505 nationals 2014 – report by Warwick Ham

505 nationals 2014 IMG_4396 red 001018-21 April, Vetchies Pier, Durban

by Warwick Ham
Day 1 Racing started at 13h00 in a light north easter (ENE) initially about 8 knots then getting lighter. There was a nice swell of about 1-1.5 metres coming from SE. 8 boats were entered for the event, with Greg Hurter withdrawing at the last moment and Albrecht/Dietmar and Andrew/Anthony arriving late, but in time to join in the second race.

Racing was quite competitive with Thomas and Peter back on Gus after a while and Alexander/Warwick back together after a long while both trading places during the first race. The light wind specialists Kyle/Robert tried a port end start but the fleet caught them out and forced them to tack onto Starboard just after the start. Thomas and Peter won the first race with Kyle/Robert who were in contact during the whole of race 1, using their fast downwind technique and some clever upwind sailing were able to sail into 2nd place with and Alexander/Warwick in third. In the tussle for 4th Hans/CJ were just in front of James/Richard with Bronwen/Jonathan in 6th. Albrecht/Dietmar and Andrew/Anthony did not sail the first race.

The second race started with Peter/Thomas, Alex/Warwick and Kyle/Robert on the committee boat end of the line and the others nearer the middle of the line off to a good start in a massive lift. Most boats went towards the left with Bronwen/Jonathan sailing to the starboard layline and gaining on the rest of the fleet. Andrew/Anthony and Albrecht/Dietmar were not at the start but joined in the race after the first leg. At the top mark Thomas/Peter were narrowly in front with Alex/Warwick on their heels and Kyle/Robert in pursuit. On the downwind leg Alex/Warwick went deep with Thomas/Peter sailing a slightly higher line for speed to try and keep Kyle/Robert at bay. On the next beat Alex/Warwick sailed to the starboard side of the course and were able to gain a slight advantage over Peter/Thomas while Kyle/Robert who initially went to Port  got into a massive Port lift and moved closer to the leading two. On the reach Alex/ Warwick had some problem with their pole and had to work hard to make the wing mark with Thomas/Peter trying all they could to get past. The last reach was very square and Kyle used this to his advantage to make up more ground on the leaders. On the last beat the leaders swapped positions using the windshifts to try and outwit their opponents but is was Alex/Warwick who were just in front at the top mark. On the last run Kyle/Robert used their incredible light wind technique to get in front of Thomas/Peter and rounded the lee mark in 2nd. They finished in that order Alex/Warwick, Kyle/Robert, Thomas/Peter, with Hans/CJ in 4th and Bronwen/Jonathan in 5th ahead of James/Richard in 6th, ahead of Albrecht and Dietmar who finished 7th.

Out of the 4 days scheduled for the event, the race committee managed to sail 8 races in the first three days. Initially the swell was rather large from the SE and the light 5-8 knot wind from the East made planing marginal for the heavier teams while the lighter teams gained a significant advantage downwind.  Teams of combined weight of 160 kg were heavy for this event whereas the teams of 140 kg or lighter were generally dominant in these light conditions. The Durban Nationals were significantly lighter than the PE Invitational Regatta in March with teams of 125 kg easily able to handle all conditions in Durban without getting overpowered. In contrast to PE where wetsuits may be required at this time of year, especially when the wind is blowing over 10 knots, no wetsuits were required in Durban and it was a pleasure to sail the 505 in shorts and a rash vest.

After the first days racing the Funke brothers, Peter and Thomas, back together on Gus after a while, took the first race and came third in the second race, with the Ham’s Alexander and Warwick third in the first race and winning the second. Kyle Klaas and Robert von Gruenewaldt finished between them in second place in both races to ensure that all three teams were tied on 4 points going into the second day.  The wind was just strong enough to get the boats planing down the large swell on the Starboard reach, with significant gains possible if the teamwork and boat handling were slick enough to catch each wave on the way towards the beach. On the Port reach, which was usually a lot deeper, the secret seemed to be keeping the boat going in spite of the swell, rather than with it. Hans Rogotzki and CJ Milln were just able to stay ahead of the Cape duo of James Largier and Richard Hutton Squire who finished the day tied on 11 points with Bronwen Klaas and Jonathan Ham sailing the beautifully prepared RatBag, a much older but still very fast Waterrat, just going to prove that an older boat isn’t necessarily slower.

The 505 AGM held on Friday evening revealed some lively debate on the 2015 Worlds to be held in PE and several teams showed their interest in competing in the 2014 505 Worlds in Kiel in preparation for the South African Worlds event in March 2015. The luck draw Jib went right through the fleet and down to the wire between Richard Hutton Squire and Jonathan Ham, with Richard drawing Jonathan’s name out of the hat last, giving him the sponsored Supa Sails Jib, to be used for the rest of the regatta. Rob De Vlieg at Supa Sails has been a regular supporter of the 505 class over the years and we would like to thank him for his continued support.

On the lighter day two the conditions were particularly challenging with some significant swell left over from the previous day combined with very light wind, causing large shifts of up to 30 degrees as each wave passed the boat. Particularly the Port reach was tricky with the crew having to move from a fully stretched trapezing position down the back of the wave, to sitting fully in the boat just before the crest of the wave, with the sails back winding as the skipper bore off to try and keep the power on. One of the windward mark roundings was especially challenging, when as the top 4 boats all approached the top mark, the wind died completely and the slight current just kept the boats from rounding, with one boat resorting to trying to reach back and forth past the mark, in an infinite header trying to build up an ounce of speed needed to get up to and around the top mark. Both of the races held on the second day were won by Thomas and Peter Funke just in front of Kyle Klaas and Robert von Gruenewaldt with Albrecht and Dietmar Holm finishing a delighted third in both races.

Several South African teams have done the double pole conversion using Carbon booms and poles but in the light conditions the advantages of this conversion are not as significant as in stronger winds of 12-15 knots plus, where the double pole system starts to be a significant advantage. This is especially evident when sailing in big waves or severe sharp chop, where during the gybes, both crew members can keep their weight far back preventing the boat from nose diving. Several different systems are available with each having its own advantages. Refer to Thomas Funke’s article in the February edition of SAILING for a description of how to do the double pole conversion to the 505.

The third day of racing looked promising with the swell significantly smaller and the wind freshening during the day and more from the South. The race committee were able to get in 4 excellent races with all of the teams now fully acclimatised and keenly competitive, the racing was tight and the lead changed regularly during the course of each race. The shifty conditions made the upwind legs exciting with gains to be made especially if you were able to use the streaks of wind coming down the course to your advantage. There seemed to be clear advantages on either side of the course, and  playing the shifts up the middle was not always the best strategy although this is normally the strategy to be followed in an oscillating wind pattern. The downwind legs became very competitive as for some lighter teams the fastest course seemed to be slightly tighter reaches to gain some apparent wind and extra speed needed to get planing down the waves, while some of the heavier teams sailed deeper and closer to the rhumb line to minimise the distance sailed, overtake on the gybe and ensure the inside line at the mark rounding. Boat handling was tested all round with very tactical sailing on both the run and reaching legs resulting in the lead changing several times on the downwind spinnaker legs. Race 5 was dominated by Kyle and Robert with Alexander/Warwick second and Thomas/Peter third. In Race 6 the wind strength picked up a bit and it was the turn of Alexander and Warwick to win narrowly over Thomas and Peter with Kyle and Robert in third, just ahead of James and Richard. The fleet had a short lunch break on the water and got racing again in the afternoon, while the wind strength showed some big gusts in places but also big lulls over parts of the course. Kyle and Robert managed to win Race 7 convincingly with Warwick and Alexander in second, closely followed by Thomas and Peter who had worked their way up the fleet after a bad start.

The final race on the third day was sailed in fantastic conditions with the sun low on the western horizon and competition just as tight with James/Richard suddenly finding some extra speed and challenging  the top 3 boats throughout the race. The Funke brothers had a bad start and had to work hard to get back up through the fleet just able to pass Bronwen and Jonathan for fourth place leaving James/Richard in a safe third while on the last upwind leg Kyle just pipped Alexander and Warwick to win the race in the last metres.

This year in Durban a number of teams were trying out new rudders and the debate before the regatta was whether to use the new High Aspect (HA) rudder or a shorter broader rudder with slightly more surface area. The thinking was that the narrower high aspect ratio rudder might be prone to stalling in the light conditions but those using the high aspect ratio rudders did not seem to have any problems with rudders stalling. If one looks at the other equipment used by the top three teams in the Nationals it seems as if the gybing centreboard was dominant, with the top three teams each using different types of gybing boards.

It was disappointing that the turnout at the 2014 505 Nationals was so small, with less than a year to go before the 505 Worlds in Port Elizabeth in March 2015, there were only 8 boats entering the National Championships regatta in Durban. This could be due to the approaching J22 Worlds at Vaal Dam, where many of our 505 sailors were involved, as well as the Western Cape Championships, Laser, Finn and 29er Nationals, in Simonstown, all happening on the same weekend.

On the last day, the wind just never came through consistently enough for the race committee to get any races started and the racing was called off early in glassy conditions. The 505 class would like to thank PYC and the Hobies for hosting us together with their regatta at this fantastic world class venue. We will definitely be returning here for some winter training.

The ideal, if somewhat light, 505 sailing conditions in Durban this year, definitely made for a better regatta than either of the competing events occurring on the same weekend, with 8 races each with a race duration of just over an hour, held over three of the four days, in bright sunshine and in warm water, with not even a splash jacket needed on any of the three days. The racing was as competitive as ever with three boats sharing the wins, and the lead changing several times in each race as four boats competed for the top positions. With several of our top sailors not at the regatta, the fleet is clearly split into two groups with a significant gap between them, however the conditions varied so much during the three days that the front runners were regularly surprised by teams such as James Largier/Richard Hutton Squire, Bronwen Klaas/Jonathan Ham as well as Albrecht and Dietmar Holm challenging for top three positions.

The results from day three remained unchanged with Kyle Klaas and Robert von Gruenewaldt the deserving 505 National Champions.

1 Kyle Klaas & Robert von Gruenewaldt
2 Peter & Thomas Funke
3 Alexander & Warwick Ham
4 Hans Rogotski & CJ Milln
5 Albrecht & Dietmar Holm
6 James Largier & Richard Hutton-Squire
7 Bronwen Klaas & Jonathan Ham
8 Anthony Mcmillan & Andrew Arthur

If anyone is keen to take part in the 505 Worlds in Kiel, Germany this August, please start making preparations now as early entries close on 14th May and second hand boats will become more difficult to find. There are still spaces available in our container coming back from Kiel with some excellent second hand boats being brought in adding spice to the local fleet. Contact any one of the local 505 sailors for details of how to get hold of a good second hand boat. Check out the South African Worlds website on www.505worlds2015.com or the South African website on www.rsa505.org.za and get on the water!

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