Friday, October 30, 2015

Netherlands Sailing League (“Eredivisie Zeilen”) Big Success

J/70s sailing Netherlands sailing league (Almere, The Netherlands)- Watersportvereniging Uitdam won the first event of the Dutch Sailing League, the “Eredivisie Zeilen” that was sailed from the 2nd to 4th October in Almere near Amsterdam.  As a result, they also claimed the Overall Champion title. Helmsman Wietze Zetzema said: “It was awesome to win here. The whole event was the best possible advertisement for the sport of sailing.”

Throughout the regatta, Watersportvereniging Uitdam had been sitting in 4th place overall, but on the last day they climbed to the top after winning four of their last five races.

This event was the only one to take place in 2015 and served as a test event for the coming year. In 2016, five regatta weekends are planned. Enthusiastic spectators lined the waterfront in Almere.  All the ingredients were there (happy sailors, great spectators, good organization) to suggest that the Dutch Sailing League is set to become one of the premier regattas in the country’s sailing calendar for 2016.

Organizer Simon Keijzer was delighted with this debut event: “The Dutch Sailing League is now a fact. We had a great weekend, everyone is enthusiastic. Next year, we will fill the league with more happy clubs and sailors!”

The crew of the Scheveningen YC Team provided a report on their experiences during the Eredivisie Sailing Test Event:

“We were fifth place during the test event of the Eredivisie Zeilen!  Fantastic.  It was fun!  And, we have a lot to learn!

Sailing seems to be something we do for our fun.  Right?  But, that concept was not going through my head when the alarm clock goes off at 0600 hrs! With black circles around my eyes I crawl to the coffee machine for a cup of the elixir of life. Then, dress up and screech to Almere in my trusty car (brakes need fixing)!

Upon arrival at the competition grounds by the Weerwater, next to the Municipal Theatre of Almere, it is clear that while it is all about a test event, it is well organized. There is a large team of people ready to manage the event, several umpires and race committee that are driving six RIBs!

Immediately in the first race, we know that this weekend is going to be rough for us, no gifts from anyone! We round the top mark in second; the pole is out, we're going to pop the chute! Then, bam, straight into the water goes our spinnaker- that’s called ‘shrimping’! Damn. Four teams sail by us as if nothing has happened. The only other boat near us wants to be sure that we really cannot get away and park it all over us. The tone is set; no one is giving an inch to anyone!

That is how it goes for the rest of the day. Many ups and downs; catch a puff and sprint ahead, others sit in little wind watching others blow by! In addition, it happens that our lofty ambitions combined with our (lack of) skills, means we keep tangling the gennaker around the forestay. We ultimately worked it out.  But, windshifts of 20-30 degrees were normal, as were big puffs and waves up to 3 feet between the breakwaters of Scheveningen. The result is inadequate for us, a provisional 10th place overall after the first day on the water.  Ouch!

The second day is perfect in terms of outcomes.  We win twice during the first (and only) two races sailed. Unfortunately, there is almost no wind on the Weerwater; that creates frustration among the sailors but also the organizers.  It was difficult racing, get one puff you win.  It was that simple.  So, we were lucky.

Fortunately, the sun was shining and we could enjoy the nice weather (despite lack of wind) before it all becomes like living in an icebox with no windows during our six month long winter!

After these two first places, we rise in the rankings to seventh place; it will be an exciting final day!

For the third day, fog, mist and fog again! Mother Nature doesn’t know what to do! It is windy, but the visibility is not more than 50 meters.  Again, postponement, or so we thought, we cannot even see the postponement flag!

We sailed well in the first race- a second place.  But, that was despite fervent attempts at failure! After a fabulously bad rounding of the bottom mark, we were perfectly on track not to finish in front of the field. But then, our tactician spoils the day!  He tells us to tack! As we get closer to the top mark, we get an increasingly anxious feeling that we will round second again!  What can we possibly screw up now!? Well, the spinnaker goes up just fine.  During the downwind leg, we seem unable to screw-up again and grab a second place behind eventual overall winners WV Uitdam!!

With this result, we steam further into the top tier and fifth overall is in sight!

The next race we do a truly professional job of screwing-up everything!  The start, the race, everything!  We start at the RC boat and are OCS.  So, we re-round and take off in hot pursuit about a mile back from the fleet.  It was quite sobering, really.  Finishing last, so far back you can hardly see anyone’s numbers- on a course so short that you should!

In the penultimate race of the regatta, exactly the opposite happens- a dream start! Everyone's too early at the start but us! Long live an RC and PRO that does not believe in general recalls! With everyone else scrambling to return and restart after their OCS’s, we sail away blissfully to an easy win! Was that it?  No.

The RC take the decision to sail another race, there was plenty of wind so they decided to take advantage of the nice sailing conditions.  So, we have the opportunity finish 5th. Can we survive our own mistakes?  Well, our start demonstrated the theme of the day, because once something happens early in the game, it kills us.  For the last start we’re too early again. But, we somehow have created a “turbo mode” and we arrive second at the top mark; it proves that we are going well. On the second beat, we’re confident we can get to first place.  Somehow, we pass the team in front and hold first place to the finish on the final downwind leg. We’re 5th overall!  Bloody amazing.  A great outcome for a team just beginning to learn how to sail a J/70 faster.  Can’t wait for next year!”   Sailing photo credits- Remmelt Staal   Facebook sailing page for Eredivisie Zeilen   Netherlands Test Event sailing video Highlights.   For more Dutch Sailing League information and results.