Sailing Chandlery sponsored Chloe Barr sent in the following report just after the Laser Under 21 World Championships.
The first day started off rather unexpectedly, with everyone rigged and ready for the launch signal; AP over A went up signalling no racing that day, I think this was due to a building forecast and wind against tide (massive waves). This meant another day of welcomed rest for those who had just finished the Europeans.
The second day we launched with about 16 knots and a decreasing forecast. Unfortunately, the first race I had a terrible start, meaning I had to tack out for clear air. As it was still windy and I was going fast I managed to salvage that race to a respectable result. The next two races of that day I had equally bad starts and with less wind to catch up I was left with some big scores. I was left feeling rather defeated (constant rain didn’t help) and I set a starting goal for the next day.
The third day brought a large forecast of around 20+ knots which I was excited for. The first race I decided to start away from the fleet which worked, I was having a good race until turning downwind where I was struggling to make the boat go fast with such large fast moving waves. The second race got slightly windier and I had a great start getting to the windward mark in the top six. I just about managed to maintain my position downwind, and then I gained upwind to come fourth. The race committee decided that two races was enough and I was firstly relieved to see that we weren’t doing another race in such big wind but also sad as I know I’m fast in those conditions.
Day four was about 10 knots building, I had good starts all day and was consistently rounding the windward mark in top fifteen/ten. Due to the tide going upwind everyone would bunch up when turning downwind, meaning there were big gains to be made by being in your own wind, but also huge losses from getting stuck and being covered. I learnt this the hard way in race one and lost about 15 boats on the downwinds which was infuriating. I managed not to make such large losses in the two races to follow but I still lost a few places.
Day five’s wind had been looking non-existent on the forecasts all week. We launched into about 7 knots and had to be towed out of the very long river. When it was time to start the racing the gold fleet boys got a general recall which turned into a postponement because the wind had died. We spent the next four hours trying not to drift downtide of the race course until we were inevitably sent in with no races completed.
The Final day of racing came with a wind direction we hadn’t seen all week, a south-westerly which is straight offshore. In the first race, I didn’t have a very good start meaning I didn’t have much control to tack on the shifts I wanted to, and instead I had to focus on getting clean air. The best tactics turned out to be trying to get inshore into stronger tide going upwind. I managed to salvage this race with a few shifts and some surprising downwind speed. The next race I managed to start okay, I just was on the wrong side of a very big right shift. Up the second beat I tried to make gains but we ended up racing into the back of the boy’s silver fleet which made it very difficult to get clean air, not my best race.
I’m coming away from the regatta with some goals and realisations. My three main goals being: Starting in a big fleet- make sure I know exactly where the line is and be confident about that.
Getting faster downwind - increase my speed in large waves that move faster than you.
Downwind strategy - have a strategy when the tide is going upwind and there is a big fleet that gets bunched up, choose a side and get clean air.
I have realised that I needed to do another big fleet event for confidence before going to the worlds, and also think back to previous times I’ve been to Nieuwpoort, remember where I was slow on the race course and try and find those conditions and train them.
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