Look Back At The Blind Worlds 2017.
After being back nearly a month, it is hard to believe the success of GBR Blind Sailing but the proof is in the medals!
Although GBR Blind Sailing has one more weekend (18/19 November in Cowes). Where we welcome all to share their success. It is true to say that the programme the team put on from November 2016 has been a success for the those competing at the Worlds, but also other sailors who were involved seeing them develop and build, ready to set their goals for 2017/18.
When we look back at what made the success to the charity its not about coaching the visually impaired but about coaching all to make a team, just like able-bodied sailing. Starting from the base of the triangle the basic skills for the role in the boats are the key fundamental to the success, be it a tactician, communication painting the picture to the helm understanding the feel of a boat that is tracking through the water smoothly and quickly.
All this is thanks to the support we have had from those that engaged with the charity, this includes Steve Hall who gave one weekend a month to keep the team safe out on the water and support Lucy in all activities to get the team set up each day. The programme was designed around a mix of coaches using their different expertise. David Bedford rules season are second to none. Hannah Stode – sailing a sonar, setting the sails and moving the boat smoothly through the water, Helena Lucas -Looking at the starts. Steve Irish putting it all together and supporting at the worlds. This is just a few. This year may have had a focus on the Fleet Worlds but for all the VI’s these skills start them on the road to selection for Matching Racing Worlds in 2018.
9-11 September – Before the racing
GBR have landed in Sheboygan, the weather was warm and the wind was steady. We had a couple of days to acclimatize, but that didn’t mean relaxing – the team visited the yacht club, checked out the current and predicted sailing conditions. Took the boats out for practice sessions, register and the VI sailors need to attend their sight examinations.
The team spent time with a local sailor Todd Wake, to learn about the weather and how the different breezes will affect the racing. The breeze picked up for the practice sessions so that the team had a lively sail and first-hand experience of potential race conditions. There was time to try on team kit and run some promotional photos to thank the sponsors.
We had one Boat in the B1 Fleet, they had a slow start to their World Championships. With the wind being light in the morning for the session. The race management team just got the one race in. After having a light collision with the Australian boat, meaning they had to do Turns. They had a good fight back making it to third.
On the second day there was a lot of fog, so another slow start for the B1s. The wind slowly built, making racing close and tight with a few incidents on the runs and leeward marks with collisions and protests being hailed (but not involving the GBR team). The final results of the days racing were all pending results of the protests.
It was a great champagne sailing day on day three. The B1 teams were up first with the race officer hoping to fit in three or four races. GBR B1 had a solid day with results of 2, 2, 1 and 3. They had good boat speed and sailed the shifts and waves well.
The B1 team headed out for a 14.00 start on day four. With the breeze still holding steady from the South East at 10 – 12 knots. At this stage, the GBR B1 team was sitting in 2nd place in the fleet scores. GBR had a solid day showing the fleet how to do it, Winning the day.
B1 kept the ball rolling on day 5, with a great start but hitting a mark dropped them to 5th. They came back with their fightback attitude, winning the day. Which meant they were drawing on points with USA 1 going into the last day.
The wind was light, very shifty and patchy, on the final day. The GBR B1 team battled hard but were literally pipped to the post by the US team. After a good week of racing the B1 team took silver.
The B2 team has a new sighted crew and tactician. The B2 teams were battling from the 3 minutes before the start but the GBR B2 team, with new tactician Ben Hazeldine, got a good clean start and held their lead up the first beat. Then never looked back throughout the day, taking 4 1st.
After an early morning on day two, the B2 sat on the shore all morning as there was very thick fog. Slightly ironic that racing in a blind sailing championship was halted for poor visibility but there you go…
The GBR B2 team dominated the B2 fleet again with wins in all three races. They had to fight for a good start in each race though with the USA hunting them down in all three pre-starts.
GBR where still getting hunted down by the USA in the Pre-starts on day four. Letting Canada get clear starts, which gave them a hard time to get past. With great skills in the boat, they managed to get through to take all the wins.
GBR B2 was looking solid in 1st in their fleet after getting consistent 1st places. After a bit of jostling on the start, GBR had good speed and strong boat handling skills, so they took four straight wins and became World Champions with a day to spare.
The GBR B2 team had secured Gold with a day to spare but wanted to keep their clean sweep of wins and to give the other teams a strong day of racing. GBR match raced the USA out to the right of the start, ending the week as USA had started with hunting GBR down. But GBR showed strong skills and tactics, tacking on each shift, seeing them take two wins, ending the regatta with straight wins.
B3 teams sailed four races, on day one. The B3a team, under tactician Jonny Cormack, made a good start with all teams giving each other room on the start line. The team made good work of the light breeze so that they took two wins. In the next two races, there was close competition and they were on the wrong side of the wind shifts meant that they took a 3rd and a 2nd place.
The B3 where also in the morning session on day two. So it was a morning of sitting on the shore waiting for the fog to lift. Which it didn’t, so at 11 am the day was called off.
With both the GBR boats fighting it out at the front of the fleet, in the wind and swell. With the GBRa boat just winning the day, but GBRb hot on their heels.
With both GBR a and b fighting it out hard on the start pushing it a little early, with them both OCS. But the great work put into the team before the regatta, they were 1st and 2nd at the windward mark. They continued their day racing each other hard with GBR B3a getting a 1,1,3,2 and GBR B3b 2,2,1,1.
In the B3 fleet, both GBR teams were battling it out for Gold. The racing saw the right-hand side of the course pay all day and the boat that got out to the right first stayed on top. The racing was close. All boats were battling for position for the start. The B3B crew had a good end to the day with two 1st places.
B3’s had a point between them going into the last two races. With the wind shifting all the time it was the teams with their heads out of the boat that came out on top in each race. Tactician Justin Smith caught all the wind shifts allowing the B3B team to win the first race. It was all down to the last race, with GBRa and GBRb going head to head. With a call of starboard from GBRb, GBRA had to take a penalty turn. The GBR B3A worked the wind shifts consistently and clawed their way back to the first place at the top mark, taking the win to become World Champions. The GBR B3B team took silver.
Coming back from the World Championship we have had a lot of air time telling people what we have done.
Three of our sailors went to BBC Radio 4 for an interview. Sharon who was helming the B1 boat, then Toby and Lucy from the B2 team headed down for a chat about Blind Sailing and our success. Here is the link for a listen: http://bbc.in/2i0rYOE
Also, Lucy had a phone convocation with RNIB Radio if you want to listen to the podcast here is the link: http://bit.ly/2i3NjHm