Friday 29/1/2016

ME DN 2016, briefing aToday finally the wind is reasonable; at the briefing Henny and Dan send us to the racing track. The forecast for tomorrow isn’t good – it will be blowing a gale. If the European Championship is going to happen it will have to be today. The field is much thinned out, as a third of the competitors did not wait these two days. Roman Roček (CZ 100) and Vojtěch Komárek (CZ 113) also departed, leaving 6 Czechs. The starting sheet is divided into only two groups. Our Martin Vacula (CZ 92) is in Group A and the rest of us Czech racers are in Group B. In a moment we go into the qualification heats and the twelve best can move up to Group A.

I start in 29th place. Immediately after the start I overtake my nearest rivals. After a moment I see that I am first on the right wing. What I can’t see however is the upper buoy. I am constantly looking for it and nothing. I start to get really worried that I have gone past it. So I turn and we’ll see. Unfortunately I’ve turned far too early and my rivals haven’t. I have to make an extra turn before the buoy and lose the lead. I am probably in seventh place. While running I have a double skid. Fortunately the boat continues, not completely stopping and I can go on. Beating the second time I again get going. And my boat is terribly fast, putting me in the lead again. Once more I can’t find the buoy and don’t know when to make the turn. All at once I enter an area of broken frozen ice. The surface is incredibly bumpy. I am off the track, somewhere I’m not supposed to be. I turn back and have to go an extra 200 m. I can’t go at full speed on this and once more I lose ground to 6th place at the upper buoy. For the remainder of the heat I make several more mistakes, it just isn’t working, but I’ve got a quick boat. In the last circuit I overtake three of my competitors and finish in third place overall. I move up to Group A. Václav Hendrych (CZ 123) and Josef Mareček (CZ 101) arrive 13th and 14th and so are in the first non-promotion slots. Bad luck. In Group B however this will be counted as first and second place.

Immediately after the check measures there is another heat in Group A. I stand next to Ron Sherry (US 44). We wish each other luck. The start itself goes well for me, and once more I overtake my rivals, but not however Ron. He turns quite early which I also want to do so I also turn. Unlike Ron I did not manage to cross before the leading group of sailors and I had to go under them all. This is a big loss and my advantage from the start is gone. I make some more mistakes, just as in qualification and here in Group A it really counts immediately. I am at the back of the group in around 40th place. In the third circuit, with about 400 m to go to the finish, Gatis Graumdus (O 10) runs into me. My steering rod breaks, the front runner turns 180 degrees and I run uncontrollably with the boom on the port side. In vain I work the tiller, but the boat still goes in the same direction. I miss the finish by some 100 m. I try to brake with the spikes, but to no avail. Should I jump off? What about the boat? It will break up on the bank. Finally I sheet in and reduce the area of the sail, so the following wind no longer has such an effect. After that the spikes start to grip and I manage to bring the boat to a standstill.

I am really furious with Gatis and what bothers me most of all is that I am out of the race. Gatis apologises to me, saying he didn’t see me. I want to lodge a protest against him, but I think better of it after a bit. I myself was in his position in a race in Poland, when I didn’t see Darek Kardas (P 13). Then it occurs to me that I could use the replacement boat Matahari. I tried it, missing one heat because I went to the bank for a replacement hull. Unfortunately it isn’t an identical boat and I didn’t manage to trim it immediately. In another heat that I participated in I came in last and almost a whole circuit behind the rest. My speed was gone. In the last heat I loosened the boat too much and it was just as bad. So today was a bitter experience for me and I will just have to get over it. Fortunately Martin Vacula (CZ 92) did well, so at least one of us shone in the group. Martin ended up in 19th place overall. 

The guys in Group B raced well. Aside unfortunately from Libor Vacula (CZ 97), who in the first qualification heat fell from his boat at the lower buoy, slid on the ice all the way to the starting line and his boat even ended up behind it.

EC 2016 Results

Group  A – 54 boats

1.     US-44 – R. Sherry – 1,3,3,2 – 9b

2.     P-114 – M. Burczynski – 6,2,7,1 – 16b

3.     O-31 – M. Alvikis – 4,8,6,3 – 21b

    19. CZ-92 – M. Vacula – 27,21,19,14 – 81b
    51. CZ-112 – V. Ptašnik – 50,DNF,49,43 – 197b

Group  B – 52 boats
      5. CZ-101 – J. Mareček – 1,11,15 – 27b
    11. CZ-123 – V. Hendrych – 2,16,19 – 37b
    30. CZ-121 – J. Týle – 28,33,32 – 93b
    42. CZ-97 – L. Vacula – 38,DNF,DNF – 140b

Our eight-member Czech squad did really well in the WC and EC, never having been so successful in all groups. If only we could keep it up.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings …