This weekend Soph & I took part in the 2k TR Europeans that were held in Bataviahaven in Holland. Sailing for Itchenor SC we were joined by Rob Struckett on our boat and Andy Shaw, Tim Saxton and Pippa Horne as our team mates. Andy, Pippa and Rob have been our team all through the winter team racing circuit, while Tim has recently joined the club.
We were joined by 7 other teams from GBR, Holland, Italy, Belgium & Germany to sail the MaxFun 25's that the club provide for us to sail. They are similar to an SB20 and the event is sailed on a WW/LW course with no spinnakers. This generally means that the race is never over as you struggle to get far ahead and last boat loses so only one of you needs to get pulled back into the race.
The Friday was blown off with the one race that did get away just saw the 2 team survival sailing around the course.
On Saturday we managed to get a whole round robin in and we finished the day in 2nd behind the Royal Thames team of Andy Cornah and Claire Lasko, who were the only team we lost to. The next stage was going to be a 'king of the hill' knock out league which was a new format being trialed by Eurosaf. This meant that 8th played 7th, the winner would play 6th, etc etc all the way till the 4th placed team had played off. This allowed us a bit of down time before we started as the top 3 were automatically qualified for 3 of the semi final places.
This meant on Sunday we raced against the Italians, who had made a strong showing in the round robin and were unlikely to be easy. We watch the Royal Thames win their semi before stepping into the boats our selves. Rob, Soph and I got strong start winning the pin and lead round the top mark while Andy had come off well at the starboard and held 2nd. We managed to keep our positions all the way round the course upto the finish line where the Italians pulled off a nice double cover on Andy down the run, coming into the finish all three boats were overlapped and we set up at the pin end of the finish for a conversion however Andy, Tim and Pippa held their position well to take the first race.
Itchenor vs Italians (George, Sophie & Rob in Red, Andy Pippa and Tim in Yellow)
The second race was tighter and off the start line we had a penalty for infringing a starboard tacker. Andy kept the Italians busy forcing them into a tacking match whilst we caught up and at the top of the last lap the Italians had converted into a 1-2 combination. Andy covered one boat down the run forcing them to luff Andy to clear his wind and this allowed us to gain an overlap inside, meaning the Italians would still win but we had a boat between them. A series of dial ups followed with the Italians luffing Andy, we then followed the Italian and blocked him from tacking allowing Andy to roll around the front. With the Italian team mate too far to come and help this allowed us to take the race with a 2-3.
This meant into the Finals of the Europeans against the Royal Thames. The first race and we got another great start off the pin end, or so we thought as it turns out some confusion with the one minute flag and the hooter meant that we were 5 seconds early, with one of the Thames boats. When we had unwound ourselves we were in 4th with the Thames in a 1-3 which they managed to convert to 1-2 and hold until the finish.
The second race looked bad off the start Andy was pushed over and we started wide right on port, however once we tacked over to starboard we managed to sail fast and just get a piece of one of the Thames boats and managed to get Andy back into the race. He then returned the favour and by the last down wind we managed to convert to a 1-2. Down the run we were covered and one of the Thames boats tried to double gybe and gain luffing rights, we gybed with them onto port and they did not complete their second gybe meaning they had to do a penalty turn and we took the race, meaning the final was going to a decider.
Final vs RTYC. (George Rob & Sophie in 1st set up to block the oppo on the starboard lay)
The final race was very close with both teams getting a good start and at the top of the beat we held 1st but Andy, Tim & Pippa were in 4th at the top mark there was carnage with Andy using the shore to call for room and we tacked onto starboard and managed to force one of the Thames boats out again. This gave us a 2-3 and at the bottom mark we had been converted back to a 1-4 with us in 1st. Up the next beat we worked the left hand side trying to force Andy through and he finally managed to wriggle free and tack and as the Thames boat tried to follow he hit us and took a penalty. At 2-3 round the top mark it was all to play for. The leading Thames boat managed to trap us at the mark while Andy sailed over the top to take 1, however we had to do a penalty turn meaning we held 1-4 down the run. It was not to be though as the Thames boats managed to cover and block Andy meaning he couldn't do anything and Thames took race and the event.
Silver medalists (L-R: Andy Shaw, Rob Struckett, Pippa Horne, Sophie Ormsby, George Yeoman & Tim Saxton)
The event was loads of fun and there is a series now put in place around Europe. Events happen in Monaco, Tuscany, Rome, Lelystad, Dublin, Cowes, Queen Mary and hopefully next year the Canary Islands. I would fully recommend anyone looking for a competitive weekend away to try one, it is load of fun and the prople are really friendly and welcoming.
One of the things that was trialed at the event other than the format was that if you were given a penalty by an umpire it was only one spin. This in my opinion meant that people would not do turns and therefore take away the elf policing aspect of the sport. It would reduce the need for people to learn the rules, and also means that the umpires have too much emphasis on the out come of the race. I personally like the fact that if you know the rules and use them correctly you gain as you can opt to take a one turn penalty, however with this system (depending on the influence of the incident) I believe it allows people to be a bit more 'cowboy', and it not make enough of a difference to deter them.....but we shall see if it catches on.