Report from Finn Drummond, A Class Cat
From the 24th to the 29th of July I competed in the A-class European Championships in Lake Garda, Italy. I flew to Italy straight after my last exam and got half a day of training in before the regatta. The boat I used in the regatta is called a ‘dna’ which has C foils which provide lift. In New Zealand I was used to sailing in a boat with straight boards. I was on very steep learning curve.
The regatta was held in predominantly strong ‘Ora’ winds that blow from the south between 15-20kts. At the start of the regatta I got used to the boat and the racing. I had sailed in the 420 worlds here 3 years earlier so I knew the conditions fairly well: you must position yourself near the cliffs on the right hand side of the course quickly. This means that you gybe at the top mark and get onto port tack ASAP off the start line, with 100 boats alongside you it is important to get off the line well to be in a good position at the top mark. In the last half of the regatta I did this much better and managed to round in the top 10 a few times.
Day 1: wind was about 15knots. I placed 30th and 44th in the two races sailed. It took me a while to get my head in the game. I had a port starboard with a boat on the start line in the second race and had to do a penalty, which resulted in me getting 15 boats behind. That was expensive. My upwind and downwind speed compared to the boats around was similar. This was my first opportunity to line up against others. The highlight of the day was pulling off a port start in the second race at the pin end.
Day 2: Finished the only race in 49th after a poor start and a capsize, definitely a race to forget! The second race of the day was abandoned near the finish as the wind died.
Day 3: Finally a better day for me finishing in 34th, 27th and 9th. The last race of the day I had a good start and tacked onto port early, managing to round the top in 10th. Downwind I trapezed the entire run and called a good layline to round the bottom mark in 5th and held 6th until just before the finish when I underlaid and had to dip a couple of boats on the line. Happy to have good downwind pace and show I can mix it with the good guys.
Day 4: The full Ora wind was in at about 20 knots and more when you were at the cliffs. I had a good start and rounded in 8th. On the downwind many boats struggled to keep the bows up and I got through to 7th at the bottom mark. It is difficult to tack sometimes when it’s very windy and I had one scary moment when I attempted a tack and launched the boat out of the water on the curved foils near the cliffs, it crashed down and stopped and I jumped on the trapeze to build speed and only got the tack in a few metres away from the rocks! I lost 2 boats around the rest of the track and finished in 9th. In the 2nd race I rounded in the 20’s and was trapezing downwind when I let go of the mainsheet and capsized to windward. One of my centreboards came out and sank in the process, I scored DNF.
Day 5: Again the breeze was in about 20 knots. I rounded in 9th which I held around the course until I overlaid the gybe going into the finish. 3 boats sailed inside me and I ended in 12th place.
I learned a lot in this regatta. At the start I was slightly off the pace upwind but with a few adjustments in my rig to flatten my sail this was fixed and I was in the top 15 for upwind pace at the end. I also sailed lower and faster upwind at the end of the regatta which felt good.
Downwind as I gained confidence I started trapezing more and at the end I was generally making gains on the boats around me. When it was over 20 knots downwind it is hard to keep the bows up but by bringing the traveller up and using more twist I could keep the boat going. It was not uncommon to see boats ‘go down the mine’ when pushing hard (me included!). The strongest point of speed for me was in moderate conditions when I could trapeze downwind with excellent VMG.
Overall I finished in 24th place with results of: 30, 44, (49), 34, 27, 9, 9, (dnf), 12. I am very happy to show I could battle it out with the top guys at the end. Other NZ results were my dad, Mike Drummond, in 10th and Murray Philpott in 22nd. Andrew Landenberger from Australia won the regatta.
My plans for the rest of the year for my sailing are to do a major chop and change of my flyer A-Class in NZ, fitting curved boards, redesigning the transom and building a new mast. Then I will get training again in the A-cat and F18. My next major regatta is the F18 worlds in September.
A big thank you to my dad, Mike, for all his support, I would not have been able to make it happen otherwise!
Full results and pictures are on www.acateuro2012.ch