Saturday, January 4, 2020

2019 RS Aero Worlds - Day 3/Wrap-Up

The 2019 RS Aero World Championship ended yesterday, with no races sailed on the first and fifth days due to high winds. Nonetheless, we sailed 11 excellent races in 3 days, in winds ranging from 6-20+ knots.
In the 7 fleet, 23-year old Rhett Gowans was wicked fast and smart the whole regatta. He really hit his stride in the last days, getting increasingly fast upwind while retaining his downwind superiority. Rhett handily won the last 7(!) races of the event.

Nice lead on Gowans (3050) and the fleet on Day 3
I was fortunate to place second to Rhett. Was a touch faster upwind in strong breeze, generally competitive reaching (when not affected by nearby wakes), but couldn't keep up with Rhett's blistering pace on the runs, especially in stronger winds. The lack of downwind boatspeed (compared to Rhett--the two of us were a notch above the rest of the fleet), combined with poor first beats (after generally good starts) in the latter days, meant climbing back through the fleet was my mission, not challenging Rhett for the front.
Even with this lead, Gowans was able to catch up and
extend 6 boatlengths on the following run!
Gowans downwind. Very active in the boat!

Going upwind w/Peter Barton (3087) and Michael O'Brien (2500) in pursuit. I should have shoulders open and straighter legs (not fit enough).

Ballsy port-tack approach to second weather mark. Just made it ahead of the 2 closest boats!

C'mon Marc, HIKE! Boat heeling too much here.
 19-year old Noah Rees from GBR came in with Top 10 aspirations and ended up placing 3rd overall. Quite quick at times upwind and down, strong and fit, we expect several more podium finishes from the ever-improving Noah in future!
Winners of 2019 RS Aero Worlds awards in the 5, 7 and 9 fleets.
I placed 2nd Overall, 1st Master (55+) in the 7 fleet.
The youngest competitor (15 year-old Aussie Ollie Beretta) with one of the oldest.

Now it's time for rest. I'm in a dark room away from the sun, doing laundry on a rare rainy day and enjoying a bit of solitude and relaxation.

HUGE thanks to SailStar ( and Tomas Sandström (corporate sponsor of this effort), and all those who contributed to my gofundme campaign. Additional thanks to Andrew Giles and his lovely partner Elaine for allowing me to stay with them during the event and being such pleasant companions this past week.

Sailing photos by Christopher Visick

Thursday, January 2, 2020

2019 RS Aero Worlds - Day 2

Jan 2, 2020
Black Rock, Victoria AUS

So, first day of racing in the new year! Got to the club early to effect repairs suffered the previous day of racing (many thanks to Sammy Issacs-Johnson for splicing the lines!). Three races sailed today.

Race 5
Light-ish wind for the start of this one. Had a great start at the boat, but missed a few shifts and rounded in 5th behind Noah Rees (GBR), Andy Mack (USA), Michael O'Brien (AUS) and Rhett Gowans (AUS). Rhett got around Michael on the first reach but I stupidly tried to go low and got caught behind Michael, who wasn't going terribly well. Rhett sped off and caught Noah on the run to pull out to a big lead. I gained a ton on the first run to round third, then climbed to second by the second weather mark and held to the finish.
Gaining, but not enough. Chasing Gowans AUS 3050,
leading Rees (GBR 3070) at leeward gate on smokey Day 2.


Race 6
The breeze built a bit for this one. Had a ripping start at the pin end of the line and leapt two boatlengths ahead of the fleet within 30 seconds. Easily crossed the fleet and led at the top and reach marks, but Rhett once again turned on the afterburners and was leading by the leeward gate. I gained upwind and by the middle of the leg was overlapped with Rhett, but he played the shifts a bit better on the upper half and had a 3 length lead by the second weather mark, from which he extended on the run to easily take the race.

Race 7
Had a good start at the starboard end but couldn't get the boat to settle down; it just felt cranky and slow. Rhett led at the top mark and extended for another decisive win. I ground down people on the runs and beats to score another 2nd place finish, but frankly didn't have much gas in the tank for this one.

Obviously, Rhett's flying downwind, steering big angles to catch waves. I'm doing the same, but not as loosely and confidently, and it shows. Also, I didn't get a good night's rest before, so didn't have the energy needed for three big races. Totally my fault.

Gotta stay high on reaches and away from others' wakes. There's no way to pass if stuck on another boat's quarter-wake.

Tomorrow we're scheduled to do 4 races, so it's early to bed for this guy. Let's see what the day brings!