Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20 - Post Worlds Update

After 15 days of training and 7 days of racing our first 470 World Championships is complete. It was a long and exhausting regatta and Jen and I had hoped our results would be better. However, we have learned a ton of things we would not otherwise have learned. The 470 fleet is one of the toughest fleets in the world; with the top sailors competing full time. The World Champions in both the men's and women's class have both been competing in the 470 for 12+ years. While Jen and I are both experienced sailors and mature and intelligent individuals, we were probably the youngest team at the event in terms of our sailing partnership. This became apparent in the strong winds, as a small mistake by one of us was not instantly compensated for by the other - a necessary skill to prevent crashing! This will come with time and practice. Our starts and upwinds have improved immensely. We can now get off the line and round the top mark in the midst of the fleet. The next stage is to work on our downwind speed and our maneuvers and get as much practice as possible in strong winds and large waves.

Our next event is Sail For Gold in Weymouth, UK. The event is from the 9-14th of August. We will arrive in Weymouth and begin training on the 1st of August with our training partners Teddy and Jono from Nova Scotia. It is cheaper for us to stay in Europe rather than return to Canada so for the next 1.5 weeks Jen and I are going on separate holidays to re-cooperate and have some time apart.
We would like to thank everyone at home for their support and encouragement. Please feel free to email us as we love hearing the latest news from Canada. We will continue to keep the blog updated over the next few weeks but not as frequently as we have been.

You can check out the results and photos from Worlds at the event website.
photos by Thom Touw taken from http://www.470worlds2010.com/

Saturday, July 17, 2010

July 18 - Last Day

Yesterday 3 races were sailed in 25-30 knots with 2.5 m waves. We started the first race and were doing alright until we capsized with the spinnaker up on the first downwind. We had some issues getting the boat up and could not complete the first race in time. We ducked back into the Harbour and de-powered the boat and headed back out for the second race. On the way back to the race course while trapezing I was swept off the boat by a large wave and slammed back into the side of the boat, causing us to capsize. This was extremely painful and strained my lower back which has been previously injured. As a result I was unable to continue sailing and we headed in so I could go home and ice and rest everything.

Today there is one last race for all the competitors in the morning and then the top 10 boats take part in the medal races this afternoon. These can be viewed live on the website at http://www.470worlds2010.com/ or in the box below if you download the silverlight player. The men's medal race is at 2 pm and the women's at 3 pm local time in Holland.

Friday, July 16, 2010

July 16 - Still Windy

Just a quick note to update everyone. We launched last night just after 6 and had one race in dying breeze. It was painfully slow as the boat was still set up for tons of wind but by the second upwind leg the wind had died off to 8 knots and the current was still ripping. They tried to start a 2nd race but the current and huge waves were such that the boats couldn't make headway. We got back to the beach at 9.30 and by the time we rinsed the boat (200 boats and 2 hoses) and de-rigged it was 10.30.

This morning we launched on time for an 11 am start but the breeze is cranking again and our repaired tiller promptly bent and nearly snapped off. We are back on shore waiting for the local machinist to bend a new tiller for us. We hope to get back on the water for the third race today but at this point it is not looking good.

We are pretty exhausted but in okay spirits. When the boat is not coming apart at the seams and we get to sail we have fun and learn lots. We would just like to be out there sailing! Check out the awesome photos from yesterday morning on the website www.470worlds2010.com.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

July 15 - Too Much Wind!

We just can't seem to win here in Scheveningen. The system came through last night and lasted all night and is still here! It is very windy. I'm not sure how windy, but the 470 class likes to pride itself on racing in 30+ knots so it must be more than that. We were supposed to start at 10 this morning. They postponed until 11 and then we went out. We had the boat pinned down two and a half full pins (something we've never done before) and everything was good to go. We got just outside the Harbour and headed downwind towards our course when a gust hit the boat. I looked back as the boat started to wipe out and Jen was no longer with me! She was in the water already, holding the tiller which had broken off in her hand. We got a tow in from one of the rescue boats and by the time we were back in our spot the rest of the boats were headed back to shore. We are now postponed on shore again. I did some running around to the hardware store and a machinist and managed to source some aluminum to fit an insert into the tiller and after some hacksawing and rivet-ing we are good to go sailing again! Hopefully the breeze drops off and we can get some races off. We need two more races to complete the seeding round. More later.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July 14 - Two races in 15 knots

We launched before 10 this morning and headed out to the course. The wind was from the SE which is a direction we haven't seen before. It was about 10-12 knots when we launched and picked up to around 15 before the race started. We tuned up with Dana and Karen and the Race Committee started on time at 11. The first race we had a really good start and an awesome first upwind. Our game plan as per Dave was to "start near the middle and tack as little as possible" which is exactly what we did. There was more wind closer to shore so the entire fleet was hitting the left side. We rounded mid-fleet and headed downwind. While our upwinds have improved greatly; our downwinds leave a bit to be desired. We struggled to get in sync with the waves and the ridiculously strong current and fell back in the fleet. The second race we thought we had a clean start but after looking at the results apparently we were over early! Our upwind wasn't as good as in the first race we got a bit out of phase with the shifts. We continued to work on our downwind speed but something about the boat set up felt wrong. After the race we headed in as a huge storm with winds up to 100 km/hr was predicted. The plan was to wait out the storm and then head back on the water for a 6.30 start; but like the last time we postponed for a storm it took its time arriving. We checked the tuning on the boat and discovered the pre-bend on the mast was out by 10 mm; this along with a few other adjustments explained the weird mast set up. We de-briefed with Dave and sat around waiting for the storm. It finally arrived at 5, which is when we would have had to start rigging again for the 6.30 start. They cancelled racing for the day and changed the start time for tomorrow to 10 AM. This means we need to launch at 8.45; which means we will have to get up around 6; so we are going to bed early tonight!

You can read the official 470 Worlds reports here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July 13 - 2 Races Complete!

We headed back on the water this afternoon for a 3 pm start (and I had just found a good place to nap). There was about 6 knots of wind from the North and the current was still ebbing. The yellow fleet's first start was a general recall; the second was postponed as a 20 degree right shift came down the course. At about 3.30 they started and we were next. The flood tide was just starting but it came in quickly! Between the yellow fleet's start and ours we watched the race committee boat rotate 180 degrees on its anchor. Our first start wasn't spectacular, we under-estimated the strength of the current and didn't accelerate soon enough. We tacked out and tried to tack back in front of another boat and ended up fouling them, so took some penalty turns and continued upwind. Because we had tacked out for clear air, we ended up on the right hand side of the course even though we knew we needed to go left. However, we worked with what we had. We had fairly good speed and managed to catch back up to the fleet and rounded ahead of one boat. The rest of the race we just worked hard to stay ahead of them and tried to catch up to the boats in front of us.
The second race we actually got a decent start and had a lane until a boat tacked directly in front of us. We tacked out but remembered to get back to the left this time! The tide was now in full flood and the game was all about sailing as fast as possible into the current. The downwind legs we sailed on a reach the entire time and the upwind legs we sailed on starboard tack almost the entire time. We were ahead of several boats until a poor leeward mark rounding on the last downwind allowed two boats to get inside us. The wind had shifted farther right and we struggled to keep the spinnaker filled. The two boats inside of us made the correct call to drop their spinnakers and got us just at the line!
The third race we had a good start, held our lane and went fast on starboard tack all the way to the windward mark. We were up in the mix with the rest of the fleet! This was amazing but also stressful - we aren't used to coming back into the windward mark on the port layline and dodging boats in 5 knots of current and 5 knots of wind! We took a few sterns and tacked late but got around the mark cleanly. The downwind was good and we came into the leeward mark still surrounded by boats. Needless to say with little practise in this kind of traffic we were slowly slipping backwards in the fleet. By the reach leg the wind had almost completely died off. By now it was 7 pm and the light was fading behind a giant black cloud moving in. With the wind dying off and shifting radically, the race committee abandoned the third race and we headed home.
It was a very long day of sailing - but a really good learning day. We can now get off the start line and point upwind which is a huge improvement over Miami OCR's. There are many other boats in the fleet around the same speed as us so we are confident we will be able to improve on today's results.
Scoring explanation - the first part of this regatta is the seeding round. The fleet is split into two fleets (yellow and blue) every day based on the results of the previous day so that the fleets are relatively equal (the first day it is done based on World Cup rankings). The two fleets sail separately but are scored together. After 6 races the results determine who will race in the Gold Fleet and the Silver Fleet. The same thing occurs in the Men's division, except with more boats they are split into three fleets. For the seeding round the women and men sail on separate courses - one to the South of the shipping channel, and one to the North. After the split into Gold/Silver, the Gold Fleets will race on the same course (whichever one the RC decides has better wind) and the Silver fleets will sail on the other course.

Turn down-time into play-time with Messenger games Play Now!

July 13 - Still No Wind

So it is mid-day on Tuesday, and we still haven't had any races. They pushed the start time up to 11 am for today so we got up at 6.30 and were at the boat park before 8 to move our boat onto the slipway. They launched the men first, and then us at around 10 am. We managed to get a tow out to the race course with one of the American coaches, as Dave was going to spend today on the men's course. So we towed out in absolutely no wind, untied and promptly started drifting towards Rotterdam in 4 knots of ebb tide. After over an hour of attempting to sail to stay in one place (it didn't work) the race committee finally sent us in to wait on shore. We are now postponed until 3 pm.

However, there are lots of other Canadians who are getting racing off.

From our home club of Royal Vic we have:

Jess Round and Erin Berry in the 29er at Youth Worlds in Istanbul;
Brenda Hopkin and John McRoberts at the IFDS Worlds in Medemblik

From our neighbours at Royal Van we have:
Alex Heinzman in the Laser at the Youth Worlds;
Isabella Bertold at the Laser Radial Worlds in Scotland;
Nikola Girke at the RSX Europeans in Poland;
Hunter Lowden (and skipper Gordon Cook) at the 49er Europeans in Poland
and lots of others who I have missed!

Monday, July 12, 2010

July 12 - End of Day 1

After being postponed on shore for 3 hours, the Race Committee sent us out for a 4 pm start. The slipway (that's ramp to us North Americans) was PACKED with boats but we had moved our boat onto the ramp at 9 am so we were at the front of the queue. There was a bit of wind when we launched and for the next 15 minutes, and then it totally shut off. With 4 - 5 knots of current all the coach boats had to drive forwards in order to keep us beside the Race Committee. We sat around in no wind and laughed witht our coach Dave, who was wearing our Canada flag and practicing using "eh" correctly in a sentence. This was nice, but the rather ominous black clouds to the SW were getting closer. The Race Committee finally cancelled the racing for the day at around 4.30; and the cloud was close! We towed back in at high speed and managed to get our boat up and almost into its spot when the squall hit. 30 knots of wind and torrential rain for about 10 minutes. We were very lucky that we had gotten in so quickly - many teams were still on the slipway with their new sails being flogged, and several boats were capsized in the entrance of the harbour and had to be rescued. A Greek team broke their mast as the boat capsized right as they entered the harbour under tow; with no mainsail up the boat turtled and the mast struck the bottom. Hopefully they will be able to get their equipment replaced for tomorrow. The start time has been moved an hour earlier for tomorrow and hopefully we will get in some racing.

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July 12 - 470 Worlds Day 1

Jen here,

It's day 1 of the 470 World Championships and our start was scheduled for 20 minutes from now.  However, there is a very large low front hanging out off of Belgium which has threatened us with up to fourty knots of breeze.  We're postponed on shore for the next four hours and so I'm up in the regatta office as I write this post.  So far there is no wind, but there is the type of rain that you usually find in Vancouver in February. Yuck!  All boat covers are on, though, and boats have been tied to the trailers in case this thunderstorm shows up.

Yesterday was the practice race and then there were opening ceremonies.  The practice race was held in very light conditions; so light, in fact, that it was difficult to tell if we were making any headway through the current on the course.  We're doing much better now in terms of pointing (just make the boat feel terrible!) and now working on the next step of switching gears between different trimming techniques for different conditions.

After the practice race, we all headed back in and fortuntaly today there was a regatta official guarding the entrance to the harbour from the bands of sailing hooligans.  I was pretty relieved to see that boat guarding things for us as the previous day, one kid actually tried to grab onto the side of our boat to climb in and I had to fend him off with the tiller.  Then of course I felt bad, probably because this is what we do as Canadians!  The boat ramp, though, was absolute chaos. There were over 200 470's waiting for two tiny little freshwater hoses to rinse the boats. Then, as you pulled your boat up the ramp, you had to thread your way through a concert band which had been strategically place at the very top of the ramp to play music for us as we came in.  Lovely gesture and the music was pretty fun, but it was hilarious trying to watch the trombonist play while having the back of his horn clipped by passing shrouds and forestays.  We took in the opening ceremonies and then watched the fantastic Spain/Netherlands World Cup Final.  As dissapointed as I was about Holland not taking the Cup, I was relieved that it was (relatively) quiet after the game and we could get a good night's sleep.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

July 10 - Measurement Day

We have had a couple of very long days as we prepare for Worlds. Yesterday we did some more boat work and headed on the water. It was very warm and there was almost no wind. We tuned up with the other boats and consistently could not get the boat going as fast or high as our training partners. Karen and Dana and Jono and Teddy had brand new sails up, so that was part of it, but there were some other things going on. Our coach Dave hopped in and out of all of our boats so he could check the sail settings and talk us through how the top guys sail the boat. This was amazing, but also more than a little intimidating. It was great to learn how focused and how hard the top guys are working the boat, but also a bit of a wake up call-as we have so far to go! Once off the water we re-tuned the boat and re-spliced some lines.

Today was another long day, but a good one. We got on the water just after 11 and tuned up with the other Canadians. We had a minor breakthrough, in that we learned how to go point upwind! The thing about the 470 (apparently) is the boat just feels terrible when you sail upwind (I don't have the tiller, so I don't feel this). Jen has always tried to make the boat feel fast and powered up - which it does, just not when you are close hauled. So once we had this explained to us we were able to make the boat point - its easy, just make it feel really really crummy, and you're on the right track.

We headed in just before 2 as our measurement time was at 4 pm. Dave towed us all into the harbour, where we were sort of attacked by hooligans! A group of young men were diving off the sea wall and swimming across the channel and shouting and attempting to grab onto our boats. Yesterday they were just on the sea wall, spitting and shouting at us. One grabbed onto the boat and Jen hit him with the tiller to get him off! They were doing this to all the boats entering the harbour; they grabbed onto one boat's rudder and messed up the transom of the boat. We aren't really sure why or what their intentions are, but definitely not positive.

Once in we prepared the boat for measurement. This is when the measurers check everyone's equipment to make sure it fits the class rules. In case you are just tuning in, the 470 is just a bit complicated, so there are lots of things to check. The majority of boats only get a few main items checked while the top ranked sailors and some randomly selected individuals get "full measurement". Guess what? We got tapped for full measurement! The boat must be presented fully dry with the mast down and everything you use sailing must be present (tow line, compass, all foils, spars, sails and lines). They check everything to make sure it is the right size, they weigh the mast alone and then the entire boat. Our mast came in 60 grams underweight; so we had to add some blocks and shackles to it to bring it up to weight. Our boat came in 1.5 kg overweight, which is pretty normal for a boat of this age. They don't care if things are overweight, just if they are underweight. Then you put the mast back up and they check to make sure you cannot raise your sail above a set distance. Overall it was a positive experience, we only had to make a few minor adjustments and it is always good to learn more about what they are looking for.

Tomorrow we are aiming for a shorter day as it is the last day before the event begins! We are going to sand our centreboard a bit and then head on the water for the practice race. The weather has been very warm with little wind but as I write this we are in the middle of a thunderstorm with lightning and pouring rain and the TV just went out, so we will see what the weather is like tomorrow. More photos in the album.
From Den Haag, NED

From Den Haag, NED

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Coach is in the House

Jen here,

Our coach, Dave Hughes, arrived yesterday evening and so we've been busy getting the coach boat and his logistics sorted.  Today we and the three other teams that we're working with for the worlds spent the day re-tuning our rigs and doing more general boat work.  Fortunately, Dave was able to guide us through some of the remaining rigging problems that we've been experiencing with our boat and so we're keen to get back on the water tomorrow morning with our boat in better shape.
We've got a four boat training group for this regatta. There are two Canadian teams from Halifax- Teddy and Jono in the men's fleet and Dana and Karen in the women's.  We're also working with Barry and his crew, Thomas, who we bought our boat from. While we've been in Den Hague for nearly two weeks now, the other teams have just arrived and so it's nice to have our group together for the event, as well as our coach!
Tomorrow the measurement process begins and competitors start getting their equipment checked for the event.  While some sports grapple with doping issues, the main issue in sailing is whether or not your equipment is legal.  Boats are weighed to ensure that they're not too light, sails are checked for measurement stamps, rudders, centreboards, masts, and booms are all measured for length and angles and to make sure that sails can't be pulled up too high or to far out on the outhaul.  This is all something that we don't really deal with in Canada, especially with strict one design boats like lasers or 29ers.  It will be very impressive seeing all these boats go through measurement...especially now that there are 210 teams registered for the Worlds.  Every day new teams are showing up and setting up their boats.  The jam packed boat park just keeps getting more and more tightly packed.  To make matters more interesting, the harbour master has scheduled all of the bricks that pave our road to be re-laid.  This is absolutely hilarious as every few minutes a large tractor rolls down the thoroughfare amongst all of the 470's and nearly clips off a boat's rudder.  You see a spandex clad sailor running to create a human shield from the tractor in order protect his or her beloved rudder while trying to finish applying sunscreen to his face.


Monday, July 5, 2010

July 5th - Back on the Water

We had a good weekend off of sailing and returned to the water today. Saturday Jen and I met up with Remco, a local who was interested in hanging out with us and showing us around. We met beside the Parliament buildings, and while locking up her bike Jen knocked her pannier into the canal and had to do a bit of wading/climbing to retrieve it, so we made quite a first impression on Remco. We went to the Mauritshuis; a museum of 15 and 16th century Dutch artists including Vermeer and Rembrandt as well as the Escher museum which is inside a former Queen's Palace. When we left the Palace it had started to rain, so Jen took refuge in a coffee shop while Remco and I biked around the gardens of a different palace. I love going to parks when it is raining, as they are empty and quite and I tend to notice things I wouldn't otherwise, like the improvised chess set. Plus you can always find some dry spots under the trees.

We had asked Remco to recommend a good Indonesian restaurant and the one he took us to was great! So much tasty food it was good there wasn't a fourth person as they wouldn't have had anywhere to sit! Then we watched the Spanish football match and got lost on our way home. Sunday I visited the Gemeente Museum and the Museum of Photography, which were both excellent.

Today we sailed in light wind from the SW. We have decided our venue is just like Miami: light thermal breeze with steep choppy waves; unless there is a storm cell in which case it is rainy and windy. Today was also *technically* the first day we are allowed on site to train (we had permission to train last week as well) so many more teams arrived today, including the two Canadian men's teams and our friends the Israeli women's team.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 3rd - Pacific Yachting Article

Check out the article about us in this month's issue of Pacific Yachting! Click the image to view the article full size.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

July 1 - Training Day 5

Jen here,

Training is going and going and going. This morning we finished our standoff with the spinnaker halyard...we won. Oh yes, a nice brand new 5mm spectra halyard and new blocks on the uptake system. We didn't realize this until we took the old halyard off, but the blocks on the uptake system were so bent that they didn't even run. Hmm...ever feel like you don't want to look in that drawer or under that pile of junk because you're afraid of what you might find there? More and more this seems to be how I feel about 470's.
We trained with some members of the German team today. Very nice folks who all were very welcoming and came over to chat with us in the boat park. We've been working on surfing because the waves here are much bigger than in Victoria. It's fantastic. Sailing in waves upwind is a bit of a challenge, because they're short and very steep. It's great practice though.
Oh our bike rides home, we usually stop off at our favourite grocery store: the JUMBO, pronounced Yimbo in Dutch, which meant that for the first 2 days I rode my bike right past the Jumbo while looking for the Yimbo. I'm becoming proficient at riding my cruiser bike through rush hour traffic with twenty pounds of groceries dangling off of my left handlebar. One piece of advice to those who want to try this out in the future: pack your canned goods in your panniers. I discovered this trick after cycling for three kilometers and cracking my kneecap on a can of diced tomatoes with each pedal. It made for some lovely bruising!