Well, we are done, finished over en “klaar”.
The kids spent their second off-day in a relaxed mood. Claire and I took them to see the “Big Buddha Hill Temple”. Snippets of Buddhist philosophy was experienced with men in shorts allowed to do what they want and Claire and Chiara had to wear a sarong, otherwise “no see”
That evening we watched the Americans beat the Chinese in the final of the team races.
The fourth day was spent with good winds, complaints by unknown coaches that the conditions were dangerous and the safety officer postponing the race. According to him a 40 knot wind was predicted.
After the squall, the skies cleared, the wind dropped and the kids were told to launch. After spending a few hours on the water everybody returned. Notwithstanding the fact that no races were sailed, fun was had by all. A Pattaya party.
On day five the races started with 10- 15 knot winds. It was a good day with three races sailed. The kids went out there with the intent to learn and improve and they made us proud. The BFD’ and UFD’s showing that they were well aware that a good start is important and they were trying their best.
The last day was spent on the water with no races sailed. Still a great ending to a fast and competitive event.
Boats were returned. The “Winner” boats inspected with an eagle eye and the slightest damage to be paid by the sailor. Fortunately no penalties to us(thanks Karl and Alex) as we had to feed Fabritzio, who by that time looked like Fabio, a few beers to get the boxing gloves off.
Deposits on the Far East boats, Winners and RIB was returned and with 30 minutes to spare it was off to hotel for closing ceremony. Prizes were handed out and all sailors received well deserved recognition for their participation in the Optimist World Championship 2017 held in Pattaya.
Lessons learned was that we need big fleet experience and lighter sailors. Having said that, the optimist class prepares a sailor for future sailing and hopefully the young sailors will always remember the joy, the fun and making new friends and keep sailing till they are parents themselves.
Just a summary of what is happening.
After the practice race on Wednesday, the countries participating in the event were introduced to the world at the opening ceremony. It was a colorful event with all of the different countries present, proudly displaying national flags and dressed up for the occasion(Golf shirts and slops). The South African sailors stood out amongst the rest as being the only team not wearing t-shirts or golf shirts and made a refreshing difference. I was, however impressed with the Japanese managers wearing their kimono’s.
Speeches were delivered by Police Major General Anan Charoenchasri, mayor of Pataya and incidentally head of police (appointed recently) and various IODA officials. Present also was Noppakao Poonpat, the 2010 Optimist World Champion from Thailand who lead the sailors in the laying down of their oath. Still a formidable sailor making her mark at a young age.
There was traditional Thai dancing and music, followed by a feast with food options ranging from western to eastern. The evening concluded with fire-eaters dancing, there were explosions and things going off, according to Fabrizio no fireworks, because the country is still in mourning after the death of their king.
Day 1 at the event started with an explosion( crackers going off, not fireworks, again) and a “Le Mans” start to see who launches first, as if it made a difference.
For the South Africans the first day had mixed results with Matt ending in the 191st position, he was followed by Alex, Jared and Chiara. Karl had a “DNF”. He and fifty other sailors could not finish within the allotted time due to the wind dying down completely and the current dragging them further from the finish line.
Day two started in very windy conditions. This, coupled with a shore break and tide going out made for a very challenging launch as dagger boards got stuck between waves on the sandy bottom and if you were not careful the next wave capsized you. Rudders were put on boats while on the dollies and then carried to the water where the sailor jumped in, helpers in the water had to pull boats through the surf and launch them with a push, the result was that it took 45 minutes before all the sailors were on the water.
Thereafter we had to deal with the frustration of looking at the trackers and trying to follow sailors. The trackers are a brilliant idea, but there are issues that need to be sorted. It does, however, give coaches an opportunity to discuss a race with the kids and point out mistakes and options in terms of strategy on the water.
The kids had between 10 to 17 knots of wind to contend with on the water, as well as a strong 2 to 3 knot current which switched after the first race. On their return it suddenly picked up to more than 20 knots, it made for a memorable return to shore. Boats capsizing, surfing in, “lekker”.
The third day started with fair winds, at the club about 12 knots, but as you leave shore it drops with about two knots. It seems that in the mornings wind is generally good and by 14.00 it starts to drop, therefore those in yellow fleet generally have better wind and those sailors that did well on the first day benefited.
I spend the day on the spectator boat. It gave more perspective to the challenges the kids were up against. The finishing line forced the kids to sail on a starboard tack close-hauled. When the wind dropped the current forced them to port way past the finishing line, when you tacked and had to sail close-hauled against the current in a light wind. On the start line, boats jostled for position, if you do not have a good start, you ended last. If not careful, the current placed you in a BFD position. It clearly taught the kids a lot and the results do not really do them justice. But, it is a world championship and all the sailors are good with experience making the difference.
Well, we did not qualify for team racing. A disappointment that the kids overcame with a visit to the floating market. An experience in smell, sight and sound. It is “touristy” with many Chinese and Arabic tourist around, according to the Thai taxi- driver, those Arabians with long side-whiskers are mafia. He did not say anything about the Russians.
The kids had a chance to relax, try some ice-cream and foods(limited those we could identify and actually pronounce the names of). There are interesting fruits not found in South Africa and Buddhism was all around us with little temples, places of worship and offerings to Buddha found everywhere. We had our feet cleaned by fish and fun was had by all.
Well, today is another rest day and hopefully the kids will be ready to go tomorrow. Only three days remain, then it is the closing ceremony and party time. Luck to the kids and hopefully the 2 rest days they had can make a difference with results being improved.
Thanks for input from Fabrizio and Claire.
So far all good. Alex, Karl, Fabrizio and myself met at the airport on the 7th of July 2017. Matt was already in Thailand and Claire an Chiara traveled directly from Egypt to Bangkok. Booking in was quick with no problems with tubes for sails or baggage. We had an uneventful flight and fortunately did not miss the connecting flight( 30 min from landing to finish boarding next flight).
In Bangkok we were met by a friendly representative from Championship organizers, who barely speak English. By the time we bought sim cards(12 gig for a 1050 baht) Fabrizio was insisting that they speak English to him. With them clearly not understanding his own version of English.
That sorted, we were off to the Heritage Hotel, a 2 hour drive in a very quiet taxi. By that time we were in the air for 18 hours. We left Cape Town at 20h00 and arrived in Bangkok at 20h00.
The Taxi that met us was a Quantum Toyota with a lot of bling. Headrests were covered with white custom fitted crocheted “lappies”. Wood paneling and an air-con that could be used as a freezer. Needed in this hot and humid weather, not surprisingly Thailand weather is described by three adjectives, hot, cool and rainy. The drive was smooth until we entered Pattaya where the driver had to confront a lot of suicidal motorcyclists with a clear belief in reincarnation.
At the hotel we were met by a very relieved Claire who had to cope with a few medical challenges and Chiara who only had eyes for “papi” and papi who was clearly happy to see his ” mi amour”.
Well, the kids had a rest and the next day boats were issued and rigged and all went for training. Claire seems to be satisfied and I note that the “old hands” met up with old friends. The sailing community is a really small community.
On Monday everybody prepared for measurement which took place at 13.00 and was dealt with very efficiently, sails and life jackets were approved and initialed and off they went for another session of sailing.
On Tuesday we woke up after a night of rain and thunderstorms to more rain and thunderstorms, by 14.00 it cleared and off the sailors went leaving myself, Gavin and Fabrizio sampling the local Tigers and eventually solving the worlds political issues.
The children so far seem happy and hopefully they make a lot of new friends. The tension is starting to show, but as a team, they get along very well and that is always a good sign. They are challenged by local conditions and sailing is a 30 minute tow by RIB away. Wind has been light so far. Currents on the start line will be the real challenge.
We see a lot of different sails, Optimax, North Sails and then the is the “1” sail a new sail designed by the coach of Malta and Austria. According to the German coach a good sail for the heavier sailor and easier to trim. To trim the J-Sail is apparently a challenge, obviously the sailor also makes a difference.
So far the kids are focused on sailing. I stay within walking distance from the venue and have been fortunate to see a lot of mobile shops selling clothes, sushi, schwarma and best of all a motorcycle with a side- car braai. That is any Saffas dream come true. There are a lot of 7/11 shops as well with ATM’s. There is an administrative fee added of 220 baht on the amount withdrawn. Better to withdraw a large amount, once. Credit cards are not used widely and if you purchase by visa there is a good chance of receiving a gift, but beware, the system does not require your pin and anybody with card details can process a transaction. Use cash.
From a technical side we are learning and stealing with the eyes. See the Germans have two rings, one closer to the boom and one not. Light wind and high wind positions. Fabrizio is writing it down and will share. Heavier sailors sometimes sail with Mark iv or Mark iv mast and boom and black gold spar.
According to tide chart we will have current pushing boat away and on second race current will push it into starting line, many sailors find this difficult and we hope for edge and that Langebaan training pays off.
The technical observations from Fabrizio and the novice comments from me. Some photos we post (on WhatsApp) relate to sailing and some not, but then sailing is also about fun, knowledge of local conditions( boys and girls), etc
Please forward to rest of group.
First Training Sail