Napier Sailing Club member, Graeme Robinson reports from the Flying Fifteen Worlds in Hayling Island:
Yesterday, it was good to see the other three New Zealand crews ahead of us for a change, in the only race held on the penultimate day of the Flying Fifteen World Championships here at Hayling Island in England. However, it didn't do anything to help us in our efforts to try and move up the leaderboard in the sixty boat Gold Fleet as we picked up 49th place and our second discard from the eight races completed to date in the scheduled ten race series. We were on the water by 8:30am in readiness for the programmed 10:00am start of the two races set down to catch us back up to the original schedule. There was only the faintest hint of northerly breeze at times all morning and into the early afternoon, so we slopped around in the waters of the Solent until some time after 1:00pm, by which time a very light and shifty northerly had stayed roughly from the same direction for half an hour, so Race Officer Roger Palmer sent us on our way in about five knots of unsteady offshore air, beneath grey skies.
Under a black flag start sequence, we were nicely set up at the favoured pin end of the line, but at the last moment were swamped by a bunch of boats that wre obviously well over the start line, so we were dead and buried and from that moment on we got everything badly wrong. Amazingly, the results showed that only two boats were recorded as being over the line at the start, but several other sailors in the bunch later acknowledged that they were very surprised to be given finishing places.
It was really tough to find gaps in the fleet and clear air and we just sailed a bad race throughout, despite keeping trying until the finish line, where our only consolation was that the boat that is now tied with us on points, but has leapfrogged us into 12th place and pushed us down to 13th overall actually finished this race two places astern of us. Several other crews from the upper section of the scoresheet also shared in our misery and it is reported that a couple of senior sailors actually boarded the Committee Boat after the race and were seen in earnest discussions with the Race Officer. Of the other New Zealanders, Murray Gilbert and Jonathan Burgess did best, in 25th place and they are now 34th overall. Next behind them at the finish were Ben Lowe and Kate Gilbert, who have moved up now into 34th place and second-best of the MSC sponsored crews. John Leydon and Sandra Williams scored 31st place in this race and are now up into 42nd place.
Perhaps it was as result of the discussions on the Committee Boat, or maybe it was just coming up time for tea, but the second scheduled race was postponed until today and we all sailed back to the beach in a nice steady 10-12 knot westerly wind that held in until after 6:00pm last evening, This was pretty much a repeat of Tuesday's events, where we spent hours held ashore, then set sail out to the race area, where we arrived just in time to get the signal that racing was abandoned for the day, after which we sailed home on a similar solid steady breeze that actually held in late into the night. Little wonder then that there were a lot of disaffected people in the changing rooms and later in the Clubhouse last night.
We are now scheduled to have the final two races in the World Championships today and there will be a big dinner and prizegiving tonight to follow. The day dawned with clear skies, but they have now clouded over. Forecast is for a light notheasterly breeze this morning, dead air around noon and then a light southwest sea breeze this afternoon, but who knows what the day will bring, or what decisions might be made out on the race course. One thing is certain though and that is that we will be all back at the beach in time for tea, because the cut-off limit for racing is set down as 3:30pm on this, the final day of the event. James Sandall and I have much to strive for today, because we are still only four points away from being in the top ten overall and one really good race could be all that we now need to round out this very interesting and challenging World Championship regatta.
All the best