Zach and I are now in Kiel, Germany competing in our first event together since the 49er World Championships in September of last year–almost 9 months ago. We are very happy to be back competing again and welcome the chance to sail at the Kieler Woche Regatta. This is a incredible event tied to a huge festival that runs for several weeks.
Today was a famous windy and wet summer day here in Northern Germany as we were greeted with cool temperatures and showers. We sailed three races in the yellow fleet during our first day of qualifying races. Conditions were challenging as we sailed out in unprotected water–a rarity for our class since we are usually the course closest to shore for spectators. A confused 2-4′ chop was prevalent and the wind ranged from 12-25kts. After an hour postponement as the race committee wrangled with their anchors, we race a triple windward leeward. Without a doubt, my time away from racing made the race more difficult than necessary, but we sailed several great legs to finish 6th.
We met misfortune in race two when our spinnaker pole broke, folding in half as we went high to roll a boat downwind on the first run. This is a first for the both of us, but we weren’t fazed. We raced back to shore, replaced it, and were back ready to go for race 3. The breeze was built considerably during our last race to our favor. We were leading the first beat when we mis-judged the port lay line. Rounding the windward mark in 5th, we were bombing downwind with a large up phase in the pressure. As we got to the “gybe spot” we watched as boats ahead of us capsized. Thinking conservatively, we opted for a “chicken gybe” which meant we doused our spinnaker, tacked around instead of gybed, and then reached to the leeward marks on port. We successfully accomplished this maneuver and were flying on just two sails when a monster puff took us out. Sometimes we are going so fast that it’s difficult to keep the bow up! We capsized along with a majority of the fleet, and I made the call to save my shoulder for another day.
Tomorrow we expect more breeze and shifty conditions but less waves as we sail just off the dock on the “TV Course”. Live coverage of the racing can be seen here. Unfortunately, our two non-finishes today make us ineligible for Gold Fleet racing, top 25 boats after tomorrow. Currently we are in 47th. We are extremely upset that we won’t be able to enjoy the tight racing at the top, but we are happy with how we are sailing. We know that we are still a month away from being fully operational again, and we are quickly ticking off the boxes in preparation for the Santander Worlds. We are truly thankful for the support we have had during our hiatus from our friends who have never stopped believing.