Beat to Hell

SA Exclusive

Beat to Hell

Our man Bouwe Bekking, skipper of Telefonica Blue, gives us the VOR lowdown. Dig it.

After all the dock talk regarding the protests against both Ericsson boats it was actually good to get on with racing and fight out the battle on the water. The in-port race in Singapore was probably the best one since the introduction of this type of racing in the last edition. There was good breeze in average, but it was very shifty, with big puffs and lulls coming and going.

Due to good crew work we pulled off a 3rd place in the first race. It was a short course, only 1.9 mile legs, and we had to pass through a gate in the middle on the beat and the run. In a short race like this it is a must to get good around the corners, where especially at the bottom marks losses or gains can be massive. The second race didn’t start well for us, but we managed to dip the entire fleet and with two quick tacks in major wind shifts we were all of sudden in a handy lead having about 7 lengths on the 2nd boat ERT4. I thought for one moment this is going to be easy, but then in matter of seconds our lead vanished, as the boats behind us got a major puff, doing all of sudden 20 knots and sailing 25 degrees lower than us. It was very much like a day in Miami with a NW breeze. So lost a place on the run, but we were still in striking distance with ERT4 after the next beat.

On the final run we were looking good and I wanted to come in starboard towards the finish line.  But again we got nailed by a major puff, who gave our team colleagues on the Telefónica black a gain of nearly 10 lengths, and both ERT 4 and the black boat just popped in front of us. I was very dark, better to say fuming. Not with the guys, but with myself calling the tactics. Instead of gaining half a point on ERT 4, we lost a full point against them, and as well Puma managed to overtake another boat and finish right ahead of us, so they scored a 2nd.   

Now we are preparing ourselves for the beat to hell. 2,500 miles upwind to Qingdao, where the temperatures are well below zero with massive amounts of snow. I still don’t understand why we are going to a town where only penguins will feel at home at this time of the year. But on the other hand, I think it is great that we visit China, as we know that sailing is an upcoming sport, so maybe we can create some momentum.

Most important for me is to survive this leg and to arrive in one piece. The In-Port race is only a couple of days after arrival, and a major breakdown will force most likely a competitor to divert to another town and ending up shipping the boat to Qingdao and most likely miss that race, or worse the start of the next leg.  Not to speak about fixing carbon fibre in minus degrees. So we will take it “easy” on the next leg.