We can do better!
The dust have settled after a dramatic act 2 in Qingdao, China.
SAP Extreme Sailing Team ended up at 6th place which is an unsatisfying result for the 2015 Extreme Sailing Series runner up. The team was quite pumped up for the event since it brought a chip on the shoulders from the Act 1 where a costly mistake in the last race cost the 2nd place overall.
Qingdao never really showed its typical self through the event and where the weather forecasts told one story, reality told another. It was light, flukey and very unpredictable conditions for all teams and whatever race planning you had in mind going out, plan B was in effect and when the day was over Plan F was probably already in effect.
However dissapointing the result was for the team, there are some takes that are uplifting. The starts are really good, speed is good and maneuvering is very effective. Even the tactics, that was so challenged, worked quite well.
One of the issues that really hurt the team – especially at day 2 – was that they started so brilliant and reached first mark 7 times out of 18 races. But the location of the race course meant, that the leading boat would be going into luller winds and were the first boat having to gybe on the reach. That is a costly maneuver putting the boat to a halt for a long period and the result was the fleet catching up from behind could cover the leader in the wind shadows. Consequently the leader around the first mark was likely to round last at the bottom mark. That took out a lot of the punch…
Light conditions in the GC32 seem to be worth a closer study and the team will now study SAP Sailing Analytics to get a more clear picture of especially the reaching angles.
Jes Gram-Hansen, helmsman: “Of course, we are not happy with the result. But are very far from hitting any panic button at all. We have sailed very well both here and in Oman and it is just one of those events where nothing really falls our way in terms of both the big picture and also the litte details making the difference between succes and struggle. That’s just simply how it goes sometimes and moaning about it won’t get us anywhere…”. And Jes continues: “What matters now is to keep working hard on the analysis of our performances and look forward to the next event in Cardiff and do our home work. If Cardiff lives up to the expectations, we’re looking at a whole other scenario with much more breeze, more stable weather patterns and our confidence in boat handling will get much more impact on the scoreboard”.
Coach, Michael Hestbæk, had a take as well: “Day 1 was a single race, so that is basically inconclusive, but day 2 had some great starts, but the effects somehow ‘evaporated’ during the first reaches as the wind dropped and they got rolled from the back. We also had some issues with the reaching angles and corrected those prior to day 3 and got better results from thereon”.
So, how does it feel to be the onboard guide, in charge of the tactics on days like these?
Rasmus Køstner: “We always prepare thouroughly before each race day, looking at weather reports, discussing strategy with the coach and try to stay ahead of the events. Still we all got surprised by the shifty wind patterns across the race courses in Qingdao, even though we have sailed there many times. When the wind is so light no boat can sail where you’d like and therefore you cannot position yourself in sync with the development in wind. In that way you watch yourself being in the fate of random streaks of puffs coming from the winds howling 100 meters above the surface, but barely reaches the masts of the fleet… It’s like running blindfolded through the woods hoping not to hit a tree”.
You can view the scoreboard here and the next event will be Act 3 in Cardiff, UK June 23rd to 26th where the team expect more wind and more regular wind patterns. Needless to say, the team is anxious to get back on track…