Freitag, Juni 29, 2007

The 3rd Race goes into History. 2:1 for the Kiwis.

Been in Valencia on June 26th to watch the third race in the 2007 America´s Cup with my fellow colleagues. We had booked the full program including the MY "Newflash" going out on the race course. The picture to the left shows the ETNZ leaving the marina through the canal at about 12.00h as being the first team. The "B" team with helmsman Ben Ainsle left just before. We headed out at around 14.30h. It was a lumpy sea out there, big swell right in front of the canal. These conditions would have been called "boat breaking conditions" in San Diego in the early days of the IACC class. The girls from my team went complete seasick, my "toughest man" a little green despite the seasickness pills which we had been taken. They were warned and the rest of the team decided to stay outside until it is finished. Readers of the official site and the various blogs (I highly recommend my AM Cup link list) will know that we had to wait until a minute to 17.00h when Peter Reggio started the race. That it would become the "race of the century" was not clear at that moment and not 10 minutes into the race when the Kiwis had hit a right hand shift, a big lift for them which also had more pressure. Their lead was about 300m on the virtuell eye, which was installed on a plasma screen on the yacht. We had a very experienced captain who was able to place the 26m luxury MY at the center of the action. Often bringing the boat into the "not allowed" area which was marked with red buoys and only allowed for boats with red/yellow flags. There was plenty to see and plenty to discuss and the crew of "NEWFLASH" brought champagne out when the race was finished on a nail biter.

The evening was spend in the Estrella Damm bar (as the evening before) where we met some friends and also people from the German Team. They kept their lips tight about next days announcement that Karol Jablonsky (DN P-36) would become skipper of the UITG-Team who had just been allocated sail nr. GER-101 for their second IAC Yacht, which is under construction around the corner in Kiel. Anyway it had been an unforgettable time spend in Valencia for the 32nd America´s Cup. I close this report with a picture, also taken with my mobile. Showing ETNZ with skipper Dean Barker, coming in after that hard earned victory against Alinghi. I must admit, that I fear at this stage, that Alinghi will shift up another gear and are coming back into their winning zone. We will wait and see. Three interesting days are lying ahead.
Eine gut geschriebene Zusammenfassung des 3. Rennens fand ich auf meiner Clubseite. Hier der Link:

Montag, Juni 25, 2007

Gone Sailing and watching the AM Cup

Two ..uuhps three tasks at hand on the weekend:
1. "Samantha" had to be delivered to Flensburg for the upcoming Musto-Double-Hand-Challenge.
2. On Friday we had been invited to race on a Archambauld 35 during Kieler Woche and:
3. The first two races in the Americas Cup this season!
Gone sailing in Kiel Friday evening. The pleasure factor from this regatta being just OK. Nice boat but with a 35 footer you would not like to start in IMS 1 where you have mostly 45 footers upward. Takes a bit of fun away already close after the start. One after the other is passing just on the basis of a longer waterline.
Saturday afternoon we watched the first race (on compie) and were not too much impressed after that first wind shift which some commentators have seen at abt. 10-12° in favour of "Alinghi". Nevertheless she did not look slow.
Jumped into the car after the race to drive up north (Maasholm) to the boat and detaching ropes within half an hour. Sailing upwind until midnight in a nice breeze and a late sundown with some moon putting a silver shine on the sea. Berthed for the night at Marina Minde late at one o´clock and leaving next day in a rainstorm reefed. Ended up motoring in no wind at close to 13.ooh into the Marina Sonwik and got collected after putting all the wet stuff away. Just making it home for the second race and man, has it been exciting. 1:1 and everything is OK. Tomorrow I will be with my team in Valencia watching the third race. I still cannot believe this as we had booked it already last year. And now we see a very important race.

A friend had send me some interesting comment on the race strategy yesterday. Read for yourself if you have not scrolled through all my links on the right side. As I understand the analyses is from Gary Jobson. One of my favourite tacticans of the old days. He and Dr. Stuart Walker whom´s books taughed me a lot.

ETNZ caught a favorable wind shift on the left side of the course during
a tacking duel. ETNZ closed within one boat length after trailing by
three lengths. Hutchinson called for his helmsman, Dean Barker, to sail
low of course by about 7 degrees. But ETNZ did not ease the sails out.
Butterworth on Alinghi called for helmsman, Ed Baird to tack right on
the Kiwi’s wind. Fooled by NZ’s head fake, the call to tack was made too
early. Instead of hurting NZ’s wind Alinghi allowed the Kiwis to have
clear air in their sails. Barker brought his boat back up on the wind
and now had the Swiss blocked. It was a rare mistake by Butterworth. And
it was costly.


Freitag, Juni 22, 2007

Its all about the folks behind...

This morning I read a letter in the Euro Scuttlebutt which really struck me. I like to bring it on here for people to understand what made me a "fan" of the Kiwi camp. It also brought back the memory of the long night in early 2003. Me and my DN friends had stayed up to see the first of the TNZ vs. Alinghi start at 02.00h in the morning in a hotel at Lake Goldberg, only to see the Kiwi boat falling apart. Three of us showed tears. Nevertheless we had some good Iceboat racing the next day.

* Rob Wilkinson, Auckland, New Zealand: Although it would improve my bank balance for the Cup to come back down 'ere, I have to agree it's better for the sport for it to stay in Europe. The hyperbole in the local media is "they're one step away from bringing it home", but personally I can't see them overhauling Alinghi. My bet is 5-3 to the Swiss, not that I'd tell my staunch Kiwi father-in-law that. He'll personally march me to Immigration and have my passport revoked for being a traitor.

It's quite incredible, though, how New Zealanders really get behind the team. People who know the square root of duck all about yachting - they still think Anchor is a brand of butter and port is just a fortified wine - are totally compelled by the whole thing. Our small nation tucked away in the corner of the world might just possibly beat Bertelli and his billions.

The morning after the LV Cup final match, I was sitting in a waiting room and some little old lady was yawning and remarked she hadn't slept for a week because she'd stayed up all night to watch the racing. She didn't know anything about sailing but wanted to "support the boys". I swear there's only two degrees of separation between everyone in the country so her grandson is probably on the team.

Then I went to the chemist and the two old guys behind the counter were clarifying who the strategist and tactician were (they finally agreed, and got it right). It's like that everywhere. There are few places in the world you'd get that kind of public support for yachting.

I'm glad Sir Keith Mills has entered the Cup fray and put the Poms back in the game but I bet few landlubbers north of Hampshire could tell you (come 2009) who the Origin skipper is. Down here, every man, woman and child knows that Deano is "captain" of our boat. No pressure, mate.

I still recall watching the first race of the 2003 final at Auckland Airport. The whole arrivals terminal came to standstill as the boats crossed the line. No one cared about people pouring through immigration. Hundreds of eyes were transfixed on the big screen. The boom broke, blue bucket came out to bail out, the headsail ripped out of the foils and the team retired and people around me started crying. I was more staggered about the public reaction than NZL82 almost sinking.

If Dalts, Dean and co do win it back, it'll be one 'eck of a party. It'll make the '95 celebrations look like a village carnival. Cheers from Kiwi land, possibly the future home of the Auld Mug.

Mittwoch, Juni 20, 2007

Racing the Bull and thoughts about OL classes

The beautiful German summer weather turned into rain, thunderstorm and strong winds on Friday last week. On my to-do-list there had been a couple of things with the rigging. Lengthen the shrouds, shorten the headstay to get the mast more upright but I hate to fiddle with the boat (any boat) in the rain. We hoped to have enough time to do the jobs on Saturday. Saturday again, very bad weather and we cancelled the racing for ourselves and visited Kieler Woche, which had just started for all the Olympic Classes + 1. Plus one being the 2,4mR disabled sailors. First half of Kieler Woche this year being held exclusive for the existing OL classes.

K. had never been to Kieler Woche though she did some very competitive 470 sailing, but due to the iron curtain and the decline in sailing after the wall came down, she had only able to sail at Warnemünde or otherwise on the East German lakes. (This whole thing is a story in itself) Nevertheless, I thought that in Kiel I would not meet any German OL sailors whom I know, as all the Olympic sailors are max 25 years old since the Soling had to go. Wrong I was. There is still Roland Gäbler in the game, leading as per today the Tornado fleet and in the Star, Alex Hagen. Not to forget Marc Pickel, whom we helped with selection of materials for his new Starboat. (This just to drop a few names). Offshore boats, IMS 1 - 4 were also in Kiel and the crews were in the beer tent, which was fully packed. We had a few interesting talks around the Foiler Moths and Finn Dinghy developments. (Oh so, beautiful these Wilke carbon masts!). Scrolling through the results sheets: I found that the participants in some classes were at the very low end compared to years before. Bad timing with ISAF worlds I was told. But where are all the Germans, normally found in the Tornado, Star or 470 class? Good participation during weekend regattas or more fun orientated events like Travemünder Woche might be one of the reasons. Is it no fun to compete against "full time" sailors? To learn it the hard way? I had done it, many years ago in the Flying Dutchman. Having the oldest boat (G-500) on the start line. Being last in every race. Capzising even before the start and some "not so nice FD guys" laughing at me. This only made me work harder till I got to grips with the sport I still love.

Donnerstag, Juni 14, 2007

One Day in Valencia

Just have to send a quick report about my last "non-sailing-event", though it was in the heart of the America's Cup. In Valencia at June 13th. I had been invited earlier this month to the Boat builders Ball from SP, Isle of Wight and my dear friends insisted that I had to come. OK, I arrived yesterday afternoon and went straight to the Estrella Damm Bar with the SP guys. This bar being the meeting point as I had been told and of course there arrived a couple of sailors from the Kiwi camp, Ben Ainsle, Rod Davis and a few guys who's name I do not know (yet). Like being well organized, later in the afternoon, the two Alinghi boats were towed in. They must have been out two boat practising. Later at the party (it only started to buzz at around midnight) I was told by one of the umpires that the Alinghi boats raced each other with umpires and all the works. The Kiwi camp kept a good look on the two boats, they could immediately tell me which one was SUI 100 and which one the SUI 91. I would need a few days adjusting to it but of course, they are watching these boats with eagles eyes. ...I heard it through the grapevine: Four STP 65´s are currently under construction. "Rosebud" being ready to sail the next days. One belonging to a German Owner. Ex Admiral's cup winner. The second German IAC Yacht will get the number GER-101. Construction is well under way. Alinghi coming out of tacks a couple of seconds faster than ETNZ. Also not necessary to bear away so much with SUI-100 to get back up to speed after tacking. Some insiders gave it 5:0 to Alinghi, I expect much closer racing and hopefully a ninth decider race, going to the Kiwis. The underdogs, who have hopefully kept their best weapons in the shed sofar. I'll let you know more when I am back from visiting Valencia again for third final race on June 26th with all my team here at CTM.

Montag, Juni 11, 2007

All New...but less Speed

All new, yes, nearly: The Bull got new rigging, very light Easy Rigging carbon cables and a new square cut mainsail. To say I was not happy with the outcome at the first day out on the water, is an understatement. Either the boat was slow or I did sail slow. The Taktick never showed more that 5.6kn when in the old configuration I got the speed up to 6.2 on a flat water upwind leg.
I have to do more testing with different rake and when I have calmed down I will write about what went wrong from the manufacturers side.

Donnerstag, Juni 07, 2007

Two nights on anchor... just about

Time is passing by so quickly for an Americas Cup junkie that it is difficult to cope with updating this blog about my own sailing experiences. The time is lost in the workshop, preparing the new rig for the Bull but I want my weekend to go out into the Baltic Sea to get back some sea legs on the 36 footer, "Samantha". And difficult it was. No, not to get free from work, it was difficult to cope with the grey Saturday and the chop and waves, created by the eastern wind, once out there. I did not feel good and asked myself: Why am I not using the dinghy inside on the "pond" instead. But this was a cruising weekend. Therefore let's start at the beginning: It was our first weekend with "SAM" this year. In May I had chartered it out to a couple to let the boat make some Moonies.

So, on the first weekend in June, we were greeted with a marvellous sunset in the big marina in Maasholm. This is a 40 min drive from home. Too many boats, too close together, narrow passages. All things which I do not like, so normally we cut lines immediately after having stowed the goodies and filled the tank with fresh water and sail "out of this place". (Eric Burdon's song jumps into my mind) Around the corner there is a nice bay where we dropped anchor for the night. Cosy to say the least. I had admired German Circumnavigator-against-the-wind, Wilfried Erdmann, who once dropped anchor in this bay (the only boat at that night) after a hectic schedule which he must have had in Kiel during the Volvo Ocean stop over, where he had a promotion job with his 11m aluminium sloop. Some readers might remember the thousands and thousands visitors and Erdmann's boat was cramped with people. People who could familiarize more with this boat instead of the "Illbruck" or the other V60´s. Me, coming back from the Volvo Ocean flotilla, my guests being unloaded in Kiel-Schilksee, who had greeted the boats at the Kiel Lighthouse and putting the boat straight into the marina berth, driving home, had to stop on the road and look at the lonesome boat "Kathena" on anchor in the bay with the sun setting nicely. I put in thoughts if I am doing it right here. Not staying on board for another night. On anchor. And going to work early next morning after putting the boat away. He seemed to do it right. You do not need to have an anchorage far away, in the Caribbean or the South Pacific, it can be here. Right at home. And I know from the books Wilfried Erdmann had written, he had been there, seen most of it, living an ocean cruiser live and I haven't been there. Just dreaming about, following the routes of my brother, of Moitessier, Erdmann and many others in my reading. But, I had developed into a sailboat racer early on, not a cruiser and I am now slowly enjoying the cruising part of sailing.

This story got an awful bend I just realize. But those are the thoughts. Nevertheless, it was good to drop anchor last Friday night. The next day, we sailed some 25 miles in a grey and lumpy sea and dropped anchor again in Denmark's nice Horuphav bay. The wind started to shift away from land at around 23.ooh and I decided to lift anchor and to move into the crowded marina. We were greeted by a couple at the entrance who were taking a "night stroll". They gave us a tip to berth the boat at the rigging crane which we did. The boat just squeezed in there and I felt relaxed for the night. Next day the sun greeted us and we had a marvellous sailing day with some messy manoeuvres using the spinnaker and the code zero. But that is something we could improve. We must improve for the upcoming double-hand-challenge end of this month.

Wednesday (yesterday) night again sailing Jürgen´s Melges24. Being first ship home (just about) but not on corrected time, I see my windspotting and crew-handling a bit weak at present. No wonder with so few sailing time only. One does not get better from watching it on the computer or TV. One has to go out there and to do it!