On 24th July we set out for Shetlands to take part in the Fireball Europeans. Buoyed on from success in the Munster Championships the week before we arrived in Lerwick a few days early in time to take part in a warm-up event, the Shetland Open Championships. With one day lost due to fog, 4 races were sailed on Friday 25th and we sailed well to beat off local and Czech opposition to win the event with a 2, 1, 1, 1 scoreline. Nice to sail at the venue & get some silverware early!
On Friday/Saturday, all the teams were arriving from various countries including the top British boat and previous champions. After measurement procedures, the real event started on Sunday which unfortunately was once again lost to fog and no wind.
Onto Monday and 3 races were sailed in light to moderate winds. In the first race, we started well and were one of the first to tack getting us to the windward mark in 2nd place. Then later on the 2nd beat we showed great speed in the marginal-trapezing conditions to move through to 1st which we held to finish and took race 1-a nice start! In race 2 & 3 the wind strengthened slightly, we started well again but this time we did not get to the favoured right side early enough losing sight of the leaders and only coming back to 6th place finishes each time. Not bad but could have been better.
Next day on Tuesday there was strong winds, growing from 15 to 20 to 25 knots in each of the day's 3 races. In the same race area with similar direction again it paid to get right early towards the cliff. Learning from the day before, we started well and executed our plan each time. In race 4 we held on for a solid 3rd place finish while in race 5 we came 4th but some distance off the top 3 who were speeding off. Race 6 we were up there fighting closely in the top 3 as the wind reached 20+ knots but we just couldn't hold on with the heavier teams finishing 5th.
Thankfully, the Wednesday represented the Lay Day for the regatta and everybody was feeling the effects from the heavy 3 race day before. It gave the chance to do a bit of exploring and cycling of the Shetlands which was nice.
Back to racing on Thursday and even though there was decent breeze in morning, it was dropping all day while doing 90 and 180-degree shifts a few times over. This along with the heavy rain gave the race Officer no option but to abandon the day's racing after 3hrs of bobbing around.
As a result, the time for the final day of racing was brought forward to 11am to run 3 more races in order to get the second discard at 9 races. The wind was light, gusty and very shifty making it hard to choose the right path upwind. In the 1st race of the day (race 7), we recovered from an average first beat down the run with a gybe-set then worked into 4th on the next lap which we held to the finish. Race 8 included a general recall Black-flag which we managed to stay clean of while on the restart we were one of the boats on the pin to tack & cross (with Event leader Tom Gillard) eventually finishing 2nd to him in that race. In race 9 the event championship was already decided to Tom but we still had a chance at the podium. The wind freshened so we changed to Medium setting, had a decent start and the first beat to the lead at the windward mark but being hard chased by the fast Brit boats down the reaching spinnaker legs. We managed to hold on and extend on the 3rd lap with a nice gust to win comfortably at the finish. A nice way to finish up with another race win but doing the maths we just missed out on 3rd by 1 point.
Overall though, it was a successful trip where we learned a lot especially from the other top sailors in the fleet, got better scores each day (with a 4, 2, 1 on last day) and most importantly met a lot of good people and some of the most hospitable and friendly from the Shetland Islands.
Thanks to Rooster for our new gear which fitted and worked well in warm/wet/cold/foggy and all sorts of conditions and we look forward to the next event, the UK Nationals in Tenby, Wales in 2 weeks time.
Fb Euros Day 1 Fb Euros Day 2
Fb Euros Last Day
Fb Euros Irish Trophy Haul