In the seaside town of Pobierowo, Poland the Euro Challenge FW Event begins tomorrow with 3 days of racing action on the Baltic Sea. Sean will be writing daily reports from the event as well as the videos with interviews, racing and all the beach action from Pobierowo. Find the Regatta Report below as well as the results and official news from the FW.org website:
Ok, so I arrived with Markus Bouman late Tuesday night in Pobierowo and managed to find a nice hotel at a reasonable price (by Polish standards). We figured we’d get some training in on Wednesday and Thursday however the beach has proved to be so crowded we couldn’t even get our gear down to the beach – let alone park within walking distance! By Thursday afternoon (registration began at 4pm) we hadn’t yet discovered where the event site actually was because we hadn’t come across any other sailors except one other Dutch guy!
Finally, a girl from the organisation found us and we discovered the Registration building (away from the beach) and paid our 200 zloty for entry (it was actually cheaper to pay entry in Euros as they weren’t using an up to date exchange rate – however none of us had any Euros with us ~ a lesson for next time! haha). Once registered we decided to head back home and put the sponsor stickers on our sails in the nice grassy frontyard of our hotel rather than share the beach with 7 million other Polish holidaymakers.
By the time we left registration at 6pm there were only 4 people registered from the event; myself, two Dutch guys and a Lithuanian – however I did see a few Polish windsurfing vans arrive as we are leaving so I’m sure there will be plenty more arriving for registration tomorrow morning.
We had 20 knots sideshore (NE) all day today and this is the same forecast all week (well, to be specific, the forecast is 10-15 knots NE however there is a good thermal effect here with the hot land close to the beach so it is adding another 5 or so knots to the breeeze) – so we should get a full three days of great racing action!
Tune in tomorrow for more videos and a blow-by-blow from the racing! First race kicks off at 11am (Polish time) so it will be a perfect warmup for the Formula European Championships in Leba next week.
I knew as soon as I got out of bed this morning that it was going to be windy! Arriving at the beach at around 8am (we still hadn’t brought the gear to the beach as there was no where to put it last night), already most of the Polish contingent had arrived as well as a few guys from France, Britain and Lithuania. After we’d mission’ed the gear to the beach I rigged up the 10m Vapor and went for a test drive – wind was around 20-22 knots so I had plenty of power with my 10m.
The racing took a while to start as the organisers were having trouble with boats so after a lazy morning we began the first race around 1pm. That allowed some time for the guys arriving from the PWA Fuerteventura event; including Arnon Dagan and Gonzalo Costa Hoevel and Steve Allen – Steve had driven the entire night from Warsaw after losing his slalom gear at the airport and having to organise the family also (didn’t seem to effect him though!). As we had Arnon’s (new fw kit in our van, we helped him unload. Arnon = “Damn, I’ve been sailing a 5.0m for the last three weeks, this sail’s pretty big!” (holding his 12m still in the plastic).
Race 1 kicked off at 1pm with myself and Hubert (POL-25) having a great start behind Gonzalo (ARG-3) in the first upwind. Steve was really flying today and put himself in a good position for the win early. I got round the top mark in 5th just behind Dennis Littel (NED-13) and in front of Ross Williams (GBR-83) however I lost a little time on the downwind nearly eating it in the big swell and managed to put it in the drink TWICE trying to get around the top mark on the second lap. Luckily half the fleet double tacked this mark also so I managed to hold on to a Top 10 finish with Steve (AUS-0) taking the bullet. Special mention goes to Arnon who took a huge over the front on the first downwind ~ amatuer hour!!
Race 2 was very similar with Steve leading early and me having an average start close to the boat. The wind had shifted a little more to the E-NE (it felt) so it was a very boat favoured line and most of us were crowding near the boat. I got a little stuck behind POL-1 and Hubert again so tacked away early up the first leg back towards the shore which appeared to give a decent knock on port but a nice lift out of the beach on starboard once I’d tacked back. I was a little bit further down the pack in this race around the top mark with my bad start however I managed to smoke Ross, POL-1 and a few other guys on the downwind and get back in to the Top 8 for the second lap. Been a while (or never) since I’d smoked people downwind so prop’s to the guys back home making my fins! Hard to know the full results as there have been a few OCS (over early’s) and there wasn’t any results on the beach for us to check out. I’m gonna guess I finished around 6th in this race but one thing I am sure about was Steve took another bullet.
Race 3 and 4 continued in a similar fashion. Steve took the bullets and everyone took a turn at putting it in the drink including Dennis, me, Markus Bouman (NED-6), Arnon again and even Gonzalo at one point! The waves were about 1m breaking on the beach in a harsh dump however out to see we had a very steep 2.5m wave which made it difficult on the port tack downwind as we were heading straight over the back of the steep swells. Glad I am riding a Gaastra board (so is Steve) as this thing never digs the nose in vicious swell.
After 4 races of 15-20 mins each we were all pretty battered so after derigging and filling all our gear, wetsuits and bags with sand (welcome to Poland!) it was back to the apartment to prepare for tomorrow.
The forecast is the same each day so we know we are all going to get some decent racing in before heading to Leba. If Leba lives up to its name you KNOW we are going to have 6 days of 8 knots there which will be great after a week of 25 knots (haha, NOT!). I still have yet to rig my 12m in Europe yet as there hasn’t been a day under 20 knots since I arrived 3 weeks back :-/
Tune in tomorrow to see if anyone can actually beat Steve (although if they can’t beat him when he spent the entire night driving a car on Polish roads, I can’t see their chances when he’s had a good nights’ sleep).
Day 2 of racing kicked off with a bit of comedy when a bunch of Polish guys driving a big orange rescue truck managed to submerge it in the soft sand at the edge of the beach. 3 hours, 2 other 4WD’s and 4 towing cables later they somehow managed to get it out! (See the end of the above video to know what I am talking about).
Race 5 kicked off around 11.30am this morning with winds a lot weaker than yesterday. Most of us rigged 11m’s as it was around 12-15 knots by the first gun however a few guys took advantage of the flatter water from yesterday and took out their 12m’s. Racing was much the same as yesterday with a NE breeze on the beach making the startline very boat biased and hardly any port starters having a try. Steve had a lousy start in the middle of the line allowing me to get around the top mark ahead of him in 3rd behind Gonzalo and Wojtek. The course was a windward/leeward first lap then a reach mark on the second lap (outer-loop, basically). I would prefer something without REACHING (our fins are much too soft these days to enjoy that!) but the course has been laid perfectly for the winds so we can’t complain.
Steve and Dennis and Ross took the inside line on the downwind and managed to get ahead of me to the bottom mark but I lucked out tacking early back out to sea on the second lap instead of following the pack into the beach in their dirty wind and I dropped a few places in this race. I don’t think Steve managed to get back in time so he finished third with Wojtek and Gonzalo ahead.
Race 6 and 7 were pretty much re-runs of the first. The wind didn’t change direction much however there was a good lift on starboard tack coming out of the beach so many who started on starboard and tacked early on to port (back to the beach) did quite well to the first mark. Steve was usually a culprit for this and I followed him a few times having some terrible starts and having to tack back not because it was tactically correct; but because I was getting punished by half the fleet. Steve won the next two races and I sat around 10th and 12th in these two – seemingly always one place behind Dennis Littel.
Race 8 started later in the day (around 4pm I think?) as we had a 30 min break because of the wind increasing to around 20-22 knots. I (as did everyone) stayed on the 11m and had some great speed on the first upwind getting around the top mark in a large pack – only 30m separating 1st to 10th. I’m still getting used to having NO deckgrip on my Vapor board (can’t remember the Starboards being this slippery!) and I did a muppet gybe trying to not slip off the deck on the first downwind and managed to completely lose the pack in a matter of seconds. Luckily I had some good upwind speed and managed to catch up a little on the second lap as I was far enough behind to stay out of the dirty air of those in front. I believe Dennis finished just ahead of me (or Pawel, POL-11) however I was too far behind to see who was winning. Arnon, Steve, Gonzalo, Polanowski and Hubert were all up the front today so my guess would be Steve took the bullet – until I can ACTUALLY FIND the results somewhere and confirm.
The forecast is a little lighter tomorrow so there’s a chance I can finally rig my 12m (for the first time since arriving in Europe 3 weeks ago) and try out some of my new lightwind fins. Steve only needs one more win to take the event out however he’s the type of guy who’d just prefer to take 4 wins tomorrow to be safe …
Photos from the event.
The final day of racing kicked off with much lighter breezes around 10-12 knots and most of us pulling out the 12.0’s for the first time in this event. A few minutes before the first start a strange (but thick) fog drifted on to the course making it impossible to see any of the marks or even the beach if you were out on the water and so the first race was delayed another 45 mins or so until the fog cleared. We don’t have fog (or rain, even) like this where I live so it was pretty strange to see…
Finally, we were out on the water around 1.30pm and the first race had a very lightwind start with most of us crowding together at the pin end to get clear air. I’m not sure who it was but there was a horrendous port/starboard crash right in front of me about 3 seconds before the gun. You know the CRUNCH sound when somebody drives a car over a child’s leg and you hear the bones shattering… that was the sound when these two boards hit. Unfortunately, as I was just behind I had to sail to leeward of the first dropped sail which meant I dipped about 15m below the line right on the gun. Suffice to say, I got PRETTY PUNISHED in this start and had to tack away early to get clean air. Steve had a cracking start at the pin and took the lead from start to finish with Wojtek and Ross not too far behind in 2nd and 3rd. This was the beginning of my two worst races of the day as I hadn’t sailed my 12m yet and was testing a new light wind fin (which turned out to be pretty lousy). I was deep in the teens at the finish of this race.
Race 10 and 11 kicked off about 45 mins apart with the wind increasing each race up to 18 knots by the final start. I had the 12m in the second race but had a lightwind setting and the wind kicked up to around 15 knots for this race and I had trouble keeping the sail locked down. It appears I wasn’t the only one having a bad race as Steve had his second drop in this heat, finishing 7th (somehow) and allowing Wojtek to take the win. Out of the start, as I was sitting behind Steve I could see Polanowski just a touch in front of Steve grinding super high and going slow to keep Steve out. This probably wasn’t the smartest move I believe as in the meantime, Wojtek and Gonzalo (who were downwind of them both) were going full power at a much faster speed and were clearing out on Polan and Steve. Neither of them had a good finish in that race as a result of this…
Racing had to finish by 3pm so we didn’t have time for a final 4th race on the last day however all of us enjoyed the racing over the weekend so we were more than happy to pack up early. The presentation kicked off on a small stage at one end of the rigging area on the beach and as this event was also the Polish Championships there was a plethora of trophies and medals for all the Polish competitors as well as us internationals.
Steve; winning the event, did his typical speech in Polish. Apparently (this was translated to me later) he spoke about how nice the contest was and about how tired he was from travelling from the PWA event in Fuerteventura the day before because the drive was so “short”. Wojtek corrected him on stage about how to say “long” in Polish. Guess it was one of those ‘had to be there funny stories’ but you can see Wojtek correcting him on the video above that I made… it was pretty funny ;)
Shortly after the prizegiving, the organisers wanted a group photo of all the competitors on the stage. With +60 people on the small stage it COLLAPSED! Luckily the stage was only 50cm off the ground otherwise we could of done some serious damage however the young Polish guys standing on the podium at the time came off second best with one of them completely destroying his trophy when he fell off the podium and off the stage!! haha.
So most of the sailors are driving tonight to Leba for the Formula European Championships which start later this week. Myself and the Dutch guys will stay tonight in Pobierowo and drive to Leba tomorrow morning.
After 3 days of racing we completed 11 races in PERFECT conditions in a variety of winds. The organisation in Poland (as usual) was flawless and this was really a fantastic event – hopefully we can all come to this relatively new Polish location again next year.
Stay tuned for more updates, reports and silly videos from Leba starting later this week!