Ilhabela Sailing Week

sotoThursday 24July

The South African contingent headed by Phil Gutsche and Rick Nankin continues in South America. Charles Nanking reports:

Our Brazilian adventure continues here in Ilhabela on the coast of Sao Paulo state, in South America’s largest ocean sailing regatta, Ilhabela Sailing Week. Apart from the handicap fleets and the Soto 40s, there are two Brazilian one-design fleets here – twenty-two HPE25 sportboats and seven Carabelli 30s – as well as a sizeable fleet of Stars.

After the long-distance on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday gave us four round the buoys races. These were raced off the northern point of the island, in 8-13 knot easterly winds coming unimpeded off the Atlantic.

The other four Sotos are the newest Soto, hull number thirty-five Pajero, with Santiago Lange in command and who sail on their TP52 Phoenix in Europe, Crioula 29 last year’s winner, Carioca which is driven by her owner, and Torben Grael’s own boat Magia.

What is interesting is the amount of pre-start jostling which happens – a kind of match-race between five boats. This has caught us out a few times. If we start ok we are generally able to stay in the mix, losing out little bits here and there over the race which eventually takes its toll and puts us toward the middle to back of the bunch.

Our upwind speed is ok, with some very good moments of speed and height compared with all of the boats. The challenge for us is being able to change gears correctly and efficiently to the correct setting when the gust, lull or waves come in. The runner has to be trimmed, not just set. And this is done by the tactician on top of all his other important tasks. The rig settings are changed for every two-knot wind-range before the race, and have a fundamental influence. Another challenge upwind is the short chord-length of the keel, which means that absolute attention is required to keep boat speed at targets.

Downwind our slightly older kites are perhaps not allowing us to get as far deep as the other boats, but we are working our body-weight and sails a lot. Our wing-on-wing gybes, which could be aided by the coating on a newer kite, come right every now and again!

Rick is taking on these challenges very well, exactly one year after our kidney transplant operation. Phil provides an amazing steady-hand, bringing his business management excellence into our team setup. And Team Windpower receives compliments from many as they understand the challenge of getting to grips with this class, usually about three regattas for a top team.

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