Monday, September 6, 2010

HBYC at Lipton Challenge Cup 2010

"Alexandre Monat has been unexpectedly involved as a manager for our HBYC team. He discovered the L26 Class, the Challenge concept, the skills of some friends in different positions onboard their small keelboat, the lack of involvement of some YCs and on the other hand great support by sailing committees seconded by sponsors.

L26 is definitely an easy boat (but not his cup of tea!). The challenge with this kind of keelboat is certainly a mark of will from some active seniors. But he feels it will be necessary in the future to think of some new racing goals. Nevertheless some Lessons Learned (LL) after his hot wash-up.

The next generation needs managers onboard.

It was young sailors Kader Williams and Asenathi Jim who were the stars on day 5. These two youngsters have climbed the ranks and are part of the success story that Izivunguvungu Sailing is. To create a team building onboard some boats as MSC, HBYC, Race Ahead yachts is not so easy. Young sailors are tired after 2 hours of racing (dehydrated, cold and wet), having not much experience but full of desire to fight fairly at the sea. They also require some guidance regarding nutrition and correct preparation procedures on the pontoon before and after any race. Some experienced hands on managers onboard would be of great use. Behind the regularity of Theo, it’s all the young generation who wins. But his job is not accomplished. They need dedicated managers especially onboard for some decision making processes. It would be great if all YCs were more involved for this exercise.

The evening at the main hall was memorable discovering some personalities and psychologies from the Top5 skippers. As good as the presentation was, we however overlooked a great opportunity to offer some expertise to inexperienced sailors who needed directing regarding the courses. To refresh some famous “silver linings” of the L26 class to the young classroom would have being beneficial.

Energy has to be controlled.

Despite ill preparation the HBYC team managed to gain 20th place. They need proper guidance and instruction to facilitate the challenge successfully. We suggest more time and training by a manager before the race and during the sailing week itself to enhance their skills and confidence. The crew members would benefit greatly if their club ensured the necessary sails and equipments onboard. It was challenging for the crew to deal without a light kite, and old small heavy kite, bugs around some cleats and old sails. But the crew did well to secure the boat and fine tune some details onboard.

Never forget the “silver linings”

L26 class is easy to understand! If you have the crew and a boat well prepared. With new sails you can reach the Top10. With a crew weight close to 420kg you avoid one of the tricky parameters to sail the boat. The start is not crucial. Course upwind is critical. Downwind is cruising. The downwind mark is just a small decision point. No big tactics require, rather some match racing with other boats. Changes of courses need to be implemented at each beat especially in Table bay when the wind shifts every 8mns till 10degrees with perfect regularity. After 6 races the fleet of 25 made only 19 dogfights at downwind marks and 14 at upwind marks following rule number 18. It makes it easier for the protest committee.

Alexandre spent many hours onboard the tender named “Garmin Duck” following some boats to discover some amazing steering. Sailing in waves? Some skippers should be looking ahead towards the beat, anticipating the fastest course, heading upwind at the base of the wave, and bearing off on the crest, tacking quickly and gybing smoothly.

Observe and learn from the boats ahead? Definitely! "Team Colorpress" (Knysna YC) was the perfect demonstrator and very predictable, and even the Top5 with PYC, "Team Intasure Marine Insurance" (FBYC), RNYC and sometimes the UCT team were good to follow.

Curving a perfect turn? Only 6 boats did well to set up their gybe set at the windward mark, only 7 boats “swoop” well around the leeward mark. Only 8 boats were able to jib at the reach mark in a proper manner completing the gybe before the mark, which is extremely important when having to jib to a tight reach. Only 9 boats managed to gybe just before the leeward mark. This error caused a loss of speed.

General Etiquette
The effort of most of the crew and YCs appreciation of the rules during the race were satisfactory. Alexandre also noted that many people respected the dress code during the ceremonies. He was grateful for the opportunity of assisting with the HBYC. We all gained from the experience and next year I hope to see the HBYC crew looking smarter! Let’s share the spirit of ubuntu regarding the Lipton Cup by observing our designated roles."

On behalf of HBYC: Congrats to Theo and team, and many thanks to Alex (and Peter Adamo) for their support in this area!