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.