Hi guys, I’ve touched down over the weekend in Singapore to compete at the 2012 Asian Windsurfing Championships in the Formula class. Arriving a week before the event starts, I got asked to run some sailing training sessions for the BIC Techno and RS:X Classes and a special clinic on gear tuning for the formula/slalom guys.
The BIC/RS:X training took place on the Saturday with a full day on the water in gusty 15-20 knots (pretty windy for Singapore!) with a small, motivated group of sailors and finished off in the afternoon with a theory supersession on startline tactics at the amazing facilities at the ConstantWind Seasports & Sailing School (check the pictures on the right; this is probably the biggest windsurfing club on planet earth). On the Sunday I ran a formula clinic however it rained pretty hard the whole day which killed the wind so we were unable to get out on the water; nevertheless I think the sailors enjoyed the session where I talked everyone through gear setup and tuning as well as rigged some sails and explained all to do with tuning up the big gear.
Registration starts tomorrow for the event and Ceri Williams has just touched down here so tune in here tomorrow and I’ll have some reports and plenty of photos from the event…
The first day of racing kicked off here on the Changi Coast Walk in Singapore; such a nice grass area with shady trees to rig and only 15m from the water – however the NE winds are quite offshore here so it is a little bit of a punishment to get off the beach – especially if you leave it till the LAST POSSIBLE MOMENT before the race to leave, said beach. Hmmmm.
We had a bit of delay with the skippers meeting this morning so I spent some time at the massive NRSCC Sports Club where the event is being run from just chilling out in front of the computer, smashing some work and having YET ANOTHER massive bowl of fried rice and mongolian style chicken. The actual race site for the equipment is 5 minutes walk down the road as there is easier access to the water in this grassy park, so I couldn’t hear what was going on and when I finally arrived at the beach it was only 14 mins before the first start!
Once again I’m on the “travel easy” program and just brought one sail and fin; this time 11.5m and 73/70 VMG fin, so I didn’t have to deliberate too much and was rigged and stickered in a few mins and out on the water. The wind was very gusty and offshore around 12-15 knots in the gusts and 0-3 knots in the lulls – fantastic! I’m so unused to sailing in offshore winds but I remember some good advice from an ex Olympian in Mistrals from Australia – “Love the gust you’re in” so I just tried to stick to my plan of forgetting about shifts and just sailing always for pressure.
This paid out and after a first race that I was leading by a streak was abandoned, I managed to win the next start by a large margin and waited 2 minutes for the next competitor, Wang Yew Pang (SIN-0) to finish as a lot of guys were parked in various places on the course in the lulls and I figured it wouldn’t be right to let the 15 minute time-limit cut them off after sailing for so long!
We stayed out on the water in between races but had a good 30 minute break when a storm blew over showering us in rain and pounding us with gusts over 25 knots! I was struggling all over the place with the 11.5m and big fin however most of the SIN guys were out on 12.0′s so a big PROPS to them for managing these winds!
The wind was shifting quite a bit through the storm so we couldn’t set an accurate course despite lot’s of mark movement from the race-crew. After the storm had passed the winds became a bit more variable with 5-10 knots at times and still 20 knot blasts every now and again. I had a good start in this race with Wang and Harold on starboard and picked some nice gusts to get me up to the mark first however I couldn’t connect the gusts downwind and parked for quite some time which meant Wang was on my heels for the rest of the race! We had a cool long distance slalom style mark rounding in to the finish line and I managed to hold Wang out and take the 2nd bullet before the race crew sent us home for the day as it was pretty late in the afternoon by now and the sun goes down quite early in Singapore.
Good racing; good location; horrific winds; good friends… So far it’s been a really fun event to partake in and I’m looking forward to seeing what tomorrow will bring.
Photo by Howie Choo / www.howiephoto.com
Today we got some better winds out on the course but still in that shifty offshore NE direction. We were sent out to the course just before lunchtime in fairly light 6-10 knot breezes however halfway in to the sequence the wind the wind cut out (despite the BIC and RS:X racers knocking a few rounds out) and we were kept on call for another 30 mins drifting around in the breezeless heat to see if it would return. After 30 mins the race crew sent us home which was about an hour long beat (drift!) upwind back to the beach! argggghhh.
After an elongated lunchbreak the wind picked up again around 2.30pm so we were once again (reluctantly) sent out on the course however on arrival at the startline, the winds were quite fresh around 12-15 knots and relatively steady. Race 1 I had a nice start on starboard and led the fleet around the short windward/leeuward course with a long 2-buoy slalom course to the finish. Chris Newman (GBR-88) had finally got a day off work and came to race today; who is also on the new Starboard 167 (normal) and on a Severne Relfex II 11m and going fairly quick upwind. Chris was hot on my heels for most of the race however I was able to take a bullet with Chris 2nd and Wang 3rd.
Photo by Howie Choo / www.howiephoto.com
Race 4 started in much the same fashion however a big shift out of the start on starboard meant I had to quickly tack back to port to cover Kit and Wang who’d started on port and got a great gust to the right. I managed to claw back to get to the top mark first with Chris and Harold Ma quite close behind me after the first lap. I seem to be quick on the slalom runs despite the brutality of using formula fins on beam reaches in +15 knots (not fun!) and was able to take another bullet making it 4 wins from 4 starts.
In the evening, the sailors headed on down to Butter Factory; a cool nightclub in town which is sponsoring the event and partied the sore muscles away late in to the evening. Singapore is definitely a place that can put on a show!
Day 3 started with the “official” opening ceremony for the event inviting a few dignitaries and special guests/sponsors to oversee the event and have a formal breakfast at the NRSCC club. The forecast was for onshore SE winds however it wasn’t a pretty forecast and it lived up to it’s name giving us little to no wind over the ENTIRE day! After last night’s fun I think a few of us enjoyed the day off however the temps start to rise in Singapore with that wind direction and we had a blistering day on the beach sapping the energy.
Photo by Howie Choo / www.howiephoto.com
Not much else to report as we spent most of the day tuning sails on the beach and talking shop amidst bowls of mongolian style beef at the ‘Belly View’ cafe at the windsurf club. Apparently we have another VIP party at Butter Factory tonight for the sponsors… waaahh!
The final day was a late start for most of us as we hit the Butter Factory once again for the second event party at this cool nightclub in the city. The forecast was always going to be bad for this final day but with 4 races under the belt we weren’t too worried as we had a good result and Saturday ended up being a big night!
Finally after many hours of sitting around and smashing more hokkien noodles and infinity 100Plus drinks the racing was cancelled for the final day at 4pm as it never materialised about 4 knots on the course. Sadly (this happens often actually!) a little bit of 10-12 knot afternoon seabreeze kicked in just after the AP over A went up and a few of the guys had a nice sunset blast out on the water before the prizegiving ceremony would begin at 7pm.
We’re awaiting the final ceremony now so I’ll update with a few photos soon and final results can be found here.