Skandia Sail for Gold, June 2012

Weymouth, England
The weather was terrible!  We saw sunshine just once with almost continuous rain on Tuesday and high winds on Thursday and Friday.  The best weather was on the last day - the Medal Races.

The entire SolentXtra team was there.

We had 101 entries on the RS:X course with 58 men and 43 women racing in single groups.  Nino Shmueli (ISR) was the ISAF PRO.  Behaviour on the line was pretty good and the black flag only came out a few times over the week.  

There were no major race management issues apart from Thursday when the wind was forecast to build in the afternoon.  We elected to do just one race for each fleet because of this forecast so ran one for the girls before bringing the men out.  We were the only fleet racing with all other classes back in.  The RS:X men looked in complete control in the breeze of around 20-22 knots so had two races back to back.  We sent for the women when we believed that the conditions were pretty stable but as they arrived in the start area (with the men on the last beat) the wind suddenly picked up and it was clear that they were going to be in trouble.  The men were too, with even the top end of the fleet standing on their boards luffed to the wind waiting for big gusts to go through before continuing around the windward mark for the last time.  The safest plan of action for the men was to let them continue racing and head for their coaches who were all wating for them at the finish.  That worked and they were all safe.  

AP/H was displayed for the women and rescue procedures put in place to get them home - men's coaches were asked to return to the race area to help bring the women in, as many safety boats as possible were deployed to help. Ed Stevens as the chief safety officer for the event sat at the leeward end of the course by the breakwater controlling the safety boats.  We left all the marks in situ as a reference of the course position should conditions change.  Some sailors beached on the North side of the harbour by Castle Cove yacht club to find safety.  

We achieved control so then commenced sweeps of Portland Harbour thus ensuring that we had not missed any sailors.  Bridge eventually confirmed that all competitors were back ashore so we could return to base.  The only incident then was the chain/8 plait splice ripping apart as we attempted to lift the anchor of the main committee boat.  The anchor and all the chain was lost on the bottom of the harbour.  At this stage there was a steady 40 knots and the biggest gust recorded was 52 knots!

So Sail for Gold 2012 was the year of the lessons in safety management for all those who had not seen this sort of issue before.  The SolentXtra team did a sterling job in this respect.

Friday was blown off.

A few races were lost that week with the high winds with 17 completed of the possible 22 (the men lost 2 races and the women lost 3).

The SolentXtra team ran the medal races on the Nothe on Saturday for the RS:X and 470 fleets.

Sail for Gold.  The entire SolentXtra team will be there to manage racing for the RS:X Class.  There are 60 men and 45 women entered.  So racing will be in one group for both men and women and with 2 races per day we should be off the water by 3pm at the very latest, assuming that we do not have to wait for wind.

This is the last practice with the RS:X Class before the Olympics so we will all be working very hard to do a great job whilst remembering not to peak too soon!

The forecast looks tricky with low pressure and not so many isobars.  But we will get what we get.

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© SolentXtra 2012