I've just got back from the RS Tera Worlds Championships in Bruinisse, Holland. It was the most exciting event I have ever done and I really really enjoyed it.
I had been working really hard leading up to the Worlds on my fitness, boat handling and tactics - the work started long before the event did. In the weeks leading up to the event I was preparing weather forecasts and looking at average wind directions for the venue in the years before, as well as looking at land features that would affect the wind. The class had been there for the Europeans last year so I had a basic idea of where some wind bends were and how the land affected the wind shifts.
We arrived at Bruinisse on Friday morning and there were practice races scheduled for the Saturday afternoon. Most of our squad was there so our coach Mike got us out on the water as soon as possible so that we got a little more time on the water than the rest of the fleet. We had a good hour and a half before coming back in for scrutineering. My boat failed the first time as the painter was about 10cms too short, so we replaced it and then went back through and it passed absolutely fine.
Sadly we got the news later that day that the practice races for the next day had been cancelled as the forecast was for a lot of wind and storms. This later showed to be a very good decision by the race committee as the next day was very wet and very windy.
So we had a rest day and relaxed to make sure we were all fresh for the first races the next day. In the evening the weather got better just in time for the opening ceremony, which was very exciting having never been to a World Championship before. After all the flags had been raised it was great to get a chance to socialise with some of the South Africans who had come for the Championship.
The next day dawned and my friend Max and I headed down early to check over and clean our hulls, to prepare our boats and to do a final check that the boats were all rigged well and in working order. After this we went to a short briefing from our Eastern coach Mike, we spoke about making sure that we got four good results on the board that day so that we had no pressure to discard any of these first results.
I went out with the aim to just sail my own clean race and get clear air to hopefully get some top ten results. I managed to get some decent starts in the moderate breeze of the day and usually managed to reach the windward mark in the top ten, then hold the places or gain places throughout the rest of the race. I managed to finish the day recording a 10, 3, 3 and 7. This placed me in third overnight, I was very pleased and so were Mike and Jonathan (my RS Feva coach who had come to the event from the Feva worlds).
The next day was really very windy and only the PRO fleet was sent out, my aim today was to carry on racing the boat as hard as I could as I knew most of the fleet would be in survival mode. The race was carnage, breakages were everywhere, both hardware related and emotional too. I managed to hold fourth until the leeward mark on the second lap when I left the course to get a rescue boat for another sailor, I lost five places but was later given redress and finished in ninth but recorded sixth. 2o seconds after I finished my mast snapped, talk about good timing! So when we got in Dad and I spoke to the man from RS to get a new mast and then re-rigged it and got the new mast scrutinised by Ian Jameson so I was able use it the next day. Thanks Ian for the help in sorting the new mast.
Seconds before the mast snapped
The next day brought lots of wind again, which was perfect for me. I was confident I could hold my third - staying on the podium had become my aim for the event, and this wind would theoretically help me to do so. After a long postponement we were sent out. I got out early so I had a bit of extra time to practice the beat and look at the conditions. In the big winds it was really important to just keep the boat moving through the big waves, which sometimes made even simple things like tacking hard. It was great to have the experience sailing in these conditions from all the sailing I have done down at Brightlingsea, which has very similar conditions. I managed to keep my performance up in the heavy winds and recorded a second, twelfth and eighth. These results more than achieved my aim of staying in the top three, and I moved up to second. However Henry Jameson was very close behind and he had a large result waiting for the second discard to kick in, so it looked likely he would over take me the next day, which was forecast to be windy again.
Wednesday dawned with high winds, looking similar to the last three days. I was pleased with the wind speed if not a bit trepidatious about the high score that Henry would discard at the end of the day. I spoke to Mike and Jonathan and they both agreed I should just concentrate on being relaxed, sailing my own race and keep banging in top tens.
I had a bit of a disaster in the first race and after a very poor start I recorded a 29th, whilst Henry got a first. In the next race I managed to put the bad result behind me and sail my own race, with a great start and clear air. I worked hard up the beat to round in third, I then managed to hold my place for the rest of the race until the finish, Henry recorded a second, discarded a 20th and moved in to second, I dropped back to third. I was still thrilled with third and the focus now changed to staying there.
I was 14 points ahead of Henry Rastrick in fourth, I know he's very good in light winds, and that's what the forecast showed for tomorrow, the last day. I knew I could allow seven points between me and him per race which I thought was manageable. So had a good dinner and got to bed.
The next morning I woke and looked out the window, the forecast was correct, as it had been for most of the week. So I set out with a positive attitude and headed down to the club early, like I had on the first day to check over the boat and get a space near the front of the queue to launch so I could get to the course early in the light winds.
Today the postponement flag was raised for lack of wind, unusual compared to the reasoning for its use earlier in the week. So after a couple of hours of waiting we set out for the last two races of the Championsip. In the first race I suffered a disaster after thinking that a buoy for the Aero Eurocup that was there at the same time was our windward mark. It turned out it wasn't and that along with a group of others I was on the far right of our course, the side that didn't pay. I recorded a 27th, meaning I now had to count my 13th from earlier in the week, I was quite disheartened and did the maths in my head and worked out I now needed to be within six points of Henry Restrict in the next race.
I put the previous race behind me and managed sail a fast last race, I was 9th to the first mark, I held this until the second windward mark, I was in ninth and Henry Restrict was in third so I was one place too far back, however I managed to gain one place on the final downwind and hold it until the finish, meaning I finished eighth and Henry finished third, I was ahead by only one point. But I wasn't sure until I got in and checked the maths.
So I got in and washed the boat down before packing it away, ready to leave the next day and got ready for the prize giving. Standing on the podium in front of everyone was a really proud moment and I was really pleased to be up there with two excellent sailors and close friends, who I will miss after leaving the class. Congratulations to Henry on second and to Harrison Pye for becoming World Champion, he dominated the event right from the start, and looks to be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
On the Podium with Henry Jameson (left) and Harrison Pye, World Champion (middle)
I am very grateful to all my coaches for all the huge amount of time they have spent to make sure that I had the best shot I could at the event. I am also hugely indebted to my parents, for the masses of support they have always given me, especially my Dad for driving me around the country (and now other countries too) to events. Thanks also go to Rooster for the huge support they give, and to the Race Committee and all involved in organising the event, it was really fun.
Finally I want to thank everyone involved in the Tera Class in any shape or form, its a really great class with the right attitude to youth racing, I have made loads of great friends through it and its really set me and lots of others moving out of the class up with a great base of sailing knowledge and skill. I will really miss the Tera and it seems like a shame to be moving out.
Results for the World Championships can be found here
And photos from Steve Greenwood (used in this blog, Thanks Steve!) can be found here
, more photos can be found on the RS Tera Facebook page.
Now my focus turns full time to the RS Feva and then the RS 200, although I might be getting a Laser to practice in to keep up my single handed skills.
As I write this I am halfway through Pyefleet Week, Brightlingsea Sailing club's famous race week, so a blog will be up about that soon as well as Royal Harwich Yacht Club Junior Week, which I am also competing in.
Thanks for reading, happy Sailing.
RS Tera 984