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International Canoe World Championship at Pwllheli - Practice Race

by Dougal Henshall 20 Aug 2017 18:48 BST 19-25 August 2017
Plas Heli know how to put on a nice show with this well managed opening ceremony © David Henshall

Stormydd hywl fawr, Croeso y Pwllheli!

The local lingo might take some mastering but the sentiment is clear! Goodbye storms, welcome to Pwllheli. The Merlin Rockets, who had just enjoyed a brilliant week of windy weather, had taken most of it away with them. But not all, for as the various forms of International Canoe gathered at Plas Heli for their World Championships, there was still too much breeze out in Tremadog Bay to run their scheduled Practice Race.

The days of strong winds that had given the Merlins such a working over had left a nasty, sharp wave pattern that would have caused the Canoes a real issue. As a result, full on competition will start on the Sunday morning with the first of a full programme of points races with the 60-strong fleet raring to go.

First though was the business end of the Worlds, with all the boats being weighted and measured. With these formalities completed, the fleet were able to spend the afternoon in race preparation before the Opening Ceremony took place in the Plas Heli's Main Hall. After the presentation of the flags from the competing nations, which range from the Australians to a very strong team representing the US, then boats from across Europe to the majority from the host nation it was time to tuck into the buffet and talk canoe sailing.

There is no shortage of material on hand here for the IC sailors to be discussing. Earlier in the day there had been a bit of light hearted fun when the newest boat in the fleet had been rafted up alongside the oldest boat Michael Brigg's gorgeous looking all varnished delight that came complete with sweeping ash 'cow horn' tiller extensions. Looking at the latest iteration of the Canoe concept, all carbon-fibre and with all the add ons to make sailing these most difficult of boats a little easier was a salutary lesson in how far and how fast things have progressed.

Sunday Morning: We're going sailing.

The sun is shining at Plas Heli and after a week of wind, the nation flags are barely fluttering. Two races are scheduled for today, with the fleets being given time to return to the shore for a short break. The Instructions from the Event Organisers to the Race Team are quite specific; the Race should be a 10-mile standard triangle sausage, with a mile plus beat. One of the key themes of this event is the way that the Canoes have worked to be fully inclusive, so there will be two starts that will encompass the different genres of International Canoe; expect a lot more on this subject in the days to come.

The first warning signal is at 10.55; Let's go sailing.

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