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The Flying Dutchman Worlds found fog and sun, chop and swell in Santa Cruz last week. ©2012 Richard Phillips
Flying Hungarians Conquer Santa Cruz
October 1, 2012
Flying Dutchmen from all over the world descended on a laid-back coastal California town in the third week of September. They arrived by container from Australia, Europe and New Zealand; others came by car from various remote parts of North America after driving many days to reach Santa Cruz.
They were inspected and rigged, then departed the harbor for the first practice races on Monterey Bay on Sunday, September 23. After a foggy start to the day, the sun tried hard to break through, the light winds increased to the 8-12 knot range, and the practice race started after a postponement and a general recall. Nicola and Francesco Vespasiani (ITA 4) won the first practice race. "Some say that winning the practice race is unlucky, so we shall see," commented publicist Richard Phillips. Monday's practice race was abandonned for lack of wind.
Tuesday started out with a shoreside postponement, to wait for the wind. The day was brighter and the waves crashed around the bay, although the race area was relatively calm with a slight swell. Eventually there was enough wind to start racing. Race 2 started soon after the end of race 1 in about 6-8 knots of wind. There was heavy bunching at the committee boat end as boats tried to tack away to the heavily favored starboard side of the race course, toward shore. The righthand side was also favored on the second beat, although some of the leading boats went too far in and lost a few places. Most of the fleet finished in 5-6 knots of wind, but this gradually faded and the last boat was outside the time limit of 30 minutes behind the leading boat.
After another shoreside postponement on Wednesday due to lack of wind, boats were released from the harbor in sunshine for what proved to be a great day of racing. "After three General Recalls, two with an I flag, the race officer lengthened the line and pulled out the Black Flag – the fleet had a clean start!" said Phillips. In the first start of the fourth race, a boat took the fleet over the line, causing a General Recall, and the next start with a Black Flag saw four boats BFD. The wind had increased to 14-16 knots, and the water was choppy with a swell. The fleet quickly spread out. On the first reach nearly all the boats carried a spinnaker, but the second reach, which was tighter, saw a lot of boats drop their kite after the jibe mark and a few capsize at the mark.
With four races completed, Kay-Uwe Lüdtke and Kai Schäfers (GER 88) were leading by four points. After the fifth and sixth races on Thursday, Szabolcs Majthényi and András Domokos (HUN 70) had tied them. On Friday, sufficient wind failed to materialize in a timely manner, and racing was put off until the lay day Saturday.
After a short shoreside postponement due to lack of wind, boats were released from the harbor in sunshine for what proved to be a great day of racing with a good breeze for races 7 and 8. However fog patches wafted through the course and some of the leading boats tried to claimed redress as they could not see the next mark of the course. Other boats were caught pumping by the Jury, which was vigilant during the fog patches. The first race of the day started with a General Recall. The Black flag was displayed and the 43 FDs got away to a clean start. The 10-12 knot southwesterly alllowed the fleet to quickly disperse across the course. The local sailors went hard right into the shore. During the first lap, the fog kept coming and going. By the start of the second race, the breeze had piped up to 15-18 knots, accompanied by significant chop on top of the swell. A few boats went ashore and did not participate further. Waves and wind resulted in capsizes and boats trawling spinnakers at the leeward mark.
"After eight races," said Phillips, "Szabolcs Majthényi and András Domokos (HUN 70) were the provisional winners of the FD Worlds with a race in hand." This pair has won the championship so many times in a row we ran out of time to count them.
The final race (race 9) was sailed on Sunday in superb Santa Cruz sailing conditions with sunshine and 16 knots of wind. The race saw several changes in the top 10 positions. Actual Dutchmen Enno Krammer and Ard Geelkerken (NED 26) captured second place, and the early leaders Kay-Uwe Lüdtke and Kai Schäfers (GER 88) took third.
Prizes were awarded to the skippers and crews of the top ten finishers overall. Peggy Bahr won a prize for first woman skipper (6th overall). Paul Scoffin and Pavel Ruzicka (NZL 145, 14th overall) won the 100+ Trophy – total age of helm and crew over 100 years. Winners of Pizzorno Trophy for the top team with helm under 26 years old were Nicola and Francesco Vespasiani (ITA 4, 4th overall). The American team with the best score were Lin Robson and Adriaan Schmal of Florida (USA 36, 16th overall), and the top local team were Philippe Kahn and Steve Bourdow (USA 1197, 18th place).
Complete results and more of Richard Phillips' updates and photos can be found at www.fdworlds2012.org.