnaker problems on other boats that we were able to capitalise on and claw back a place.
The final beat was definitely easier on the fleet with Howard still in the 30s, while Sam was now in the 50s and we were in the low 60s. With limited opportunities to to make further inroads, we all turned at the top mark for the final time in rougthly the same relative positions with one last run down to the finish.
As we crossed the line, the provsional finishing places from Lucy's vantage point on the Committee Boat were Howard in 40th, Sam in 59th and we were 63rd. Not a great afternoon for the Hong Kong fleet, but we had all come through it unscathed and without any serious boat damage.
With many of the boats coming back to the slip at the same time it was a fairly hectic retrieval process and Howard was forced to get in the water to hold his boat while Joe went in search for their trailer, so his fleecy trousers finally got wet! To add insult to injury, Howard's boat was holed (not badly enough to prevent further racing) when a boat in front of his was shoved backwards and the corner of the stern caught his bow.
Back on shore we found out that six boats had been OCS at the restart and unfortunately one of these was HKG4038 - so Sam had picked up maximum points, pushing him down the leader board to 59th as we go into Day Five. Howard and I were both beneficiaries from the OCS boats, with Howard's finishing position being revised to 35th leaving him in 32nd place, while we were promoted to 57th and currently sit in 54th place.
Sam and Albert were adamant they were not over, believing that the were in the second row, but they decided not to challenge the decision given both the difficulty they would have with the appeal and also their actual result in the race, assuming it was accepted that there were not OCS. With two races the target for Day Five, we should have completed five races and the discard will then kick in, so Sam should be able to quickly improve his overall placing.
We are all hoping for lighter winds for the four remaining races, with the forecast for Wednesday afternoon at least being reasonably promising. Looking out to Thursday though there is a risk that we could be trying to race in very light conditions, although this may prove favourable for the Hong Kong boats. We will see what the wind gods decide!
With a planned two race day ahead, there were anxious moments as we checked out the latest Windguru and Windinder forecasts in the morning as we had woken up to a full on gail with driving rain. These both predicted that the wind would subside by mid-morning to around 25 knots and that by 2pm we would have winds in the region of 16 - 18 knots - and incredably sun was forecast for mid to late afternoon.
Fortunately these marvelous web weather services seemed to both have it about right and as we got to the Club the wind started to subside and the rain stopped. So without much hanging around we all started getting our boats ready and discussions focussed on whether we should put in our fast pins or leave the rig unadjusted. There was a split decision with Sam feeling they would need these, while Howard and I both felt that the wind had abated sufficiently that these would not be neccessary.
We then got into our sailing gear - Howard having to put on damp fleecy trousers for the first time - and dragged the boats round for launching, which had started at around 11.45am. This was without the same trepidation from the previous day and before long the whole fleet was out in the bay heading down to the startline for the targetted 1pm warning signal.
Course 1 had been chosen and as we got closer to 1pm it was clear that (surprise, surprise!) there was a clear line bias and that the Race Officer would struggle to get the fleet away cleanly in the then 12 - 14 knots of breeze. The initial start under a P Flag was recalled, which was gutting for Howard who had his best start of the week tucked between two of the leading boats. We quickly went into a restart sequence under the Race Officer's favourite I and Z Flags. Unfortunately, this also failed to get a clean start, so much to the Race Officer's chagrin, he had to get out the Black Flag.
The Committee Boat then, acknowledging that there was a clear line bias or finally that the wind had shifted from earlier in the day, lifted its anchor and five minutes later we had a truer line to start on.
The third and thankfully final attempt to get the fleet away was quite amusing as two boats had got their timing a minute out and as the Black Flag came down these two boats crossed the line and for a short while probably felt like a million dollars as they built up a lead over the fleet that was not following them. One of these boats bailed out and watched the rest of the race on the sidelines, while the other gradually fell back through the fleet and despite its headstart, finished towards the back of the fleet only to be told that its valiant efforts had been in vain.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong boats were struggling as the breeze had built and we were experiencing 16-18 knots of breeze. None were able to stay in the top half of the fleet (including Sam who had kept his fast pins in) with all the Hong Kong boats rounding the top mark in the 40s and 50s. In the run down to the gate, Howard and Sam both made up a few places and having not flied our spinnaker the previous day we hoisted ours and also had a good run to make some inroads on the boats ahead of us.
The second beat was in slightly lighter winds (10 - 12 knots), but none of us were able to use this to our advantage (Sam still had his fast pins in at this point) and by the time we had completed our gybe runs and beat to the finish the unoffical positions from Lucy were 49th for Howard, 55th for Sam and we can home in 57th place (for the third time in the regatta).
All boats then headed back to the start line for race five as the winds were clearly building. Sam and Albert at this point decided to remove their fast pins while Howard and Joe thought differently and put theirs in. We decided to leave the rig as it was for race five as the wind seemed pretty stable.
For the second race of the day, the Race Officer had selected course 3 and with the wind building back up to 14 - 16 knots, we were very surprised to see the Race Officer go straight to Black. He clearly was not impressed with the Flying Fifteen fleet!
Even with the threat of a Black Flag, a number of boats were over and the First substitute went up for the third time of the afternoon. Four unfortunate boats had been identified, so they headed off for early showers, while the rest of the fleet had an attempt at a first restart, which thankfully went away cleanly.
We had elected to start far out on the left by the pin end boat and this initially paid big dividends. There was a clear line bias, which had been ignored because of the Black Flags and for while we were out in good company at the front end of the fleet. By the top mark the advantage had been largely lost and we went round in the 40s. Howard had managed to get past us by coming in late on port to the top mark with Sam not far behind.
On the run, we did a bearaway hoist and then quickly gybed to take a diagonal route down to the gate. This paid off well and we picked up a number of places, including passing Howard at the gate, before heading back up to the top mark for the last time of the day.
The wind had continued to build, but this had little bearing on procedings. Howard managed to slip past us again taking the same port layline into the top mark so the Hong Kong boats resumed the final triangle with Howard leading, followed by Kerfuffle and Sam not far behind. The run down to the gybe mark was fairly sporty and Howard was able to pick up a couple of places.
At the gybe mark Howard and Joe sufferred from an inverted kite and this was compounded by their pole getting tangled. We viewed this through the spray from our bow as our boat rocketing towards the bottom mark with Michelle holding on to the spinnaker sheet for dear life.
Rounding the bottom mark, we saw that a number of boats had got into a luffing battle ahead of us, so we headed straight for the line and fortunately managed to pick up a couple of places at the last. Howard and Joe in the meantime had sorted out their kite and were able to use this to great effect to claw back a number of places that they had lost as they sorted out theit kite. Sam was not far behind and also was able to benefit from the charity been offered by the local boats in the final run to the finish.
It had felt like we had all had a good race and it was slightly disappointing that we (according to Lucy's unofficial results) had finished in 50th, 52nd and 54th places respectively, but given that we had completed two races today and the weather forecast for Thursday looked like we would be able to finish without using Friday we came off the water in good spirits - albeit pretty tired after being out on the water for 6 hours and still having to haul our boats up that damn ramp! The official results from the forth and fifth races have not yet been posted so I am not able to tell you where the Hong Kong boats are sitting overall.
While I have been reporting on how the Hong Kong boats, it it worthwhile making more than a passing mention to the current world champion, Graham Vials, who won in Hayling Island (UK) in 2011 and in Hong Kong in 2013. He is having a cracking regatta and after five races has four bullets and one 2nd place. You can see a photo of him finishing the second race today, where he is so far in front of the rest of the fleet that you would be excused thinking he was in a different race (sail number 4004).
No one is betting against him being the first person to be crowned world champion three times in a row!
The bad weather has been a major feature of this event, so it is not inappropriate for me to start with a description of how foul the weather was this morning. Lots of wind, and plenty of rain - not what you want on what we expected to be the last day of the 2015 World Championships.
After the now more familiar leisurely start to the day Joe coasted us down to the club in his Fiat 500 and we started praying for a reasonable amount of wind so we would be able to complete the two races that the Race Officer had indicated on the ONB would be sailed on Thursday.
Similar to the previous two days, boats started to slip down the ramp at aroung 11.45am and head down to the start, where the Committee Boat was indicating course 1 - the same as for first race the prior day. We were being rained upon and it felt much colder than we had expected, winds were also stronger than had been predicted, with around 12 knots on the start line.
As we approached 1pm and the warning signal for the first race, we joined the rest of the boats that were crowding round the Committee Boat trying to catch the start time and at the 4 minute stage the P Flag went up. We then went down the line in an overly casual manner assuming that there would be a general recall and for the first time in the Worlds this did not happen. As a result we had a very bad start, as did Howard.
Fortunately, Sam was able to get away well and had a commanding position up the first beat, Howard and I were trailing Sam by some distance as we got to the top mark and for us it was a focus on a respectable finish while Sam went for glory. For some reason though Sam went round the wrong mark at the the bottom of the triangle, thinking this was a gate, and was given a 20% position penalty - while bad news, was much better than being declared DNF.
As the Hong Kong boats came through the finish line it was clear this was not going to be a good result for Hong Kong - Sam was 45th (after his penalty), Howard was 53rd and we were 61st.
The sun had started to come through for the second race on course 3 and spirits were a little higher as the start sequence counted down to the most amazing start we had had all regatta - so it was very disappointing to then see a rib speed across the front of the fleet displaying the First Substitute.
Our restart (under a Black Flag) was pretty good and we seemed to be on for a very good finish until we hit the top mark on the second beat and dropped from the high 30s into the low 50s as we did our turn.
With Sam hot on our heels we had a measured run to the gybe mark and did our best to keep as many boats behind us as possible.
Howard in the meantime had stayed clear of trouble and managed to grab a great finish in the last race, finishing in 22nd place. We ended up 56th with Sam a couple of places behind us.
So thankfully we do not need to use the Reserve Day for sailing and once the boats were hauled out of the water for the last time, we set about mismantling them and get them ready for packing into the containder, which will be our task for Friday.
With the overall results not yet posted we are expecting Howard to end up in the low 30s, Sam should be 54th and we are liklely to be the 58th placed boat. To prove that Sam was unlucky and should have finished higher than Howard, they got their respective crews to arm wrestle to decide - Joe unfortunately was beaten by Albert - so it is official, Sam should have finished higher than Howard (but didn't).
This may not have been perhaps the results that we had been hoping for, but we definitely all enjoyed the regatta and look forward to competing in Napier in 2017.