Today was the first day of the Nieuwpoort week regatta in Belgium, and for the first time we have had all 5 sailors together and sailing! There are sailors here from GBR, Holland, USA, Belgium, France, Brasil, Czech Republic and some of our well known German friends.
Following the usual briefings and opening ceremonies the fleet launched for the long sail out to the start line in around 12-15 knots of wind. Well almost all the sailors anyway! One sailor (name will remain private) had forgotten to bring their tally from the accommodation, so after a quick trip to fetch it launched as well, and made the start thanks to a speedy tow.
For the first two days sailors are spilt into two fleets, before Gold and Silver racing later in the week.
Very unusually for Nieuwpoort, tide made very little difference in the first race as it was just turning from ebbing to flowing. Because of this getting clear from the start-line was key for being in the top few places at the windward mark. After this downwind speed and then spotting the incoming right shift became the priorities. Max sailed a consistent race after a good start to start the regatta with a second, as did Jamie, who managed to break free from a slightly less good start.
Martin and Milo both got clear starts and good first beats, but were unfortunate to lose out a little on the right shift in the second half of the race, ending up with a 6 and a 8 respectively. Arran on the other hand, spotted this change and pulled up to finish a credible third in his flight.
Other Brits also performed well, Ryan Orr winning the first flight, and Clark Rutter sailing a good overall race for a fourth place.
By race two the tide had started to run at about 6 boat-lengths per minute against the wind, resulting in several general recalls for both fleets. Unfortunately Milo was one of the sailors caught out by this. I think we can put this down to “rustiness” as Milo has not sailed for the past month because of a broken arm!
Again, Martin made a good start, but both he and Ryan (race 1 winner) lost their top three positions sailing to the wrong windward mark and having to come back against the tide. Unfortunately this left them with results they weren’t so happy with, a good learning point nonetheless!
Max and Arran, both racing in the second flight rounded in the top four at the windward and held this to the finish to score another consistent race each. Jamie, after another not so great start was able to make some clever decisions to lead around the leeward mark and hold this to the finish. Another Brit, George Ford also managed a well deserved top 5.
Overnight standings leave Miel (Belgian worlds team sailor) in the lead with two race wins, followed by Jamie, Max and then Arran.
3 more races scheduled tomorrow with a launch at around 10am, and the forecast suggests up to 20 knots! We could be in for some BIG waves, the hallmark of this venue in strong winds!