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470 - Kiel and Cascais

470 - Kiel and Cascais

You will usually see me in a RIB in the corner of the lake by buoy 3 shouting and whistling at optimists in the name of sailing development. But I took a few weeks off from this in June/July to travel with Alison, my daughter, and her 470 to Kiel Week on the Baltic in North Germany, and then to Cascais on the Atlantic coast near Lisbon to the ISAF world championships.
The route The logistics were horrifying. With both the 470 and my RIB to take we had to make sure that a car went everywhere. And that we linked up at the airports to make sure everyone arrived on time. I drove out with crew Lotte to Kiel, it takes 24 hours continuous travelling. Alison had university exams that day so she flew to Lubeck in the evening and we met her there. Then at the end of the week after sailing I flew home while Ally and Lotte drove to Portugal. That was 3 long days on the road for them. But they then had a week for rest and practice, then the regatta started with measurement and then 7 days racing. Caroline and I flew to Lisbon and hence to Cascais, for the measurement week. Then Caroline returned home and I spent my days in the RIB. At the end of the regatta all had to be packed up. I flew home and the girls arrived home 2 days later.
Kiel was treated as a practice week. It is a great regatta with everything on the site, including camping. Fortunately we bought a new tent because on day1 we looked at the weather forecast and it said 66 mm of rain. It turned out that instead of that we only had about 20mm. But the easterly gale kept the rain in Sheffield. No sailing that day.

There are 5 race areas at Kiel. The 470 course is about 4 miles due east of the marina. That is a long sail out and a long beat back in the prevailing westerly. The RIB makes it all possible. The sailing was good with weather from 4 knots to 20 knots. There were around 60 boats divided into 2 fleets. The fleet had a wide range of abilities so it was possible to get good racing even without being the fastest of boats. Lack of practice showed. In most races the girls were in the top few at the first mark but were not able to hold on and were pushed back down the fleet. By the end of the week the girls understood the problem and seemed to be getting better results.

Cascais was something else! The ISAF worlds happen once every 4 years. All the Olympic classes are there, but unlike the Olympics there are no limits on the number of countries that can send people, and there may be up to 6 boats per country. Overall there ware around 1000 boats and boards. There were the standard 5 course areas, but with up to 6 starts for each class (flights of no more than 40) the race programme was set out so that each course had to be used twice in a day (first class 1.30 to 4.00; second class 4.30 to 8.00pm). They aimed to achieve this because the prevailing winds are northerly and blow regularly from11.30 am to late at night, getting stronger through the evening, often to 30 knots. (one evening the 470 girls had to beat home in 35 knots. It was a relief to see that every boat had a RIB in attendance.)

The only problem was that with a northerly, the wind was offshore. The inshore courses were very prone to be light and shifty with the offshore courses to be too dangerous for some boats. The result was that there was a lot of towing around to find a suitable area and sometimes sailing until 9pm. Still, the race organisers got it all completed.

Caroline and I did the first week as a holiday. We stayed in a hotel a mile or so from the Marina. I spent a couple of hours in the RIB and then we went sightseeing. Public transport is good. It cost 3.60 euros and took 40 minutes by train to Lisbon. This is a very striking city. The Moorish history is still very evident. The castle looks down over the “new” town ( since the earthquake in 18th century). and is wonderful.

On another day we caught a bus to the Sintra hills with its Palaces and castles on top of the highest peaks. It must have been very draughty, but have been a very striking place to live.

The sailing was different. The outside course was exposed to the northerly wind and waves. Usually there was a gradient across the course with only 10-12 knots inshore and nearer 30 knots at sea. The waves off shore were 2 to 3 m high. On one of the practice days the sun vanished and took with it the wind. We were left with6 knots of breeze and 2 ½ m waves. Very eerie.
Just before the halyard broke When racing started it was a bit of a shock Day 1 was on a less windy course with nasty 1 ½ to 2 m waves. Sailing against mostly full time sailors who were better able to deal with this, suddenly Ally and Lotte found themselves nearly last. Day 2 was on the windy course, but 100m into the 1st race of the day the main halyard broke. We rigged it up as an external, but somehow the day never really got going.

For the second part of the week they were in the silver fleet, again on the windy course. Around the first mark in the top ten in each race was very pleasing and they made it to 52nd. Which was quite satisfying after the shock of days 1 and 2.

I sat in the RIB and watched the racing. (This was a 4 m RIB in 3m waves so it was wet!) . It was strange to see all boats on the inner (shoreside) loop beat go out to sea, and all the boats on the outer loop beat come inshore. It turned out that because of the wind gradient, on the inshore loop the wind was too light inshore to be fast, so you sailed offshore as far as you felt safe and then tacked back in until it felt slow. On the offshore loop, it was so windy that everyone just sailed inshore until they had to tack for the windward mark lay line. Then after a long hard race they all sailed back to the inshore side of the course and we then towed them home.

At least that was predictable. On the 49er course they sailed in wind of 10 knots gusting 25-30. Overall a great place to sail because you can always find wind to suit, but difficult if you have 5 course area.

So now back to the optimists on Sunday mornings!

Nick Martin

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Created on 09/08/2007 07:00 PM by Ian Bullock
Updated on 09/08/2007 07:14 PM by Ian Bullock
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