Thursday, September 20, 2012

J/111 Dutch IRC 2 Champion!

J/111 speedster sailboat- sailing in the NetherlandsJ/33 QUANTUM RACING Wins IRC 3
(The Hague, The Netherlands)- It was a banner year for the J/111 XCENTRIC RIPPER sailing in a combination of RORC Offshore events in the RORC season series as well as sailing the top IRC events in the Netherlands.  In the end, the hard work and effort paid off in a victory for the J/111 in the IRC Dutch Championships.  Here's the report from the J/Benelux Team that included Robin Verhoff and the tactician John van der Starre:

"It is supposed to be the top-regatta of the year and so we looked very much forward  to it. The ONK  (open Dutch Championship)  IRC, also the final race for the overall Dutch Championship of the year in IRC 2. After winning the same series with our J/109 Xcentric Ripper in 2010 and a third place with our new J/111 last year, we were very keen on revenge  and victory.

During our preparations we did everything to avoid unpleasant mistakes. So after the Commodores’ Cup, the boat went straight on its cradle in order to improve some details as fairing the keel and super polishing the hull, keel and rudder. Some sails needed adaption and experience picked up during the Commodores’ was applied.

Being a tactician, you try to get a full picture of depth, current and possible courses. So I have been putting all possible buoys in our tactical program Expedition and I made a mini plastic current view of the region “Vlakte van de Raan”  so we could use it during the race on deck. The weather predictions showed various conditions, neither one was to be sure. Sure, in the previous week we had a look at the weather forecast every day and had a look at the entries. We were happy that two other J/ 111’s  enlisted. This could become a small one design race.

J/111 sailboat- sailing fast under spinnaker in NetherlandsFriday morning, this first day, all hell broke lose. The meteo predicted 40 kts + winds with 3.5 – 4 m swell outside in the starting area. Starting there would be no option. During the briefing at 09.00, Roy van Aller confirmed this and he choose for a middle long inshore course, 2 rounds around the Westerschelde banks. This would appear to be a sensible decision. Everybody could sail a nice race in heavy air, without too much chance on damage.

For us, the race developed very favorable, a good downwind start. We hoisted the A5 straight away and planed away from the field. A gennaker drop in a very narrow channel is very awkward, because you don’t have the space to go down, but we managed. Upwind and against the tide, we kept staying ahead by tacking in shallow waters close to the banks. By the time we got into the second round, our positions was so solid, we decided to go into a tactical safe mode. Tactics during a long distance race is always different to the normal up-wind  down-wind races. It is not distractible and gives more weight in points, so there is much more impact on the scoring. Very happy with our first place, we headed back to port.

J/111 Xcentric Ripper sailing in NetherlandsOn Saturday, the second day, it was a very different story. Expected winds 7-10 kts, so light settings on mast and rig trim. Though we were very excited, had most of us had a restless night, we realized that today was the day to make our point. Ok, boat handling is faultless, everybody is focused and we all want one thing and that is winning the race. The first race we had a reasonable start, we took no big risks. I preferred the right side of the course because of the current and the to the right veering wind. So after the start we tacked to the right. We had to go behind some starboard sailing boats, but deliberately took this loss to go to the right. This payed out well and went around the upwind mark in first position. Downwind we had to find gusts, pressure was everything! The lead on the French A35 “Dunquerke Plaissance” did not appear to be enough at the finish and we became 2 nd on corrected time by 11 seconds. Race 2 and 3 were excellent on boat handling, speed, tactics, all went as it should go.

Sometimes there are those days that everything matches, well; Saturday was one of those days. Two first places in these two races with more than 5 minutes left on corrected time, were the result.

On Sunday, the last day, Roy arranged some nice winds, 13/14 kts, so we got all condition on a plate this weekend. Mast and rigging were set on “base” and in a good spirit we went to the starting area. Our lead on number two, Dunquerke Plaissance, was 11 points with a second place as a worst. Normally spoken you cannot give victory away with only 2 races left. Maybe because of that, we started a bit reckless on the first race of the day. At the start we were not in the most optimal position and were forced to the starting line a bit too early. After the starting signal, we were not sure of having started too early together with the field. Were we too early or not? We decided to continue sailing and wait for the committee to call the early starters through the VHF. It took at least 45 seconds before the committee started this and finally after 6 boats being mentioned, we were the last one. A quick gibe and back to the starting line. This seemed to take ages against the current. Would this cost us the championship? Then a catching-up race. The field was half way the up-wind buoy. We decided for an extreme tack to the right to keep free winds and shallow waters and to get favored by the early tidal change. All or nothing! At the up-wind mark, we caught up some boats and looked for freedom after a gibe set. Eventually, we finished 3 rd, but became 10 th on corrected time. Pfff, nice unnecessary  set- back. Another one like that and we are dead.

J/111 Xcentric Ripper winning sailing teamIn the final race we try to get our focus back and make no stupid mistakes. Fortunately for us, at the end of this up-wind down-wind race there was a nice desert for us, finishing at Breskens.  The course from the committee vessel to the finish looks like a nice reach course, ideal for a J/111. Here we can build distance to the field. For me the tactical aim is to go into this reach first and then take profit on the rest in minutes. Good start, nice tacks to the up-wind mark, getting around first.” Havoc” follows second and appeared to go very fast downwind today. With their symmetrical spinnaker they could go much deeper and had lots of advantage with the current. Near the bottom mark, being the committee boat Barracuda, they came very close. We could position ourselves as the inner yacht in the rounding and gibe, so we could go into the reach freely. Immediate we hoisted the stay-sail for more power. What we hoped for happened, the distance to “Havoc” became bigger, and our little boat went like hell!

Finally we had a 1.45 minute lead at the finish, enough for the first place. We could distract the sour 10 th place and became Dutch Champion. “Dunquerke Plaissance” became a very good 2nd and “Havoc” 3rd in our class, IRC 2.

Of note, the J/33 QUANTUM RACING sailed by Jeroen van der Velden took first place in IRC 3!  Congratulations to all.