RS:X Europeans, February 2012

Funchal, Madeira
Robert Lamb and Martin Stephens represented SolentXtra in Funchal, Madeira.  Rob was the RS:X Class Race Director.

Different challenges were presented by a championship in Madeira. The gradient wind was frm the northern sector and, as Funchal was on the south east of the island, the wind we were presented with curved around the island from either side.  So we were presented with a westerly if there was any west in the northerly gradient, and an easterly if the gradient was even a few degrees to the east of north.  Sometimes there was no wind as the two met each other in Funchal. 

 This was the storey inshore.  Only 2 miles offshore and the pattern was completely different with the northerly gradient seen in full force at 20+ knots.  However, despite this being the favoured place to race as far as wind was concerned, the depth of the water here was 1600m!  Laying a course that was fixed to the bottom was impossible.  The local team was not experienced enough with boat handling to have a floating course.  So we went inshore.  Even here, 1 mile away from land saw depths of 300m.

The reduced entry of 56 men and 23 women allowed a simple windward leeward to be laid, forgetting the slalom.  This is what we did.  We lost 2 days (1 was the Medal races) with no wind but apart from this it was a great event. 

IMG 0537

The marks were laid in the water conventionally as was the committee boat.  The pin-end boat held on engines - very skillfully so by the local guy from Funchal.  The depth of the water did mean that marks could not be moved easily as it took 15 minutes + to retrieve a mark.  Martin did a great job supervisng the local mark laying team.

Another hazard thrown in by this beautiful part of the world was a fluther (collective noun) of jellyfish.  But no ordinary jellyfish.  
These were Portuguese Men of War!  The sailors were all pretty cool about this and simply wore wetsuit boots on their feet.  No-one was stung.

Joao Rodrigues is the local hero, sailing for Portugal and living in Madeira.  He is very well known to all those in Madeira, 40 years of age and a lovely guy.  The Europeans were sent to Madeira in his honour and despite the massive challenges to the race management this was a terrific thong for the class to do.

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© SolentXtra 2012