The DN Worlds and EURO Championship are behind me and it had been a few days of great sailing. There are already a lot of reports up on various iceboating websites. Here is just a quick and dirty summary for me to remember and maybe to be able to tell my grandchildren.
Left with 3 sailors in the Volkswagen Van (Bully) for Hungary. Krogo and Henning. Arrived in good shape, travelling through four different countries were we had to pay road tax (to purchase a windscreen sticker). After the flag ceremony on Lake Balaton, it started to snow and did not finish the next day. The whole circus packed up and drove into Austria to the famous Neusiedler See. (Lake Neusiedel) A small village, Mörbisch had been woken up and the 200+ sailors and PRC occupied two hotels which first had to be heated up from zero. Some sailors slept in their warmest clothes available. 2 days of sailing in three groups with 7 races for Gold, Silver and Bronze fleet. I had to qualify from Silver to Goldfleet, managed an eigth in the qualifier (the first 12 sailors are qualified) and finished 37th in the final A-fleet races. Ice conditions were very good and fast and some people said that the first 20 sailors each had a chance to win the title. I would cut this down to 12 or 15. The speed of the top sailors was in a different league to me and the sailors hanging around midfleet. Though I think that I would not have managed the top twenty, I think that my good old SHORE LD sail from the early 90´s did not help my speed in the strong wind. If it would not have full length battens it could be folded neatly. The HT "finish" has left the 6.5oz H&B cloth. I have to say good bye to it. Better sooner than later.
Same applies to my plate runners which are from Siberia and very light. They say that the material is a mixture from Titanium and Magnesium. Not very fast in the snow conditions which we faced during the last day, sailing the EC. The Qualifier races had been split into 4 groups due to the danger of way too many boats speeding around the course and bunching up at the marks. Due to my international ranking I had to start from the "C" fleet, qualified into the "B" and again qualified into the Goldfleet. First day of the EC my speed was very good. No problems getting to the front of the fleet even if my starts were medium. All the youngsters from Poland, Estonia or Lithuania just running away from me after the flag goes down. We faced light wind and very little snow on the ice during this first EC day. I used my faithful ´96 UK Power sail and managed an 11th place in the first Goldfleet EC race. Right there with the top boats. Next day a lot of snow and wind up to 10m/sec, increasing later through the day, left me with my only plate runners which I had taken with me. I managed some places in the 30´s and finished 24th over all. Thus I must play the elevator game again next year. Only about the top 21st from the international ranking are usually pre-qualified for the Goldfleet. I have to go through the stress of qualifying again. And it becomes more and more difficult due to many new and young sailors in the class who start understanding the game. They have well prepared boats and equipment and are only using the latest sails. If I would start a more competitive campaign next year, I could either go for a podium place in the Silver Fleet (won it in Poland a decade or two ago) or for the price given to the best sailor over 60. A whole summer to think about it.
Last weekend we had a 5 series race on Saturday in Plön, some 90km away from here. Strong wind. Of the 20 sailors, who showed up, we were only 7 making it to the start. One sailor had a bad accident. Broken arm and ego. He capsized on the downwind at abt. 90km/h and slided across the very rough surface for a while. He was back from hospital in the evening more or less in good spirit. I finished this series in 3rd place only because I did finish all my races without spinning or crashing into a mark as the much faster Krogo did in front of me. I was sailing with less speed and more respect. One of the toughest series ever sailed in the last years. Not the best conditions for our newcomers to warm up to this fantastic sport.
We still have a lot of snow in the North of Germany. Difficult to find a good spot for DN racing on the weekend. I do not fancy long road trips at present. There is a chance that I will go straight from DN sailing into mothing this year. In four weeks time I will be foiling at the www.pro-vela.com. All bookings confirmed today. Come ice or snow, the Mar Menor and Alan´s Bladeriders are waiting.