Vamos finishes 18th at J70 Worlds

  • Racing
  • By Damian Maclennan
  • 15 Jul 2015 00:00:00

Competing in La Rochelle, France Ryan and his crew which included fellow CYCA members Steve McConaghy and Narelle Barnes, were the only Australian boat in the fleet of 78.

TEAM VAMOS: Steve McConaghy, Tim Ryan, Adrian Keily and Narelle Barnes.

Steve McConaghy has provided with a day-by-day insight into the competition.

Day One

The 78 boat fleet saw a fresh breeze of 17-20 knots.

We got a great start at the boat end and were looking great until five minutes in - there was a 40 degree left shift.  We managed to crawl back to a respectable 31st placing.

In the second race, after three black starts and a third of the fleet disqualified for being over the line early, we were second around first lap. We got swallowed up by some of the more experienced guys to finish fifth.

There was another big shift in the third race, this time to the right. Unfortunately we were leading the bunch to the left! We recovered to 38th. 

Overall we finished day one in 19th position. With three days to go. We are not bad for our first regatta as a team.

Day Two

Race four, 10 knots flat sea and sunshine, picture perfect conditions. A good race, apart from a ‘seppo’ who altered his course to try and hit us in a comfortable port and starboard cross. Did our penalty turn and continued on to record a respectable 24th placing.

Race five we got sandwiched in the mid line sag with 25 seconds to go, horrible start! We were around 60th at top mark, decided to gybe early and picked up the freshening sea breeze first of approximately 18 knots. We flew down the run picking up heaps of boats, eventually finishing 29th.

Race six with more black flag starts and 15 disqualified. We got away clean and rounded the top mark in the 20s. The massive five metre tides played a big factor and the tide was changing during this last lap of the race. We had a tight layline into the last top mark and had a few boats over the top of us, so had to gybe early. Thinking it worked for us in the previous race, I was ok with it but the breeze faded on this side this time and we lost 20 boats to finish 47th. 

Overall we finished day two in 29th position, which pended with about 10 protests.

Day Three

Day three started with a wind direction 180 degrees different to the last few days - A land breeze out of the east. 

We started race seven in a freshening 12-15 knots just above two of the hottest boats in the fleet. We hung in there for about five minutes having switched around our crew weight positions. A definite improvement moving the weight aft (wish we had of worked this out before the regatta!). 

We sailed a good race in mostly clear air to finish 12th.

Race eight in approximately 10-12 knots. We had a great position at the start well ahead of the bunch, to be destroyed by one numpty who was early and reaching down the line and wouldn't go up!

We tacked clear for a better lane about five times over the next five minutes and every time another boat slammed on top of us. We were about 30th at the top mark, when we had a little ‘whoopsy’ with the tack line of the spinnaker and caught a few prawns! A product of switching crew positions and jobs, without practice.  She went a bit pear shaped from there down the run and we were back in the cheap seats at the bottom mark. Fortunately we picked the last shift on the next upwind and had a blinder on the last run to climb to 28th.

Overall we finished day three in 25th position with two races to go.

Day Four

Away we went again with fresh breeze and lumpy seas on way to course area.

By the time race nine started the wind had lightened to a nice 12-14 knots, a perfect breeze to fully power up and launch, without crew weight playing a big factor. 

I said to the crew; “let's take no prisoners today and hit the line as close as possible.” 

Bang and off we went mid line a boat length in front of everyone. A bit nervous but I trusted the GPS -2 metres behind the line and happy days we were clear.

Sending it out left looking awesome, we tacked onto port and noticed the furthest right starboard boat was on a huge lift. We sent it over there as quick as possible crossing behind about 20 boats. We tacked above the layline and had a clear run all the way to the top mark in 15th.

An early gybe to stay in the shift gained us another five boats down the run. 

Out of the bottom gate we pushed right again and were the first to tack. Stayed five minutes on starboard and flopped over onto port above the pack heading for a zephyr that appeared out of nowhere. It turned into a 45 degree lift. Oh yeah and we hit the lead!

Leading around the last top mark by two lengths, we held on down the last run to win! One of the all-time best wins of my career against this quality fleet, with such little experience and training in this class.

Race 10 was in 8-10 knots, another cracker of a start, right on the gun, full speed!

We were fourth at top mark and sixth at the bottom gate. We got a bit unlucky and got chopped up by the wash of 70 boats running downwind. A great race with good speed in these conditions, we finished 12th, climbing to 18th overall.

Amazing considering we only had three light air training sessions on Sydney Harbour prior to leaving and our first ever race together was here - Well done team Vamos.

Steve McConaghy


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