ISAF Sailing World Championships

  • Registration & Measurement till 5th July
  • Racing begins for the RS:X Class on 6th July
  • 118 sailors, 51 countries, 11 races, 1 World Champion

Here you will find daily reports and photos from the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships (specifically, the RS:X Windsurfing World Championships). While I’m quite aware there is a perfectly good Official Event Website for these championships, I’m sure people will agree (at least in the RS:X world) that there is usually nothing interesting written on these websites about the day-to-day things happening for the sailors, and only coverage of the actual results. As I usually like to pen a report when I’m at an event, this time I’m going to go straight to the source and get the latest comments and opinions about the racing as well as their preparation for the event from many of the World’s Top RS:X sailors (straight from the horse’s mouth) and combine them with my own photography and explanations of the racing. There’ll also be some online polls and (as always) the opportunity to post your comments on this page for discussion. I hope you will enjoy it…

PRE-EVENT:

Well, my event hasn’t kicked off too well already. Having booked a late flight into Lisbon on Friday the 29th, after a nightmare run to the airport I was stopped from boarding my plane and looking down the barrell of only being able to get to Portugal on Monday (3rd July). For those who don’t know, I’m living in the Netherlands while I’m based in Europe and this week has seen some pretty hardcore winds (even for Dutch standards) and plenty of rain and storms all throughout Holland. Couple this with the start of the school holidays (so I was told later) and a string of nasty accidents on three of the major Dutch highways, then you have a combined 300km of traffic jams throughout Holland (about 60% more than average).

So there I was, stuck in a traffic jam, unbeknownst to me, it was only going to get worse. Finally, after 4 hours in a car to travel 80km I arrived at the airport (late, but not THAT late) at 3.20pm to try and get on my 4pm flight. Usually if you can pick the right girl at the checkin desk you can talk your way through anything, but today wasn’t my day and I got the check-in guy from hell, who made it his mission to inform me that I’d missed the cut-off for checkin; despite my plane not flying for another 40 mins. Damn. I didn’t even have windsurfing gear with me so I couldn’t see what the drama would be to let me on the plane. Not my day.

The ticket desk girl was a lot nicer and after some hardcore negotiation I was on a flight to Lisbon set for Monday night with no extra costs. All this, by 3:30pm (still 30 mins till my original plane left the tarmac). Enough time to sit in traffic for another 3-4 hours and get home to go sailing before dark….

PRE-EVENT (Tuesday 3rd June):

This morning was my first day at the Cascais marina and I was greeted by clouds and no wind; a stark contrast to the conditions of most of this week which were a sunny and warm 20-25 knots. One thing to notice at this event is the hardline level of security surrounding the sailors’compounds and clubhouse. Bordering all the boats and boards are high fences, with only a miminum amount of entry points and a combination of Portugese Police (Policia) and security guards (guns included) at 30m intervals along the fence. The only way in is with the Official Accreditation Nametag (complete with color photo and class details of each sailor) and no exceptions are made for anyone who left theirs at home. Or, it seems, for someone who only “just’arrived and hadn’t received their tag yet, as I found out at the Opening Ceremony last night.

So my first experience of the 2007 ISAF Sailing Worlds was to miss the Opening Ceremony due to my ‘non-tag situation’. Myself and Antonio Cozzolino (NZL-131) [who actually DID have a tag btw] couldn’t find the entrance to the competitors area and after numerous attempts to enter the compound from other entry points we were then barred from the sailor’s area and had to sit the Athlete Parade out as the guards wouldn’t let us into the actual parade! This then followed with us MISSING the fireworks as we couldn’t get into the compound to get a decent view of them. Not the best start to my worlds. Lol.

Today all that was on the cards was sailing and watching the final race (potentially) for Emirates Team NZ in the America’s Cup. We decided to do the latter first and at 2pm when the AC Race 7 got underway it was almost impossible to get a seat at a café in Cascais that had a television. Securing our spot at our local Italian Restaurant (blame our half-Italian Antonio for that one), we sat through most of the first upwind as the wind was still under 10 knots at the beach. By the time Alinghi had made “that’move, and forced the Kiwi’s into a penalty turn and potentially thrown their cup hopes out the window, we made a move for the door and noticed a few of the RS:X sailors already out on the water, as the clouds had cleared and the wind had picked up to 15 knots!

The final downwind for Team NZ was actually a blinder, to catch up from 108m behind (minus their penalty turn still to be completed) at the top mark and to actually get the lead back was incredible, but alas, our Tasmas neighbours CHOKED and another AC is finished with Alinghi holding the cup. I don’t like to admit it, but I was cheering all the way for Team NZ as sometimes an Aussie likes to band with their neighbours in times of fight against the European onslaught (whatever sport is your poison) but simply put, Team NZ had the faster boat and arguably the better skills and potential but through a series of mistakes in earlier races, they really choked and have no-one to blame but themselves for losing the series.

There is just as much drama and tension at an RS:X event and even more so at a World Championships. With already all the RS:X events for the 2007 season under the belt and no-one a CLEAR favourite to the World title by the weight of their scorecards at previous events, it might be the right time to dedicate an online poll to Emirates Team New Zealand, and see who the candidates for the 2007 ISAF Sailing Worlds most likely “CHOKER’will be.

So far this year, the favourites in the RS:X world for the title will be Casper Bouman [NED] (defending champion), Tom Ashley [NZL], Maxim [UKR], Pont [POL], Julien Botemps [FRA], JP Tobin [NZL], Nikos [GRE], Ricardo [BRA] to name a few. But who will go into the Medal Race on top and still BE on top afterwards; many an event at either an Olympic, World or Grade 1 level can be won or lost in the final race (or Medal Race), not everyone has the nerves of steel to keep their sh*t together for that last downwind; vote now for the title. (nb, I will not be held responsible for jinxing anyone who does totally choke and puts their silver medal in the drink with 20 points in the Medal Race).

[page_polls]

Enjoy some random photos from the last few days, including signing on for measurement (we managed to just get a spot for measurement just before James Bond – 007), the lousy view of the fireworks from BEHIND the barricades, the event accreditation passes and an Australian team meeting at the famous Sports Bar in Cascais:

Here I will (attempt) to obtain some insights into the Top Gun’s preparations for the 2007 Worlds, from the people who really spill the beans, their training partners… First up is New Zealand’s Tom Ashley.

INSIGHTS INTO THE PRO’s PREPARATIONS.

Tom Ashley; Olympian, Vice World Champion in 2006 and arguably the hot favourite for the title this year. Mike Lichtwark (NZL-11) talks about Tom’s preparation for this event:In June 2007, Tom, myself, Ricardo Santos (BRA-1) and David Mier Yteran (MEX-)headed to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, to get some light weather training in for the coming European season. For three weeks, we pounded the water nearly everyday in the consistent 2-3 knots of the Rio harbour, working on lightwind trim and pumping techniques/fitness. Tom also cross trains cycling and running and made sure he spent plenty of the time in Rio out on the bike or on the tarmac when they weren’t pumping out on the boards. “From what I’ve seen I think Tom will win the title this year, he hasn’t lost any event he’s competed in this year, and I can’t see that changing. He’s one of the toughest most confident sailor’s I know’.

Straight from Brazil the crew headed straight to Cascais, to get used to the gusty and shifty offshore conditions Cascais has to offer. Already, Tom has been training here in Cascais nearly three weeks; prepared, focused and ready for the racing to begin on Friday.
PRE-EVENT (Wednesday 4th June):

The second last day before the racing begins was another day of warm sun and ballistic winds; up to 25 knots on the course according to Bruce Kendall (ex Gold Medalist in Mistral, who’s now sailing Tornados and is another Kiwi jammed into my house here in Cascais). I decided to go out for some two boat testing with Antonio Cozzolino, both on my sails … still deciding what I’ll use for this event.

Not as many guys went out today, most of them have been here a few weeks, or came down for training sometime during May/June. Most of the guys not sailing had their boards out on the stands, sanding, finishing, polishing and preparing their boards for the regatta. The rest were modifying their sail numbers …

One of the interesting things that I’ve seen that has come about at this event is the changes in interpretations (or implementations) of the Rules for measurement. I sit here and look at a “change” to the Rules that was made only a week after the RS:X Europeans in Cyprus, which reads that on the fins the RS:X logo “MAY” be visible. Emphasize the word MAY. That sounds like you could say “may be not” and sand yours off like quite a few in the fleet have, but I’ve been told that we’re not allowed to do this anymore. Interesting. Seemed a little pointless to change the rules two weeks ago to have them changed back. I haven’t measured in yet, so I will confirm this later. The other one is the sail numbers, as many guys have their numbers in the panel just above the boom (below the RS:X logo) which is where the sponsor stickers are to be placed, and all of these sailors have been told their numbers are illegal and must be moved. Unlucky.

PRE-EVENT (Thursday 5th June):

Team NZ and I had a late start this morning. The tornadoes weren’t racing till 1pm and none of us RS:X sailors in the house planned to sail today so we stayed up late to watch the Tailor of Panama (one of the few movies in English on the tv here) [not too bad a movie btw]. My mission today is to get measured at 6.40pm and eat lunch. So far I’ve ticked off one of those boxes.

There is hardly any sailors down at the pen right now as I write this. Most will have done the work yesterday, and today they’ll be as far away from the race site as possible – as we’re going to see a lot of this place over the next 8 days. The weather is warm again (pushing 30 on the mercury) and the wind is a little lighter, but still +15 knots out on the course. I plan to spend the rest of the afternoon duct-taping my accreditation tag to the chain around my neck. If you lose this tag there is NO WAY into the race site and already my roomie Mike Lichtwark (NZL-11) has lost his three times and has missed at least one good days sailing not being allowed into the event site. Its a pain in the *ss, but I guess so is having all you’re screwdrivers and sunglasses stolen, so its probably a good idea in the long run. Would’ve been nice is they made the tags NOT from lousy cheap plastic which rips and tears and falls off your chain 4-5 times per day … I’ve already dropped mine about 3 times but with the amount of duct taping I am about to embark on it should be safe.

Racing tomorrow. Nice. Forecast looks good. Nice. Tune in tomorrow.

RACE DAY 1 (Friday 6th June):

Today was the day of the “personal gust”, or as Brendan Todd (AUS-29) would later say to me about it … “love the gust you are in”. The AP was straight up by 12.30pm as the wind hadn’t materialised in time for our 1pm start. The walkway joining the beach to the clubhouse is about 3m wide and 80m long but with nearly 200 RSX sailors trying to rig in that area it was a complete nightmare (!) with many other sailors and pedestrians (some on bikes) trying to walk through while we all rigged. There is also no fence to the 4m drop into the water if you tripped over a sail, and many sailors were becoming disgruntled by the lack of space – having to lift their sail or board everytime somebody walked past, not to mention how hard it was to walk your sail down to the beach. After 30-40 mins of baking in the sun (masts included) we were finally sent out on the water. In the rush I decided it was far easier to swim my board out about 40m from the beach along the rockwall and get somebody to throw my sail off the wall into the water below… We had been doing this for launching the last few days as its too far to carry a big sail to the beach from where my gear is parked in the racks.

Despite a few isolated gusts allowing people to plane on the way to the course area, Race 1 got away in sub-planing conditions for all three fleets. I must say, it was quite a spectacle sailing out with around 200 boards around you, and (what appeared to be) just as many coachboats cruising around collecting drink bottles and jackets from the sailors. I started in Blue fleet (the second start) and had a lousy start on the middle of the line getting pumped over by many of the lighter sailors. Following a group heading right to the cliffs to get some clear air, the tricky/shifty/gusty conditions of an offshore wind I am a little unused (living in an area all my life that doesn’t actually have offshore wind at all) and I was a little back in the pack by the finish. I think early 30’s checking the results but I was happy with that as sub-planing isn’t really my specialty.

Race 2 got away around 3pm and the wind had begun to kick to +15 knots (with gusts of up to 20knots – a little more my style). I’m a little suprised they split us into 3 fleets actually. 2 would’ve been far better and with 3 it means a 5th place is really a 15th, and a 30th is really a 90th (I shudder to think of the 4 fleets at last year’s RSX Worlds, where to be in the Top 10 you needed to get nothing short of Top 3 in every single qualifying race). Back to the racing … I took a great pin-end flyer with Dorian Van Rijsselberge (NED-8) heading left, where most of the fleet headed right and got out of the breeze – centreboards down. This is when the wind decided to go crazy!

Heading left in a 20 knot bullet, Dorian and I were a good 100m ahead of most of the fleet who went left (some good years sailing a formula board for both of us helps keep the RSX beast in control in windy choppy conditions). Before I tell you what happened next let me say something about the wind conditions and geography here. Due to the enormous mountains about 2km back from Cascais, the wind appears to hit those mountains (from the North) and skyrocket straight up… then mixing with the opposing seabreeze it seems to bounce when it hits the waters of Cascais, creating pockets of wind which don’t appear to move anywhere. Maybe that’s not the best explanation, but imagine sitting in a lull (of 2 knots) and seeing a 20 knot bullet on the course directly upwind of you about 50m shy. You wait 30 seconds but the wind still hasn’t come to you… it doesn’t appear to be moving, and then, just as you’re about to sheet in and brace for the gusts’ impact it dissapates, and you are still in your lull. How does a gust of wind dissappear?? Our local weather experts (Rex Sellars and Bruce Kendall) tell me its the bouncing. The wind comes down then goes back up into the sky – and may never reach you!!

So there Dorian and me were… on the layline for the top mark, about 200m ahead of 3rd place but in between us and the mark was a huge hole (or GRAVEYARD, as we’d later call it). We kept tacking up wind, going about 200m past the layline to see if we could get around it but there was no choice and we tried our best to pump through it. In the meantime, the sailors bobbing around on the right side of the course got the 20 knot bullet and managed to get around the top mark while we were centreboard down and now heading UPWIND despite being 200m above the previous layline to the topmark. Finally around the top mark (back in around 7th-8th) the downwind was mostly sub-planing but at least it wasn’t too shifty and I managed to hold onto my Top 10 position going into the second upwind. I decided to gamble on the left again, following a bullet upwind with a group of about 6 sailors around me (Dorian had decided to go right this time). Again we were presented the same problem at the top mark but this time I was going to get more punished than I’d ever been in a race…

Between me (full planing in a 20 knot gust) and the top mark was a graveyard about 40m wide and there didn’t appear to be any way around it. I decided to sail through it as I couldn’t sail above it and still get around the mark on port but this graveyard was like none I’d ever experienced. As soon as the 6 or so guys around me entered it we were immediately sucked into a vacuum of 0 knots. So little wind there was that some of us were sailing on port, others on starboard – heading the SAME direction trying to get to the top mark which was only 20m away from us. There we remained for the next 7-8 minutes (no joke!), unable to get out of this hole and watching as the 20 knot gusts came down towards us from upwind but would disappear shortly before they hit us…

A while later I finally got around the top mark (having already had 20 or so sailors past us who came from the right) but this is only where the trouble started. The top mark was followed by a reach mark only 300m broadreach from us. It took me 26 minutes to travel this 300m as the tide was taking us back to the top mark and the vortex we were in made it impossible to point the sail in a particular direction and pump. During this time, the RED fleet (who started after us on the same course) had their race abandoned, but for the life of me I don’t know why OUR race wasn’t abandoned. Looking at my watch i’d realised I wasn’t going to make the reach mark by the time-limit and was now staring down the barrell of a DNF, despite sitting in 7th only 500m further back on the course. Ouch.

I’m not too impressed that they let they race stand to be honest. The Yellow fleet (in which Pont won both races) sailed on the outer loop which meant they weren’t on that part of the course when the graveyard arrived. The red fleet were, and their race was abandoned. I couldn’t actually sail downwind enough to go and complain to a RC boat so I began to head back upwind to see if I could get home. It took me well over 2 hours to get to the windline (only 400-500m upwind and to the right of me) because the graveyard wouldn’t let me leave! I’ve never really experienced wind conditions like that before to be honest. It was quite harsh.

So now I wil have to wait a few races to get my DNF discarded but with the 6pm start tomorrow night I can only hope we get nuking conditions to even out the odds a little. Reading through the results it appears I wasn’t the only one who struggled in the difficult conditions. Many of the Top guys are sitting back in the 20’s or so with average results in the tricky conditions. It was only the first day however, and there’s plenty more racing to come.

RACE DAY 2/3 (Sat/Sun 7th/8th June):

You may wonder why I skipped yesterday’s race report… It might have had something to do with the fact it was well after 10pm (after dark) before some of the men’s fleet got home and “eating” and “getting warm” were higher on the priority list than the internet.

After an hour under AP we were finally sent out just before 7pm on Saturday evening for Race 3. The wind was just as fickle as Friday and just as shifty so it was another centreboard down race for all of the three fleets. I discovered just how difficult it is to sail upwind without a centreboard in light winds as about 5 seconds into the race my brand new centreboard snapped!! I can’t go into much detail on this race as I couldn’t even get to the second lap top mark before the time limit, to add another DNF to my scorecard (thank you, quality RSX gear). Btw, without a centreboard it took about 3 hours beating upwind to get home but thankfully one of the RC boatcrews decided I could do with a tow around 10.15pm (45mins after darkness falls in Cascais)…

Race 4 and 5 got away on time kicking off at 1pm on Sunday afternoon. Another warm day in Cascais but despite the windy conditions (nearly everyday) for the last month here we were again punished by the wind gods and given another day of shifty and very gusty 0-15 knots. Race 4 was the best of the wind for my fleet (RED; the 3rd start) as most of the first upwind was in planing mode with some 12-15 knot gusts hammering down the course. I had a lousy port start as 80% of the fleet started on port to get to the wind lines coming down the right side of the course, however my speed and angle isn’t too bad against the guys here and I followed Tom Ashley (NZL-181) into the top mark (who was getting fairly punished to be honest) in around 12-13th place. The downwind was a lottery and most of us only planed a third of the way down with most of the fleet who came behind us getting a bullet and planing over the top of the group I was in. Damn.

The second upwind was a disaster for me. There was a graveyard just above the bottom mark gate and having sailed through it to get through the bottom mark I again had to sail through it to get upwind again. The group beside me disappeared, getting lucky and missing the graveyard by a few seconds… I sat there for a good 7-8 mins and by this time the wind had crapped out on most of the course … all except for the far left side where the reach mark was, allowing the leaders to plane ALL the way downwind and finish… I still had a full lap to do and only 15 mins to do it in to beat the time limit. Centreboard down. Good luck.

Add another DNF to my scorecard followed by a decent 2 hour beat back upwind to get home… you know you’re having a lousy day when they start pulling the top mark out before you can even get there. Cheers. Its tough with the 15 minute time limit on courses that are taking 45-50 mins. If the leaders plane downwind in a sub-planing race you almost have to be on the same downwind as them just to finish within the time. At least 25% of the fleets I have sailed in have been DNF’d against the time-limit; including World Champion’s like Casper Bouman (NED-52). Ouch.

Anyhow, despite my lousy luck (breaking gear) and my heinious disabilities in sailing tricky offshore conditions, I’m having fun at this event as RSX is still a new experience to me and it is quite an experience to be part of such a large international sailing regatta (apparently, there’s over 1600 sailors competing here! eek!).

Tonight there’s a free party at the Cascais Marina with free beer and food and tomorrow is the designated REST DAY for the RSX Class. I will start on Tuesday in the Bronze fleet (still can’t understand why they dont just use 2 fleets – there’s not THAT many of us boardsailors here). Along side me will be fellow Aussie Mike Lancey (AUS-171) who broke some boom rope in one of the races today and gets his 2nd DNF (pity there’s only 1 drop in 11 races in Olympic classes). Brendan Todd is doing his best for AUS and has scraped through to the Silver Fleet. lol. Hello Beijing 2008. (insert thumbs down here).

REST DAY (Mon 9th June)

Today we had the day off, and like any good location does when its not a race day; it blew. Solid +25 knots ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT. Only the windsurfers were resting today however none of the other classes left the beach as all races were cancelled due to the strong winds. Team NZ and myself decided to check out the new Transformers movie which came out in Portugal two days ago. For anyone out there who was a fan of the Transformers cartoon (circa 1991-1997ish), you will understand me when I say it was the GREATEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME. Period.

RACE DAY 4 (Tues 10th June):

Its hard to motivate yourself to go sailing when you are starting in the bronze fleet. Partly because normally you would be sailing in the silver fleet (which is bad enough) when they split the field into two fleets on the first day of ‘finals’, but when they like to take the “convenient” option, and split us into three; its harsh. So again we headed out for another light wind race – typical Cascais conditions apparently (lol).

I thought I could wing my poor preparation for this event with good results in the stronger winds but I’m yet to see them in Cascais. I took another lousy start at the pin end and worked my way up to mid-fleet by the second lap – centreboard down the whole way upwind a few teasing gusts downwind that could promote semi-planing. The second race started in a very similar fashion but a nice 15 knot breeze drifted through the course about 2 mins in and in planing mode I was able to catch up from my lousy start to go around the top mark in 4th or 5th, not too far behind Michael Lancey (AUS-171) who despite having good early part of the regatta, broke an outhaul and DNF’d a race on Sunday, to go along with his DNF from sailing the wrong course on Saturday… welcome to the Bronze Fleet Mike.

The second lap the wind picked up a little to around 18 knots and quite choppy, and there was quite a pile-up going around the top mark the last time – the distance between 1st and 15th was only about 50m. The wind became a little fluky downwind and at the bottom mark there there was a group of about 10 of us leading into the 100m stretch to the finish. I came into the bottom mark on port and had to go below the guys gybing in on Starboard which put me in the dirty air leading to the finish. So I got punished. An 11th in the Bronze Fleet is not quite inspiring; especially when Lancey (who won the race) was only 70m in front of you on the line – and ten places.

I wasn’t the only one who had a lousy day today too. Old mate Antonio Cozzolino (NZL-1) backed up his solid early regatta performance with a DNS and an OCS. He’s flirt with the cusp of gold fleet is non-existant after taking in 120 points in 3 consecutive races. Ouch. It wasn’t a good day for Team NZ all around as it looked like JP-Tobin (NZL-151) and Tom Ashley (NZL-181) will have a hard time getting back into the Top 10 with their performances today …

RACE DAY 5 (Wed 11th June):

Today began one of the unluckiest days I’ve had this week. It began with one of my Kiwi roommates accidently packing my new hat (I’d just bought it YESTERDAY) with her when she flew out to Canada for the RSX Youth Worlds which start in next week. It was going to be my new lucky hat. How unlucky.

It followed on with what we thought would be a “windy” race (although, I’m willing to consider +8 knots as being “windy” at this place)… Out on course 2 today it was a one-way track with everyone going right from the start. I thought the startlines were fairly pathetic at this event as there were quite a few races where it was almost impossible to start on starboard and they still didn’t move the line (even though the pin was a boat, which is QUITE a lot easier to move than a buoy). This race was no acception and the ENTIRE fleet started on port heading straight to the right hand side to get the breeze. I was first out, and with a good lead finally finding some speed in the what I thought “could” be the first “windy” race. I was wrong. The wind crapped out and went the ‘all-so-familiar’ light and shifty and unfortunately, being so far out in front to the right hand side of the course i ended up getting the worst of it. I think I was so far behind second last at the top mark I don’t know how I made the time limit. I did apparently… lol. Did manage to catch up quite a few places on the last downwind which in sub-planing mode was quite unusual for me.

The second start was just as fickle and myself, Mike Lancey (AUS-171), Gabor Varga (HUN-99) and EST-311 were the only guys to start on starboard (although we had to pump like b*tches to actually get OVER the line, it was soooooo incredibly port favoured). We managed to get in the breeze while the rest of the fleet was on centreboards heading right. All four of us followed the breeze to the left and I was around the mark in clear 1st, with Gabor and Mike and another THA sailor nipping out my heels… Unfortunately, luck wasn’t my friend today and I heard the dreaded horn at the top mark – the RC boat indicating to me that was OCS. Another 40 points thank you. I sailed straight from the top mark home… the wind crapped out and this took about 2 hours.

It was after dark now, and I was still a good 800m downwind of the harbour (most of the fleet who’d continued the race were still out on the course). A Race Committee (RC) boat pulled up alongside me and told me I had to get towed in as they were under orders to get all the sailors off the water now that it was dark. I accepted, but the muppets on that boat had no idea what they were doing and managed to completely tear the top panel out of my sail trying to pull it onto the boat. Deciding that was pretty stupid they then pushed the sail off of the boat (the engine still running) and somehow managed to then drive OVER my sail; sucking it under the boat and breaking all my battens and cams and tearing the luff pocket. A brand new sail. Thanks.

It gets better. I finally get home to find my phone was stolen out my bag whilst I was sailing (good thing Blackberry are sponsoring my sports team as I now needed a new phone) and then after quite a long winded argument with the kind people at the Race Office I was told that it was MY fault for accepting the lift from the RC boat and they would give me no compensation. Motherf*ckers.

It was now nearly midnight and we had to race tomorrow at 1pm. So without dinner I went home. The unluckiest day this week now over.

RACE DAY 6 (Thur 12th June):

I didn’t race today (as my sail is basically is a big piece of shredded monofilm lettuce with a few broken battens jutting out for effect) but decided to take the time to checkout the medal races first hand from the beach. The wind was crappy and shifty again and they decided to put the races right inside the bay directly infront of the marina (great for spectators, but it must have been punishing for the sailors). The Men’s Medal Race (MR) got away with some Kiwi/British commentators blaring over the loudspeakers (apparently, its the Kiwi guy who commentates the America’s Cup, but I can’t remember his name) which was fantastic, as they new the ins and outs of each sailor and gave some really inciteful comments during the racing…

It was a lottery MR though. ESP-7 was ahead around the top mark by about 3 mins with a big group of 6 sailors a long way behind on centreboards. ESP-7 planed all the way downwind to within 50m of the bottom mark only to be overtaken by the group of 6 who planed ALL the way to the mark. It was then on centreboards all the way upwind again with the lead changing throughout every one of the 15 or so tacks needed to get to the top mark. Nick Dempsey got punished and was so far behind going round the top mark I didn’t think he would even make the time limit. Going into the slalom run on the last downwind the group of top 6 packed up again and were fighting hard in the 1 knot graveyard surrounding the slalom buoys. While this went on, Nick Dempsey (GBR-1) got a freak gust and (he was only at the top mark at this stage) planed ALL the way downhill to catch up to the leaders who’d only made about 100m progress in the 4-5 mins it took Nick to get downwind. He was in NO-MAN’S LAND a few seconds ago but now Nick was pushing the front… it turned into quite a scrap on the run from the final buoy to the finish line as there was absolutely no wind and Ricardo Santos (BRA-1) who was sitting in 1st was either going to win the race or come 7th which would mean Pont (POL-126) would win if he kept in the top 3… unfortunately, the finish line was JUST around the wall so we couldn’t see the last 80m and for some stupid reason they didn’t actually televise the MR live on tv despite having a dedicated 24/hour sailing channel on Portugese tv for the event.

The commentators were going mental and finally ESP-7 took the bullet with POL-82 and FRA-6 taking 2nd and 3rd. Nick Dempsey got put back into 5th despite looking like he could win it and lucky enough for Bimba (BRA-1) [who got punished back into 7th], Pont finished in 4th which meant Ricardo Santos (BRA-1) is the new WORLD CHAMPION for 2007!! Funnily, you could hear Bimba’s screams over the top of the commentators microphones, who must’ve been on a boat nearby throughout the race..

The women’s race (which actually went on before the mens’) was just as punishing. With Sofia (POL-8) coming from LAST on the second lap to win the race and Barbera Kendall (NZL-15) coming from 1st on the last lap to 8th! The places were changing just as quickly as you can spell “to” as there were a few planeable gusts on the course interspersed with horrible 0 or 1 knot graveyards… Sofia is the new girls WC with Barbera in second and our Jessica Crisp (AUS-15) in 3rd.

One of the things they did quite poorly at this event, was to stage all the different classes finishing on different days and then not actually advertise WHERE and WHEN the prizegiving would be. As a result, none of us went to the prizegiving (cause we didn’t know where it was!) – and there was really no atmosphere after the MR’s were finished as there were still quite a few classes still sailing (eg, the 49’s still had another days’ racing to come tomorrow).

So from the beach we went for dinner and then onto the event party which was at a cool nightclub on the beach in Cascais. I had previously checked out the place on the evening of the lay-day and could confirm it was going to be a GREAT party as the setup facing the beach was pretty slick (and the music to boot too). I think it would’ve been cooler if ALL the classes were at the party rather than just the windsurfers, but needless to say it was a good night out. Pretty cool to see all the “oldies” of the class can still kick it as I did notice the old-skoolers like Jessica, Alessandra (ITA-25) and Jannicke (NOR-3) could keep up with me on the vodka shots which was more than I could say for some of the Kiwi’s I’d been bunking with this week.

So that’s it for the 2007 ISAF Sailing Worlds. Packing up tomorrow and shipping out back to Holland… must be quite lousy for the 49er’s as EVERYONE will have packed up and GONE by tomorrow for their medal race (not the best planning for the event finish I think). Unlucky.

I’m back home to Holland now to begin some training for the upcoming Formula Euro-Cup Events in Poland and Switzerland. Would’ve been nice to get some link-love from the RSX Class website to get these reports up on the site, but people in the rsx world don’t seem to be to up to date with technology. Sigh.

The next RSX World Championships are in less than 6 months so there should be some exciting training going on in Brisbane when I return as I’ve got a few of the gold fleeters coming to train in Brisbane before hitting NZ…