Club Championship 2011, August 14

Exciting times: would we be able to obtain this title for the 3rd consecutive time or would we have to pass the honor to the upcoming talented youth team Anton Coppens Anton en Louis Verstraete on their Nacra 500?

I don’t know how long I am already talking about driving a race but anyway in the week before the race we decided I was going to drive 1 race to see how this would go. After this decision I had 3 more days to prepare mentally (in other words to get nervous). Sunday came and the sun was out, the water was flat and the wind was a nice force 3-4. We went out a bit before the start so I could drive the course once before I had to drive the race.

We went over to the starting line and this was something I was a bit afraid of, but nothing to worry, Gill knows what he has to do and he just told me to bear off, go up again, stay, go,… we didn’t start on the second, but pretty close so this felt rather ok. The first upwind mark along the coast we could both trap and Gill kept telling me “watch the jib, watch the jib, watch the jib…”. The second upwind tack we noticed that the Nacra Infusion (not from our club and with a good sailor on it) was in front. Again I heard a lot of “watch your jib” but I found it very hard. If my tell tales in the bottom were ok the top ones weren’t, and each time I was about to correct my steering Gill was already seeing it just a second faster so he had to say it again “watch your jib”. Difficult! So we were second at the upwind mark, dog leg went ok, bearing of to pull the kite also. The downwind leg went fine, short courses, so a quick run to the gate.

Now I know what Riley meant when she told us in her interview that she likes the downwind best because she feels in control. I didn’t understand this when she told this because as a crew I like the upwind better than the downwind (although this is changing too). But as a skipper the downwind feels indeed so much more under control, you get the speed, you feel the boat, you go up and you feel the speed increasing, you bear off if it is too high and you can feel that the crew can control this too. The only thing here is learn not to bear off to quickly, but this is just getting used to. It was nice to have a silent crew for a bit too, haha.

The thing I liked the most about my first drive was the feeling you get when you get out on the wire with the stick in your hand, it feels so powerful!

On the last downwind run to the gate, Gill was on the wire and he fell forward, I did a bear off, but… too much and we gybed! Ah shit! Since we were both still on the same side, Gill on the trapeze, gybing was NOT a good idea, so we went over (well over is not really the word when the boat just falls onto you). I thought this was really funny, my first race and I capsized! Especially since when I am the crew I always tell Gill to be careful and not to capsize. Haha. But my crew was pissed off. “Why did you do that?!.

After righting the boat Gill stated “I’ll drive the 3 other races!”, owkay message understood! The 2nd race wasn’t all that good either, we weren’t focused and since I prepared myself so much for driving I forgot to do my crew job, so not a happy boat! The last 2 races we were back in the groove and we managed to stay in front of the Infusion right up until the gate. Due to some tactical errors (we’ll have to get into match racing a bit more!) we let the Infusion creep in front of us just before the finish. Damn!

We were very curious to know if we would still be Club Champions, the boys on their Nacra 500 sailed very good and with their rating it is hard to tell if they sneak in front of you or not. Luckily the price giving started with on place 3 the boys, on place 2 us and on place 1 the Infusion.

Since the Infusion wasn’t a club member, we were crowned Club Champions 2011, yiha! We got 2 nice big bottles of Duvel beer again (who wants to share?) and the trophy is ours!

After the racing a nice evening bbq with all the participants (16 boats!).

Our next races are the Diamond Cup (compulsory mixed event at RBSC Zoute) on Saturday August 20 and we’ll also participate in the 2nd day of the Raf Verhaeghe Challenge on Sunday August 21 at Sycod Oostduinkerke. Stay tuned for more reports!

F16 Worlds France 2011

This was a great event and we are sad it is already over. We had a very good time, a lot of fun, met very cool people, had nice drinks and dinners and above all we had some great sailing. Not always great results, but most of the time we enjoyed ourselves on the water.

There were alot of nations present at this first F16 World Championship: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States!

We had several boat types all trying as hard to win this event: AquaRaptor, Blade, Bimare, Falcon and Viper. There were a few one-up sailors too, fantastic job done by them, I couldn’t do it, I need the extra pair of hands on board!

Gill and I and Matt & Gina travelled to France on our National Holiday, July 21, we arrived late at the Falcon House and we needed some coffee to wake up the next day. Luckily it was a sunny day and we enjoyed rigging the boats up on the beach of the lake and we even went out in the late afternoon for a sail. We immediately found out that the yellow buoys mean that there is a shallow. Unfortunately we found out too late, so rudders clicked out and the spi had to be doused immediately, quick quick! Luckily we didn’t touch the daggerboards and we made it out of the shallow quick and without damage. Back to sailing the lake! Matt & Gina were fast with the kite up. Gill and I felt immediately that this would be a tough battle, they sailed away from us, unbelievable. We decided that beating them once during the entire race would be a cool goal for us.

On Saturday we had our boats measured, this took a while and in the mean time we just hung out at the beach. Weather was not really fine, some rain, not much sun, but other sailors were arriving and we had fun seeing familiar faces back and meeting new faces.

That evening we took everyone to the house and Paul & Ann and Geert & Joanna installed themselves in the other bedrooms. In the mean time we had new visitors: from lush Switzerland: Andi & Martin and Sandro & Philip. We invited them to camp their tent in our backyard together with Marc, Mandy & Johannes from Germany. Camp Falcon was born! For the whole week we stayed with 14 sailors in one house, crowed but very cool! We had breakfast together (Andi was our breakfast delivery guy, he apparently liked the French bakery a lot?!) and in the evenings after diner we could unwind a bit in the house, talking about sailing, sailing and sailing and our stories of that day.

Sunday morning we had a very interesting clinic, given by Matt McDonald. He talked about general upwind – downwind settings and trim. And then he added some very useful information about sailing on this particular lake of Maubuison, looking out for the wind, seeing the gusts, taking benefit from the wind changes. Everybody was listening intently and we all made mental notes of things not to forget while sailing. In the afternoon we could already test our new learnt capacities by sailing the Practice Race. Started at 3 PM, 1 race of 2 laps. We didn’t do well. Matt & Gina did but decided not to finish since finishing a practice race could mean bad luck later on…

Monday morning was the first day of the real F16 Worlds, start at 1 PM, bad weather, no sun, a lot of gusty wind, a difficult day to sail. But we managed ok. We sailed a 12 and a 15, very happy with that.

Unfortunately we had to retire from race 2 since something broke on our spin halyard. We raced back to shore (a long way), repaired the halyard and raced back. Ouf just in time for the start of the 3rd race. In the mean time we found out that Matt & Gina retired from racing. While back on the beach we saw Matt but no Gina? They were racing to the finish line of race 1 and they had a gust hit them, they pitched, and then it felt like they hit something and they went over. Gina fell into the daggerboard (we all know those hurt!) and Matt fell on top of her. Gina was in a lot of pain and couldn't stand on her leg. Luckily the club had a doctor present and they immediately took care of Gina, put ice on her big bruise and told her she tore a muscle so she had to rest for the rest of the day. So no more racing for Matt & Gina. They were really sad, coming over from Florida to sail and already been stopped after not finishing 1 race, there are better stories. So much for not finishing a practice race for good luck… We hoped Gina would rest well and be ok for the next days of sailing!

The other Falcon teams were happier with their first day of sailing. Paul & Ann scored a 16, 15 and 12. Andi & Martin a 9, 10 and 9. Marc & Johannes a 26, 22 and 20 and Geert & Joanna a 19, 16 and 17.

On Monday evening we had the country diner with some specialties of the participating countries. The drink Chris Sproat & Georgina Burk brought had a lot of success: the James Bond cocktail: Vodka-Martine with an olive, great! Hans Klok from Holland brought some candy, with anise in it, but well this wasn’t loved by everybody (remember the taste!?).

The social program of this event was well worked out. We had the country diner, an official dinner (with yummy duck), a pasta party and some cake with the price giving. We enjoyed hanging out at the club a lot although next time a bit less program could work ok also, so we could go out more and see the surroundings of the club. We only ate in 2 restaurants and we didn’t get to taste the lovely looking paella the Maubuison market proposed!

Day 2 of the Worlds and good news: Matt & Gina are back, yiha! Gina still feels a bit sore and her bruise is turning all kind of lovely colors, but she is able to sail. Instead of Go Pete, Go Gina! They score an 8 in the last race of that day, fighting their way back to the top. Geert and Joana also scored an 8 that day, in the first race. Andi and Martin are the more consistent good sailors right now, they scored a 11, 7 and a 15 today! It is difficult sailing on this lake, very shifty and gusty, you have to look out for the wind and tack and gybe a lot. Don’t just sail to the mark in 2 or 3 tacks like we are used to on the North Sea races!

Wednesday, day 3, the sun is out! Finally nice weather to sail. But the wind is so tough to read well. While Matt was struggling reading the shifts Gina told him that this is normal. You know the shifts are in French, so we don’t understand them! Hahaha! I don’t remember if this was our bad day or not, probably not but anyway on Tuesday or Wednesday we had a very bad day, not a happy boat, not a happy crew, not a happy skipper, a day not to remember. So we are moving on. Best results on this Wednesday were a 5 and 6 for Andi & Martin! An 11 for us and a 4, 8 and a 12 for Matt & Gina.

The 4th day of racing on Thursday was again a very lovely day to sail, it is so much nicer to sail with the sun out. We scored a 7 in the first race, adrenaline rush! This was a great day, we felt so good about this. Everything was right, we took the right shifts, boat speed was brilliant and we rocked :-) Matt & Gina did very well today, they scored a 6, a 5 and a 13 and were already ahead of us in the general ranking without having sailed the first 3 races! While the sun was out we decided to gather all the Falcons after the racing and shoot a cool movie while sailing with the kites up. We are still working on making the final cut, so stay tuned for a cool movie with 5 Falcons (we were the film crew while sailing our Falcon). The different spin colors make it a really nice colorful movie!

And then it was already Friday, the last day of the F16 Worlds. We had to get up at 7, ouch, racing started at 11 that day. But damn we should have slept a bit longer because there was no wind at all. It was a very warm sunny day tough, so relaxing and waiting on the beach was the back-up plan. Just when Ann and I had decided to go swimming in the lake the signals were made: racing is on, leave the beach. Hurry hurry to put the wetsuits on and of we go. Only 1 race of 3 laps was sailed this last day. We scored a 15, right behind Andi and Matt who scored a 12 and an 11.

Final results can be found here: Results F16 Worlds 2011 France

Falcon results:
9 – Andi&Martin – SUI1
14 – Matt&Gina – USA208
15 – Gill&Kathleen – BEL666
17 – Geert&Joanna – NED237
21 – Paul&Ann – GBR207
29 – Marc&Johannes – GER002

After the price giving we went out to eat at a nice ocean view restaurant. We had a big menu with great food and nice Rosé wine. The racing was over, but the holiday still had one great evening left before we had to drive home. Thanks to everybody for making this a great event, we enjoyed it very much and we hope to see everybody again at a next Worlds or other event!