by Lissa McMillan
Day 2 of the B14 World Championships at Lake Garda started out looking like a classic “Ora” for Races 3 and 4.
But the reality wasn’t quite like that.
Official word from the race committee was 15 to 18 knots from the South. Eye-witness reports from sailors at the pointy end of the fleet put the wind at between 9 to 28 knots, or at least “well into the 20s!”. There were some very big shifts, and some dangerous doldrums.
Both races were 2 laps of 1.1 nautical miles, stretching the course a bit from the previous day.
In Race 3, the great bulk of the fleet followed the traditional wisdom of heading for the cliffs. Current regatta leaders Nick Craig and Tobytastic Lewis (GBR796) got a great start at the pin, tacked immediately, then went hard right and were never challenged.
At the first bottom gate, 2nd and 3rd placed Aussie boats from the same club were managing to sabotage each other, with Paul Newman and Leigh Dunstan (AUS378) tee-boning compatriots and good mates Craig Garmston and Paul Fleming (AUS375). Both knew each other’s sailing styles so well, they did the same manoeuvre to avoid each other, bringing them closer together. AUS375 managed to stay upright, finishing in 4th, with Mark Watts and Matt Johnson (GBR797) capitalising on the situation, and ending up in 2nd place. AUS378 withdrew from the race and came ashore for some quick repairs.
Meanwhile French team Thierry Llonch and Michael Duflos will have another morning of boatwork as FRA760 was taking on about 20 litres of water in each race. The French are famous for their submarines, but now is not the time to showcase this mode of sailing.
Out in the lead, Nick and Toby got a monstrous gust on the last run, nailing the finish in one gybe and having to drop before the finish so as not to end up in Riva. Nick described it as “wildly windy” At on point on the run Toby asked him to move back a bit, but there was no more boat left!
The high winds proved tricky for several, with not all masts pointing to the sky throughout the whole race. Amy and Dave Roberts (GBR784), newcomers to the class, did a sterling effort to pull off a high-powered gybe heading for the finish. Unfortunately they timed out by a couple of seconds!! But they showed they are quickly gaining the skills to mix it with the fleet.
Race 4 was Wattsie and MJ’s race. They snagged a massive lift up the first beat and at one point were half a leg ahead of the nearest competitor.
Joey Randall and Louis Chapman (AUS78) went for yet another pin-end port start but, despite crossing the fleet spectacularly, ended up with a U-flag disqualification after their impressive 3rd in Race 3.
This time the Malcesine side of the lake was favoured by the fleet, rather than the cliffs of the previous race. But the racing was difficult, with gusts, lulls and significant wind shifts. As well as training fleets of 29ers, Optis and IQfoils, there was the added challenge of the bottom of the course being in the windsurf hire zone! At least one windsurfer ended up strategically capsized in between the gybe marks.
While conditions were varied, they had nothing on the variety of sailors who can be competitive in the B14 class. The boat reacts well no matter the crew size combinations. With rack hiking, it doesn’t matter if it’s the crew or the helm who is bigger, lighter, taller, shorter... This flexibility allows all sorts of pairings to be competitive in this socially active class! There are women sailing on a third of the boats at this regatta, with sailors ranging in age from late teens to nearly 70. The racing is close and exciting with 2nd and 3rd on the same points and 4th to 7th separated by only one point.
It’s also great to see the Race Committee boat is almost exclusively women, led capably by Carla Malavolta. Grazie signore!