Mid October in the North of Germany. Could be nice and warm or daring cold. We had planned a last weekend of racing before mothballing our boats. The week before the regatta date a High from Norway brought the first minus Celcius temperatures. Very chilly. The good thing with the wind from the North had been the high water in the Schlei Fjord, which lasted here a couple days. Very high, nearly 1,50m above normal and beautiful to look at. Friday morning it was pretty cold and I had put a big question mark into my diary. But there had been some pressure to go for it. We should be able to withstand a bit of cold. Maybe the sun would come out on Saturday. Hotels, the restaurant and most important the race committee, Michael and Johan from the HSVS, all had been booked and organized. Sven and Sören already in the starting blocks. No way back.
Sven (photo) arrived Friday evening and the rest of the Mothies on Saturday morning. Hans was a bit late and after we all helped him to rig his boat, we were able to hit the first race at 12.30h. The wind from the North was gusty, usually in the 4-5 Bft range with some gusts going for a six. We, the racers had no time to measure it, but Johan told us these facts at the price giving. The rigging area had been in the wind shadow and it was not only me who underestimated the wind and waves out on the race course around the corner. We sailed a test race, only one round which at the end counted for the total score as per decision from the race committee. For Hans and myself it was a DNF, we were fighting with the elements and not with our fellow competitors. Tough.
I had the great idea to start on port tack (even behind the fleet) because this would lead me to a one tack only and should give me a little advantage over the other competitors. Tacking in the waves was not easy. But I messed it up a minute before the start going into a jibe to position myself and I capzised and did not manage to come back within the last minute. It took a couple of minutes instead. Autsch. It seemed that I did not recover from this bad mistake over the next races. All my starts afterwards were bad ones except the last one when I was first and fast across the line. Holding a good lane and when Sören tried to pass from behind on my windward side, I took a little bite and Sören sank in with his foils and had to tack away. I wasn´ t really fast because before the third race I had lost my rudder foil. Sven picked it up and saved it. Thank you. But I had to sail back to the shore to attach my spare rudder. Missed one race and realized that the spare rudder did not have enough AOA, thus not allowing me to fly high enough to avoid the waves under the body or tramp on the windward side. Anyway, back to this last race. I looked good on the left side, The wind had dropped on the right side first, Sören was fighting to foil and Sven was hit by a shift on the head which should catch Sören a bit later as well. Than the wind backed for me, Sven passed me, just before reaching the mark but Sören was still behind. Hans had sailed home already due to being daring cold (and a hole in his drysuit). Happy to be on foils around the mark I kept going after the mark on starboard tack without thinking about the windshift. Jibing (oh, so bad!) after a few hundred metres, I saw that Sören had jibed straight after the mark and had nearly passed me, going low. I was now going high and fast. Scaringly fast and I went into the drink before the mark.
Sören (photo) passed, I had trouble to upright the boat. I was getting cold and had a lack of energy from the exhausting day. The next beat I did not sail at my best anymore. I zig-zagged a lot on the next downwind, wanted to be lapped by Sven to be able to sail home with the last bit of energy. Sven was not sailing at his best either. It took a long while until he lapped me. Grand Prix finishes in the Moth class do allow to finish after being lapped. A bit harder for the race committee to score but it keeps waiting times short. Sven´s boat had a problem which we later saw. The rigging was slack. He nursed it around the course, he did not want to give in though he was already the winner of the regatta. What a great sportsman he is. 20 years in the Moth and if you call a good regatta, he is there. We had a great get-together with hot drinks and beverage after the race. Well prepared by Kerstin. Again a big thank you. Well appreciated.
The next day started with white car roofs, frozen windows and boat covers, but the sun was out. Blue sky but no wind at all. We decided at around 11 o´clock to call it a day and did the price giving and usual speeches. The top four competitors (truly international with competitors from Germany and Denmark) went away with shirts or carbon cloth and epoxy adhesive from www.CTMat.de, the sponsor of this event. Everyone wants to come back to sail on the Schleifjord for another regatta. This Moth blog now hopefully rolls into a DN ice sailing blog. Winter is coming soon.
Photo credit: Michael von Forstner