May 12, 2022 5 min read

Julian Bosch Bala Catamaran Open Event Report 

For the week leading up to the event, the forecasted conditions were not something to really get excited for. Despite this accommodation had been booked, and we were all set to travel. I resolved not to look at the predicted light winds for the rest of the week, with the hope that we would we see an improvement by Friday. As luck would have it, both Saturday and Sunday were looking promising with winds up to 17 knots expected. As this was the first A class TT event of the year, I was excited to get out and race some of the other A-cat sailors for the first time this year. In the end, due to the event being far away we had only 5 A classes, however there was a well-attended and diverse handicap fleet to provide some further competition. As expected, I was the only foiling boat again, but the opportunity to race a few of the f18s and f20s was always exciting.

After a rather short night in the tent, I was not quite feeling ready to race, but was nevertheless looking forward to an event where the winds seemed favourable. This was not evident in the morning...the lake was a millpond as we started to rig up the boat. Since the first race was only scheduled to start at 1pm, we decided to take some time to get breakfast. Soon after the wind started to build, and I realised time had flown by, and I had little time to be rigged and ready. The call was to have an all-in start on a short start line, so finding a gap would be challenging. In the A class especially, it was important to secure a spot on the first row, as some of the biggest gains would be made upwind. The wind was blowing almost directly down the lake, so forming a game plan on the foiler would be difficult downwind due to the number of gybes I would need to do. Nevertheless, I was feeling confident for the first race as I sailed towards the start line.

3 races were planned for the afternoon on the Saturday, and for the first I got caught out off the start, and was stuck in dirty air behind a shearwater. The wind was bending towards the right, creating a lift, so tacking was not an option and would have been shut down by the rest of the fleet. The best decision was to go below, so I pulled on a bit more lift and got the boat skimming to maintain speed and keep clear of the dirty wind. This was enough to push me back into the front of the fleet ahead of the shearwaters. The upwind pace was solid, and I was one of the first boats to the top mark, since we had reasonable wind, I was able to pop the boat onto the foils straight on the bear away, and could focus on building speed. I had elected to sail downwind with slightly more lift on the foils than normal, with the thought process being to push the boat onto the tips of the foils, as well as pop the boat up as quickly as possible after each gybe. In the bigger gusts, it did get rather sketchy and the speeds were quite insane. Despite the worse angles and constant need to gybe, I was pleased to be maintaining similar VMG downwind when comparing myself to the kite boats. The beat was a mile long on Saturday, and the classic A cats still provided intense competition upwind, with Hugh seeming to carry slightly more pace than the rest of us, and almost catching back up to me in the upwinds. By the second and third race the wind ended up being quite strong, and I started to feel as though my lightweight was putting me at a disadvantage upwind. Aside from this, I was for these two races comfortably able to clear the start line without any boats really being in the way. The foiling downwind continued to be fierce, since the water remained exceptionally flat for most of the day, I could maintain foiling right on the tips of the daggerboards and even started scaring myself at times. Disaster did strike at one point in the second race when I was unable to foil the boat for half the downwind due to an unexpected drop in wind. Since I was in a full foiling mode, I struggled to change gears and had to wait for the wind to pick up again. Fortunately, I was able to get back onto the foils for the end of the race, however I was unable to recover the distance I had lost and ended up finishing 12th...my worst result of the day. I was slightly disappointed to have ended the first day sitting 8th overall with a 7th and a 6th in the first and last race, respectively.

Sunday was expected to be an early start, and with the predicted drifting forecast the decision was made to cancel racing on Monday early. Secretly I was very thankful for this decision, as not only would I saved from drifting around aimlessly in no wind, I also would not have to spend another night in our leaky tent! While I had slept surprisingly well, I was still awoken by the tent conveniently leaking all over my face, and had as a result resolved to make it into a double skin trampoline for the boat later on! Due to racing being cancelled on Monday, we had scheduled 4 races for the Sunday, 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon with a lunchbreak in between. The average wind was slightly lighter than Saturday, and the kite boats would not be able to pull off the same advantage that they had yesterday. This was exceptionally good for me, as I could still hit similar speeds on the foils and as such my speed VMG would not be affected much. A day racing in Bala was also enough for me to identify the local wind bends and incorporate these into my plan for both upwind and downwind. Due to the lighter winds, the race officer had also decided to run a shorter course to have time for all four races. I also felt relieved at this, as it meant there would not be as many gybes on the downwind...definitely and advantage for the foiler. Thanks to this, I was able to hit some blistering lap times with results of 4th, 1st, 5th and 3rd in the races, respectively. I was thrilled to have won a race in a mixed fleet open event as it was a first for me to be beating f18s and f20s on the SCHRS handicap! These low scores were enough to put me into third overall for the last day, which was not a bad comeback considering my 8th place on day 1! Since this was one of our TT events, I was also the first A class, which was the initial goal for me, but it was great to be able to improve on that!

Overall, I had a fantastic weekend at Bala, with exciting competition and new strategies. The racing was close and always intense, and the committee did an excellent job laying the course and maintaining lower wait times between races. Unfortunately, the fate of the tent has now been sealed, so there is no chance I will be camping for the Rutland cat open in a few weeks! Rutland is going to be the next of our A class TT events, and I should be competing on some newer foils for that one.


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