Letter from Qingdao: The Lay Day

2.4mR on Day 3 at 2008 Paralympics - Qingdao
Denis Kiely reports on the second day of racing and lay day from an Irish Perspective:

Wednesday 10th September - Lay day

Middle of the afternoon - quite time. Today is what is described as a reserve or lay day. No sailing today - and I'm glad of it. I was so knackered last evening that by 8pm my head was falling over in the dining room. What you may not realise is how long and tiring the whole day can be - for everybody. Yesterday began with a briefing at 9.00am - mainly weather forecast plus few comments from Race Officer, then on to the dock to prepare the boat for a day's sailing.

Leave the dock at 10.30, bake in the morning, frying by mid-afternoon [German lady said she measured the mid-afternoon temp at 37 C.], return to the dock between 4.30 and 5.00pm. Tidy up the boat and leave the dock. Then, if you're silly enough to be involved in a protest, which both Irish boats were yesterday, you hang around the protest room for another couple of hours until your protest is heard - finally get to the dining hall by 8.00pm - by which time you're too tired to eat.

When I went to the protest room last evening at around 7.00pm, Amy was there, lying forward in her wheelchair, bent double, with her head right down on her knees, asleep from exhaustion. My heart went out for her. I have two daughters around her age and you see your own in her. The effort she makes is astonishing.

Races 3-5
Yesterday was not a good day for the Sonar - and it was an important day because 3 races were held. By the end of the day 5 races in total had been held - almost half the series. The wind was from 165 for the first 2 races and by my wind-speed monkey it rarely got above 4 kt. I would be surprised if it averaged 4 kt [min wind speed for racing] for the duration of those 2 races, but the race officer's job is to get the races in, and that is what he did. [Race officer controls the race and in particular manages the start and finish of the race] The very light winds do not suit our guys so they were down the fleet for most of the afternoon. For the last race of the day the sea breeze had kicked in, the wind direction backed to 150 and increased to 7kt - flat water - perfect!

The boys started well and were in 4th around the top mark and 3rd around the bottom mark first time round but then going up the beat the 2nd time they seemed to lose their way and dropped back through the fleet to finish 10th - not good. To show how changeable it can be the Norwegians had almost a mirror image of our race going from 11th at the bottom mark 1st time round to pip the Israelis by a nose for 1st place at the finish. The Israelis - gold medallists in Athens - are having a bit of a shocker as they have suffered two disqualifications [for breaking right of way rules] in just 5 races, the 1st by failing to turn up for their protest hearing and the 2nd for failing to give way to the Americans at the top mark. It happens - but not often.

By now certain patterns are beginning to emerge. Les Bretons seront le bateau à battre dans la classe de Sonar - I think they are all from Brittany? The English, John, Hannah and Steve, are having a bit of a shocker too, but whereas the Israelis are throwing the event away, the English are just not having a good regatta - big surprise. They may challenge for a place but I think gold is beyond them at this stage.

In the 2.4 class Paul Tingley [Para] from Halifax, Nova Scotia is leading by a point from an American. We have got to know Paul well down through the years and regard him as a good friend. He used to sail on a Sonar whose crew were known as the 'evil Canadians' - why I don't know. We wish him well.

In the Skuds Nick Scandone US, is definitely the man to beat but Dan Fitzgibbon from aussie wassie land, 3 points adrift, may give him a run for his money before the whole thing is over.

Good night.
Denis