Upon the disappointing news of the cancellation of the Youth America’s Cup, we as a team decided no matter what were to happen, we wanted to put a good showing at Foiling Week and the two events that happen within it. The first week saw some strong competition including Kingdom Team Netherlands and 69F class experts, Fantastica, alongside pro teams from Switzerland.
Day one brought a strong Pèler and a short delay as we waited for the wind to drop to 20kts so we could go out. After the delay we launched at 1030hrs and were greeted with 12 to 18kts shifting through 30 degrees. We struggled a little in the first race with upwind boat speed however bounced back well with two seconds later in the day putting us in fourth overall but well in the mix for the regatta lead against the Dutch and Italians. With an afternoon start planned for the next day we were excited to get some rest and go through the races in the debriefing to try and improve the mistakes we made for the next two days racing.
The afternoon ora filled in at around 1230hrs off the cliffs with 8 to 11kts of wind. In the first two races we nailed the starts and lead comfortably around mark one gybing back towards the cliffs for more wind. In both races we struggled a lot with upwind speed being overtaken by multiple boats in the last upwind. Unfortunately this set the tone for the day as we struggled really hard with boat speed and ultimately led to us making silly boat-handling errors that we would not normally make. This put us out of touch with the leaders for the regatta win however we moved up to third overall in the event. After the racing ended for the day we had a long talk with our coach, Chris Rashley and with the team where we discussed why our boat speed was struggling. Through this discussion we analysed three areas in the upwind which were noticeably different to others. Foiling height above the water, sailing angle and boat speed. Having identified these issues we then looked at how to resolve them and what we can do for short term fixes. We continued to train for an hour after racing to work on it and decided, no matter what our VMG was we were always going to aim to have boat speed of higher than 17kts when going upwind. Ultimately, our speed issue will not be a quick fix and is high on our priorities for things to fix both before the next event on Tuesday and when we get back to Hong Kong looking forwards towards February. For now we hoped that our extra time on the water would be enough to improve enough to be in the mix with the top two on the last day.
The last day saw a very light pèler and a lot of cloud cover, normally a terrible sign for the afternoon breeze. However, like clockwork, the ora filled in at around 1130hrs and by the time we got racing there was a steady 8 to 12kts filling the whole of the lake. We were sailing closer to the club on the final day which meant the upwind was less effected by the cliffs however on the downwind leg it was crucial to get in close to the land for the increase in pressure on the left of the course looking upwind. On the first race of the day we had a reasonable start and were coming around the course in a strong second. We then had the final upwind to do to test if our boat speed had improved at all. Unfortunately we still struggled on starboard tack for speed meaning we lost out a few places coming into the finish line.
The next three races we raced much better and made far fewer mistakes however still could not hang in with the top two teams for boat speed but were comfortably ahead of the rest of the fleet meaning we secured third overall in the regatta. The last race of the event was a double points race and we really wanted to have a strong showing to prove to ourselves that our time training here was worthwhile.
Coming around mark two we were in second just behind Kingdom Team Netherlands and hot on their heels the whole way across the reach. After rounding the final mark and with the beat to the finish left, we decided to go for an early tack back into shore for more pressure while they continued towards the lay line. As we tacked back on the lay line to the finish we looked to be in a strong position to cross them towards the line. Fortunately this cross became better and better as we got closer to the finish and we won the last race of the event. It felt really good to prove to ourselves that we could fight against the top teams and beat them having been leading races numerous times throughout the event but failing to finish them off.
Overall, the regatta result was deemed acceptable by the team although we were a little disappointed not to have been closer to the top two teams. Ultimately, they sailed significantly better than we did and we realise we have much to improve on to be in contention with them in the future in terms of boat speed and mark approaches. However we are proud of how well we bounced back on the last day and how we worked as a team during tough periods in this regatta. Looking forward to next week we have a second event coming up where Young Azzura look strong and we are looking forwards to racing against them.
As always, a massive thank you has to go out to the Club and all the members following and supporting us. Without your help and support us being here would simply not be possible. Another massive thank you has to go out to our title sponsor Agiplast, who have been more than fantastic and we cannot thank them enough for supporting us through these difficult times as we try to organise an alternative event to the Youth America’s cup at home in Hong Kong! We hope you enjoyed the new sails and stickers on them, we sure enjoyed sailing with them!
Images: Foiling Week / Martina Orsini