Freitag, Januar 30, 2009

Cool Winter

A weekend of DN racing is behind me and another one in front of us. Thursday is mostly the day when we decide where to go, where to meet and where to race. Our mighty "Vossi", chairman for the North German fleet has now organized two weekends of racing in a row. Of course we are helping him and we try to have only volunteers but there is some equipment which has to be carried around. Equipment like two big orange marks, smaller off set marks, the starting line equipment and the scoring equipment. Maybe this is boring information for my two readers but there are the other two who have no idea about what it takes to organize racing in winter time. It is much less fuss than the soft water racing. E.G. We are laying the marks ourselves. Usually the fastest guy takes the weather mark and will lay it out. Of course we take the fastest sailor because he always lays the mark as far to weather as possible. He wants us to have some "speed races". Long distances where his speed will come into play. If we asks sailors from the back of the fleet, usually the weather mark is laid with much less distance. Often under the wood and not straight into the wind. So everyone has his own opinion. Usually we get under way after some re-shuffling the start line and the downwind mark. After the wind has stabilized in direction. And also waiting for the very keen racers who are running one test lap after the other. Always changing runners in between or even the sails. This is a bit difficult to understand for softwater sailors. They cannot walk around their boat. Changing a mainsail in a 470 dinghy is no easy task and what do you do with the spare one? We just drop things in the rigging area on the ice. As well as hot tea and some snack. So, to bring you up to speed. No coaches necessary to carry your gear out to the course in iceboat racing. You take it all yourself. And you are discussing and testing with your fellow friends between the races, directly on the ice. Looking at trims, set ups and everyone is very helpful. You just need to ask some good questions.

Last weekend we had some raining in the afternoon on Saturday and most of my friends played it lazy. Myself too. The photo is from some practice racing between the rain showers. So, no racing as we thought that visibility through the ski googles was poor. Dangerous sailing so to speak. On Sunday the sky cleared and the sun came out. We ran 3 races in light air and had to abandon as our chairman ran into a pool of water. (Rescued himself and no damage to his boat) Nobody knows why and it was definitely out of the usual course area (which was safe of course) but we had a winner for the "Silberne Drache vom Goldberger See". I was in contention for first place after 2 races but screwed up the start in the third race and could not make a comeback. Fourth place overall and Holger, G-890 won with Bernd, G-107 in second and our friend from Bavaria, Thomas, G-8 came third. Now, looking forward to racing this weekend near Hannover on the Lake Steinhude. I´ll give my brother a test sail on my spare boat. See if he likes it. He helped me with some repairs and refit this week so he already got an idea how the DN looks like.

Freitag, Januar 23, 2009

Can it get any better?

The picture shown here had been taken with my mobile last saturday after the DN racing had been finished for the day and we had put our boats to sleep. Can it get any better outdoors? Runners prepped for the next day and a cool or hot drink in hand and chatting about the action of the day. The huge trailers and the tall masts belong to the 15qm class. Two seaters with the crew facing backwards...

Point of discussion had been my "stunt" during race 8. It happened on the second downwind leg that I suddenly lost steering. I tried to signal G-390, Anja, who past by very close because she thought that I would get out of the way due to her right of way. I could not do anything and doing some inspection under the boat, when running downwind at abt. 80km/h, is not possible. I seemed that the tie rod had been broken. And I was running straight downwind into the start line, the race committee and the spectators. Something had to be done. I tried to put the brake on with my spike shoes. The boat slowed down considerably but not enough for me to jump out and stop it. The wind pressure increased in the sail and there was no way of holding the boat or turning it into the wind. Shit. I detached the sheet blocks from the boat but this was a mistake. The sail immediately eased out until the boom hit the sidestays and the wind pressure in the sail increased. The boat still running straight downwind towards the crowd. A moment of desparation. I could not jump out and let the boat do some demolution, let alone some people get hurt. Seamanship help! What would a seaman do in such a situation? "Get the bloody sail down, man", I said to myself. Easier said than done. Undo a shackle first and than pull the thing down. Hard and fast. No care for battens or the sail being run over by the sharp runners. Just down and pulling together. Than G-890, Holger came running into my direction and helped me to stop the boat. Good guy! Thank you. We stopped it 20m or so in front of the starting line (with rope and numbers on, the business!) Now a lot of DN érs swarmed over me and my boat. Trying to find out what happened. Please, please, give me a pause. Let´s get the boat to my rigging place, my tools, my jacket first. Some where understanding my concerns. The "mechanics of the DN world" got into business. Got angry with me. Only 3 turns into the thread... It just came loose because of vibrations. "Fix it better next time!". Yes, you were all right. This should not have happened. Together we fixed the boat and back into the next race. My results: mid fleet. 10 races were very exhausting. Have to work harder on the boat prep. The body prep. Or to be happy with some mid fleet results and enjoy the family on the ice, the atmosphere and all. It is hard to be beaten by the fellow DN friends with whom I normally fight it out on the course. Tough when being in the top 3-5 boats at the weather mark but than downwind loosing miles. My score card looked like following: 3 , 6 , 3 , 5 , [10] , 9, 8 , [17/DNF] , 5, 8 . Finishing 7th out of 16 participants.

The racing is on again this coming weekend. Looking forward to another great weekend of DN Iceboat racing on the Goldberger Lake.

Mittwoch, Januar 21, 2009

North German DN Championship

In spite of time and myself travelling, I put up an article from a local newspaper about last weekends championship. Might have some information about the actual racing later. I´d like to put the attention of my dear one or two readers from abroad to the second picture on the left. And something funny I just realize by having a second look. The headline in the article has a spelling mistake. I mean, it is not some blogger writing this, it is a journo. The first one who points out on the mistake will get a CTM wooly. As usual, klick on the pic and it blows up.

Dienstag, Januar 13, 2009

DN Iceboating in Steinhude

Second weekend of DN iceboating and what fun we had. As I haven´t written here about the first weekend this year, Jan, 2nd and 3rd, just a quick recap. After a lot of phone conversations, convincing people, surfing the Internet on New Years day we finally agreed about meeting in Steinhude (near Hannover Airport) A big lake with abt 32 square km. Room for everyone: Skater, 15qm class and the DN´s. We met on Friday for some practice races and to worm up on the hard water.
Great weather, the sun shining and with a nice breeze we had some interesting results on the hard, smooth ice. Come Saturday and we had 25 DN boats lined up for 5 races. The breeze was building during the day and the results not far from the usual pecking order. I came third which was absolute OK for me.

German DN Championship
Second weekend with sailable ice in Germany we have to sail our International German Championship. This year it was a bit "early" for me as my gear had not been optimized, I was a bit lazy with my runners. Or maybe did the wrong thing after picking up some new ideas the weekend before. I did work on the runners some evenings during the week before but putting the runners into use when it was windy on Sunday they did not work as supposed. Anyway we had 60 starters from Germany, Poland and Denmark. The Dutch friends were sailing their own Championship after many, many years without sailable ice at home. On Saturday the fleet had been divided into two groups and the second the group of 34 sailors, bar 16 fixed starters for the Gold fleet, had to fight it out. As the wind was fading the first "A" group race, held late in the afternoon, had to be abandoned. Good luck for me as in spite of a good starting position (nr. 5 on the starboard side) I got rolled after the start from the fleet and never found pace again. With a little knee injury it was really difficult to outrun the other starters. It was me who had been out runned big time by the fleet.

Sunday one could already feel the difference in the morning. Chilly, temperatures below -5° C and the breeze was starting at around ten o´clock. This had been the supposed starting time and I got up 2,5 hours earlier. Just to realize that 2 and a half hour are not enough to get fully organized and to sail with a fully loaded boat (5 sets of runners, tools and an extra sail) to a start line on the "other side of the world". At least that is how it felt, seeing almost everyone in the starting area and me slowly jibing my way downwind. Some action to make you nervous. Must change this. Get up very early. The first race of course had been called for the "A" fleet. I came away from the line OK and finished 16th. Next race better speed with different runners (more grip on the ice) I placed 6th. A pause to recover was given to us as now started the usual order: B fleet, A fleet, B fleet and so on till the last possible race of the day could be sailed. Third race, I got lost on the racetrack somewhere and finished deep down in the fleet. Everything went wrong. Result, 29th place. A sail change was necessary, even if only for psychological reason: ...and out comes my weapon. A low drag Shore sail from Henry Bosset, produced in the mid ninethies. (Yes, Henry, I hope to get a photo from the event) Often used in strong winds it propelled me into the top ten most times.

The fourth race will stay in my mind for a long time. I was leading the first lap, when rounding downwind, my mast did not bend to the right side. I had to fight to get it right and that is when Hans, D-92 passed me. We both got into a kind of Match race, fighting hard for positioning and I was able to grab back first place on the 2nd downwind.. Same procedure at the downwind mark with my mast and Hans passed me. This time he was building his lead. We finished 1st and least this was what we thought. Until our friends came and asked why we have let the Polish sailor P-154 and Thorsten, G-666 to pass us in the third round. Both Hans and myself could not believe this had happened and we investigated. Yes, the two sailors had lead us by 2 min and we were in front of the rest of the fleet by 40 seconds. The scoring sheets clearly showed them sailing their 3 rounds and Thorsten was the winner of this crazy race. A big "righty" when Hans and I had been fighting on the left side of the course had propelled our friends into the lead. Nothing we could have done. We did not even see them on the racecourse. Iceboats, when going into opposite directions of the course (into the corner, as it was really, really slow to tack due to the snow patches) are separated by miles...

Not all was lost for me to end up in the top ten but with a decent result of a 15th place in race 5 I lost it. This race could have gone both ways it was just wrong for me to be on the right side of the course when the wind died on that side and the left was screaming up to the weather mark whilst we (all the guys on the right) had to get out of the boat and to push, push and run. To run like hell. To jump into the boat during the mark rounding (Running not allowed here) hoping to built some speed whilst the ones speeding around the mark had build already so much apparent wind that they were going downwind, whilst we pushed a bit lower than upwind. Out of the boat again, run till you nearly collapse, jump back in, sheet in and build speed. My boat speed was OK, my running only decent, my course management in this race not good and I finished 15th. This gave me way too many points and I finished 12th in the "A" Fleet. Congrats to Thorsten, G-666 a worthy German Champion. Having been an assistant, to World Champion Ron Sherry, US-44 for long, he has learned his lessons well. I think his runners must have been the best prepared from the whole fleet and I promised myself to spend more time in the workshop to better my results. Not an unhappy guy with my placing, no, I learned again a lot. Enjoyed the racing and the atmosphere and are longing for more. May the winter stay for a couple of weeks within a circle of 500 km. Yes, before finishing this report, I should mention my buddy and former co-driver to the big events: Sailmaker Harry, G-145, who placed a sensational 20th place after being absent for three or four years due to a motorcycle accident which paralyzed him from the hip downwards. Always smiling, a great character, he gave us a good example about what you can do with will and a great attitude to life. Of course all the sailors did not deny him to get a push start from the line from his helpers and he was mostly in the the top ten at the weather mark. Harry, we are happy to have you back. What a great idea to strap you into the DN and get on with life!

Montag, Januar 05, 2009

The clock stopped ticking at 64...days of sailing in 2008

Happy New Year to my fellow readers!

The year starts nicely with 2 days of iceboating in Steinhude. A report will follow soon. This is just the announcement that I will try hard to beat the 64 days of sailing on various crafts in 2009. Please keep coming back. DN G-99