Tough Day One
Today was the first day of racing at the Semaine Olympique Regatta in Hyeres, France, and it was a rough one! I got to the sailing center a little early to finish up some work on my bailer (there was a little lip on my bailer, so coach Luther Carpenter and I sanded it down and siliconed it on to the boat! Fast!). Fortunately there wasn't much breeze in the morning, so we weren't too rushed. We ended up sitting on shore until about 12:15 when the AP flag came down and we were sent out. The cool thing about this venue is that there are a bunch of cafes and bakeries lining the boat park. So any time spent on shore is pretty comfortable!
There are 150 boats here, and we were divided into three fleets for qualifying. I was in Red fleet today, which means that I was the third start. At 1:15, the Yellow fleet started there 1st sequence. After five general recalls, they finally got a light air, drifter race in! Blue and Red fleets sat and watched. We sat around for a few hours as the breeze dropped out completely and shifted hard right and off-shore.
At 4:45 Blue fleet started it's first race, and at about 5:10, my fleet finally got under way! I knew that the patchy, 1-4 knot breeze was going to be quite shifty, so I wanted to get a good start and then be pretty conservative on the beat. I ended up having an awesome start towards the boat end of the line and played the middle right-hand side of the course up the beat. I was in the top group with three other guys. Just before the mark, a big lefty streak came down and a few boats passed me, but I was still in 8th at the windward mark. I stayed in 8th on the reach leg and actually caught up to a solid 5th place on the downwind leg. About 80% down the run though, the breeze around me died and shifted around, allowing all the boats behind and to leeward to ride some pressure into the leeward mark. Boats placed 5th-40th arrived all at once!
After the chaotic mark rounding, I came out of the leeward mark in about 25th place. The next beat was a port tack parade to the windward mark. On the final downwind, I just missed passing a group of about 8 boats by about 2 feet at the mark. I gybed on the outside of the group and headed towards the finish in 29th place.
It was a tough first race, especially because I thought I had a great start and sailed a good, conservative first beat. I stuck to my plan, and for the most part, it panned out well. It was frustrating, but I guess that's sailboat racing sometimes!
So after race 1, the race committee decided that we had to have our 2nd scheduled race of the day. Just after 7 PM, we finally started our 2nd race! Well, starting is all I did because I started over the line. We had one general recall under a black flag start, and my number was posted on the board as being black-flagged and disqualified from the race. I guess the only consellation was that I could head in and didn't have to wait until 9 PM to get ashore, but it was a bummer.
So it was a tough start to my regatta. The good news is that with 9 races, we get 2 drops. So I'm not completely out of it. The potentially troublesome news is that there will be a fleet split after 6 races, so I need to have some good finishes the next couple of days to ensure that I get into gold fleet! Tomorrow it's supposed to rain and be light air again. We have a 12 o'clock start with 2 more races planned.
Results can be found here, but they don't look pretty....