Straight bullets in the cats

Speed trials at the EUROSAF High Performance Grand Prix

Saturday October 15th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: Spain

Today the breeze was at its best yet on the Mar Menor for the EUROSAF High Performance Grand as under the burning sun there were gusts of up to 15 knots. With the wind expected to be at its maximum for this unique regatta for the kiteboards, skiffs, foilers and catamarans, so the 29ers, F18s and Moths took the opportunity hold speed trials.

Relentless bullets for catamaran leaders

In the singlehanded A-Class catamaran Spain’s Enrique Cornejo continued to dominate adding four more bullets his two yesterday. While the 17 strong fleet is mostly Spanish, local sailmaker Mickey Todd is originally from Largs in Scotland and well known in the UK as part of Lawrie Smith’s Ultra 30 crew and in the International 14 and 18ft skiff fleet. For the last 10 years he has been based close to Cartegena where he runs Hammer Sails and the accessories company A Cat Kit, both businesses specialising in the A-Class.

Todd started the day in second and scored a second in the last race but was deeper in the stronger winds early on today when he says he lacked pace downwind aboard his DNA catamaran. This has dropped him to fourth overall. “Sometimes I was going deep with both hulls in the water - that seemed to work, but when they get the hull flying, they zoom away. Upwind I was always in the top three at the windward mark.”

A regular with the local A-Class fleet, the Mar Menor is home port for Todd who says he is surprised more Olympic teams don’t base themselves at the Centro de Alto Rendimento – Infanta Cristina, the giant yacht club/sports centre where the EUROSAF High Performance Grand Prix is held. “I don’t even think that even Palma is as safe a place to sail,” he says.

Similar to Cornejo, in the F18 Mitch Booth and Miguel Perez are looking unbeatable. Holding on to second are Dutch helm, Michael ten Bokum, who worked for the Challenger Commission for the 32nd America's Cup in Valencia, and his Spanish crew, Enrique Ortiz. “We have got someone to show us the way,” says ten Bokum in reference to Booth, the double Tornado Olympic medallist. Today there was enough wind to require the F18 crews to trapeze off the transom on the downwind legs.

Ten Bokum and Ortiz, who only started sailing their Hobie Wildcat this season, managed to consistently finish in second place in today’s three races despite breaking a daggerboard on the last leg of the second race. “The event is good fun with a good group of 29ers and the kitesurfers,” says ten Bokum. “It is a good holiday here, good conditions and an excellent place to sail and it is good to give the high performance classes a push.”

Later in the afternoon the F18s took part in a speed trial where Ten Bokum and Ortiz came out on top ahead of Marc Verdaguer and Alberto Torner.

Speed trials for the 29erXXs and Moths

The 29erXX fleet held three more windward-leewards today. The jury has ruled that yesterday’s experimental slalom courses will be scored separately from today and Thursday’s results, but this has made little difference to the podium where the Danes still dominate with Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen extending their lead after their two bullets today with Lin Cenholt and her Dutch stand-in crew Kaj Böcker third and France’s Kevin Fischer and Marion Leprunier back in second.

Germany has a strong 29erXX entry at the EUROSAF High Performance Grand Prix, fielding four teams. Leading these, in fourth place overall, are the 18 year old twins Jule and Lotte Görge, who herald from Kieler Yacht Club. They got into the 29erXX this season having previously sailed the standard rigged skiff for three and a half years, during which time they were twice German Champions. In anticipation of the women’s two person skiff for Rio 2016, they have a five year sponsorship deal with car manufacturer BMW. Jule, two minutes the younger of the twins, says she and her sister will move into whichever women’s two person skiff is chosen for the Games in five year’s time, even if it is not the 29erXX.

In the Seiko Speed Challenge for the 29erXXs, the Görges posted the second fastest time behind Spain’s Vernon Cerdan Ming/Alex Torrado, who win the US$500 prize money on offer from the Swiss watch manufacturer.

The Moths also took part in the speed trial where Pro-Vela’s Alan Hillman just failed to make 20 knots while Finland’s Janne Riihela managed 20.7. Riihela normally sails an F18 and only bought his Mach One in May. To get to the EUROSAF High Performance Grand he drove all the way down to the south of Spain from his home one hour north of Helsinki with his boat on the roof. Riihela admits that he has some way to go to get used to the Moth after the stability of the catamaran he is used to. “I am completely out of control! The original idea was to sail on the same course at the 29ers, but I couldn’t do it. If I had to start giving people way I would die! The idea was to come and learn from Alan.” That he beat Hillman he acknowledges was something of a fluke. “There was not a lot of breeze and the adjustment of the boat is incorrect so when I was reaching 18 knots, the boat was starting to go up and down and starting to crash into the water.”

Lake and LeRoy neck and neck at the Kite Cross World Championship

For the kiteboards competing for their inaugural Kite Cross World Championship it was a long day, completing four rounds and concluding the day with full fleet races for the men and women.

In the Women’s class, the unbroken run of bullets for France’s Caroline Adrien came to an end in today's final fleet race when she was beaten by Germany’s Kristin Boese.

Boese, who is campaigning hard to get kiteboarding adopted for Rio 2016 in place of the RS:X sailboards, was delighted with her win and now has a firm hold on second place overall, the EUROSAF High Performance Grand Prix marking her return to the race course for a while.

Boese has been kiteboarding for 10 years and in the past has twice won the Freestyle World Championship and twice the Course World Championship. “It is fun to be here and to see that I can still control the board and I can still do it. With the slalom being quite a new discipline, I think it is a good thing for the sport, so I wanted to support this event. It is great to see that we can be part of a sailing event and they are welcoming kiteboarding.”

Boese says she prefers the shorter courses of the World Championship they are sailing here. “As an athlete it is more fun. It is also faster and more exciting and more things are happening on the course and it is more spectator friendly.”

Among the men the lead is in jeopardy with San Francisco-based surfer dude Bryan Lake now on equal points with more clean-cut Miami-based Damien LeRoy. The inter-American battle for first went to the limit today when their kites became entangled on the second heat.

“It was definitely his fault!” said LeRoy. “Truthfully there were four of us flying into a corner. Both Bryan and I took a high line at the start and we had the advantage, but the wind shifted so we had a disadvantage and we rounded the first marked seventh and eighth. On the next gybe I went from eighth to second and he went from seventh to third and on the next turn a guy in front of me dropped his kite, so I had to turn my kite and Bryan looped his kite through mine. The truth is – that’s racing. There wasn’t fault. We got into a bunch up and it just happened that Bryan and I ended up swimming together.”

Still hanging on to third behind the Americans is France’s Bruno Stoka. Stoka was World Champion in 2007, World Cup winner in 2009-10 and three times European champion, but in recent years in addition to his competing he has started undertaking more grandiose projects. In April 2008 he kiteboarded around Cape Horn and now he is working on a project for the two kidnapped journalists in Afghanistan.

Coming from Brest in northwest France Stoka says that there they regularly get 100 kiteboards competing and they hold a similar format of racing they call Speed Crossing, albeit not on courses as short as the ones at this World Championship. He was not very pleased with his performance today. “I started very well and now today, I was not very lucky. Some guys push their kite on mine, so I couldn’t take the start as I’d like.”

As to the EUROSAF High Performance Grand Prix he says: “It is funny to organise something with the boats. It is a laboratory. We need to learn something. We can progress this format, because at the moment we don’t have any rules. Racing with the boats is fun. Normally we don’t come across sailing people.”

The EUROSAF High Performance Grand Prix concludes tomorrow.


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