Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Benelux J/22 Winter Regatta

J/22s sailing under spinnaker off Netherlands (Braassermeer, Netherlands)- The Benelux J/22 sailors are nothing if not organized and, most importantly, quite passionate about continually improving their experience as J/22 teams.  Their “winter” and “spring” training weekends have produced compelling results over time as teams from the Netherlands and Belgium have placed, or won, in major events like the J/22 Europeans and the J/22 Worlds.  In fact, many teams are keying in on the next J/22 World Championships 2014 to be held in South Africa for the first time!

Stan from the J/22 JABBADABBADOO filed this report for their most recent training weekends:  “Weekend 1- The first training and races of the winter series took place in perfect conditions. On Saturday and Sunday 10-12 kts north and Sunday with 12 to 18 knots. Both days had lovely sunshine and about 17 degrees celsius— not bad!  We looked back at the cold spring on the Braassermeer and the Cooling Down events which had all-or-nothing winds; compared that, this past weekend was simply delicious!

J/22s sailing winter series off NetherlandsSaturday’s training day was organized by the J/22 Class and Falko Braun. He managed to keep the teams close together despite the different levels of the participating teams. It was an interesting day. A new German team trained with us and was full of enthusiasm about the new insights and boat-handling they learned— they turned out to be a formidable sparring partner to tune with.  We worked on upwind boat speed. For downwind speed, Falko taught all teams to sail with a “free kite.” The wind was perfect for roll-tacking practice. Gybes and even ‘mexican drops’ were practiced.  After lunch and briefing we practiced time-on-distance, a number of starts and two short races . Before we knew it the afternoon was over and we all agreed to debrief in a restaurant in Leiden .

On Sunday, with more wind we focused on sailing many short races.  They were very intense, short laps around the buoys; the races were 30-40 minutes.  XJE had learned the time-on-distance exercise well the day before and took a good start in the first race.  In the second, race we started first but with XJE right next to us. In the last race it was a true match race.  It was very shifty and wind gusts caused considerable spectacle on the short course.  The third start was very nice with all the boats on the line and everyone at luffing at the gun!  Everyone is learning fast!

After several years of just sailing regattas, I am happy to train again, and finally by an external coach to get clues on how to sail better and faster. Falko shook things up for us and forced us to get out of our comfort zone and push the envelope of performance— it brought great satisfaction to see us better develop as a team.

For the second weekend of winter training and competition, the WVB decided this year to sail three races a day and keep the pace going with fast-action.  In short, very intense rounds where boat-handling will keep crews busy even in a winter storm!!  Perhaps most importantly, top Dutch sailor Ronald Veraar will lead the training.  Ronald is a former European champion and current European champion as “Corinthian” in both the J/22 and the M24 classes. That promises a mountain of gold tips!  We look forward to more of this all winter!”   For more J/22 Benelux sailing information