Big Friday

Big Friday

Saturday March 6 2010 Author: Tim Penfold Location: United Arab Emirates

When we arrived at the Dubai Offishore Sailing Club yesterday morning for the first day of the UAE nationals, there was a 15-20 knot wind and fairly big waves again. At the 11AM briefing the race officer asked the fleet if we still wanted to race the schedule 4 races 'due to the conditions', there was general agreement that 3 races would be fine.

When the comittee boat and rescue boats left the harbour out into the waves, we all watched them bounce and roll around on the short steep waves, quite a few of us decided that it was a boat breaking day, not at all what we needed 3 days before the main event. After making my excuse that my GPS batteries were dead and I couldn't possibly go sailing, I jumped in the Mach2 support RIB with Lockie and went out on the water to get a closer view of the action.

About 15 boats started the first race and everyone coped with the conditions upwind fine, then after rounding the windward mark the real test of Moth sailing came. First the bear away, then getting down the steep waves safely, followed by finding enough flat water to gybe in. The top 5 boats showed how it was done, everyone else was pretty much in survival mode and there were spectacular wipe outs all over the course. From that point on we were in rescue boat mode and I didn't get to follow the racing much as we stood by or helped out struggling competitors.

For the 2nd race the breeze had increased to 18-22 knots and the waves had increased, especially down the left hand side of the course. Only 4 boats finished that one and I don't think anyone got round without a 'stack' or two. Top boats of the day were Arnaud Psarfaghis (SUI) with 2 bullets, Chris Graham (UAE) with a 2nd & 4th.

Most of the UK fleet stayed on the beach, apart from Paul Hayden who battled it round the first race to get a result. Then Ricky Tagg came out for a sail but broke his wand mechanism and couldn't get back down wind in 'low rider' mode. We ended up rescuing him which involved me cutting his rig down with my knife, which was the highlight of my day (sorry Ricky).

Forecast for today is much lighter (and for the rest of the championship), if there's enough wind today we should hopefully get 4 races in. Good news for me because I need to get some time on the water in, I've only sailed for just over an hour since I got here!


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