Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Kiel Week, Germany

I realize I haven’t updated in a while and indeed life has been totally crazy. After doing a local regatta in Sopot, Poland (will write about my insane first week in Poland later), I and the team made our way to Kiel, Germany. Because of the timing of the Sopot regatta, we drove all night long to Kiel and arrived the day before racing. As usual, I wasn’t prepared for the lodging…we are camping on a big field next to the venue. It was a little stressful trying to find a tent to borrow, but I finally got set up. We are possibly the biggest group at the campground.

After the logistics craziness, I turned my focus to the racing. After a great regatta in Sopot, I naturally had high expectations. We had two races in wind of about 10-15 knots, marginal planing for one race and full planing for another. The weather in north Europe is cold and changeable, and the water is also chilly. There are normally lots of clouds, and rain can come at any time. We are wearing life jackets during this regatta, which isn’t so great for movement, but at least they keep you warmer.

Although I came in with great expectations, my first day on the water wasn’t so great. I botched a start on my first race with an OCS. The start was planing with most of the fleet starting on port tack, at the favored pin end of the line. I thought the left side of the course would be favored, so I decided to start on starboard, go for the pin, and go left for a couple hundred meters. Unfortunately, even though I had a pretty clear situation on the line, I decided at the last second to not follow the plan and go with the fleet. Unfortunately when I tried to tack I wound up on the pin and OCS-ed. Sometimes I’m not sure why stupidity overcomes my good sense. Needless to say I was quite behind, however I did make up some ground going left on the second upwind (it wasn’t so favored at that point, but it put me in clear air with good speed).

The second race I decided to start on port with the rest of the fleet. I got off the line OK, but since the wind was shifty and the pin wasn’t quite as dramatically favored as the last race, I had to wait for a few boards to cross me. I dropped my daggerboard and headed high, then as the next puff came down, I started to plane to the right, which had become the favored side. I was having some trouble staying high, and was spinning out (cavitating the fin) a lot. Because of this, I lost some ground. I also went fairly high to the right, to hit the corner. Unfortunately, the wind, which had been about 13-15 at the start, dropped, and everyone stopped planing. I was too far to the right, and lost more ground. On the second upwind, the wind began to shift more. After being forced to tack into clear air after rounding the leeward mark, I was able to play the shifts fairly well and pass a few boats. However, it wasn’t enough to get out of the back third of the fleet.

Overall it was a disappointing day, one in which I felt like I was going backwards instead of forwards. However, I did manage to achieve one of my goals: maintain focus. I didn’t get frustrated and was constantly thinking through my race no matter where I was. At the end of the day, I felt that I was still in the game. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and to progress, step by step.

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