Our practice day was not as envisioned, more like the worse case. No wind until 3pm and then a very light sea breeze. We had halyard problems inside the mast that needed addressing back on the dock. Fixed that and the boys got an hour, while I attended the skippers meeting.
We had a good first day, in fact a good first two days. After day one we were third, day two second. All was going according to the plan. Our starting was going nicely helped a bit by the many reaching starts – something we have become accustomed to in racing in the America’s Cup World Series.
Starting catamarans is been a tricky business. For the reaching starts, the rule of thumb is the leeward boat has a slight advantage, but, and it is a very BIG BUT, if you get rolled by one boat, you will be rolled by everyone. Upwind starts are a similar story, one boat is going to nail the start and win the race, the two boats next to him are going to be compromised, coming off second best. Because of this compromise, they will finish in the back of the fleet. In some ways it is harder to get a second, third or fourth than a first or last. Seconds, thirds and fourths win Extreme 40 regattas. Easy to say – very difficult to achieve.
Our win/loss ratio was excellent (win/loss is boats passed to boats given up during the race). Our crew work solid (okay the truth is all the teams’ crew work is solid in winds below eight knots). Our speed seemed good, as best you could tell in the conditions.
Day three started will enough with a third in the first race. But after that we began to struggle around the start line and then we went cold. Starting sail boat races is a funny old thing. Like putting the first kick in between the posts, success breeds confidence that brings more success. And the opposite is true.
When you start to struggle with your confidence you try too hard and start to over think it. Then the crew tries to compensate by calling more aggressive tactics that also carry a higher risk factor. The win/loss ratio goes down. But we survived day four to end in fifth place with all the teams just a stones throw apart on points.
We talk about what we would “buy out for”. It’s a way of balancing expectations. Bearing in mind this was an “up-skill” regatta with a new combination, a fourth would be a good buy out, so fifth was in the hunt.
In rugby terms our first half was excellent but the in the first 20 minutes of the second half we started to make too many mistakes. With twenty minutes to go…. crash. Literally! The French misjudged dipping and clipped our transom. More like took it off. A real shame as both boats were doing well in that race. Because the fix was going to take several days it was the end of the regatta for ETNZ, with ten races to sail before the regatta finish.
The jury gave us average points for the rest of the regatta. It was a bit funny watching the team go up and down the overall results board on the final day, not even being on the water. We got as high as fifth, only a few points off fourth and as low as eighth, ending up sixth overall.
So the report card – well it is mixed. Nice work in the first part, definitely not happy about the slump in the start of second half and we will never know how it would have turned out if we where able to sail the last ten races.