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Hong Kong Waszp Nationals 2021

by Guy Nowell 19 Apr 01:42 PDT 10-11 April 2021
Waszp Hong Kong National Championships 2021 © Guy Nowell

Eleven competitors, two days, nine races, one RO, two AROs, two mark layers and a photographer. You have to start somewhere with a new class, right? Rob Partridge, formerly High Performance Coach at RHKYC, has done a great job in getting the Waszps going. In the space of a little over six months there are 20 members/boats on the books, and interest growing exponentially.

Saturday involved a lot of swimming. On Sunday morning one observer predicted “no more than four boats foiling across the start line”, but by the end of the regatta there were 11 Wasps fully pumped and flying when the gun went – we have the ocular proof. It should be remembered that some of the young competitors have skipped straight from Optimists to Waszps, which is itself a remarkable achievement. If there is any doubt about where junior sailors want to be, the answer is… on foils. According to the www.waszps.com website, in the last five years more than 950 Waszps have been sold to sailors on 43 countries. The last European Champs attracted 101 entries, and the fastest recorded speed of a Waszp to date is 27.6 knots.

After four races on Saturday, Adam Neveux was leading Duncan Gregor on countback, six points even. On Sunday morning there was 20+ kts of breeze on the racecourse, so RO Brenda Davies called for an AP on shore. Five more races on the Sunday, and two discards later, and Gregor beat Neveux by just one point.

Watching Waszps racing is very much like watching the America’s Cup AC75s but on a smaller scale. Foiling speeds mean that a correctly-read shift or puff produces huge advantages. And of course the Waszps have the same handbrake feature as the AC boats - it’s called touchdown and displacement mode, and it’s very very slow. Some of us are never going to catch up with this style of sailing! It looks like huge fun, but I am going to stick to the ‘minimum-one-foot-for-every-year-of-your-age’ theory. Truth to tell, I’m not sure I am the right shape nor the have appropriate level of nimbleness to nip though under the boom.

Congratulations to all 11 competitors. Special mentions go to Duncan Gregor for winning, Adam Neveux for winning the last race and it still wasn’t quite enough, Jack Woolterton for hanging in there with only 43 kg on the racks, and the two ‘Masters 40+’ – Olly Merz and Rita Yau. Merz said afterwards, “I now feel about 140+, but when you get these boats up and going it really is worth all the pain. I’ll sleep well tonight.”

Full results can be found at racehub.waszp.com/eventdetail/49 and a highlights video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qb2Pk45UNH0

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