Baikal 2016, Russian Championship, Day 8
Today the forecast claimed it was supposed to be good, a gentle 5 m/s wind and sunny. The second was true from the morning, but already in the night over the roof of the base a cruel north wind was blowing, which here they call the Sarma. And it continued all morning. From 10 a.m. we were on the ice and waiting for it to calm down. The wind was gusting up to 20 m/s. The worst of it was that it was terribly variable which meant that it would be unsafe to sail. At 12 we move to a different station due to changes in wind direction, the referees laid out a course, but we were still forced to wait. Sails were packed away or at least along with the mast laid on the ice as otherwise the boats could not have been kept in place.
The Ice Optimists had been racing on the track alongside. In this weather, although their boats carry less sails it was still brave. We watched how they got on with interest. We could easily have spent three times as long. Only 6 boats out of 11 finished all the races. Here a broken runner, there a plank torn off, but otherwise nothing serious. I take my hat off to their performance and skill.
When the referees declared that the start was being put off to 2 p.m. we went to take a look at the nearby fishermen’s encampment. They had come for four days. They were having a great time, even if they had hardly caught anything. In tents over ice holes, they make tea, there is vodka on the table and salad, bacon and biscuits. They were very hospitable. They are using fishing lines – the bottom is about 50 m down. They are equipped with echo locators for following fish. Their catch so far was one omul among seven fishermen. We agreed that they are even crazier than ice yachtsmen!!
On the way back from the fishermen we stopped off at a little island. I waited on the ice so as not to destroy my spikes, while Diderick H 467 made his way to the top and measured it as 20 m/s. On returning to our boats we decided to have a little trip and pose for Pavlína, so that she could take some nice photos with the island in the background.
Finally we get a chance to try a race. I started in 10th place with Petr Hamrák M 53 on my right and Jost Kolb G 936 on my left. Good company. At the start with Petr we roared ahead of Jost and were leading on our left wing. Petr was going a bit faster and I had to bear away to keep up. Then I wave a leg at him as it is time to turn. He looked in his mirror and turned. I went with him. The mast wouldn’t turn for me so I gave it a kick and went after Petr.
It was clear that we were doing well and that we would be in the lead at the buoy. At the upper buoy it was obvious that the wind had turned and was now coming from the left wing. For us it meant that we got to the lower buoy without needing to bear away. We went round the lower buoy in one big controlled skid – it was really the only way. Beating for the second time took us almost right to the upper buoy. A wild turn and once more running straight to the lower buoy. On the way I got into three skids but managed to straighten, released the sheet and things calmed down a bit. With this Petr pulled a bit ahead of me.
The third time round the upper buoy Artyom R 551 was putting pressure on me from behind, but he didn’t have the speed and I took care to keep him off and made it to the finish without him overtaking. So second place. And we beat some of the participants by one whole circuit. Late however the referee cancelled the race. Yuri R 22 lodged a protest that there was almost a full side wind during the race. Later I discovered that he skidded and fell back a long way. So the head referee cancelled it. Nothing to be done but to accept it. It has to be said though that the wind was pretty stable, at least during the race, and it was the same for everyone. I wasn’t that bothered by the cancellation – the main thing is that I could see that at last my boat was going well.
After another hour of waiting the referees finish the racing and send us to the bank. As it is not too late we set out to the Buddhist chapel called Stupa. We were there last year and had a little adventure with Jost. This time everything goes smoothly and we get there and back without a problem. Stupa is a really beautiful place.
We will see what tomorrow brings …