Montag, Februar 16, 2009

DN Racing Again Near Berlin at February 14/15th

Before I forget and spring break fever takes over, I have a short report about one of the best DN regattas of the short but extensive season. Wait a minute, I have to scramble for the date... Berlin, Lake Wolzig at February 15th and 16th. This is what the official report reads: Ice thickness: 20cm, hard surface, night temperature: -4°C, small snow drizzle 0,1cm, Wind 4 Bft. I had hit the road already Friday night to be fit on the saturday morning as the weather report was promissing. And so it happened. 28 racers arrived by midday and we decided to sail in 2 fleets. One for the more beginners or people with older equipment who did not feel comfortable with all the fast "carbon tuned" DN racers. This is a very good rule found by our friends from the Berlin DN fleet. 16 boats in the A fleet were called to the blocks. I had received block 17, the outer right starting position. A captivating race with position changes in the front. Going from 2nd on the weather mark to third after one round they spit me out at 5th place at the finish. There had been enough speed in the boat, just the shifts on the lake were not in my favour, or better, I did not read them right. Another fifth followed by a first and a third place. The first two spots were already occupied by G-624 and G-890. Close racing with both of them but at the end their nose was in front. Two more races for the day which saw me in 6th place and my friend "Vossi", G-709, found some more speed and stamina. He came 2nd and third now and made some valuable points. In the evening we found a great thermal pool with different saunas and outdoor pool with 28°C water.

Next day same conditions and our friend "Radlhuber", G-8 from Bavaria had his moments. 2, 1, 5 his scores for the three races whilst I scored 5, 5, 4. It was always close, the front 6 stayed together for most of the racing, only on the the last downwind the winner broke free or somebody got a real good shift on one of the windward legs. Holger, G-890 won with a 4th place as his discard. Well done. I finished in fourth positions overall. Not as good as my win the weekend before but than, the competition was a bit stronger. In one of the photos you can see the race committee with some of the racers. The left person, in the picture below, Dirk, showing the "Berliner" (pancakes with the name "Berliner" only outside of Berlin) had taken part in two Olympic games in the windsurfing division. Namely the DIV II boards 1972 and 1976. I was never able to beat him in that windsurfing class but on the ice I still have the nose in front. Dirk came 9th in the "A" fleet.The "B" fleet was won by Dietrich, G-532, an old salt whom I also met in my good old FD days in the early seventies. The "B" fleet showed good stunts on the downwind mark with 360°s and all. No accidents, only some scary moments. Driving home in the late afternoon there was still some winter in the air and I did not think about the end of season. The week after it snowed very heavy and racing had to be cancelled for the weekend 21/22nd of Feb. The Polish Championship held the weekend after was a bit far away for me. No co-driver available.

Last weekend the hardcore DN racers met in Goldberg again only to decide that the racing would have been too dangerous. The ice in general was safe but there were some holes spread over the lake. All bigger in size than our runners. Nobody wanted to destroy the equipment just for some fun races. Now it is maybe up to the Swedish Championship in the middle of March. Waiting for their ice report. I am already on the preliminary starter list. For the record. This report has been written at March 4th but I will date it back to the Monday after the racing. My blogging is supposed to be a diary of events for me.

Donnerstag, Februar 12, 2009

Now, this is the real thing.

Photo: Courtesy US CoastGuard
Today the North American Championship will be started. Wishing all my DN friends, expecially the Team Germany: "smooth sailing, sail safe and fast!". I am in the mood for another weekend of DN racing. Tonight the fleet chiefs will get together on the phone and decide where we shall meet. See you on the Ice!

Montag, Februar 09, 2009

Wet, wet, wet

Another day of DN sailing happened on Sunday on a very wet surface. There had only been 12 sailors plus a few non racing DNér s showing up which could be a sign that people get tired after 5 weekends of sailing. Maybe their equipment is getting worn out, or that their wifes do not allow them to get free from the family every weekend from the beginning of January or that they are in the States to start in the DN Worlds at Torch Lake, Michigan. Anyone with a better excuses, please comment here or mail to me. The sailors from Berlin called for the Wolzig Cup to be sailed only on Sunday, when the weather forecast showed promissing 3-4 Bft. This allowed me to take part Friday evening at a big reception from the German Offshore Owners Assc. (no I did not take part in any offshore racing last year, but I think about it...stay tuned here) There had been a good film session, music session, awards for the 10 most successful German teams plus mentioning the race winners of the Baltic Sprint Cup, 1st. place went to Mr. Mike Castania with his Rogers 46, "DANEBURY" and second place to Mr. David Aisher, also on a Rogers 46, "YEOMAN XXXII". Both took part during this remarkable evening in the impressive Hamburg Rathaus. (House of lords, so to speak) and got some presents from the organising committee.

Anyway, back to the DN Sailing in Berlin. Left home with the van on Saturday evening to be fit and ready next morning. Wanted to unload the boat at 23.00h when I arrived, but the place was closed. High fences. Being the only car in the carpark, I felt a bit strange. "do they really show up tomorrow morning for racing?" I asked myself. I had faith in the Berlin race management and of course, Dieter S. , G-368, greeted me in the morning, being happy that some "foreigners" wanted to take part in the racing. Lot´s of action as one has to carry his equipment a good 100m to the ice. Ready to sail at around 11.00h. Wet and cold feet at around 11.20h after walking through water to collect my starting position number. "Where are my Goretex socks??". First race from block 2. Right side, first inside the middle mark. My testing had showed that the left side was favored. After a good running through the wet I had enough height to bear away and blast across the next boat to leeward. Than tacked, tacked back in the middle of the course, crossed with G-709 but had built a good lead at the weather mark. Extending the lead and crossing the finish first. Next race I had block Nr. 1. First boat on the left inside. Easy. Start, run, jump in the boat and blasting away. Maybe the smoothing of the runners helped in the slush ice under the water. The boat was exhilarating, the new mast did bend nicely and I reached nearly warp speed. A pity, all the top guys this season did not take part except of G-709, 896 and 136. The third race was more interesting. I only managed to be third at the weather mark, was not able to shorten the distance to the two leading boats, neither downwind, nor upwind and had to fight on the last downwind run to secure third place against an impressive G-542 who used older equipment than even mine. Something had to be done. The wind had increased a lot. New sharper runners and the sail a little lower. The left side was not favored any more. G-709 went early for the right and he crossed me just after I had tacked on to the layline on port tack. He went too high and I was able to leave him in my wind shadow. Right in front was the blue boat. Knut, G-896, who was lying very low in the boat just in front of me. He was fast and I could almost match his speed to the first weather mark. We rounded very close and he extended the lead on the run. I had a better mark rounding in the gusty and strong wind and gained already 30-50m on him. Now bending the mast, crawling into the boat and of we went for a real dogfight upwind. Both tacking on to the layline, he a little higher than me, investing his lead. I had a bit of luck, tacked on a hard spot, accelerated a little quicker and started to point high into him. Catched the wind from the front, giving him a little backwind and rounded the mark first. From here on it seemed easy. Finished with a good lead. Knut reported later to me that he had spinned a 360° on the last downwind leg. Mmmh, the sharp runners, which I had mounted, felt good. The race committee called it a day and the Wolzig Cup was finished. Everybody went for the shore where we got our feet dry and packed up the gear. Price giving, the typical "Berliner" pancake and hot drinks for all. Short speeches, hipp-hipp-hurray and off we drove. You cannot have a good day of DN racing when you don´t leave your cozy home. Hope some more racers will show up next weekend. The show must go on as long as we have some sailable ice in Germany this winter.

Freitag, Februar 06, 2009

Blizzard in Steinhude

We had some excellent DN racing on the ice last weekend in Steinhude, near Hannover, though the lake had already opened up big enough in the middle to hold a regatta with optimist dinghies on liquid water. Nevertheless the race committee had laid a course with about 1,2km upwind and totally safe on the eastern side of the "Steinhuder Meer". Safe from going through the ice but not safe against accidents. (Actually it never is...) There were 35 DN´s on the startline, which is a lot on a fast and short course. The port tackers have to get around the windward mark and there is normally half the fleet approaching the mark on starboard. Average speed on the day had been abt. 50km/h to windward. And it was me who caused the biggest crash of the day and the only one. Really bad and totally my fault. Glad that no person had been injured. The other boat, G-390 was mostly destroyed. A. was absolutely right to be angry with me, to shout and stomp her feets. When she calmed down and I had a chance to apologize (to fall on my knees...) we got into action and took away from the ice every little peace of wood and steel which we could find. Just in time for the fleet to approach the weather mark for the second time. We collected all the bits and pieces left from her equipment, put it in my boat and headed for the shore. I was able to collect my nerves and headed back out with my boat which had only be scarfed on one runner. I tried some tacks and jibes and the boat did well. Nothing loose, steering worked fine. I was able to race again and to free my head from the bad accident. In hindsight it had happened because I lost control on the steering. I tacked into a hole at the starboard line of boats and thought to be safe. The tack had been unsuccessful, no grip on the steering, the boat just slipped sideways instead to tack. I can still imagine the moment when I knew that "NOW" someone will hít me from behind. Bad. My responsibility. The boat had been trimmed in such a way that there was not much weight on the front runner. Should have put more body weight into the front of the boat. Or trimmed differently. That´s what I did for the next races. The runnerplank one more back. The maststep one more to the front. A safer and more comfortable set-up. Maybe a little slower. Definitely in the next race, I was able to take part. 20th place. Tightening the shrouds and hoisting the sail one knot brought back some power into the boat. I managed a ninth and a fourth and and things started to look better.

Sunday we did sail out to the course with four sailors and tried to lay the startline. It was really windy and it snowed. Kind of blizzard conditions. The gap in the ice had opened. It looked great to see the open water with wind waves in the "not" far distance. Most DN´ers stayed ashore and when we measured the wind at around 11.00h it had increased to 12-14m/sec and the race committee called it a day. No more racing. Hitting the road for home. Need to mention for my diary that this had been the first weekend ever when I took my brother iceboating. He had never before sailed on the ice but he likes iceskating. He has not done it for many, many years as he had lived in the south Pacific. Va´vau to be specific. He cruised around on saturday with the DN and he much enjoyed it. He told me that he got an idea about it and he started to understand why I am so hooked at this particular sport.

Now off to a big reception tonight in the Hamburg Rathaus with the German Offshore Owners Assc. and than going racing the DN again on Sunday near Berlin. That´s the plan at least. Have to check the weather on Saturday morning, when waking up in Hamburg.