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 2nd...at 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!