Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day 4 - Hyeres 2009

One of the most challenging aspects of the Hyeres regatta is always the weather. The European spring in South France can bring stormy, cold, and windy weather; the Mistral wind (an intense 40+ knot drainage wind caused by a high pressure system over the north Atlantic and a low pressure system over the Mediterranean), and in between, sunny weather and light wind. It’s a little early in the year to have a well-established sea breeze here, so without the storms, we’re left with a very unstable, light wind. In addition to the weather, we are sailing in the middle of a bay with the breeze coming over tall mountains, and our course is very close to land. This week has been a classic example of this unstable pattern.

The strange springtime weather in South France delivered more of the same light wind today. The day was sunny and very hot, and the whole morning the sea was glassy. Committee boats were sitting in clusters waiting to set marks, and all the boardsailors were beached and trying to stay out of the sun. It was a long and tedious day of waiting, but we finally sailed two races, leaving the beach around 4:30 p.m.

In these conditions, sailors with the best light-wind boatspeed are really rewarded. In non-planing wind with random gusts and shifts, maintaining excellent speed is very difficult. In these developmental days of my technique, my efficiency is less than some of my other competitors. I’m working as hard, if not harder, than the other sailors, but I’m not getting the same output from my equipment. However, I have made significant progress in my technique, and this early in the season that is the most important goal, rather than seeing results. I’m very happy this regatta has been so light…and we’re looking forward to more of the same tomorrow!

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