view from the cheap seats

view from the cheap seats

Stu Hebb tells you what it’s like to sail the Star Europeans. Ready for next year, tough guy?

Miami-based sailor and native Nova Scotian Stu Hebb picked up a P Star recently and embarked on an Olympic Campaign with Canadian Mike Wolfs.  You may know him as the owner of Thin Ice, the Aerodyne 38, who most notoriously lost their rudder 30 miles from the finish line in the Pineapple Cup in 2009, just 4 years after winning it.  If you’ve come across Stu at one point in time or another you know he’s a talented sailor and mightily entertaining at the bar.  Last week he sent out these daily racing reports – vastly different from the American team’s updates and just our style.  The regatta had the most Stars ever racing in one place (rumored at 150, but actually 133 – still a record for the class) and a heck of a lot of talent on the line. 

Day 1
We officially started our first race forthwith referred to as the campaign today. 150 boats on the start line sailing in San Diego conditions (home of the 8 knot seabreeze) sans kelp.

We were 5th at the 1st mark rounding just ahead of my peer Freddie Loof. We got passed by 15 boats downwind. We have much to learn in that area. Had a great mark rounding and fought back to 12th at the next weather mark. Only lost 3 boats dw and nailed a 15th. A keeper for sure. I told Robert Scheidt who is staying at our hotel and finished 19th that he needs to exercise more. (He already does twice a day).

Day 2
4 to 6 kts. Today. Had great start and rounded 1st mark in 30th but coming from wrong side so not bad. Coughed up some boats dw again and ended the day with a 43rd to put us in 22nd overall. Very tricky with lots of downside available to all. Beat Robert Scheidt again (yawn).  Got called for weigh in and had to lose a kilo btwn us in 20 min. Did it. No details.

Day 3
The inevitable bad start happened followed up by being on the wrong side of the beat most of the day. We ended up 95th and slip to 42nd overall. Our safety net is gone for the rest of the regatta. We cannot afford 1 more of these bombs if we want to place well. Lars Grael had a worse start than us and fought back to 30th so there was climbing back but I can assure u there are no open lanes the entire 2 mile beat with 150 boats out there.

My unbeaten streak vs. Robert Scheidt has come to an end

Day 4
7 hours on the water today baking and waiting. Bad start again but was black flag and boats around us got chucked so really no option. Think we fought back to finish somewhere in the 40’s. No results yet. Still can’t pass boats on 2nd beat so need to improve there. There are just no hackers here at all. Passed 8 boats on final run and caused shouting match btw. 5 Italian boats at finish.  That was fun.

Results posted. Slipped to 58th overall.  Hemorrhaging kind of like the gulf oil spill progress.  Need to reverse the trend in the next 2 races and get a better sense of entitlement on the start line.  There were at least 30 boats over according to other source.  And 10 got caught. Time to hide and take more risk.

Day 5
On the water for 8.5 hours today. Waited 3 hours to get a race off in 6 kts. Fading to 0. Started at right end sandwiched between Torben Grael and Freddie Loof. Survived thank god and notched a 3rd good start. Wind went right 5 and we were in the top 10 about 8 minutes into race. . Then the wind shifted 30 degrees to the left. Nice! Rounded in the 90’s. Passed 20 boats on 2nd beat finally and another group of 25 which we stole at the finish drifting across the line. Finished 48th. Now in 43rd, which is exactly top third of fleet.  It is now our goal to stay there.

Day 6
With most of the fleet over the line and 10 boats called over, we had another bad start. Passed boats every leg and fought back to 49 which for us is about as high as we can finish with a bad start. Overall we finished on the balls of our ass at 48th but beat the fold. There are over 35 teams here that are full time pro and the Germans and others were here training 3 weeks before we got our chartered boat so we have to be somewhat realistic at this point. Canadian Richard Clarke was 3rd.  The other Canadian finished 75th and is funded by CYA.  

This is definitely the big leagues and definitely had fun getting my ass kicked. We start again in Miami. November.