M32 European Series Holland – day two report

M32 European Series Holland – day two report
June 22, 2019 Mattias Dahlström

Medemblik M32 podium wide open going into final day

Two days and 12 races in and the situation in Medemblik at the M32 European Series Holland after day two remains similar to the end of day one: the top four teams are still resolutely stuck together, separated by just two points. Once again two boats are tied for the lead – only a different two, with Spindrift racing and Richard Davies’ Section 16 both on 30, Section 16 having scored only seconds and thirds today. With Aston Harald boss Håkan Svensson’s Valhalla Cape Crow Vikings and Ian Williams’ GAC Pindar both two points behind the lead duo, the one design catamarans teams will begin tomorrow’s final day of competition effectively starting afresh.

This morning crews arrived at the Regatta Centre Medemblik with the breeze blowing onshore from the east, having performed a U-turn overnight. But by 1300 start time, the wind had dropped off to six knots, albeit still enough to provide solid competition between the nimble high performance catamarans.

Ahead after day one, Ian Williams and GAC Pindar had the strongest start, leading race one, in which the upwinds took on a new complexion with the boats under gennaker. However at the top mark Section 16 successfully protested GAC Pindar for not giving them room. Undeterred, the wily Williams recovered, going wide to the left side of the final beat to win the race, with Cape Crow Vikings second ahead of Section 16.

Races two and four were won by Cape Crow Vikings. Skipper Håkan Svensson said he most enjoyed the latter: “We had a fantastic start and just rolled everyone and led all the way through. Generally today we sailed very well and the boys are really making sure that I am on the edge and telling me when I am doing things well – in a nice, harsh way!” In this race the wind was the lightest of the day, getting patchy too.

In fact Cape Crow Vikings also led race two from start to finish after the wind had backed into the northeast/NNE. In this Svensson felt they had got ahead by carrying out their manoeuvres at mark roundings better than the competition.

However the stars of the day were Spindrift racing with former Tornado Olympian Xavier Revil standing in for the Franco-Swiss team’s usual skipper, Yann Guichard.

Revil said that they had made life difficult for themselves in the first two races (in the first they were OCS). However they then got firmly in their stride and went on to claim race three and the day’s final two. As a result Spindrift racing was best scoring boat of the day by two points.

“We made it easier and were starting well, which is really important and after that you had to manage your race,” explained Revil. “The first four boats are really close and there is a lot of fighting on the water, which is nice.”

The first two races Spindrift racing won, they weren’t first to the reaching mark, but had taken the lead by choosing the side with the most wind on the upwind leg. “At the beginning of the day, when it was light, it was better left, but a lot of time we were close behind another boat. We tried going on the other side, but that wasn’t good…” Revil admitted.

While the wind was light, gradually backing from east to the north, throughout the day, for the last race it filled in to 12-14 knots. Revil said he was surprised they had won this, even being first to the reaching mark, despite the conditions typically favouring boats with five rather than their four crew.

Bringing up the rear today was Dutch keelboat sailor Harold Vermeulen and his Leeloo team. Despite his team’s position, Vermeulen is enjoying his first taste of high speed catamaran competition. “The field is competitive and you have to know the boat. Also catamaran starting is a bit different from monohull starting,” said Vermeulen, who only began sailing five years ago. The building conditions through the afternoon demanded remoding and an unfamiliarity using the gennaker upwind had taken them some getting used to. “That was relatively new and we had to adapt, but overall we were happy with our progress and our speed. There is a still a lot to learn, but we feel more under control.”

Also learning the ropes are the young match racers from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Performance Program, led by 20-year-old Nick Egnot-Johnson, who admitted they had found today tough: “It was just our fourth day sailing the M32 and we’re really struggling figuring out the different modes of the boat in light wind. But as soon as the breeze came back up we could get amongst them a bit more.”

Egnot-Johnson says his team, who are making use of the boat the M32’s builder Aston Harald has made available for a development team, are here trying to gain catamaran experience: “We are trying to diversify as much as we can. I love the M32 – it is are simple to sail, there are only four ropes and two sails to worry about. It’s a good quick boat.”

This evening there is a crew dinner which will set them up nicely for tomorrow’s final day of competition when conditions are forecast to be brisk and from the east, making for a lively finale to the M32’s Holland stopover. Racing starts tomorrow at 1200 CET.