Dylan Fletcher reports on 49er Worlds in Bahamas
We did not have a great first day despite winning the first race. Then it picked up until we were lying 3rd overall going into the last day but dropped to 6th before the medal race, then had an ok medal putting us into 5th overall! We made a lot of mistakes and it was a whole new learning curve being in that position in the fleet. So now we have a load more to work on in time for the Europeans and Sail for Gold in the summer.
Here is the full race reportÖ
We set off to the Bahamas once again after our Christmas break hoping to leave the cold weather behind us. In our programme we decided to do 3 days of sailing before the event to make sure everything was working and it all measured in. The new boat went through measurement fine just a little over weight which seemed to be the case for most of the new boats.
The forecast for the week was for the wind to be coming from the north west direction which was completely different direction to all the training that we had done in the Pre-Worlds Regatta and training in early December. It was also got a lot colder, about the same temperature as nice September day in Weymouth but the Aussies did not see it that way.
After the hectic rush of putting the new sail number and flag layout, racing began with a light wind practice race. The race went well for us, we were going fast, taking shifts and communicating well which was a big confidence boost just before the regatta.
Day 1 the fleet where split into 2, we were on second start so we had some time to kill while the others went out. After some bowls and internet club it was time to get racing. It was a 14knt north west wind coming off the shore so setting up the boat was tricky as down the bottom of the course it was 14 Ė 16knts and at the top it was 5knts. Due to the tough conditions our mind set was that we had to be patient with the wind and it was going to be a game of snakes and ladders (people where going to have big gains and losses). The first race got underway we stuck to our plan up the first beat, playing the shifts and sailing with what wind we had this put us 1nd round the windward mark with 3 other Brits around us. The positions changed a lot during the race and we managed get back to first for the finish with 3 Brits just behind. This was a good start to the worlds but we had to remind ourselves with such a shifty day we were likely to pick up at least one bad result. Which is what happened in the next two races the wind became slightly more unstable and lighter and we started to get bounced around by the fleet so we couldnít tack when we wanted. We had a debrief on the day once we got in and reset ready for day 2.
Day 2 was a offshore again and quite a bit breezier. We were first group and the forecast was for the wind to increase throughout the day, the race officer was aiming to get 2 races done for each fleet and if the weather conditions were still sailable then he would try get another one in. With the windy and gusty conditions there was going to be a bit of carnage so we said to ourselves we just need a clean start and clean lane as we knew our boat handling would be able to get us round in good position. We kept it simple around the course taking shifts when we could and planning ahead as much as possible as going downwind with big angle changes and aiming at boats coming up wind can put you off and cause you to put it in the tide (capsize). The 2 races that were held we got a 3rd and 2nd while the Spanish crew and this point seemed to be putting a very good series together with two firsts on that day. The day was finished pretty early so we had time to chill and check the boats over ready for the final day of qualification.
Day 4 of the regatta and business time in gold fleet. The forecast was for light winds getting lighter and still cold. The racing started on time and the wind direction was similar to the practice race so we had good confidence on our call book on what could happen. The first race we had a good start and were able to hold a lane and could tack easily on the shifts which put us in the top few round the windward mark. We kept it simple and pulled in a 3rd this was another confidence boost for the first gold fleet race. The second race we got another good start but missed a shift inside us which put us in the pack in no wind, we stayed patient and slowly climbed back up to put a 14th in still a good counter. One more race for the day and it was slowly getting lighter we started well and this time we didnít miss the shift around the middle and finally the luck came to us we had a lift while the boats below us had no wind and boats above us where headed into us Bonus! This put us round in the top 3 we pulled away from the main group but the wind was getting lighter and swinging around we got to last windward mark in 2nd the Danish team rounded just infront of us and caught a beautiful gust taking them down to the finish. However we never got into it and sat in a massive hole of no wind and the fleet closed right up it was very tense as we didnít know where the wind was going to fill in from. The Danish had finished and we were still 5 minutes away the breeze finally filled in and we were able to sneak across the line in 2nd . The day put us 8th overall and with a discard coming in we could jump up to the top 5! We had the afternoon away from the resort and played 9 holes of golf, which involved lots of walking in bushes and the pond to get the balls back but never the less it took our minds off sailing.
Day 6 final day the wind was up and it was raining another perfect September day in Weymouth. We just had to get a top 10 to be in the medal race. Points were very close from 2nd up to 8th so it was pretty much any ones race. We didnít have the best day and dropped down to 6th, we were very happy to make medal race as our goal was only top 15. Again the points were very close for the medal race and anything could have happened with the given wind direction. The points could mean we could move up to 3rd or drop to 8th. We managed just to scrap through a tough medal race to become top Brit and finished 5th!
We are now having January off chilling and keeping up the fitness and start again beginning of February for a squad camp
Thanks for your support and following our results this year.