Thursday April 9, 2015

M53, US44 and CZ112The forecast for today was dismal, but despite that it turned out to be the best racing day so far. For me certainly. But all in good time. It was sunny from the morning, but still no wind by 11. We head out on the track and the judges stake it out. A very weak wind starts to blow and the judges call us to the start. Weak wind, it’s not for me, I am a bit frustrated, but it has to be done. I finish eighth and I am really glad. What’s more, at the start I gradually work myself further forward. For a moment I make it to fifth place, but as soon as the wind weakens I lose ground. It couldn’t be better.

Another two starts quickly follow, but both are cancelled in the third circuit for not making the time limit. I’m really glad, in one of them I tried different runners and it didn’t go at all, finishing almost completely last. So late that in the meantime the others had my lunch.

Maybe that got me fired up for the next races. The following three starts were in quick succession. The wind strengthens to a stable 3 m/s. I twice finish seventh and once sixth. After today I am in 5th place overall. I’m really content. Jost G 936 is in interim first place, behind him are Ron Sherry US 44, Peter Hamrák M 53 and Sergey Pulkov R 5.

At island with stupaAfter returning to base, with Jost G 936 we agreed to make a trip to the Buddhist stupa on the nearby island. There are two hours of daylight remaining. It is about 12 km to the island. We set off light, just a recovery line, and we manage a steady 4 m/s via the Little Sea. We get there in about 10 minutes. Or rather only to the huge ice barrier which has piled up against the rocky northwest side of the island. We climb over it, but to no avail. There is no route on this side. The rocks are too steep and there is an ice wall.

We climb back over the barrier and slowly circle the island. We are in the straits between it and the main island of Okhon. We go slowly over ice that is broken in places to a little cove, from where we can easily climb up and get all the way to the Buddhist chapel. It is a perfect pilgrimage place. We can see far and wide and feel just like mountaineers at the summit of some 8000-metre peak. And just like them we cannot stay long, the sun will soon set, half of the Little Sea is already in shadow and the temperature is plummeting. One last look acroos the narrow straits at the heights of the island of Okhon. Okhon is just a few kilometres wide but obscures the view of Baikal. Beyond Okhon, a few hundred metres from the bank lies the deepest spot in Baikal – more than 1600 m. And there is apparently some 5 km of sediment there. Which means that the heights of the island of Okhon, which we can now see, rise vertically from a depth of some seven kilometres. So it is no surprise that it is such an extraordinary place.Stupa

On our return to the boats our troubles began. I had set the mast badly on the footing and after the start it slipped from the deck into the boat. We carry on, me with a 15 x 10 cm hole in the deck. Fortunately it is nothing structural.

And then it happened. A crack appeared in front of us and Jost didn’t notice it. I did, and shouted to him and dodged, but he didn’t hear me and only saw it at the very last moment. He turned the boat abruptly immediately in front of it, and overturned. Jost was carried by the inertia of his body into the side of the boat and continued on the ice to the shallow water on the sloping ice that had been pushed under the ice barrier. Luckily he did not collide with that. He tried to scramble up the sloping ice, and on about the third attempt managed. The crack was not open, but there was no way to get over or through the barrier. I got there straight away. Jost had wet legs and belly, but not his back. It froze on him instantly. It was possible to get the boat back but not to race on it.

Despite being aware we should take care, it still happened to us. Simply it was a lesson. Jost probably thought that since we did not see any cracks on the way, we did not have to be too careful. Only our route back was a bit to the north. And there we found a crack. What’s more we are in the wild, not on an ice rink, and the ice slowly changes, moves and cracks. In the evening, together with the others, we had a stiff drink.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings …