Going to regatta I had a clear plan in mind as the weather forecasts was also black and white. Both racing days were supposed to be sailed in a very strong breeze gusting up to 30kts on day one and decreasing to 24 on Sunday. -4C in the night and slightly above 0 during the day. So very windy and hard. And bumpy. Already in Gdansk I decided to prepare my stiff setup: use a very stiff mast and stiff plank. I knew I can squeeze impressive speed out of this combination with help of my 92kg.
Friday practice was sailed in light breeze and soft ice. And for a moment I got a little confused. I felt I was out of sync and the boat was not going as I intended. Together with Robert we sailed until sunset trying different masts and planks combination. For some reason nothing was working and I was far from my comfort zone one that day. Robert on the other hand had found perfect speed and was smoking in every single practice race.
After we finished sailing I reset my gears to initial plan from Gdansk. Next morning it was pretty calm and I got even more confused. But shortly after we finished breakfast the wind started it’s dance and followed the forecasts. The confidence was back again. My long crown ¾ 440C with stiffeners were waiting for their turn in storm case. It was a strange feeling to hoist Ullman’s MS1 sail for the first time in many years. I always thought this sail is useless for a sailor of my weight because it is too flat and WC/EC level events never happen in that strong breeze. But not in Poland. We take what weather offers even if it’s up to 30kts. Together with Robert we went for a practice lap. It it was clear to both of us that my boat is going like crazy. And I know when my green boat achieves supersonic speed. And that was that moment. We took three more practice laps to tune Robert’s boat speed.
Race 1 just proved I was right. Nothing to comment. I took early lead delivered to finish. Race 2 I misjudged the first lay line and 15 sec before first weather mark rounding I was not sure what to do: keep sailing slow to the mark or bear away with two more tacks. Righty shift fooled me for a second to create the impression that I can easy get to the mark, the second after righty was gone and it was too late for double tack. So I had to crawl do round the mark and I dropped to 9th. I managed to recover to 4th. I took the win in next three races. Sometimes I had to fight, sometimes win with no race drama.
Day two started with wind below forecast. It was up to 20kts. I won the first race but in second I lost a lead to Jarek Radzki who was much faster in lighter breeze and had to chase him to take lead in last weather mark rounding. Just before this maneuver I felt my leeward runner slipped two times. I thought I sailed over something hard and dulled the edge. Make sure you sail easy and safe downwind and deliver the win – I thought to myself. And right after mark rounding I span 270. When boat stopped I didn’t know where to go until I saw darling mark’s flag showing wind direction. I made sure my boat is in one piece and sailed last downwind to finish in 3rd. The reason for my spin was discovered right after I got out of the cockpit. The bolt was almost out. I haven’t checked it before the race. That could have costed me a regatta. When finishing the race I also felt something was wrong with the plank. It was one of the pads got loosen during the spin. I had to move the plank to aft to use new pads. This change I could immediately feel in next races. Sailing got extremely difficult because plank felt stiffer. Non stop hikes and problems to accelerate to top speed. I managed to win next race but in race #9 I finished 2nd and in #10 4th.
3-pad system should not fail in the spin. And the reason for fail was that I have soft wood that accommodate the screws. Putting the screws back with epoxy is not a durable solution. Therefore first thing after I came back home was to install hardwood plugs to have solid material to put wood screws back in. Another safety improvement.
All in all it was a very successful event also for Robert who finished 2nd. It felt very family because Lukasz finished in 3rd.
Polish fleet is with no doubt the strongest fleet in the world since many years. It is a great privilege to be it’s member. But it is always a big challenge to finish in the top. In my opinion there are at least 6 sailors in our fleet capable of winning any big regatta anytime. This is why sailing among these guys makes it so exciting.
Soon I will put up an onboard 360 action camera movie with regatta highlights.