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wMonday, April 21, 2008

French Olympic Sailing Week

Today was the first day of racing for the Semaine Olympique Francaise (French Olympic Sailing Week). I've been here in Hyeres, France for a week now training up for this regatta. In the 6 times that I've sailed this regatta, I've seen every condition - but it's mostly both extremes, either it's quite warm and no wind or it's absolutely windy from one of two directions... from the south it's windy with huge steep waves and generally rainy or from the northwest the "Mistral" blows, offshore, flat water and chop - days can be blown out from either of these directions.

The day started off sunny with great breeze of about 15 knots from the South. Racing was to get underway at 11am, but us girls waited around till about 11:50 before we started as we had to wait for two men's fleet got underway. I had a game plan to start on starboard near the pin end of the line, go out left to avoid the huge waves and be on my way. Unfortunately, right at the start FRA50 (on port) collided into me (on starboard). I had the right of way but it doesn't really help me when I'm swimming. So, up out of the water I got and continued to race - with the fleet already hundreds of meters ahead of me. I sailed really well, had great speed and made some great tactical decisions to finish in 17th place...not too shabby out of 60 girls and the start that I had.

Race two; I had a pretty lame start as I misjudged my timing and did not have my own lane...which forced me to tack out onto port and go right to clear my air. I was struggling now in the big waves as a squall came through and with wind against tide, the waves were now very steep ramps, launching us wave by wave. Needless to say, it was a graveyard around the course. I was in the water at least 6 times, until I finally moved my mast track more forward which helped control me a bit better in the waves. After being quite deep at the start, and albeit my many swimming sessions, I still was able to reel in over half the fleet to finish around 26th. The race was so tough that many girls ended up not finishing and going ashore early.

I am pooped after today...and it's only day one! It was super fun though and with at least 8 more races, many changes in the results can happen. (I sit in 22nd at the moment). Tomorrow it's forcasted to be much the same, but even more windy. Should be interesting with the waves as they will have even more time to build overnight.

Nikola Girke

posted by editors at 4/21/2008 09:53:00 AM

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