Gulari takes the lead
|Three races (Races 8-10), were sailed on day three of the CST Composites Moth Worlds, underway at Cascade Locks, Oregon. With winds forecast in the high 20s, the race committee shortened the course to avoid having the fleet sail into the deeper swells anticipated further east along the Columbia River as a result of the fresher breeze. While the first race started in 25 knots, it quickly dissipated and by early afternoon, conditions were similar to those of the previous two days.
With the heavier breeze in the first race, the strategy opted for by most was a more conservative approach, nonetheless, evidence that the fleet’s been pushing it pretty hard over the past few days was apparent with Hall, Outteridge, and Babbage retiring in Race 9 for repairs. Simon Payne retired from Race 10 with a knee injury that has been bothering him the past few days. It was a disappointing day for Scott Babbage, who handily won the first race then broke gear in a crash between races which he was unable to repair resulting in two DNFs, which puts him out of the running for any possible place. Bora Gulari and Arnaud Psarofaghis continued to consistently make the top four.
The Americans are proving that they’re a serious force in this fleet, which has previously been the sanctum of the Aussies and Europeans, with Gulari and Dalton solid in the top four these past two days. Gulari continues to be Nathan Outteridge’s nemesis, and the next few days racing will be exciting to see how these two duke it out. Said Charlie McKee, “We’ve come a long way in little over a year working together in spirit and cooperation in the US fleet, with Bora’s willingness to share what he knows and help bring the group up, and to have someone like Dalton who is hugely talented and willing to work hard to try to get to the top. It makes the rest of us feel like we’re on the right track.”
For spectators, it’s a regular pit stop at the site of this international event, fascinating for on-lookers to watch how quickly competitors get ashore, replace and/or repair gear, and hit the water in no time. Said Kevin Hall, “That’s the price of flying and being on the cutting edge. If I just wanted to roll down to the water ten minutes before the start and sail my Laser, I could and I’d know that everything is going to be fine but then I’d be doing 5 knots all day…this however is just so much fun out there.”
Brad Funk (USA)
I think the motto today for me was to just keep pushing. I definitely like it when the breeze is up. I kept it simple, got off the starting line, then tried to lead the group back to the right. I managed to two tack one time and the other guys had to do a couple more tacks so that was definitely in my favor. I’ve been just trying to keep it safe and stay in the pressure. I’m still wearing my hiking pants, my pads and I don’t think anyone else is wearing them and I think that definitely helps power up the boat a bit more when a puff comes on. It gives me an opportunity to take a higher lane. I’m trying to get better at my tacks – probably the biggest loss in the Moth fleet is having poor tacks. You can lose 50 to 100 meters if you stop so you need to keep it on the fly.
Scott Babbage (AUS)
The first race was quite windy but the next two quite light in about 15 knots, but really puffy with big holes. I got a first in the first race, then between races I bore away and pitch-poled and the boat exploded. The wing bar broke, the mast broke and wrecked the end of the boom. I’ve lost five races in the last two regattas with breakages. I’ve got another part to fix the wing bar so I’ll put it all back together. I’m onto my third mast and have another boom to use but with three DNFs, I’m officially out of the running, which is disappointing.
Nathan Outteridge (AUS)
I got a 6th, a DNC and a 1, so today’s first two races become my drops now. Hopefully I’ll just keep sailing in the top four and wont have to count either of them. In the first race, I just got out of phase on the first beat and it took me a while to get back into it. I finished 6th but I was about ten seconds off third – I had a chance for third and missed it. In the middle race, my mast poked through the top of the sail as the start gun went. I foiled upwind with everyone, then came in and changed it out for a spare sail I had ready to go for the last race where luckily I had a good start and basically sailed as hard as I could to try to get a win so I didn’t lose too many points from Bora. The starts have been pretty much the same, I was just trying to find a clear gap to get off the line – in the first race I was down toward the pin and had a bad tack and then had to duck through the fleet and find a lane. Bora went past me when I did the tack and he was going with the front group and I was still in about 15th, and it took me a while to catch back up. In the last start I started down by the pin again and just ducked through the pack and got out in a clear lane on the right side. As it goes lighter the boats tend to go similar speeds and as soon as you get more wind, those who are more physically fit and have their rigs set up a bit better can go quicker when it’s windier. Today was definitely windier than the past few days, but still not as windy as we had it in the Nationals last week.
Kevin Hall (NZL)
On the very first practice race when I first got here I lead around the top mark and since then I’ve been going backwards. Today was not a good day for me and I feel like I didn’t sail well at all. The first race was ok, it was a decent score on the board (7th place), and I did have a good first beat but my big goal is to just get a good start for once. I did have a good first beat, then there was this one big shift on the second beat that Brad Funk hit - I was well ahead of him but he had the guts to go for a little more right and I didn’t, and that put him in the top three. Still, I was happy to be up in that top group for a while. Arnaud had to pass me instead of leaving me in the dust at the start which was nice. The racing’s just so great that I’m enjoying it wherever I place. It’s great competition and the boats are fantastic, lots of challenges though. It’s big competition and these guys know what they are doing. I do need to work on the boat, I think my flap is letting go (the small piece off the back of the main foil that controls the altitude). It’s sort of insidious, you don’t really know it’s going until a little after you realize you’re slow and I’m pretty sure that’s what’s been happening today as well. It’s a little disappointing because I thought I was on top of it but I have a spare and I’m ready to go.
Lindsay Bergan (USA)
I don’t know if it was just a little too windy for me and I was too light, I did switch sails and didn’t do as well today. But it was fun to have more breeze and I hope we get more as it makes it’s exciting for sure. My mainsheet cover came off in the middle of the second race, which wasn’t fun but at least I could continue sailing. I didn’t have many expectations going into this competition until the Nationals, and I was hopeful to do a little better than I am. There are a lot of new Moth sailors in the Pacific Northwest so it’s been fun for us to learn together. (NB: 27-year old Lindsay’s the only woman in the fleet, and wife of Dalton Bergan. She’s sailed his Moth for about a 9 months, got her own 3 months ago and has since been sailing it regularly).
Rohan Veal (AUS)
Today was pretty average for me. Conditions were very very shifty, very gusty, and very patchy at the top which made it difficult. You could change position so quickly. You had to always be on the ball. I was using a compass just to try to make sure I’m on the right tacks all the time. But you have to have the boat speed and if you don’t, you can’t win. That’s why Nathan’s doing so well, he’s got the boat speed and good tactics, skills. I just can’t get the boat going, I think my mast is too soft and get enough power to go upwind. I’ve got a major leak problem in my boat and I’ve been taking in liters of water every race, and every race I seem to be getting slower and slower. I can’t seem to fix it. It’s killing me, there’s not much I can do now, it’s too late. I’m just going to try to sort some other things out and go out there and get one win in.
Charlie McKee (USA)
It was another day of fantastic racing here. I think everyone’s enjoying this venue partly because when it’s windy, it’s still very tactical. You still have to always look up the course and make decisions and so it’s not all just about boat speed. It’s about the ability to look up the track and make the next decision. On these boats, just looking up is hard! The other thing that jumps out at me is that now we’re seeing the US contingent be competitive at the world level, and the guys at the top – there are about seven guys at the top who are clearly much better than the rest of us but they’re not all from one place. There’s a couple of Europeans, a couple of Australians and now there’s two Americans, Bora and Dalton.