Baikal, Asia Cup II., Day 6
Friday, April 7 2014
The wind has been pretty strong since this morning. After breakfast I go to the container to pick runners made of surgical steel, I have them sharpened to 100 degrees. It will be warm, you see, so I hope I won’t sink into the ice so much with them, and I will be faster. Before the start, I consult with Pierre, Z-25, on which sail to use. Both him and his son pick a flat sail, I take a medium one, it seems to be that a bumpy and soft ice means too much resistance and slows things down. However, it’s giving me a hard time during the test ride, and I barely manage. The south-east wind is strong, 8-9 m/s. It wouldn’t be a problem on smooth ice, but that’s not what we have here today. After the yesterday’s two heats I am running in 7th position so I’m pretty happy and I’d like to keep it this way. I always sail better in a strong wind. And that’s what we have today!
First of all, two Ice Optimists have their heats. They came here from Vladivostok, Novosibirsk and Moscow. They’re doing well in the strong wind; the sail on an Optimist is not large. Quite a strong wind is not a problem for them. Still they don’t have it easy and they’re doing really well.
We’re starting the first heat. I reached the upper buoy among the first 5 yachts. However, when bearing away I am not controlling the yacht at all, and the sheet completely slipped out of my hand at the top of it. It might have been good; at least I didn’t turn over. I am overtaken by about 5 more people. I make it up quickly and keep on trying. I managed to overtake few guys during next two runs and I’m finishing on the 6th position. That’s not bad, but I have made huge mistakes.
In the second heat, I made a really good start. The entire left wing stays behind me. Except for Jorg Bohn – he’s doing really well in this wind. I keep behind him, sometimes even in front of him, all the time. I barely control the yacht, it’s a bit scary. I crossed the border line a few times, also during beating, and I’m not doing too well at bearing away on the upper buoy. The yacht gets sailing so fast on the frontside course it takes me into a skid; I barely overcame several of them. Or it jumps so much I struggle to stay in the yacht. As a result, I don’t bear away on the upper buoy, I just go 100 m above it and there I turn down, praying not to break the mast. I really am quite scared I will be shipwrecked. I finish in 3rd position. That’s great, and I was making such mistakes. Still, I’m happy.
In the third heat of the day I watch my turns and try to not sail excessive metres. And it’s paying off. I keep switching between first and third position. I enter the last stretch in second place; right in front of me Oleg R 1 is turning the yacht first. So far he is first in the running rating. He has a deep sail, so he sails deeper down. My only chance is to escalate as much as possible against the wind and give it everything I have. I gybe later than he does. I’m trying to beat him with speed. And it works. I’m first to reach the finish. Wow!
We have a short pause and a meeting is called. We have to decide whether to stay here or move to the place of last year’s race, on the “small sea”. Opinions differ and the final decision is to stay here. So we won’t be moving anywhere, we have rescue service permission here, but worse ice and a shorter track.
I enter the next race looking forward to my next win. I finish third and it costs me a lot of effort. I’m asking the others how they are coping; they all seem to be easy. I, however, feel like I’m riding a runaway horse right before I fall off it. It’s doing my head in, and before the last heat I put on sharper runners. And right from the start I regret I hadn’t done it sooner. The yacht is just as fast and answering my every command. A completely different feeling from the ride. On the contrary I see that with these sharper runners I could set the yacht to a higher performance and I would manage. But it’s too late for that. I keep in second place almost all the time, and that’s how I finish as well. I’m really quite pleased. I didn’t expect this at all.
When checking the results in the evening I see I have moved into third position overall. Third place in the Asia Championship! My eyes get all slanted with happiness, as if I were a local Buryat. I probably won’t manage this again in my lifetime.
Well, we will see what happens.