Kiwi competitor, Graeme Robinson gives a personal perspective of racing in the 2013 Flying Fifteen Worlds, being sailed at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. He writes:
After the day off on Sunday, we had a long and rather challenging second day on the water yesterday for the Flying Fifteen World Championships.
As happened on Saturday, the Race Officer called for two races to be sailed, to try and keep us one race ahead of schedule, so we launched at 10:30am and only just returned to our base at the RHKYC Middle Island Clubhouse site, under tow, as dusk fell at 6:00pm. Any later and we might have had problems with the authorities, because we are not fitted with navigation lights and it was very dull and gloomy under very low cloud with light rain, conditions that had persisted through most of the day.
It wasn't just the overhead conditions that proved a challenge as we raced in a light northeasterly wind of 8-10 knots (except for a short burst of 10-12 knots midway through Race 3) and a forceful easterly swell of 2 metres and more, which pushed the boats about to the extent that the boom and mainsail fell sideways on starboard tack upwind and the kite flopped between mast and forestay or simply wrapped itself up on the flat runs. Extremely trying conditions for helm and crew alike, but as is often the case, the cream again rose to the top of the fleet. Graeme Vials & Chris Turner (GBR) are looking near-invincible in search of their title defence, adding second and first placings to their two wins on Saturday, while Nick & Janet Jerwood did well to win Race 3.
We were steady throughout the first race of the day, neither gaining nor losing much ground, but struggling in the conditions along with many other crews and scored 21st place, with our New Zealand team-mates not far adrift of us at 31st. It was probably one of our better starts though, under a black flag, as we stayed well advanced of the boats around us near the pin end boat and had nice clear air off the line and raced most of the first beat with some pretty good boats and crews around us. It was on the off-wind legs that we struggled to keep the boat moving and the kite full and stable.
Race 4 took more than an hour to get underway, with a last second postponement of the first start followed by two general recalls under the black flag, which saw two only boats caught out on the first recall (out of probably ten or more that looked to us to be over), then after the second black flag recall another five boat numbers were added to the list, unfortunately including Andy and Greg in Jaffa.
Several top crews were caught out, including the crew that we had our unfortunate incident with in Race 2 and FFI Commodore Greg Wells, who now has his boat up for sale, but I am sure it is not because he had just copped his first black flag penalty in all of the World Championships that he has contested. Maybe a new boat is now on order though. Our worst start of the four attempts to get Race 4 under way was the one that mattered and we were well buried and struggled throughout.
The breeze softened as the race wore on, but the swells didn't and we made hard work of the conditions. Our only consolation was the we knew we were better of than the seven boats that were already on their way northwards to Middle Island, taking 53 points with them. It was our worst race so far, but I guess 24th still put us in the middle of the fleet.
After the bundle of black flag penalties that were dished out and a couple of protest decisions made last night, we are now in 19th place, but Andy & Greg are suffering from their penalty points score and are in 39th overall in the 52 boat fleet.
There will be big changes though after today's scheduled fifth race, because all crews will then be able to discard their worst scores, so we will need good results today and in the final two races if we are to hang on to our place in the top 20. It was an early quiet night last night on the junk Moshka and a solid sleep was definitely needed after the big day yesterday. So here we go again, refreshed & ready. Let's just hope for some easier conditions and better results.
by Graeme Robinson
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12:18 PM Tue 5 Nov 2013GMT
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