Yesterday saw two more races completed of the 2011 Belgium National Championship after a very frustrating beginning to the day….  After the 30+ boats made their way out to the race area, it was quite some time before the PRO managed to get the races away. The problem involved setting a fair line in a great deal of favourable current, unfortunately for some reason there was a 30 degree bias at the Committee boat which led to countless recalls and at least a hour of racing time lost…. Eventually the fleet did get away and Lars Hendricksen again showed great speed and tactics to lead at the top mark by playing the right-hand-side of the course. A whole number of boats were in close pursuit and at least 8 boats gybed in close proximity at the spreader mark in order to allow for a current that was now diagonally across the race course from left to right as the boats headed back under Spinnaker to the leeward gate…  Several boats gained from this gybe set manoeuvre, although Hendricksen did still round the right hand buoy of the gate first. But out to sea was the way to go and GBR 744 Tim Tavinor, RUS 89 Olga White and RUS 76 Yury Bozhedomov made big gains on the 2nd beat.

After another two windward’s and a leeward leg, in was GBR Tim Tavinor who won the race from RUS 76 who just finished ahead of RUS 98 Mikhail Muratov who had a storming last beat to just edge out his wife Olga…  (lets hope all was well in the Murka house-hold at supper 🙂  The rest of the fleet soon completed the course & then waited patiently for the second race to get underway as the tide changed.

The second race got away on the third attempt, Hendriksen again led at the top mark only this time from the left hand side! It was quite amazing to see a left hand shift after predominantly more wind had been out to sea on the right of the course as the fleet battled against a very strong tide…..  But that is Yacht Racing and UKR 8 rounded first, closely followed by a group of 6 or 7 boats, who were all still fighting the tide on the short dog-leg before hoisting kites for the tide assisted first downwind.. At the gate USA 310 Ted Sawyer elected to take the unfavoured left-hand buoy and head out to sea, whilst the front 5 boats all followed Hendricksen around the inshore right-hand buoy, this bold decision put Sawyer back in contention and at the top of the second beat he was right behind the two leading Ukraine boats 8 & 9, Hendriksen and Braslavetz.

At the final gate there was a change of course which again Sawyer and his team were quick to realise was heavily biased out to the right hand side and so were the first boat to head out to sea.. This almost won the race for Sawyer, who at 78 yrs young still took great delight in 2nd place as UKR 8 just crossed the line first in a photo finish. With UKR 9 very close behind in 3rd place…

So overall after 4 races, UKR 8 Hendriksen leads, UKR 9 Braslavetz is 2nd & RUS 76 Bozhedomov 3rd. There are still three races to go, but today may test even the best of the best, as the wind forecast is virtually Zero kts, and with the Ostende strong tides, it could prove to be character building to say the very least……….

Higher, Longer, Faster………..   Stavros.  (USA 310)