ISAF Sailing World Cup 2014 – An old fox amongst the Nacra hens??

Darren Bundock and Nina Curtis (AUS) win the Nacra 17 at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne
The debut event for the mixed multihull was the 2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup in Mallorca, when a 34 boat primarily European fleet sailed in the event.

So most of the likely suspects have now had a year in the class.

Much later starters were two Australians with form - Dual Olympic Silver medallist and three times Olympian, Darren Bundock, who has won an amazing 14 Worlds multihull championships going back to 1998… alongside his crew also an Olympic Silver medallist, Nina Curtis, who sailed in their first event just four months ago.

When the Nacra 17 was selected as the Olympic Multihull class as a mixed crew boat it was widely assumed that lighter weight women would helm and the men would be needed to provide the crew muscle. But the nature of the Nacra 17 has changed that already.

This had provided a window of opportunity for the slightly built Bundock, who by the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will be 45 years old, an old man in Olympic sailing terms.

The question is will experience count in this new class ahead of youth and strength.

Seven Tornado World Championships (1998, 2001-03, 2006, 2008-09), four Formula 18 World Championships (2004-05, 2007, 2011), Formula 16 World Champion (2011), two-time ISAF Multihull World Champion (2002, 06) Bundy thinks so ... ‘the Nacra 17 is smaller than the previous Olympic multihull, the Tornado, and the loads are much lower so I can helm and that is where experience really counts. This will be my fourth Olympic campaign and I know how to put it all together at the right moment, while a first Olympics for anyone is a huge learning curve.'

Bundock with Curtis won their first up Nacra 17 regatta in Melbourne in December 2013 and then backed up in Miami with a sixth in a chartered boat.

Today Darren told Sail-World, ‘Miami was a good regatta for us as we identified light air as a weakness and an area we wanted to work on. As this week has only been light and shifty we got plenty of practice and made big improvements.

Nina Curtis and Darren Bundock - Palma Day 1 - ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca 2014
‘We have been looking forward to Palma. We have been here for a bit over a week now and we have had some really good training conditions. We have had a bit of everything, light winds, a lot of breeze. I think we are in semi good shape.

‘We would like a variety of conditions. Obviously we are going to get some light breeze today and then later in the forecast we get a bit of breeze. At this stage we just want to see how we go against everyone so the more variety of conditions. It was the disappointing thing about Miami was that we just had light breeze the whole time.

‘The Nacra 17 continues to please. It’s a great little boat for the mixed crews. It is certainly not a set and forget boat, every condition we are finding you have got to change settings.

‘A lot of gear changes. A lot of unknowns. You are watching everyone sailing out there and there are a lot of guys doing a lot of things differently. So there is still a lot to be learned for sure.

‘Most of the top crews in this fleet all started here last year this time so it is good for us. They went away and played around and we just came along and watched what they did.

‘So now we are all here set up ready to go.

‘Nina is really proving herself. She is tough. We happy with how everything is progressing.

‘The interesting thing is that it does seem that the top contenders are all male helms which is a little bit surprising. I thought it would be the other way around. I don’t know why that is, whether the guys are just a bit more aggressive on the start or whether downwind now once there is a bit of breeze you have got plenty on and the girls are just getting stronger and stronger on the front.'

Nina Curtis concurs, ‘The more time I spend on the boat the more I learn about technique and how to be a bit more efficient on the boat. To be honest it is getting a little bit easier the more time I spend on the boat. With focussed gym work I am getting stronger, but there are a few conditions where Bundy is still holding onto the mainsheet and that’s working quite well so he can’t be a slob back there.

‘It is going to be so good to have our boat and we have spent a bit of time in the class now so I am really excited.’

Fascinating times... today Bundock and Curtis scored a 7, 5 and 1 in their first European event.

Bundy reports from Day One