Kiwi Team reports from IFDS Blind Matchracing Championships in Perth

Close racing in a freshening breeze on Matilda Bay. Sheen (GBR) v Forth (AUS). - IFDS Blind Match Racing Championship
David Staley - copyright

The IFDS Blind Match Racing Championships continued at Royal Perth Yacht Club today.

The NZL Blind Sailing Team have opened their 2012 international campaign travelling to Perth this month where Royal Perth Yacht Club is hosting the IFDS Disabled Sailing International Championship, 2011, Homerus Blind Match Racing from March 19 to 26.

The Kiwi team, includes Russel Lowry (B1) helm, Paulien Eitjes (B2) Mainsheet/tactician and Tom Donaghy, with Gary Smith along as coach are sailing on the Swan River.

Seven teams from five nations are competing in the match racing event which is being sailed Sonars. The New Zealand team skippered by Russel Lowry was lying in second place overall, with seven wins, after Round Robin 2.

The New Zealand team reports on the second and third day's racing:

Day Three, 22 March 2011

A gentle NE breeze greeted the Team as we came done to the Royal Perth Yacht Club for Breakfast and briefing. The forecast for the day was 13 to 18 NE going to 12 knot SW, Yep there was going to be some wind, but not sure where from...

NZL had the first change or third race of the day. The first two races saw the completion of the round robin one and Vicki Sheen with 6 wins from 6 a clear leader. Followed by Italy and then NZL.

The first race of Round Robin 2 was NZL vs Italy, Reasonably clear start, same tack, but a little slower and to leeward of the It aliens after the start. The 12 to 18 knot NE was shifting 30 degrees, quite hard to sail when you can’t see it coming... Italy ahead by 50 seconds at first mark, but only a boat length at the bottom mark, on the wind and again some wind shifts not picked, let Italy away for a 30 second lead at the last mark. Once again the Italians lost the heading for the bottom mark, and sailed right past it. NZL slipped in before they figured the error.. every now and then you have to get one right.

Race 8 and we met the Perth team again. Kylie ended up with two penalties and an OCS, so by the time she had finished doing circles, NZL was at the top of the mark. A 90 degree wind shift to the left, created some confusion for sailors who cannot see the changes... Win two for the day.

The wind went very light for a while and then settled in as a 12 knot Westerly. Race 9 and the Spanish Team. Great skirmish, but everyone clear at the start, Spain ahead at the first mark; NZL run them down over the down wind leg, then ran into them (while on the outside) and coped another penalty at the bottom mark. A great recovery and then more fast on the wind sailing, gave then NZL team a 50 sec head start at the last mark and enough time to do their penalty before crossing for win three.

Race Nine was sailed against Vicki from UK who had not yet lost a race. Great entry and close encounters during the prestart, but this time NZL was clear ahead and going faster. Ahead at the windward mark, but run down by the UK team on the down wind, A close mark rounding, this time NZL was the inside boat. NZL then took a couple of good windshifts, to secure a reasonable head start for the final downwind, and win over Vicki Sheen’s team.

There are 12 races left and we have 2 to go. The score is 7 from 10 and sitting in a reasonable position at second overall at the moment.

Lay day tomorrow, then more racing Thursday to Saturday

Day Two 21 March

An unusual Easterly of 18 knots met the crews as we arrived for the day two briefing. Not too many questions and we hit the water to continue racing. After a nights rest and various tactical discussions, the level of sailing skills has been noticeably raised after the practice of the day before.

Owing to the wind strength the boats started the day with a reef in. We saw some great sailing before we got the chance to hit the startline. Race 5 and we faced the South Australian Team skippered by Craig Gordon, we entered on time and then chased them around for a minute or two, before lining up for the start. The SA team hit the startline at pace, while the NZL team was still reaching down the start line. The SA team got a 2 boat length head start, and kept it for the next two legs. On the final down wind the NZL team started to overtake while on port, and then missed the timing of the gybe as the SA team came at them on Starboard, penalty time again. SA team get their first win...

We then had a starboard start against the UK team of Sharon Grennan. Both teams entered on time. Lots of engagement, but both keeping clear. This time NZL hit the startline at pace and on time. The NZL team sailed really well and clear and fast, the UK team did not get a look in, Clean race, NO Penalties!!!!!

After another 9 races in a slowly dying breeze, with two races to go to complete the first round robin the racing was abandon for the day. NZL and UK2 have three wins from 6, and will be third and fourth. The two top boats have one of the last two races, so who is leading will be decided tomorrow. The surprise is Vicki Sheen who has yet to lose a race, and she is closely chased by Gigi from Italy.

More sailing tomorrow

NZL Blind Sailing Team
Russel Lowry, Paulien Eitjes, Tom Donaghy.
Gary Smith (Coach)

Thanks to sponsors:

International Order of the Blue Gavel (NZ)
NZ Blind and Vision Impaired Sailing
Thames Coromandel District Council
Kevin and Irene Rimmington
Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club
Thames Sailing Club

For full results http://www.rpyc.com.au/media/docs/Results22march2011.pdf!click_here