Waka Racing report on racing behind the Iron Curtain
Russia - 10 degrees, heavy rain, no wind, 3 knots of current and a racing area the size of a rugby field
We arrived in wonderful Russia on Monday night to a cold 12 degrees and rain. It stayed this way for the next two days not making the first impressions good ones. We trained in the ‘wedge’ shaped boats on Tuesday and found them extremely strange and with a lot of drag. This adding to the cold, wet, light and very strong current Russia had to offer! Despite all of this we were pumped and ready for our second grade 1 event.
Day one started with rain and no wind and ended exactly the same. We then had to attend a fantastic opening ceremony .
Forty girls doing a fashion parade in wedding dresses, funny dressed dancers strutting there stuff followed by two parties with plenty of vodka. Russia.
Day two, much the same as day one. It did clear up eventually followed by a light breeze so racing got underway. We started well beating Russian Eugeniy Neugodnikov who we picked as being one of the toughest. We then carried this form on to top 2 others in a row. With our 4th race of the day and our final we had a blinding pre start. We came off the line against Andrew Arbuzov with a double penalty on him. He tried to fit one in but we placed ourselves in his way, giving him another.
We had a good lead with him still having to complete another penalty. He snuck this in on the second beat when he was still behind without us noticing. This proved to be devastating as we let him cross the line first as we were still in a controlling and safe position if he had the penalty. He won the race. Our score 3wins 1 loss.
The sun came out and bought the heat on day 3, about 25 degrees. But once again lite breeze. We only managed to do 3 races this day. The wind was from the opposite direction today making the upwind beats into the current. We capitalised on this by using our knowledge of beating into tide up the wall outside the Squadron so many times. Losing the start in one race which we lost we then won the other two. Score 5-2
On the 4th day we waited once again for the wind to fill in. The original format was for the top 6 to proceed, which is where we set our goal at, but the race committee cut it to the top 4 due to lack of time. With 4 races left we knew we had to fire to get into the semi’s.
Race 1 we lost the start and fought hard to climb back into the race. We sailed superbly to get within a boat length at the top mark for the second time. Sailing with the current downwind gave us little time to attack and we just failed to roll him on the gybe, losing by two lengths.
Race 2 went well, winning the start we extended our lead throughout the race.
Race 3 we didn’t win the favoured pin end, and looking at statistics I’d say no one lost a race the whole regatta who got to the out of tide obstruction line first. Once again we fought really hard against Danish Peter Wibroe and had our chances but couldn’t quite capitalise to take the lead. With 6 wins on the board we knew we wouldn’t make the top 4 if it stayed this way. The last race was against top ranked Damien Iehl. We came off the line ahead but conceded a penalty. We held a little lead for the first beat and rounded the bottom mark ahead. He rounded the mark behind but then lifted closing into 1 boat length. We then were forced to double tack and he did also. He completed his tack first onto starboard and we then got another penalty. Doing one straight away we lost a lot of ground and he held his lead to the finish.
This put us on 6 wins 5 losses which we knew was going to be tough to make the top 4. We then had 3 painful matches to watch to see if it would go our way. It did for a few minutes and then it went horribly wrong as we watched someone run aground who we needed to win. We can’t blame the fact that others didn’t win who should have as we could have easily won a couple more.
After just missing out on semis we raced today for 5th and 6th. With the organising committee making it a one race decider we had to be on our game. This race was against Rui Boia from Portugal. We set up nicely in the pre start to lead back to the line. Forcing him to be late on the line and we controlled the up wind. We had a handy lead at the top but turning into the current cut it in half. We then controlled the rest of the race to win and take 5th overall.
This is a fantastic result as being the 11th ranked team we set our goal at making the top 6. We achieved this but unluckily the light conditions didn't allow the organisers to get the whole regatta format in of having a top 6 round robin before the semi finals. We were a tad gutted with this but we defiantly had our chances of making the top four. We had a fantastic race with Damien Ihel and are now sailing at the top level we have been striving for. We just need to fine tune all our skills, strategies and tactics to be able to top the big guys and start getting those vital points that bite us in the ass when it counts.
A fantastic regatta for the team and we are thrilled with how we sailed and our result. We are now looking forward to the World Tour event next week in Portugal, with the plan of taking what we learnt with us to tackle the best in the world.
We would like to thank Stefan of Widex, Pacific Sports Community Trust, Ian of Tax Management NZ, Line 7, RNZYS, Simon from Frontend Design and the WAKA racing supporters club for all their help and generosity.
web site: www.wakaracing.blogspot.com