So I arrived in South Korea about 4:30pm last night. Greeted by three smiling Korean girls from the KWSA at the airport who quickly took ALL my bags from me (including my windsurfing kit) and laboured it to the far end of the airport to the waiting truck. Was really nice to be met at the airport after sitting on a plane for 19 hours (my flight had a stopover through Singapore on the way from Amsterdam). The girls told me we would be waiting an hour or two for Wilhelm Schurmann (BRA-999) to arrive and take the 4 hour truck drive together to the hotel. I didn’t mind… I had been sitting down for 19 hours, so another two wasn’t too bad…
Turns out Wilhelm was never on that plane… we find this out after the plane had been delayed quite a few hours! So its now nearing 10pm and after having been at the airport for nearly six hours and getting a few lessons in Korean culture and language from the cheery girls picking me up I got in the truck to drive back to the hotel – hadn’t been this tired since I got stuck in an airport in Fuerteventura three weeks ago!
We arrived at the hotel just before 2am and I was greeted by three (all smiling) guys from the KWSA. They helped with my gear bringing it into the hotel and translated all the details to the desk-guy for checking in; easy! The rooms are fairly spacious – a tv, fridge, hotplates, oven and microwave and a decent sized bathroom. NO bed however!! Yeap, these crazy Koreans sleep on the floor it seems, so most of us are making a bed ensemble out of the ten or so pillows and doona covers found in the cupboard. Not too bad, there’s air-conditioning (which is a luxury coming from Europe) and quite a few english stations on the tv.
I headed down to the beach early the next morning with a few of the Polish team who had also arrived the previous day. Its not 500m from the beach as was advertised, but about a 15 minute walk. Good excuse to see some of the sights as we pass a horde of small markets and crazy shops all covered with neon-lights and fluro painted walls. This country is really all smiles and all colour! The beach setup is really nice. Instead of one huge gear tent, they have a 100m long tent with no front wall allowing everyone to be able to get out of the tent at one time – rather than one single door which makes it a catastrophe if there’s a rush to rig. A huge stage was being built as we arrived, and quite a few Koreans were enjoying the sun at the beach; there was no wind of course! Could be a recurring theme at this location, as I’ve been told there has been no wind here for the last few days… That’s ok as there’s internet at the hotel and there’s plenty in Gangneung to check out – so we won’t be bored…
Another windless day in South Korea…
Already more and more sailors are arriving. My guess is about 50 in total so far. The internet room at the hotel is busy all day with us sailors trying to drain out the hours of the day on the computer. Apparently Steve Allen got planning for a few minutes yesterday he tells me, which I found fairly hard to believe! But Steve planes in anything so probably he was telling the truth. The weather has warmed up here and its already around 29 degrees (Still pretty cold for an Aussie) and fairly humid. Might be the result of the 1027 high that is directly above us – sucking out the wind like massive blowtorch.
Not much else to report but a group of us are heading to the enormous 4-story high supermarket just down from the hotel, which apparently has a McDonalds built inside it; its that big! As taxis are incredibly cheap here (like 3 euros to drive 10 minutes) we will also investigate the town, to see if there’s something to actually do for the rest of the weekend :-/ Sad when the highlight of your day is going to a supermarket, but thats what happens to a windsurfer when they don’t have any wind to play in…
Well today we were really given a treat. In the form of wind… I couldn’t believe my eyes having spent a bit of time mastering the KMA’s (Korean Meteorological Associations) complicated – but very detailed! – website which was saying there was definitely going to be no wind until at least Monday… Arriving at the beach around lunchtime already there were about 15-20 guys out on the water. The wind was around 10 knots according to a few guys who’d already been out. 10 knots was good enough for me so I rigged up as quick as I could and got out on the water.
Despite what the pictures will show there is a BRUTAL shorebreak at this beach. It doesn’t look too bad when you’re standing on the beach but as soon as you enter the water the beach drops away really quickly and its over-your-head depth within 2m of the shore, making the 1m or so high waves which just dump on straight onto the beach kind of tricky to get past. I did see one unlucky Danish sailor get 4 battens broken instantly in one quick wave as I was getting out. Luckily there was some wind on the edge because uphauling at that break would never have been an option.
Wow, this is a really sweeeeet venue to sail in. Out the back after a few runs the wind kicked to 15-16knots. Not a cloud in the sky, really deep blue water and hundreds of people on the beach – perfect! Having only brought a minimal amount of gear with me I didn’t have much to test today so decided I would take the GPS out and sail up and down the course and see if I could get a pattern for how the wind works here… By mid-afternoon three-quarters of the fleet were out on the water and I’m sure the people on the beach thought it a real spectacle. We’ve been having our doubts about this location but this today really put us in our place. I think if the wind was to keep up like today then this could really be a world championships to remember.
Back home now I’m looking through the tracks of my GPS and its interesting to see how incredibly shifty the wind was today. Its harder to notice it on the water when you’re concentrating more on your fins and technique but looking at the track on a computer screen really puts it into perspective. I think this event will be really challenging and exciting for the sailors – I’m looking forward to it! Over the day I sailed from the rigging area to the far end of the beach in front of our hotel, which is about 3-4km dead upwind. I was actually sailing this far upwind to investigate something that I ran into on the beach the night before whilst running; but if you’re interested to know what that was you’ll have to check my Tour Diary cause its a little off-topic from this report – but it does involve what I thought was a guy with a machine gun however …
Enjoy some pics of the beach, the gear tent, the view from my hotel room and a crazy Korean drink called ‘sweat’.
DAY -2 (Registration):
Wellâ€¦ This place just gets better and better everyday! Today around 11am the wind kicked in fairly strong. Up to and around 20 knots for a good portion of the day. Registration began yesterday apparently, but with our first day of wind in a week (for most) I donâ€™t think anybody got around to signing in. Today however, most of us used the time to get measured and sticker our sails, as with the wind arriving this early in the morning we were confident of a full days sailing.
After sleeping three nights on concrete I decided it was time for an upgrade. Iâ€™ve since discovered that I was one of the few who arrived late to a room with no bed! I think maybe there was only three or four of us who were that unlucky, but there were no beds left in the whole hotel by now â€“ so Dennis Littel (NED-13) and myself decided to follow in the footsteps of the Danish team and move into a hotel right next to the race site. Its incredibly cheap here (we are paying around 25 euros a night each) to get a fantastic beachfront hotel complete with double beds, super huge flat-screen tv and computers and drinks machines inside the room; no more rough nights on the floor for me!
By the time Iâ€™d checked in to the new place and missioned my gear up to the room it was already 4:30pm and knowing we had to be at the opening ceremony at 6pm Dennis and I quickly got out on the water to test some fins. The wind had dropped a little to 12-14knots but it was still a great session. The wind is really consistent and the water is really nice to sail on here.
On to the opening ceremonyâ€¦ The Koreans here really know how to put on a show, let me tell you! An enormous stage with live rock bands, traditional South Korean bands, and a traditional Korean girls fan-dance was performed, watched by a large number of locals, us sailors and a huge entourage of ministers and mayors and random Korean celebrities also invited to the ceremony. At one point, a representative of each country came to the stage to pour water into a giant vase, symbolising the unity of so many different cultures and identities racing at this event; or something like that :-/ !
After a HUGE fireworks display an enormous dragon made of twenty or so people inside a sheet came out on the stage and it was then the party started! I won’t go into detail of all the acts, but overall it was a really cool spectacle and if the opening ceremony is anything to go by â€“ this is going to be a fantastic event!
Enjoy some photos of the opening ceremony and me (still haven’t derigged at this point – 11pm) with some local girls…haha.
DAY -1 (Registration & Practice Race):
I think now if I get up and walk somewhere here and at least two Koreans don’t do something completely without thought of themselves and helpful I will be surprised! This place is incredible… This morning, after being offered a ride from a local to the beach, Dennis and I headed to some local shops to get some breakfast. On seeing that I had a t-shirt shoved into my bag to carry to the beach, a shoplady promptly took it out and folded it for me then returned it to my bag – haha, she obviously new I was in need of some mothering. After that, seeing that we were struggling with the language barrier here a random local came into the shop off the street and explained to the shoplady what we were looking for, with no thanks needed! The people are so polite and considerate here they even turn their lights off at a red-light if there’s a car in front of them, so as not to shine into the car infront; amazing!
Anyhow, back to windsurfing. Today, a large front from the north-west came down bringing clouds and rain and sucking out all the wind. (Incidently, for those who haven’t figured this out there is a really good weather site of here at the www.kma.go.kr – but you need a bit of practice to figure your way through it) We had a practice race scheduled today at 3pm but this was postponed as it was still raining at this stage. Its nice at our new place as now we are overlooking the race-site, so Dennis and I could just chill in the room and wait for the action to start. Late in the day around 4:30-5pm the wind did come in; Bruno, being out on the boat registered a 35 knot gust on the boat and promptly told the few out on the water to get back to shore…! This only lasted a short bout, and afterwards a fairly light 8-10knot breeze hung around to allow a few sailors some more tuning time. We decided not to go out on the water and rest today anyhow, the rain making it a little uninviting.
So being our last free day, straight away we got a taxi into town. Well, nearly… Took us about three long trips to the middle of nowhere to actually get somewhere that looked like the centre of town, haha! But when we finally got in it was pretty nice to walk around in. We entered the main shopping district first which was full of westernised brands and shops (Pizza Hut, McDonalds, Nike and Puma stores etc). After a huge dinner at McDonalds (nice to eat something I actually recognise) we went on a mission to find me some thongs (that’s ‘flip-flops’ for you Euros who think I’m talking about underwear); no luck unfortunately. I took a few photos from around the city and a monument which is outside the lake right behind the beach, you can see how incredibly illuminated everything is here – neon lights everywhere you look.
Well we thought we’d get an early night tonight on account of the racing starting tomorrow but currently there’s a group of locals on the beach just infront of our hotel firing an endless amount of fireworks. They sell firewords in every single shop here and you’ll cry when you know how cheap they are. I think that could be our entertainment on the last night here…hehe. Forecast looks nice for tomorrow anyhow, so I think we’ll kickstart with some great racing tomorrow. Webcam on the beach and daily videos on the site (or so I’m told) – should be great for people at home to watch. Hope my reports are helping too…
DAY 1 (Racing):
I got up the earliest I’ve been all week today! With the sun going down so late in Holland (11pm) its hard to think about sleeping before midnight but here its the same as Australia, getting dark around 7pm, but I’m still in the ‘euro-time’ zone so its hard to get bed early. Walking to the beach in the morning I noticed a few of the tents were missing – thinking it was kinda strange and thinking it was the exact tents my gear was in I was a little worried. So I should’ve been! Apparently during the night, a vicious storm hit, with the strong winds ripping out quite a few of the tents and splaying a lot of people’s gear around the place.
Above is some pics of the carnage and also of the floating pontoon that was moored to the rocky island in just out from the race site which had washed into the beach to be pounded by the shorebreak. Luckily, it turned out to be the tent directly next to my gear that blew away. Many sailors were called out in the night to help secure the gear (Dennis and I missing this message now that we’re staying at a different place), but it appeared everyone’s gear was safe – only the tents suffered.
The wind teased us a little today, feeling like it got up to planing weather a few times, but probably in reality it didn’t. Bruno postponed us a few times and by 3pm it was looking like we wouldn’t get any racing done today. With a bit of free time on the beach we got to check out Starboard’s new 2007 racing boards. Svein is here showcasing them – the Apollo (Starboards Olympic concept board) and the new F161 formula board (see pic above of the Apollo). They looked pretty trick!
Around 4pm they canned the racing for today, the wind never really getting exciting. Probably a good thing as there was a good 1.5m-2m swell running through the entire front beach so it might’ve been a little crazy getting everyone out to the startline. The setup here is great for us to keep relaxed during the day I might add. With a beachfront apartment and the webcam eye’d on the flagpole all day it would’ve been easy for me to just sit in the apartment all day and wait for the AP to drop – haha! Didn’t do this however, but its nice to be able to go back to the apartment to refuel with supplies from time to time.
I think the high that was floating around yesterday has moved right over the top of us – which is probably why we have no wind. Which will mean it might be on the lighter side of windstrengths for the next few days. Interesting to watch the developments of the Typhoon ‘Ioke’ which is just south-east off the coast of Japan. Appears to be moving north, so it won’t hit us, but I wonder if we get a decent sized high just north of us, mixing with the effects of a Typhoon low, we might get some pretty large weather effects here – or at least some super big swell! Well, that’s how it works with cyclones back at home – not really sure how the weather works up here in the northern hemisphere … Fingers are crossed for wind tomorrow anyhow.
Somebody just asked me a question about the gear I registered for this event, so I made a page with some info about My Gear for the Formula Worlds which you can find at this link if you’re interested…
DAY 2 (Racing):I woke up to rain and no wind this morning so decided not to leave the apartment and relax in front of the tv. Sure enough, at 11am the AP over Penant 2 went up, postponing the racing till midday. Checking the forecast on the net, there was a 1009 high just above us and and a 1003 low to the south of Japan, leaving very little gradient – ie, not much chance of wind. Also with the cloud cover and the lower temperatures (was about 18 degrees outside when I got up) I didn’t think we would get a seabreeze either.When Dennis and I arrived at the beach around midday to get our lunches there was a meeting going on for the sailors. Ceri was giving everyone a chance to talk about some of the proposals being voted on at tonight’s formula class AGM. We actually missed the entire meeting so I can’t really give an insight into what was being talked about, but after this we sat around for another hour … waiting for wind …At around 1pm the wind got up quite quickly, and at 1:20pm the AP was dropped followed by a mad scramble to rig. The cloud cover had cleared by this stage, which I wasn’t expecting and it looked for a little while that it was about to get really windy. Out on the course it was a different story. There was definitely enough wind to plane, around 7-9 knots most of time, but there were some big holes making it difficult to get a start away. After an abandoned start or two and a general recall Bruno sent us back to the beach.
This is where I thought it would end actually. It was now 2:45pm and the wind was not strengthening at all although Julien Quentel and Antoine were still out on the course putting around – planing only 50% of the time. This was why I was quite suprised when around 4pm-ish the AP was again dropped for another attempt at Race 1. The wind didn’t look any different to how it had been the last 2 hours, but we were here to race so I was keen to get out on the water…
Again we were to be unsuccesful in starting a race. Another abandoned start (which I think was the lightest of all the starts today) and Bruno again sent us back to the beach. I’m not suprised, the temperature never got warm today despite the clouds dispersing in the afternoon (I think probably around 20-22 degrees was the hottest) which combined with the direction of the light gradient breeze we got probably opposed the reverse air flow out to sea after it had risen with the heat over the land – in layman’s terms: no seabreeze!
Back to the apartment for dinner. We are planning to try out the restaurant at the Hyundai Hotel (just near our apartment) as we got a tip-off that it has a western-style menu that includes steak…and I could murder someone for a good steak right now I think. Haven’t been able to get a decent one in Europe so far this year …
Incidently, Dennis is also doing some short reports of this event on his website www.dennislittel.com if anyone’s looking for some more info. There’s not a lot going on, on any of the other sites …
DAY 3 (Racing):
Well, today was an interesting day…for a number of reasons. It started just like any other day here; no wind in the morning and Dennis and I only arriving at the beach around 1pm to collect our lunches. Not too long after this, around 2pm the wind got up just a little bit and the AP was dropped to try again at Race 1. We were prepared for this, as they’ve ammended the sailing instructions to say that a start could be 20 mins after the flag is dropped, not 30 mins like it usually is. So with my sail already rigged and a board that just needed a fin I was out on the water pretty quickly – with Dennis just behind me.
The startline was straight out from the southern end of the tent, about 100m from where I launched next to the remains of the stage from the opening ceremony. The wind at this end of the course was super light and I couldn’t get planing out from the beach despite a few others further south getting on the plane instantly from the beach. I think I was the victim of positioning today, as when the 5 minute flag went up, I was still 100m downwind of the startline – and not planing!
5…4…1…go! Meanwhile, still 100m from the start there I am… not by myself but with about another 20 guys who couldn’t make the start. I think there was just a pocket vortex of no wind just below the startline, as out on the course everyone seemed to be going fine. About three minutes into the race I finally crossed the startline and from then on it was just punishing. At the bottom mark again I came off the plane and sat there for a good 50 seconds before I could get moving again. I can’t really comment too much on that race as I was so far behind to see what was happening.
Race 2 I was out on the course 20m minutes before the start, making sure I got there in time this time! The wind was super light and with one minute to go I was heading down the middle of the line thinking there was no way I was going to get planing. I was right! I didn’t get close to planing and neither did half the fleet. The guys starting on port were able to sail halfway down the line then sail away on the gun as not many on starboard were able to get up to the line by the start. A few minutes of drifting and I finally got away tacking onto port and heading up the beach. By this stage the damage was done and I really had no hope of coming back from this far behind. On the second lap I passed a group of guys who were parked for so long at the bottom mark I couldn’t believe I’d actually caught up to them! haha…
Alot of people were really disappointed with this race and straight after I returned to the beach a large group of sailors went to confront Ceri at his office to see if this race could be struck-out. Without a valid rule to protest on the sailors didn’t really have a leg to stand on other than to lodge their verbal protest to Ceri about how light the wind was on the course. This was pretty frustrating for the some of the sailors who got the brunt end of the fluky conditions. As a result it looks as though Arnon Dagan, Gonzalo and Keith Atkinson decided to quit the event and fly home – disgusted with the events of today.
I think maybe the wind was ok on some parts of the course (for sure at the startboat!) during these races but there were some really big holes on the course which is difficult for the race officer to see from the boat. There were quite a few people parked at the marks, especially downwind and also at the finish buoy which was about 10m from the beach just inside the rock island, completely in an area with no wind (kinda like the finishes in Melbourne!). But I guess there are people doing consistently well here (Steve Allen especially) so we can’t all complain too much.
After this the wind was looking even worse, still probably around 6 knots but surely not getting stronger. Thinking that would be it for the day I let out my downhaul, only to hear seconds later the flag go up for our next race! what the??!! I had to hurry again to make the start with such light winds but this time I actually got planing off the startline which was a relief. With only a 10.7m I found it really hard to get any pressure the whole upwind and looking at my GPS track at home just now I can see the wind was sooooo light I was barely pointing more than 70 degrees upwind. At the top mark AND the bottom mark I was parked for a good 30 seconds on both laps, just watching a stream of lighter sailors go past me – the entire girl’s fleet included. I don’t want to talk about this race anymore…it was just a disaster for me.
Coming back to the beach a good 10 minutes after the leaders it was now after 5pm and I thought for sure that would be enough punishment for today. I was wrong. Again we were sent out on the course and the wind was still looking so light and fluky I really considered sitting this race out! I’m not really a quitter so I headed out and was suprised to see the wind had in fact picked up a little. Around 10 knots at times which felt pretty windy after doing 3 races already in even lighter winds! I got a good start right at the boat behind a few of the polish team, Hubert, Jakub and Filip and had good pressure for the entire upwind leg which was a relief. Heading out to sea and tacking late to come right up to the top mark on port I made up quite a few places against the guys who crossed us on port on the start. At the top mark I was around 9th or 10th and feeling I had good speed downwind I pointed really high on the short starboard run to the mark to be upwind of a few sailors all hitting the mark around the same time as me. This proved to be my undoing as about 30m from the top mark we got a little knock and the wind really dropped quickly. I fell off the plane and ended up missing the mark. I sat there again for a good 50 seconds just watching the ENTIRE fleet sail past me like I was a wooden toy-boat. I can’t believe how unlucky I must’ve been – finding that pocket of no wind; frustrating! Needless to say I think I lost about 35 places in that 50 seconds and although for the rest of the race the wind was nice I was just so far behind there was really no need for me to do the second lap… I did however.
So all in all…an interesting and controversial day. Its not all bad as there is some sailors really enjoying these conditions and punishing the guys like me who are struggling with the lighter winds. Steve Allen is currently leading with Ross Williams not too far behind. It looks as though the Gaastra sails with a bit more power are really flying in this wind! My R.e.s.p.e.c.t. to Antoine who at 100kgs is right up there in all the races…incredible! Despite my disappointment I don’t think anything can be said about Bruno’s efforts from the startboat. Its really difficult to eye the entire course for wind and for sure there was probably 7 knots off the startboat for every race, it was just difficult with so many holes on the course and I’m sure for as many people who complained about today there are people who really enjoyed it and got great results. Will be interesting to see what comes out of the AGM tonight as I think that although we can’t do anything about the wind being light, events that get decided on super-fluky races (like the Europeans in Portugal) are pruning the numbers racing formula internationally…maybe we could do the worlds next year on Fuerteventura??? haha… I think the event is a write-off for me personally, but I am still gonna get up every morning and race as hard as I can … We’ve still 3 days of racing and I’m confident looking at the forecast that we will be getting wind on the weekend…
DAY 4 (Racing):
The title of this day does say ‘racing’ but for sure we didn’t get any of that today. I didn’t even head to the beach until 2pm and only then to have a chat with a few guys as the wind was so light it couldn’t even get the flags to lift off their position wrapped around the flagpoles; and these flags are so light they fly in only 3 knots! So with nothing much going on today maybe I can talk about the weather a little bit as the KMA site has some pretty detailed forecasts going on if you know how to read synoptic charts (hopefully everyone out there isn’t just relying on the ‘windguru’ forecast).
To the west of us in China there is a 1010 low moving north-east (so north of us by the afternoon) and a band of 1024 highs opposing the low further north of the 1010 low into Russia. So that means there is very little pressure gradient south of the 1010 low above us (ie. where we are now). We had about 75% cloud cover all day (stratocumulus cloud for the weather geeks out there) which means we had a likelyhood of weak intensity precipitation (light rain!). Normally you would need a high in the vicinity with clear skies and higher temperatures (today was around 20-23 degrees) to help a seabreeze get started so we really had no chance for wind today at all!
Maybe Bruno was longsighted yesterday and could see the weather panning out over the next few days and knew we had to get the races done then and there… Those 4 races might be the only ones we do the whole event. But you have to be optimistic to be a windsurfer; so we will see…..
DAY 5 ([not even close to] Racing):
Well today was a bit of a let down. I knew the chance of wind was pretty slim with the cold front moving over us from the north over the course of the day bringing the clouds and keeping the temperature down enough to cancel out a seabreeze. I did expect to get a little gradient wind from the NW in front of the change but it just didn’t happen. The ocean was as glassy as I’ve ever seen it here … all day.
So nothing at all to report. Allison Shreeve and Antoine Albeau ran a short clinic on the NP RS:X and RS:6 sails, but I didn’t catch any of this as Dennis and I only checked out the beach for about half an hour over the course of the day!
The good news however, is according to the charts, after the change comes through we should get a good 20 knot breeze thumping through over night from the NW/W. Maybe its too good to be true, but nevertheless I made sure all my gear was in the bags and secured just in case we lose a few more tents over night! Bruno is getting us up for the skippers at 7:55am tomorrow so we’ll keep our fingers crossed for a really good day’s racing. (I was hoping they’d change the rules to allow 11 races in one day tomorrow so I can have a chance to discard all four races we’ve done so far … but that didn’t work out; haha!).
DAY 6 (Final Day of Racing):
Despite Bruno’s 7:55am skippers we didn’t get enough wind this morning to get a start away at 8:55am. The wind was offshore, and looking out to sea it looked like it was pretty windy, but there was nothing on the shore which would’ve made it difficult to get off the beach. Not too much time later the wind seemed to settle, swinging a little bit more NW (sideshore) and Bruno dropped the AP and sent us out.
Just before the first start the wind kicked a little to around 15-17 knots. I was quite juiced having setup my 10.7m for light winds and Dennis looked a little worried about his choice of 12.0m for this race. About 30 seconds before the start, the wind dropped considerably and as Bruno generally sets straight startlines (not favouring either end) the guys on port were able to cross the entire fleet on starboard. I was on starboard at the boat end and antissapated the shift when the wind went light and managed to tack onto port a few seconds before the gun and get away before the rest of the fleet could tack. Following Ross Williams out on port (still a fair way downwind of the first starters on port) the wind settled a little again and tacking on the layline I followed Ross into the mark; around 10th or 12th I think. Coming up to the mark I sailed past Jesper Vesterstrom who was parked in a big hole … About 50m after this I found that same hole. Ross always seems to find the wind and pulled away into the distance. I sat there for a good 6 or 7 minutes before Bruno eventually canned the race. Dennis would’ve been shattered as he was leading Antoine in 1st and already half way through the second up wind before he saw the chequerred blue flag.
Shortly after the wind returned and we got another start away. More people started on port this time as the line was blatantly port favoured with the wind shifting a little to the W-NW. I remained on starboard tack for the start but right at the pin end and managed to get away cleanly missing some of the carnage behind me – I saw two guys crash head on about 5m behind me! (some of the guys on port are maniacs!). I hoped we would get some really consistent wind today but it wasn’t to be. Nearing the top mark in a good position I managed to find all the holes; not ‘zero’ wind, but just light patches and I found myself losing places having to pinch SUPER hard to make the top mark when a few seconds earlier I’d thought I’d overlayed it by 100m… The wind stayed consistent on the second lap and it was a little bit of a ‘follow-the-leader’ style race. Dennis squeaked in just ahead of me to the top mark but I knew I was really flying downwind and I punished him and a few of the Polish guys into the finish, picking up a few places – but really we were so far behind in that race it wasn’t worth the effort.
The second race of the day (Race 6) started again shortly after the re-run of the first. Before the start the wind was persistant to the W-NW and as a result nearly 70% of the fleet started on port for this race. Dennis and I decided to stay on starboard and avoid the traffic which payed off as shortly before the start the wind swung back to the N and with nobody on the line at the pin end we were able to sail across the top of the entire port fleet and bang the starboard corner with clear air the entire way. I could see when we tacked that we were onto a winner and halfway up the leg I thought maybe we were going to cross the fleet again and lead into the mark. But it just wasn’t my day…
We sailed into a big hole halfway up the leg and I had to bear away more and more just to keep on the plane. Dennis, slightly behind and upwind of me had changed to his 11.0m but somehow he managed to keep his height and keep above the oncoming starboard fleet – rounding the mark in 5th (which is where he finished). I on the other hand, saw that the approaching starboard fleet was going to cross ME, so I tacked back onto starboard to avoid the disturbed air, still about 300m shy of the layline. This turned out to be a stupid mistake as I tacked onto a complete loser, and after 100m on starboard I was forced to tack again and watched as the lift allowed most of the starboard fleet to easily make the mark, that I had just missed by 100 or so metres. I must’ve gone round in about 30th but I took a good 5 or 6 places on the downwind as my 10.7m is really flying downwind when the breeze is above 10knots. It was a little difficult to make up any places on the second upwind so I stayed in the position I think… pretty disappointing when I thought I’d had such a good start.
We tried again for another start after a quick lunchbreak but the wind crapped out completely leaving us a good 30 minute ‘drift’ back to the beach to deal with. Although it teased us a little over the next hour it never got up again and Bruno called for the AP over A; no more racing for the event.
So Steve Allen is the new world champion!! Great to see an Aussie getting up there… and Allison too, defending her world title succesfully. Overall, the organisers put on a great event – I don’t think any of us thought otherwise but we were at the mercy of some terrible wind conditions, which made the racing difficult and challenging at times.
This was a controversial event I believe. With the events of earlier in the week causing a few high-profile sailors to leave, it will shape the way the Formula class evolves over next season a lot more than we all could’ve imagined when we first arrived in Gangneung. For the better, or the worse – we will see… I personally think its only for the better. The gear manufacturers appear to have shyed away from developing gear for super light winds which back in 2002/03 or so it was prevalent: so many boards seemed to be flying in light winds and so hard to control in heavy winds, haha! But maybe its not the gear… maybe its the sailors. Who knows? Nevertheless whether we had a good event or not (I certainly didn’t) nobody could say the people of KWSA didn’t put on a fantastic event. Let’s hope the local sailors really benefitted from having all the pros in their backyard, learning all they have to offer and helping growing the sport, as I think thats one of the most important things about having the Worlds in your hometown.
Hope my reports have been informative. I am back in Holland on Tuesday for a short while to organise all my gear and somehow get it back to Australia. Our Aussie windsurfing season kicks off in October (yes, its Summer ALL year round for me!) and if you Euro’s thought there’s been no wind all year in Europe – get your arse to Western Australia in January 2007. Our formula and slalom Nationals are at South Beach, Freemantle, and if that isn’t one of the windiest places you’ve ever been to – you need to get out more!