On a new boat, with a much smaller set-up, crew of only three, and here we were. For the first time, with our own head-turning beautiful classic, LIZZA. The one and only 5.5mIC boat in the race.
Sometimes it is difficult to realize – even for us racing boats – that every new boat has its twists and turns, it takes tuning, adjusting, finding the boats’ best configuration for the conditions, learning, coordinating moves, etc. And no matter how experienced or good you are, that is a process not an act, it takes time!
We arrived in Spetses a day before the race. After setting LIZZA up we went out for a last practice before the big day tomorrow. LIZZA was impressive. But the truth is we haven’t seen her competing against the other boats of the fleet as yet.
On June 15th the breeze started building from the early morning. A N/NE of about 12-15kts in the beginning, which ended up to increasing to 18-22kts later on the day. The Race Committee decided that this was their chance to do the 25nm “offshore” leg from Spetses to Trikeri and back. With such relatively strong wind conditions the big heavy boats of the fleet would get to finish that race; they very often do not make it to the finish when the wind conditions are lighter. For us, being on a smaller more delicate boat, the big waves building from the Aegean Sea on such conditions, would put the boat and the crew to a big test. On our first race…
Through out the race, LIZZA was suffering, wave after wave, it was obvious that this weather conditions do not suit her, she simply was not designed for such choppy conditions. Despite that, we started the race ahead of the fleet, and stayed there half way through the 1st leg. We ended up the race 3rd on real time, a few minutes after SUNSHINE and ANTARA. We thought it was OK. Only if we new ! When results of corrected time came out we were hanging last !! The rest of the fleet came behind us in real time, but not behind enough for us to be higher after factoring in the handicap system. What a disappointing way to start.
On June 16th, weather conditions were much more suitable for us and the RC managed to throw 2 windward/leeward races. Our kind of stuff we thought. On both races, we crossed the line first, ahead of every other boat. That was encouraging. It felt good !! Later in the evening, when results came out, we realized that it was not good enough, as in corrected time we came 2nd on both races. We need to find a few more seconds – not many, just a few more, probably 2-3 seconds per mile – to secure a first place.
On June 17th , the calculators went on fire. Previous days results brough us up the score ladder from last to 3rd. But is that good enough ? Securing our podium position is one thing, improving further is a different one. We have to decide our target under the circumstances. Climbing higher on the overall scoreboard required not only us racing the perfect race, but our two main opponents making a number of mistakes. And these guys are good, they hardly make unforced errors. Under the circumstances, we felt it was best to put a fight for securing our podium position than risking blowing everything out of the window. A nice technical race was raced, we finished 2nd to SUNSHINE in real time and won the 3rd position of this years’ regatta.
Not bad considering that we were with a new for us boat and with not enough practice under our belt. It is now time to take her back to the European grounds that she has been participating all these years and see what we can make out of her racing against other boats of her class. Next race for LIZZA and for Team EXLence is the Panerai Cup at the Regates Royales in Cannes in late September.
Goodbye Spetses and thank you for the fantastic time here !! We will be back net year !!