I am in Hyères at the Master Worlds 2014.
On arrival I was very happy to re-experience the Mediterranean atmosphere. I have always had a weakness for the Mediterranean and seeing the landscape and smelling the particular Mediterranean odors was very nice.
Hyères is nice little town and, like all of France outside Paris, has a laidback attitude. It is also fun hearing the Provençal Midi accent which has a real charm – and reminds you that you are no longer in Paris, Dorothy.
Getting the charter boat and checking in went OK, although at measurement I was informed that the little plastic tips on 2 of my battens were not official Laser tips and had to be changed. I duly did that, but what on earth can tips on battens have to do with ensuring a fair one-design race?
The first race day was a non-event for the Radials, including the Great Grand Masters Standard fleet which also sails with the Radials. We spent most of the day watching the AP flag and finally a bit after 3PM, most of the fleets were sent out.
The GGM Standard fleet went to the Radial course area and were started first. We got off in winds around 10 knots and went up to the windward mark, around the offset mark and back down to the leeward gate. We rounded the leeward gate and the wind was noticeably dying. About a third the way toward the windward mark, the Race Committee called it quits and sent every one home. The Standard fleet (except us) was more fortunate and obviously in better wind – they got in 4 races.
The next day we got in only one race and it was relatively light winds. I came in next to last but it was close with a couple of my buddies. Then I made my first stupid mistake - in my rush I forgot to take my bracelet off the check in board. A ten percent penalty bumped me down to last. Oh well.
Then, things changed (not the results but the weather). Yesterday, it was raining heavily in the morning and we finally got on the water in the afternoon with the wind at least 20 Knots and waves to match. Although I understand this is normal for a lot of my Aussie friends, I am definitely not used to those conditions and, in addition, being in a Standard, I suffered battling against the waves upwind. But the downwind and especially the reach was a screaming joyride. In terms of lessons learned – stay away from the marks in high winds. I got too close to the offset mark and a wave pushed me too close and my boom grazed it. So, I did my 360 with a tack, then a gybe and then a capsize. Not a way to win.
Similar conditions today, without the rain. The wind was a bit less but still a struggle for me. In the second race I was getting tired and paying less attention. A surf with the boom too far out turned into a death roll/capsize. I righted the boat and it immediately went over again. I got it back up and realized the problem – my vang had come out of the slot. So, after lots of fussing around with it I managed to get head to wind long enough to get in quickly. Now I know why some people put tape or a bit or cord over that.
Anyhow, it has been quite a learning experience for me with the wind and waves bigger than what I am used to. But, in addition to the hard work upwind, there is also a lot of fun – those reaches and surfs are amazing when they are in the groove. They remind me why I like the little Laser so much - screaming along on a reach and catching a wave to boot - hard to feel more exhilaration that that.