WF Dutch open – a rollercoaster of a regatta!

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It all started with some discussions in the car way back in spring this year when Stan and I decided to participate in the Dutch open Wayfarer this year.  Of course the date was in the middle of all our other regattas, but as Helmut was organizing it so nicely and to have all 4 ESTEC wayfarers out in one regatta we were keen in doing it anyway.

So we trained, tried to optimise the manoever scheme (how to handle as a crew the spinnaker sheet, guy, jib sheets, two barberholers and there’s a pole as well… or as the helm to hoist / drop with the tiller between the knees and getting the spi sheets during all pole manoevers…)

We knew the weather would be madness on Saturday, gusting to 7 bft – more than we ever even tried to handle in a wayfarer. Yet all ESTEC WF went out to try their luck against wind waves and 120 other boats (11 WF, but countless other boat classes participated as well).

Clearly it was on the boarderline of our skills,  one moment of not taking care of the wind capzised us, ending in 4 complete turtle manoevers of the WF (and yes – it is frustrating if you just got the boat up and it falls down on you again and again)

So the race committee had mercy with all of us, getting us in the safe harbour for some more strength with fries and meat. Hoping that the wind would calm down we waited and finally went out again. Well, even more wind was waiting for us, but  the race was started.

It was survival, we decided for the full jib, knowing that this could either cost us dearly or push us forward.

The first race was just hard, trying to depower, uncleating the jib, hiking, all we had. We could not see many other boats, being caught and blasted away by the wind leaving us with even more determination (and marks on the hands from pulling the ropes). But it worked, Stan and me managed, without too many words (not to be audible above the wind anyway) and we got it all together and… finished second! Wohoooo

The remaining  races were as hard or even harder as the conditions took their toll on our fatigue level, but so it was for all the other boats competing with us.

Amazingly, we were able to keep up with the leaders and even got them one by one until we were in the lead. Not a usual situation for us causing the problem of to know where to go. Sure of it but seeing our closest competitor heading for another way we changed our mind and followed the UK boat (thankfully in the end – as they were right and we weren’t…. But causing in us deep doubts and a mixture of feelings).

There is not much more to say about this first day, it was more like a dream, being so tired and done and yet so happy seeing our name on the top of the ranking!

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On the next day the wind had mercifully died down a little bit and so all WF were able to start (as on the day before for some the conditions were too strenuous to start) and we started fighting nicely with the group coming second. We thought it was lunch time as the day before and returned to our harbor, discussing and getting the strategy for the two remaining races, knowing that the fight was on and we were close to the Uk WF. On our way from the Club harbor to the Watersportverbond we saw that all other WFs were still out and in a starting procedure. I cannot describe here how the feeling is dropping from heaven high to an absolute depressed low, knowing that with this stupid mistake of ours we would loose everything.

We went back to the boat and to the race, only to see the finish and being called into the harbor for the real lunch now. Depressed and mad as anything with us we went and eat, having only a ray of hope left that there might be a discard and that we might be good enough to struggle us back in at least something like a good position again.

 

Well, there would be a discard, if the last race would go through. Trying to come down from our deep thoughts we wanted to fight again, knowing that these mind-set ups and downs are our biggest enemy. But this last race would count. We knew we had to fight and be good, but in this race the UK wayfarer was better by a fraction of a bit or one wrong sided gust for us. But at least in the meantime we could think clear again, doing the math still on the water concluding that it was likely good enough to claim the championship… But not sure…

So when the result was there with our names on top a smile was crossing Stan’s and my face – not completely believing it, but trying to get the hang of it. Even during the price giving we could not grasp it yet, just a light headed feeling that I surely want to have again!

 

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It certainly was the most roller coaster like regatta we had till now and for sure the most successful one, now we are eager to repeat this with the J, however, the WF and this regatta will remain special for us.

I’d like to thank all organizers, friends and competitors who made this such a great event, not only for us. Especially the WF class association letting us compete with our club boats, Helmut organizing hits event for the ESC and all the sailors fighting with us through the storm.

 

Thank you and see you next year!

 

Jabbadabbadoo!

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