September 24, 2010
With high hopes of ridding ourselves of terrible finishes on Days 1 and 2, we entered Day 3 on the Samba feeling good about our ability to have a good day and have a respectable finish to an otherwise frustrating regatta. Up to this point throughout the season, we have always had above average speed both upwind and downwind and when it came to have inches you need to cross a boat, or being bow out at a mark rounding, it has never been a problem. Either everyone in the fleet has become a lot faster in the last 3 weeks, or we have slowed, but whatever the answer, we do not have our normal wheels that we are accustomed to on the Samba, and it has made for a very frustrating, difficult week of racing.
In an effort to get an edge on the rest of the fleet in Race 7, we were especially aggressive on the starting line and found ourselves punched in front of the fleet by a 1/2 a boatlength and charging up the beat. The only problem was that we were over early, and with a “General Recall” occurring in the previous start with a “Z” Flag hoisted, not only would we need to clear ourselves from being OCS (On Course Side, prior to the starting signal), but we would also suffer a Z Flag Penalty (ZFP) which meant that in addition to being in dead last after restarting, that we would also incur a 20% penalty of the total fleet added onto our score for being over early after a general recall. We managed to sail a good race and get back to the high teens, but with an additional 6 points added to our score, it was not pretty, nor encouraging where we were at after the first race on day 3.
The second race of the day would provide another opportunity for us to return to our usual form that we have raced at many times this year, but as we rounded the first mark in 4th place with plenty of room around us, it is just plain and clear that we do not have the speed we are used to. And when you are racing against some of the best sailors in the world, you better have speed because calling tacks in this fleet is not easy. After rounding in 4th, we slowly declined both upwind and downwind to finish an frustrating 9th place and another mediocre finish to another day at the worlds.
The head scratching continues on our boat and the questions get bigger as to why we have been one of the fastest boats all season, and with the flick of a switch, we are all of the sudden below average when it comes to speed. Yes, there is no doubt that the fleet has become faster and better, but at the very least we should be just as fast as the rest of the group. I am out on answers, and I am now left with more questions about our upwind and downwind speed than I ever could have imagined.
The good news is that being a competitor in this fleet is that we get an up close view of what is happening at the front of the fleet. With only 2 races remaining, the World title will come down to who beats who with B Lin and Full Throttle. With good friends on each boat, it will be great to see this battle unfold on the water, but I cannot help give the nod to my midwestern, American friends on the FT who have been sailing great, loose and fast to secure the title.
As for the Samba, we are already looking forward to improving for the 2011, 32 Worlds in Palma, Spain and hoping that the full moon this week is the answer to our poor performance. Melges32.com for full results. Off to the Horseshoe…maybe being a bit dusty tomorrow will help our performance.
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