Rob Burn reports from the Czech Splash Nationals, Lake Lipno, Czech Republic: Day 1:
Greetings from the sometimes sunny, sometimes rainy but definitely very cool, Lake Lipno, Czech Republic.
Lake Lipno is the venue for the Splash Class World Champs and starting today, the Czech International Open Splash National Champs.
For those who have been following the Postcards from San Francisco, this is about as different as you can get from our Sailing Team's USA exploits.
Different Team, Evangeline Masters, Harris Bindon, soon to join O'Shea Butler, and Taylor Burn....the only common denominator. The class of boat is different too, the Splash is smaller in Hull size than a Laser 4.7, but with a much bigger sail, probably a lot better balanced, sailed mainly in Europe, especially the Netherlands, but a class that New Zealand has enjoyed much success sailing. Recent World Champions are Chris Steele, Declan Burn, Ben Lutze, and not far before them Blair Tuke and Andy Maloney who have become some of New Zealand's top International dinghy sailors.
There is an inevitable comparison with the Laser 4.7 Worlds but those of us participating will accept that this Worlds and the pre event have their own charms and are events to be enjoyed by all sailors and as shown today, the level of competition is ferocious.
The Cerna v Posumavi Yacht Club on Lake Lipno, a hydro lake and National Park in the very south of Czech, almost on the border of Austria and Germany, is the countries sailing centre. It is so laid back that it appears horizontal. None of us can begin to pronounce names and words, the briefings are a challenge but the people are really hospitable and going out of their way to make sure their event is a great one.
Our charter boats arrived late last night, we put them together hurriedly this morning, had the Opening Ceremony and the Czech Nats were on. Four races today, wind strength from 8 to 18 knots ....maybe gusting a little more, so another day for the big boys ...or girls, as the case maybe with the Dutch.
Taylor and I were hoping for warmth and less wind after San Francisco ....we were sadly disappointed. It was freezing, on and off the water. Taylor is the best of the Kiwis so far, sitting at 4th after a 22nd in the last race knocked him from 2nd. Harris and Evangeline are consistent and their races are improving with each one, Harris 20th and Evangeline 28th. The fleet totals about 40. Two more days of racing for this championships then a rest day and the Worlds start.
For those of you interested in the travel side, Taylor and I flew to Munich, caught the train and bus to Prague and checked in to Sir Toby's, a great Backpacker in central Prague. We caught the trams, the underground train and walked the historic cobbled streets and ogled fairytale castles and an architecture completely different to what we are accustomed. Hauling all our sailing gear etc, we got a very crowded bus for a long trip down to Lipno accompanied by Charlie, the Team Coach. Character building stuff sharing a bus with ever increasing numbers piling on but never enough seats, the value of good deodorant can never be underestimated.
On arrival at lake Lipno, the driver informed us our hotel was 300 metres walk which grew into a 20 minute taxi ride, great start. What was even better was the cabin the three of us were booked into last saw renovation before the War...not sure which one, but you probably get the picture. It was also up a hill, through the long grass and next to a 'zoo' that had a braying donkey ....and the amenities were a 150 metre walk away. Did I mention the mattresses were an inch thick? We are now comfortably housed in the bunkroom of the staff quarters of the Hotel Racek......more character building stuff for a young sailor's first European trip.
The food is cheap, the people friendly, the beer very good ....always look on the bright side.
As always, a huge thank you to our supporters and sponsors
The Power is back on and staff can work the coffee machine, life isn't so bad.
Today was an early start, so we found out after a sleep in. First warning signal at 10.00 am and four races scheduled after a bolted breakfast and quick stroll to the Club. Forecast had been for warmer weather and lighter winds, actually got more wind and still cold, another 'Icebreaker' added today.
The breeze went past 20 knots occasionally and as shifty as Picton Harbour, one young sailor remarked.
All in all it was a good day for the three Kiwis, O'Shea was MIA first thing but a throat niggle soon explained that.
Without going into a blow by blow account, Harris started off with a cracker third but found he was OCS later, he had a really consistent day where he made good work of the strong conditions, most of his races in the low teens or better and we could see him growing on confidence race by race. Evangeline improved markedly too, improving with each race but staying conservative, she handled the conditions well considering she is under 50 kilos.
Taylor had a mixed day, dashes of brilliance and pure speed followed by tragic capsizes, a broken centreboard, an OCS and two second places, he summed it up by saying he didn't want to give too much away before the Worlds.
From Memory and that I can't find a results website, Taylor is 6th overall, on same points as 3rd and 4th, and just a few points shy of second. Harris is around 16th and Evangeline in the mid 20's,
Our Dutch colleagues make no bones of the fact they want 'their' Worlds trophy back. We have mentioned that we have a young, inexperienced Team, but they are starting to get nervous.....that will only be added to when O'Shea gets on the water.
We were off the water by 3.30pm, no protests for the Kiwis but the Dutch top soccer team had to withdraw from the Kiwi challenge back at the Hotel as they all seemed to be protesting each other.
Two more races tomorrow then a rest for our sailors for a couple of days. Re tune the boats, make sure everything is right and ready to go for the Worlds. Day 3: Kia Ora from Lake Lipno
Apologies for the tardiness of the report, there were so many Protests yesterday, the Closing ceremony was scheduled for 1pm but we finally got there after 5pm, the Ceremony was Formal but brief, nice to see the Regatta organisers and Jury rush off, change out of their T shirts into jackets and ties ....and several minutes later....all over, change back.
The wind dropped, the sun was out so Charlie the coach and I hired a couple of SUPs (stand up paddleboards) and paddled into the setting sun across the lake, round a far island and back ........ could have been almost romantic, is that Brokeback mountain shining in the distance?
We all had dinner outside on the hotel deck, first time it has been warm enough, then fell asleep ....meaning to get up and do the daily communications ...but no.
The last day of the Czech Nationals was supposed to be warm and much less wind, we got the lovely sunshine but up to 20 knots again in the morning.
First race at 10am, second around 11.15am and the wind honking. The big sailors had another good day, the small ones starting to get tired.
Harris Bindon had another great day, a 4th and an 8th to be the best of the Kiwis. Evangeline worked hard in both races and finished well but down the pack as relative to her size in the breeze. Taylor had a chance to get to the top of the fleet but a couple of capsizes again didn't go his way....at least he was working hard and he is possibly the quickest down wind ....if he stays upright.
There was a flurry of Protests submitted and we kept an eye on them as we waited for Protest Time to finish. The Dutch were protesting each other again but somehow we missed one protesting Taylor for hitting the Pin end mark on a Start. Taylor got disqualified as he couldn't represent himself and prove the charge false, he was over the road getting lunch. He then had another one by the same sailor which, after a long and torturous process, the Jury found the other sailor in the wrong and disqualified .....so a little Karma after all. The mind games have definitely begun.
Sitting in on the hearing, Charlie and I were happy with the standard of professionalism and knowledge shown by the Czech Jury.
The final results for the Kiwis were Taylor 7th, Harris 12th and Evangeline 26th. O'Shea went out and sailed the last race and had a torrid battle with the regatta leader, the Dutch champion, and rounded the last mark in the lead before withdrawing. 'Fresh legs' are always a help...... The event has been a good shakedown regatta for our team and much needed practice.
The final work and finishing touches are almost done to the boats before the Worlds start. The winds are predicted to be much lighter but as always, we hope for a good mixture of conditions.
Websites to visit are www.splashworlds.org
The windsurfing place next to the marina has a webcam and wind strength graph ....which may be in metres per second ...10 metres per second is 20 knots. Check them out.
Couple of days off now.
Many thanks to all our supporters and sponsors
Happy sailing to all our supporters and sponsors
Our Hotel has a spa and sauna and was well used tonight after a good meal.