September 27, 2010
With a bit of redemption on their minds from the 2009 Melges 32 World Championships which took place in Puerto Cervo, Italy with an winner from the USA, the all Italian on B-Lin sailing made sure they would represent the European Melges 32 fleet well and bring the World title back to Italy. It was not easy however, and with a strong push from 2 American teams on the final day, B-Lin found their 2 pt lead they had with 2 races remaining disappear, and they were now on the outside looking in with 1 race remaining.
In the first race of the final day, the team on Rougarou continued their dark-horse march, won the race handily and waited anxiously to see where the 2 boats ahead of them on Full Throttle and B Lin would finish. FT would sail well to pass boats in a very shifty race for a 4th place, and the boys on BLin would recover from a tough first beat and take a 9th place, hardly the finish they would have liked to secure the championship. With a 2:30 pm limit on the Race Committee to get in a final race for the regatta, they did their best to get the fleet organized, and a race course laid for the new westerly breeze that was settling in from the Golden Gate bridge. With 1 race remaining, the world title boiled down to the following boats –
1). Full Throttle – 42 pts
2). Rougarou – 43 pts
3). B-Lin Sailing – 45 pts.
With time ticking, at 2:18 the RC fired a warning signal and hoisted a Z flag (20% penalty of over early) in an effort to ensure the fleet would get off cleanly and allow for a final race. This time of day was also when the Ebb tide would be the strongest, not helping to keep the fleet behind the line, and as the starting gun went, it was followed by a General Recall flag. As the fleet headed back to the starting area, everyone waited quietly to hear the boats that were visible to the RC. Even though a start is a general recall, if it is under a Z flag, or a black flag, the boats visible will be penalized even if they get off cleanly on the next start. If you are poked out, or near the pin or boat end, chances are you will get nailed while the boats who are over early buy not visible, do not get penalized. The PRO came over the radio and announced the numbers of the boats who would carry the 20% penalty into the next start…”The following boats were OCS…Bow 77 (Roxanne)…Bow 49 (Full Throttle)”
2 Boats? That’s it? You call a general recall and can only get 2 boats out of 32, one if which is currently leading the regatta? With time ticking down even further, the RC scrambled to get the boats back to the starting area in time for the 2:30 deadline. One more general recall, and a race could not be started and Full Throttle could forget about the Z flag and be crowned World Champs. At 2:28, the RC fired the warning signal for the final race with a Black flag (DSQ for being over early) hoisted instead of a Z flag.
3, 2, 1, Gun. The fleet made its way upwind and waited for a call from the RC… “All, clear.” Full Throttle would now need to add 6 pts to their finishing score. All 3 contenders made a break for the left side with Rougarou and Full Throttle going deep into the left, and B Lin eventually getting to the top right. The left side looked decent before the start, but as the race progressed, the left did not pay and Rougarou and FT would struggle to be in the top 10 at the top mark while B Lin made out big on the top right side of the course and would sail away to a 3rd place finish in the race. FT battled hard to take 11th (17th with ZFP penalty), and with a final reminder of how hard this fleet is, Rougarou ended the regatta with a 31st.
When the final gun sounded, B Lin crossed the finish line shortly after and from our position mid-fleet, we could see the celebrations beginning to take place with the sails on the Italian boat fully luffing as they exchanged high fives and hugs in front of a mass of photo boats. What a feeling. Quiet, silent envy on our boat. Complete, delirious satisfaction on their boat.
I would have liked to have been typing this blog with the Samba being one of the main characters, but it was not meant to be. With more questions at the end of the event than we ever could have imagined, it is time to re-tool, re-group, learn from this event and move forward to the next one. There is no doubt it takes a massive effort to win a world championship, and that is one thing we were not lacking on the Samba. From the shore team, to the sailors, full effort was made by everyone for an entire year to give ourselves the best shot to win. That is why a World Championship is so special…you can do everything it takes to win, and still end up mid fleet.
Stay tuned for some media from the Worlds. There are some awesome video and photos of the great racing, and of same big collisions.
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