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NSSA / RYA Match Racing Report

 

KSSA – TEAM

Michael Calvert – Helm – Report provided by Michael.

Mark Thomas – Crew

Patrick Crouch – Crew

           

Match Racing @ Weybiza Report

Due to strong winds on the Friday the proposed training was cancelled so we had a leisurely afternoon chilling in the boat that rocks (that cafe where all the Olympians go!). Later in the afternoon as more team arrived we started putting the Elliot 6m keel boats in the water and seeing how big and expensive they looked we began to think we were in for a steep learning curve! Lesson one bare hands on metal=Michael passing out on the sofa at WPSA reception. In the evening we got to chill in the RYA Portland house (yeah the Olympic one) until dinner of a lush curry where you could help yourself! (Don't judge me). Briefing was straight after dinner and it turns out match racing is completely different to fleet racing! This is when I really began to poo myself the start sequence is completely different you start heading towards each other?! Looked like Saturday was going to be interesting...

Saturday morning there was a good breeze of around 16 knots so it was set to be a challenging day. We didn't have a match for a while and since there were 6 boats and 8 teams the boats where all shared, we set off first for 30 mins of training. Having nearly thrown the organiser of the event over the side (turns out he's not as friendly when he's leaning over the side relying on us to make sure he doesn't fall in). As we began making upwind it became apparent this was no leisurely sail in a keelboat you really did have to hike like a fat kid on cake! We all had our assigned roles and had to learn some valuable teamwork lessons to get the boat moving in the right direction let alone fast or thinking about other competitors! Well time flew by and we had to jump out of the boat with minimal practice and onto the committee boat for the next 2 hours. Another valuable experience, it's not just the sailors who don't know what's going on sometimes...doesn't that fill you with confidence!

Having finally got into the boats again straight away we started our first few matches against the best teams at the event (hardly the way to ease you into things!). We still had a lot to learn at this stage and so generally in these matches made a few poor decisions in the pre start resulting in a penalty that has to be taken after the start. After these penalties surprisingly we were still just seconds behind the other boat. Drawing the positives from the first few matches we had good boat speed up and downwind which was getting better during the weekend helped by our improving teamwork and communication to get the boat going well.
Match 4 and our best yet!
We nailed the pre start to ensure we had no penalties and got a clean start ahead of the other boat. Using our boat speed we were able to stay ahead and tactically ensured there was no opportunity for the other team to get pass. We had a clean spinnaker hoist and managed to cross the line clear ahead of the other team to take our first win!

Coming off the water we wet greeted to some chocolate Easter bunnies which was a welcome surprise (thank you Kathryn!)

In the evening we had a solid 1 and a half hour debrief picking up on points that went well and what didn't go so well. Learning which areas of the course is best to stay out of during the prestart to get the best start. We also got the chance to split up and talk to the other teams so the helms went with the helms the middle men to the other middle men and the monkey at the front with the rest of the chimps. This was really good enabling us to give a really good reflection on how the day went to gain some useful pointer from everyone on how to improve. We also got free powerade!

Sunday and the condition were much the same as the Saturday around 15 knots and we went straight into our first match. Only to be told the other team had pulled out (probably quaking in their boots because Kent team were PUMPED!). Our next match was where things really started to take shape. We dominated the prestart to ensure the other team had two penalties putting them way behind already. On the upwind we made sure we were positioned between the other boat and the windward mark covering them all the way up the race course to slowly edge ahead further. The downwind was pretty straight forward just keeping clean air and boat speed we remained ahead and powered our way around the course to take the win.

The format of the event then meant we had a 5th and 6th playoff, here 3 matches are sailed and the first to 2 wins is the winner. We faced Abington School to fight for 5th! In the first match we pinned Abingdon out on the port side of the line meaning we had complete control of them during the pre-start to ensure we crossed the line ahead of them as the dropped behind us into our dirty air. A tacking duel commenced as we matched their every move to constantly give them dirty air as they dropped back increasing our lead. The monkeys at the front gave a clean spinnaker hoist so at the bottom mark we remained in the lead. We had a slow drop due to the angle I was steering into the mark but recovered well still ahead using our boat speed again to pull away and cover Abingdon to the windward mark. It was then just a straight downwind to the mark having a comfortable lead we had no worries as Abingdon did their best to cover us. 1-0 to Kent.

The second match and the prestart was much the same as we pinned them to a corner living them with little options. The first beat we covered Abingdon again remaining in the lead until the end of the run where a slow drop and lack of communication led to the spinnaker not being all the way down as we rounded the mark. When we had the spinny down we tried the catch up game hiking flat out to try and find clean air and come up ahead of Abingdon but to no avail. Kent 1-1 Abingdon. It was all to play for in the last match where we once again smashed Abingdon in the prestart to get clear ahead to have another exciting tacking battle in the lead. Rounded the windward mark we had our best hoist of the weekend and flew downwind! Followed by our best drop and mark rounding yet! Then we got unlucky our spinnaker sheet was caught under the boat rammed against the keel. We had no way of getting it out meaning we could not use the spinnaker on the last downwind. We attempted to sail Abingdon high but once they had there spinny up we could not compete. Absolute nightmare but hey ship happens. Final score was Abingdon 2-1 Kent.

Despite not doing very well at the weekend it was without doubt the steepest learning curve at a sailing event any of us have had to deal with. Having never sailed in a 3 person boat before we learnt valuable lessons in teamwork and communication to get the best out of the boat. Having never used a spinnaker before we learnt a lot on how to fly and use a spinnaker. From the monkeys at the front who had to get to grips of learning the ropes of the spinnaker to the lazy guy at the back holding the stick learning to make life easier by steering the easiest course so the monkeys can deal with the kite.

Overall the weekend was a really good insight into how the match racing programme works at an Olympic level and would be well worth another crack at it because we had such a smashing time! A big thank you to the KSSA for giving us to opportunity to experience Match Racing!

 

Diamond Claims Victory at WPNSA

This weekend (23-24 February) the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy played host to the third instalment of the RYA Winter Match Racing programme, a programme designed to kick-start the development of UK National Match Racing.

Ice-cold conditions met the young pretenders in Portland across the two days of racing, with eight school teams of between three and four sailors ranging in ages from 16 to 20 battling for event honours.

With all eight teams being new to racing in Elliott keelboats and most new to match racing, Saturday proved tentative for all, but with chilly yet otherwise perfect sailing conditions in the harbour all progressed quickly to raise the level of competition to increasingly tight races by the end of the full single group round robin.

Jamie Diamond, sailing with Tom Williams and Tom Piggot, topped the round robin stage to book a semi-final showdown with George Watson. In the breezy yet bitterly cold conditions, Diamond and his crew stayed true to their form to clinch two race wins and their berth in the weekend final.

King's School Hannah Goldsmith and her crew Elizabeth Wallchope, Helen Woodward, Henry Cross, finished the round robin in second and cruised through to the final with a straightforward 2-0 win over Jack Ward in their semi-final match.

Diamond, who entered the final with a spring in his step after dominating the previous rounds, managed to continue his momentum with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Goldsmith to claim event victory.

"It feels awesome" said the 17-year-old Diamond on his win at WPNSA. "Our boat speed definitely made the difference this weekend along with a lot of hiking and a good level of fitness. In the final race with Hannah we didn't have a great start but we managed to get ahead and eventually seal the win which is a great achievement. We are now looking forward to the Finals in April."

Meanwhile in the petite final George Watson was eventually victorious over Jack Ward but with many place changes and lots of pre-start action. In the play-off for 5/6 Richard Matthews didn't have it all his own way being taken all the way to three flights by his worthy opponent Michael Calvert.

RYA Portland House, an RYA Olympic legacy facility at Osprey Quay on Portland was used as the base for accommodation, briefing and post-race reviews, whilst the fleet of six Elliott 6m boats, the class used for the Women's Olympic match racing, were used for this combative form of racing conducted in Portland Harbour.

Overall Results:

1st Jamie Diamond, Warsash
2nd Hannah Goldsmith, Kings School, Canterbury
3rd George Watson, Saltash Sailing Club
4th Jack Ward, Claire's Court School, Maidenhead
5th Richard Matthews, Abingdon School
6th Michael Calvert, Kent Schools
7th Lewis Coppinger, Derbyshire Youth Sailing
8th Liam Horgan, Queen Mary Sailing Club

The RYA Winter Match Racing Final 2013 will take place at WPNSA on 20-21 April 2013.

For more information on the RYA Winter Match Racing programme please visit www.rya.org.uk