RTYC Academy at the Etchells Europeans and the Etchells Worlds

19/09/2016

As a result of the success at the Gertrude Cup and the hard work and generosity of many individuals and the club, the RTYC Academy team was able to secure an entry to the Etchells Europeans and Worlds held out of Cowes. This was a fantastic opportunity for the team to go out and race in one of the most competitive international fleets during the pinnacle of their year.
 
The first day of the Europeans dawned with a light northerly breeze, leading to a number of races being started before having to be abandoned due to a large wind shift as the gradient fought with the sea breeze. Eventually a sea breeze settled and we were able to get racing underway. In the first two races we struggled for speed and dropped backwards through the fleet. We managed to address this issue with rig settings and scored a top ten result in the third race. Returning ashore some 10 hours after we left the dock, we were knackered but happy with the lessons of the day. With the forecast looking light for the second day, the start time was delayed in the hope of a sea breeze. This just about arrived for what would be the only race, however a shift and shutdown in the wind left us and a few others trailing the fleet off the start. From there we managed to take places around the course and finish with a respectable result that put us 28th overall on the results and 4th Corinthians. In general we felt that we had ironed out most of our boat speed issues during the event and had made some good calls, but knew that the Worlds was going to be a very tough event.
 
The first day of the Worlds made us realise just how difficult it would be. I can't think of many classes where after a 2+ mile beat, the whole fleet of 58 descends on the windward mark at once and remains this close. This makes for excellent racing, always with the possibility of large gains but also losses. We had a bit of a tough lesson on this in the first race where after a great first beat we made the wrong call in the last few hundred metres of the upwind and went from near the front of the fleet all the way to the back. The second race went much better until we got back to the dock and found that we had been OCS. Still, we knew that both races had potential to have been good counters, just that they hadn't worked out on the standings. This was to be a bit of a theme for the week with the racing being incredibly rewarding at times but punishing at others. For us, we were sailing well but in a lot of races something wouldn't quite work and we would be put near the back from which we were sometimes able to recover and sometimes not. Most of this was down to inexperience in such large and close fleets. However during the week, our results and position steadily improved as we grew into the regatta, finishing off with a 15th in the last race of the championship. Our series put us 43rd overall, 6th Corinthians and 1st U35, for which we were presented the Next Generation Trophy.
 
A huge thank you must go to the club and all the individuals involved for getting us onto the start line, and to the event organisers for delivering an all round awesome event. It was a fantastic week of sailing and a great experience to compete against some true legends of the sport.