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GBR Blind Sailing at the 2019 Blind Fleet Racing World Championships - Days 1 & 2

by Lucy Hodges 4 Sep 2019 19:14 BST 1-9 September 2019

Kingston Yacht Club play host to the 2019 Blind Fleet Racing World Championships, with seven countries from around the World including, Canada, France, USA, Australia, Japan alongside four teams from Great Britain.

Kingston Yacht Club is a friendly and welcoming place and is known as the fresh water sailing capital of the World, from GBR we can say we have had a warm welcome from day one. Saturday, Canada introduced all teams to the Sharks and gave a good familiarisation of the boats.

Our summary of the conditions for the first two days of racing.

Day 1

Before arriving out in Canada the team had an idea of what the predominant wind direction (SW-SSW) on Lake Ontario had to offer. Day one didn't disappoint with the wind increasing and shifting around to the South West direction throughout the day conditions become more challenging and exciting. The B1 racing started on a light Southern race track in the morning which kept the fetch short and the sea state relatively flat due to Wolfe Island being situated a kilometre or so above the windward mark. As the afternoon progressed and the B2/3 fleet launched for their first race the wind speed carried on to increase with regular right hand shifts. By race two the wind was now more west and had a clear firing line to the race track past Wolfe Island from Rochester a 212 mile drive down the Southern side of the lake; Typical Lake Ontario conditions... the wave height increasing with the winds continuing to build in strength. By the final race of the day the B2/3 fleets were racing in winds gusting up to 18knts with waves to match.

Day 2

Day 2 saw better breeze early in the morning with a forecasted drop in pressure for the afternoon racing. First up was the B2/3 with their first race starting just gone 10; the wind was in an easterly direction coming down from Howe Island, with a short fetch and an assortment of islands above the windward mark meant conditions were flat and gusty. All 3 races were completed in quick succession for the B2/3's with an average wind speed of around 12-15knts. Despite the forecast the wind continued to stay with no signs of dying off for the B1's afternoon racing. During their races the wind continued to hold at around 12 knts with a slight drop in pressure towards the later stages of their final race. Both groups of sailors found the easterly direction to be more tactical in terms of shift size and range with less emphasis on set up to get over the chop that had been seen on the first day of racing.

B1 Team Reports:

Colin Midgley, Sally Rodrigues, Will Morris and Mark Austen:

The practice days done and first day of racing had arrived and we were met with hardly any wind. Not the scenario you need when you are trying to learn how to sail a new class of boat with a new team.

We didn't impress anyone with our first couple of races, all the local knowledge we had managed to obtain said the wind would go left. We went left, it went right! Tough! But with good team spirt we looked at our day and got set for second day of racing.

But the second day more breeze, and with our teams determination, we took to the water and made better decisions with strong teamwork our first two races saw us take a 3,2. The final race of the day the wind stayed steady and we had a solid start seeing us in 2nd but with a incident between Canada and France, with Canada hitting France and then this saw France lose sight of where they were and t-boned into the side of us, seeing Colin get trapped with a badly boozed leg they carried on racing took a 6th. With a strong second day saw us move up two places. Colin said "This is a tough fleet, we knew that, we went in at the deep end, but we are starting to find our feet! Very close racing, one mistake and you can be at the back! Tiring, yes, frustrating, oh yes, hearth thumping, you bet, exciting, definitely, fun, absolutely! Bring on tomorrow!"

Vicky Sheen, Dennis Manning, Martin Moody and Tim Mills:

First race out on the beautiful waters of Lake Ontario Kingston. The first race was sailed in Steady light to moderate winds on a flat sea. A clear start two good beats and particularly good boat speed saw us in first place. The second and third race of the day involved extremely close racing between all boats. GB1 involved in incidents resulting in penalty turns and loss of places. Finished the day fourth overall.

Day two and the predicted light winds in the afternoon didn't materialise. Instead light to moderate winds made for exciting close racing. A good start and good downwind legs, saw the GB1 team finishing second in their fourth race. Fifth race GB1 was pushed over the line, OCS returning back across the line. A steady climb back through the fleet resulted in a fourth place. The Sixth race, following a poor start, saw the GB1 team taking the stern of the fleet to get clear air. Again fighting back and successful strategy and course decisions, had GB1 finishing in third place.

A closes fleet with boats finishing overlapped. USA Duane Farrow, with five firsts, clearly leading the pack, while the finishing positions between the other boats changing in each race.

B2 Lucy Hodges, Martin Phillips, Ben Hazeldine and Gary Butler:

Day 1 report B2: Day 1 got off to a great start for the GBR B2 team. With a building South Westerly, racing was exciting but also soaking wet; the 24ft Shark is relatively open boat with both the jib trimmer and tactician on the coach roof making the typical Ontario conditions live up to their name. From race 1 we were in the groove, with increasing chop boat speed was key; the set up was punchy with a lot of twist in both the main and jib. The strategy for the day was to get a bow forwards start down pin with the intention of a long starboard hold out of the line over to the increasing static patch of breeze on the left under the more sheltered waters of Wolfe Island. The team managed to carry out this strategy in all 3 races meaning that the tactical execution for the remainder of the race was to extend while also loose covering the rest of the fleet. We managed to take the win in all 3 races but still had areas of improvement for day 2, our manoeuvres were still a weakness while also having inconsistencies in our lay line calls.

Day 2 report B2: Day 2 was another great day for GBR B2. Today we were on the early start and with a promised drop in wind we were glad. For all 3 races we saw good wind (12-15knts) and a definite wind bend on the left and top right of the track coming down from the disturbed air off Howe Island. With another early left hand race track the strategy was familiar but the race committee set the mark further right making the long tack port. Taking into consideration of the short starboard tack we sailed more central on the course for all 3 races by tacking off over to the right as soon as we got to the bottom end of the left hand wind bend; we then carried on hitching up further left when we started to lose pressure on port. It was important not to commit too hard to the left as the top right also came in strong so we continued to come in on port no closer than 10-15 boat lengths of the windward as to take the last right hand shift into the windward mark. We managed to secure another 3 race wins while also making considerable improvements to our manoeuvres and lay line calls which were actually vaguely acceptable... (my bad says Ben).

B3 Liam Cattermole, Chris Albert, Jonny Cormack, Jonny Stevenson:

Sunday's practice race saw us place in second, losing out narrowly to Canada. As a team we were encouraged by this result as we have only had a limited amount of time to get to know the boats.

We took to the water on Monday for race 1, full of optimism and excitement. After a well fought out battle with Canada and some fantastic boat handling by helm Liam Cattermole at the leeward mark, GBR claimed 1st place in the race 1.

Race 2 was close again, seeing us forced to go right due to a jib car failure we had to sail our pants off to get back into the race. We managed to catch and overtake the Canadians to take 1st place in race 2. With the wind increasing, and our team still getting to know the boats, the Canadians seemed to have the edge due to their years of knowledge sailing the Shark 24. We stayed hot on their heels but came 2nd to the Canadians. This left us in first place on day 1 leading by 2 points ahead of Canada.

Day 2's racing was again closely fought with Canada. Race 4 saw changes in the lead with Canada and GBR changing positions 3 times. GBR came round the final windward mark in 1st position with Canada two boat lengths behind. We battled hard to defend our position and managed to hold on to take 1st place. Race 5 Saw a major wind shift with 30 seconds to the start signal All teams were late to the line. GBR managed to claw back through the fleet but couldn't catch the experienced Canadian team. Taking 2nd place.

Race 6 was again a battle between GBR and Canada at the front of the fleet. Canada, being slightly ahead of GBR on the start maintained their lead through the race taking 1st place and GBR 2nd.

Currently GBR are sharing joint 1st with Canada for the regatta. This is a fantastic start to the event. The team are working hard and adapting to the challenges that a new boat provides. Very exciting racing between GBR and Canada!

Race results can be found

Thank you all who have supported the charity, silent donors, G Shuckford, Director of Healthcare IT Company, Optimum Time. Big Thank you to Rooster for making our team look like a team and keep warm and dry on the water.

And those behind Team Margot please alongside following our progress at the Worlds, please open click on this link and after reading the work Team Margot do, take a swob and become a potential donor.

Please follow us at @BlindSailingUK

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