Baikal 2016, Russian Championship, Day 6
In the night it did not freeze, but despite this there were no puddles on the ice by the shore in the morning. It is perceptibly colder on the ice. Today we go further on the lake, about 5 km from our base. We leave the bluish ice in our bay moving into by turns grey or greenish areas. A grey surface goes with hard ice with little frost on the surface. Green places are areas of soft ice without frost. On scratching the surface with spike shoes it breaks up into crystals. I can’t understand how the same ice can have two different kinds of surface.
We trim boats together with Jerzy Sukow P 345. I go a little faster and so I leave there runners with 95 degrees. The wind is pretty good at 4-6 m/s, although at times it drops to 1 m/s. We set off for the first heat. I start on the right wing in the second-to-last place. I am first to turn but then slow down, I have little height at the top buoy. The racers around me start to overtake me. At the buoy I am still at around 6th place but with no speed and going downwind more and more overtake me. In the second circuit it is the same. In the third circuit before the finish I slow down in a wind hole. I try to gybe, to get out of it, but with no luck. Just before the finish a large group overtakes me. I finish in 34th place. That is my worst placing so far. I keep calm (but grind my teeth) and go to change my runners – those that I spent so long adjusting yesterday.
We wait a long time for the next heat, but the wind is turning, strengthening, for a moment is really strong and it is not possible to race. Half of the participants go for flat sails. Stupidly I forgot mine back at base. Now I am worried that the wind will carry it out on the lake. But it’s a long way so I wait with the others. In the end though I lose patience and go at least to train. Surprisingly I manage, occasionally there are some pretty strong gusts, but it goes fast enough. Then I spot a boat over the top buoy without a mast and a figure next to it. I head there straight away and it is Niklas Hartburg OE 221. Next to him there is a round hole with a diameter of 3 m. Niklas went into it with his right runner, flew out of the boat and hit his shoulder a bit. He was very lucky. I would not have expected such a hole. Apparently it was made by a nerpa, a local species of seal that lives only in Lake Baikal.
After waiting for about two hours we return to the old track in front of our base. I use this to make my way to the bank to collect the forgotten flat sail. But once again there is true European April weather. It rains, the sun shines, there is a rainbow, calm for a moment and the next moment we have to stand by the boat and hold it on the ice. Only Gareth Rowland K 11 appears to remain calm. He sits in his ‘kennel’ on a stool beside his boat with his back to the wind muttering: “I hate this weather. It’s English weather”.
I deploy the flat sail, bail water out of the cockpit and go to try it out. It’s blowing hard, 10-13 m/s. Fortunately the ice, cleaned by water, is fairly fast and so the effect of the wind is not that overwhelming. I am going completely by myself. The 105 degree runners hold quite well. I’ve never gone on ones like these before. I go full out downwind and there is a rainbow in front of me like a finishing gate. I can almost believe I might get there.
And finally another race. I start as virtually the last on the left and in 34th position, which I “deserved” for my previous placings. After the start I just manage to squeeze past Gareth K11, and I can bear away and speed up. I can’t see anybody behind me and I am not sure if I can turn. I go for it and see that the others are 100 m behind me. I calmly go in front of their bows. The boat is really going. What’s more after a moment there is a good change that pulls me toward the windward buoy. I turn again and still no-one in front of me. I am first to turn at the upper buoy, and about a 100 m later the wind dies. I jibe and still nothing.
Oleg Vasilev R1 catches me. He is first to go round the lower buoy and it looks like I am going to be second when again I stop, suddenly becalmed, and a group of 15 racers overtakes me at the buoy. The wind changes abruptly, both in strength and direction. It isn’t regular but at least something. I see two boats overturned, hopefully they’re OK. I try to make up what I lost in the wind hole. My boat is going well, and quickly. In the end I work my way up to at least 10th place. A pity about what I lost in the first circuit, but it was pretty much a lottery. That’s all for today and we head back to base. They’re forecasting a strong wind for tomorrow.
So, we will see what tomorrow brings …