Dragon Worlds Debrief Reports

Dragon Worlds Debrief Reports

Report #1 by Peter Bowman

Team Hombre:  Peter Bowman, John Hay and Jeremy Shellabear

 On behalf of Team Hombre I would like to submit this report as a review of the experience we embraced at the recent World Championships sailed in La Rochelle, France.

Firstly we would like to thank the Club for its generous support both financially and in the provision of coaches during the months leading up to the Worlds.

Leaving Perth we were confident that the training we had done would hold us in good stead for the Worlds, and from a boat handling perspective and boat speed we were well prepared. What racing on Perth waters,  and with our small fleet sizes cannot prepare you for is getting off to a good start in a fleet of 80 boats.

Reflecting on our results this was the one major area in which we just lacked the experience, and if you weren’t off the line in good shape then it was a long day on the racecourse as inevitably you’d be doing battle with a group of boats from placings 35 – 60, and in this space the competition was perhaps even tougher than what it was like in the top 20.

By way of summary here are our major observations:

  • Racing conducted on a large section of open water with a sailing time of around 45 minutes to the start line.
  • The race course was influenced by a daily movement of current that peaked at around 1 knot.
  • Breezes ranged from a high of 16 knots with most of the 8 races sailed in under 12 knots.
  • The courses were too long with the windward work as long as 2.5nm and races taking up to 3 hours.
  • Once 80 Dragons entered the course area, the water, with the influence of the current became quite disturbed and choppy.
  • All the Dragons were moored within a floating marina with easy access to the Regatta HQ
  • Best placing on our scorecard was 20th with a number of finishes in the low 50s
  • The team from Freshy had a real sense of comradery with team members dressed in our team uniform of green/gold polos with complimentary caps. No other nation displayed this sense of ‘team-ship’ and we believe that this heightened enthusiasm amongst competitors to come to Fremantle in 2019’, for a Worlds, jointly hosted by RFBYC and FSC.
  • The standard of sailing at this level in the Dragon Class is extremely high with the class dotted with many World champion sailors amongst the crews.
  • The class now has many ‘professional’ sailors within the top 30 teams, many in the top 15 having both crew employed as professionals. A tough task for us mere amateurs. By way of example one of the crew members sailing aboard one of the top 10 finishers had sailed for over 200 days in the past 12 months.
  • With this in mind the performance of Team Dragon Fly was exceptional with a 7th overall, a number 1 in the Corinthian section and a similar result in the masters (combined age above 165 years). This result was built from a platform of attending two previous Worlds (Melbourne 2011 and Weymouth 2013) and such a campaign is seen as essential if one aspires to rise up the results board.
  • Dragon racing in Europe offers competitors a wide selection of events across the season, often one every fortnight with the smallest fleets in the order of 35 entries. A big difference to our local opportunities where our biggest fleet maybe 18.
  • Sailing on the Swan River does not prepare one well for events that are sailed in ocean conditions. The waters off Fremantle would have been a good training ground for our teams to skill themselves up in sailing through waves.
  • In looking to the future it is vital that a team of at least 5 crews attend the next Worlds in Cascais, Portugal in June/July 2017 to show support for the International Dragon Class and to seriously generate interest in getting 40-50 crews to commit to come to Fremantle in January 2019.
  • The learnings we have gained will be filtered down to fellow members of our local fleet as we once again begin ‘battle’ in October.

On behalf of Team Hombre, thankyou to the General Committee and the broader membership for the support of our crew and the rest of the WA team…we did our Club proud!

Report #2 by Sandy Anderson

Through the Eyes of Dragon AUS 210

Helm:   Sandy Anderson : RFBYC dragons

Main: Stephan Eyssautier: RFBYC dragons;  able to translate and correspond with boat owner and yacht club, as well as understand and communicate conversation of race officer and mark layers on radio on course.

Genoa: Jodi Earnshaw, Etchells and experienced foredeck match racing with Katie Spithill in world championships.

Foredeck: Penny Anderson (nee Alpe) new to sailing, but adept on foredeck. Did Australian Nationals in Port Philip Bay with me.

We chartered “Spindrift” from Douavnenez, a 2006 Petticrow a few boats on the “Linnea”. In excellent conditions, it was towed to La Rochelle, set up and repaired during the series by its owner Rene Bideau.

I used my 2012 main and spinnaker from the 2012 Edinburgh Cup and 2013 World Championships and a new 2013 genoa from the latter. The sails had been kept in Willy Packers and the Hay’s “Dragonfly’s” trailer sail boxes.  I had to retrieve the genoa from Ray Chatfield to whom it had been sold by Willy.  The boat had excellent speed, as fast as ‘Dragonfly’’.  The crew work was admirable, considering the short time training at RFBYC as a team.

The weather was cold and wet, winds ranged from 20kt down.  The wind came off the land for the whole series, generally 0-90o.  Tides were a definite consideration, though at times there was unexpectedly little movement of water seen at marks.  The course was kept away from the strong tidal streams.

The races comprised 3 upwind legs with upwind finish. First leg wad 2.5 nautical miles and races were more than 3 hours in duration. On the two race days, we were on the water for about nine hours. However, the sailing and racing was most enjoyable, despite up to 4 starts for each race, such was the favoured end.

We had been sent information regarding wind directions/land effects and tidal flow direction and timing, by the organising body at La Rochelle.

Having studied these (we did not have the computer sorting) our strategy to go right in the first race resulted in about 16th at the first mark (83 boats) and we minimised 29th after more than three hours of racing.

For the first leg of the next subsequent races, we chose the wrong side and found ourselves in the bottom 25% of the fleet, and though catching up and passing boats (~10) we finished 69th overall.  I learnt, though, further refinements of big fleet racing, I hope I will be able to use in future.

Many thanks to RFBYC for their travel fund support and to WAIDA for organising the pre regatta coaching.

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