Thursday, July 30, 2009

Day 11

As always we wake up and somehow end up in ASDA. We quickly went to the Sailing Club and rigged our boat. It was finally sunny and fairly warm. The sea was really calm in the morning but it was windy. We changed our mast rake a bit but the Australians and South Africans told us to change it back (and it was for the best). We did a few extra changes to help us during the races.

We’re old salts now. The windier it is the better for us. We had four races today and managed to be 59th in the fourth one. The score did not exactly help us move up many places in overall ranking because of yesterdays lose.

Generally it was the best day for everybody since we arrived here. To get a better understanding of our day you can look at all the pictures.

- The bouy above will test your knowledge of Welsh!

At the end of the day we had a raffle for Mirror 70600. The lucky winner was world director from Australia 2011.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 10

The whole night it rained and gladly it stopped in the morning. We got up and left for ASDA! Like everyday, we always need something from the store. We then took a short trip to the Sailing Club and rigged our boat. We went down to the beach to find out that it would be postponed one hour because of the low wind… one hour passed and yet another two hour postponement! We waited and waited.
Finally they decided we would go out! It still wasn’t the windiest day but we got to the race course. Eventually after 1 postponement on the water we had our first race! Of course, the first start had a false-start so we waited even more. All we did was, wait today. Finally they did a re-start and were able to start. We were doing decently well until the gybe mark, where around 7 boats came around at the same time and yes… we lost all those places. But I guess it’s a lesson. It’s better to be closer to the mark than further.

Eventually we started the second race after a long postponement. We did fairly well until we noticed boats passing us by very quickly. We started playing with all the parts of the rig but nothing worked. Once we finished the race they said “Oh, and by the way you were black-flagged”… Well thanks for telling us that after the race. So we ended up being disqualified from that race because we were just a bit ahead of the start line. Well that put us down… what, around 13 places.

Anyways, after that we came in and de-rigged our boat. We quickly prepared our skit for Nations Night. This is a presentation by each country which shortly tells everyone how they live, what they do, etc. We were planning to do a lot, such as singing but then it would take too long. We then went to the Marquee to watch the other countries do their performances. They were really well done. Then it was Canada’s turn to go up. With only the three of us, we managed to entertain the crowd as if there was no tomorrow. Everyone laughed hysterically. We first explained “what it means to be a Canadian”. Then we moved onto some myths about being a Canadian (and what others may believe about us). Then I read an “immigrants diary”. We’ll re-create our performance at the first opportunity. Everyone had a great time.

Just as we finished I was needed as a witness in the protest room. I went to the hearing and told them my story (they have already been there for over two hours). Unfortunately, after all that time the case was dismissed.

It’s been long day… we went to sleep for tomorrow’s races.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day 9

We woke up to a cold and windy day. As usual we left our camp ground at 8:00 to go to ASDA and buy breakfast. We got to the Sailing Club to find the parking lot empty! We thought that the races had already been cancelled and we were the last to find out. I decided to go to the committee room and find a new post to see details. It said that the first warning signal would be at 11:55. That meant it was one hour later than any other day.

We went to make ourselves lunch. They announced there would be a brief meeting at "quarter past ten" so in the meantime we went to see the wind gauge. As in the picture above the wind is approximately 22.6 knots. We then went to the big tent to find out what would happen with the races. They announced that out on the water the wind gusted to 30 knots and therefore they would scrap it.

We have almost decided to go to Abersoch and visit the town but a huge rainstorm came in so we stayed in the Marquee. We spent the time uploading all our pictures and finishing up previous days of the blog. As well we replied to dozens of e-mails. The Peterson family helped us rig our boat so therefore we allowed them to use our laptop. It wasn’t the most appealing day of our trip, especially if our second option besides sailing is travelling. Anyhow, we finally bought our first dinner at the Sailing Club; it was expensive.

In the meantime, the organizers were preparing the Welsh night and harpist. Gwenan Gibbard is one of Welsh music’s most exciting new talents. As well, reporters were going around and filming each nation. They also filmed crews hard at work during the rain.
Later on in the evening everyone gathered in the Marquee and the harpist came. In addition, they were filming this live. They also showed the reporting done earlier in TV and luckily we appeared in two of the shots.

We are now looking forward to the next day. We hope that we will finally be able to get the races done!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 8

The first day for the Worlds has finally begun! We woke up at the normal time, quickly made lunch and left to the Sailing Club. Once we arrived we started setting up our Mirror Dinghy. Anthony (an organizer for Australia 2011 MW) and an organizer from South Africa helped us check our rigging. This included the rake of the mast and the tension of the shrouds. As well they checked our jib and mainsail placement.

The weather has improved a lot. It was still blowing hard but at least it stopped raining. We set out to the course like usual and began plaining across the start line. The race course for the Worlds is exactly the same as for the UK Nationals. Today approximately 100 Mirror’s started. With the new rig setting we felt the huge difference. When we crossed the start line we were able to keep up with all the other boats. We were actually in the middle of the fleet once we passed the first mark! We finished the first race in the middle of the fleet, a great accomplishment.

The second race got a bit harder. Once we were past the second mark we ran into some trouble. Another boat luffed upwind really quickly catching us off guard. The ending result was a hole at the top of our bow. It was nothing that we couldn’t handle. Later on we called a protest against them. This race did not go so well because we were extremely close to tipping with our spinnaker and we spent a lot of time bailing water. The third race was another good one. We had a great start and were at almost all the marks in the middle of the fleet. We have a competition with one crew from Great Britain because we’re always sailing beside each other.

There were many "retirements" during the races today because of the extreme conditions. In the above picture are the teams that retired. The second picture below shows the boats that retired. After the race we sailed in and quickly went to the protest room to fill out a form on time. There is a 90 minute time limit after the race. We then went to de-rig the boat and checked the jury room every so often to see if someone was there. We also had to tell the other boat that they were to meet us at the protest. During the protest we basically stated what happened, but it was dismissed because “the hole is too small and did not affect us in finishing the race”. We now have to find out what we will do about it.

Currently we are relaxing and saw a presentation about the up-coming European championships and 2011 Worlds.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Day 7

Today was the first day that we were able to sleep in. We were planning to wake up at 7 am but we woke up at 8:30 due to heavy rain. Eventually we got up a did our laundry. We originally planned to go site seeing but we decided to go the the Sailing Club. We checked our e-mails and got a lot of things out of the way.

As promised Peter Robinson (from GBR - the secretary and future president of the National British Mirror Association) helped us check our rigging. This included the tension of the shrouds and jib adjustment (something no one in Ontario has on their Mirror Dinghy). We had to do some quick grocery shopping because of lack of food.

At 17:30 all the participants gathered at a distant location on the streets of Pwllheli. From there we marched to the Club led by a Welsh marching band. Each nation got 2 flags to represent their country. Once we arrived at the Club we sung the Welsh National Anthem. Later on there was a presentation from the organizers which introduced the Worlds. There were also speeches from national and international sailing organizations.

Another part of the ceremony was fleet and waters blessing. The pastor collected waters brought by teams from their countries. The ceremony was concluded by a buffet.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Day 6

Today morning we woke up to a fairly sunny day and quickly rushed ourselves to the and only grociery store. We then drove to Pwllheli Sailing Club, where we split into 3 groups. Les went to get a rachet block and a little block for the outhaul. Mike made us lunch and eventually helped me out in rigging the boat for racing. Martin, David, and Peter helped us to fix our brand new rudder blade. Now we have a new rudder blade, new centerboard and decent sails.

The weather today was pretty good. There was a steady southern wind around 12 knots and the sea was fairly calm, without any big waves. We left shore at high tide and sailed to the course out in the open. Today we had four races. Today we felt much more comfortable with the starts. As in the pictures, almost every start we were at the top of the fleet. Later on during the course we have a problem beating up to the windward mark. We would usually catch up on the downwind leg.

Today was the last day of the UK Nationals. Overall we are 75th. Our goal was to not come in last. We're making many new friends. The Australians offered help in setting up our Mirror for the Worlds. After tonights awards ceremony everyone is invited to a nearby resort for swimming and relaxing.

Here are a few pictures from the race course and awards ceremony:

Tomorrow we are planning to go site seeing around the area as it is our day off. During the evening the ceremony for the Worlds will start. We will proudly carry our flag.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Day 5

Hey hey. We came to Pwllheli sailing club at around 8:20. Today was a much more normal day, the weather was super. The sun finally came out and the wind came down. We quickly went to our boat and found out that our new rudder blade was there. We quickly put it on. We thanked the Australians for letting us use their spare rudder blade, but we were more comfortable not sailing with theirs. Eventually we got into our sailing gear and went to a morning meeting for safety. They made sure that everyone had a bailer, towing rope, bracelet (elastic band with the crews jib number on it) and to sail to the stern of the commity boat to report.

We soon got out onto the water and sailed to the distant course. Today we sailed a total of 3 races. Things were much better than yesterday. We were finally able to improve in each race and learn new techniques. The largest improvement we had was in starts. In some of the pictures you can see that at the second and third races we were at the top of the start line. As well today was the first time we flew the spinnaker in each race. We were able to put it up and down smoothly.

We ran into some trouble in our second race. While on a starboard tack, we were sailing towards the windward mark, we saw a port tack boat sailing towards us. We were on a collision course with jib # 22. I yelled "starboard" twice and Michael yelled "starboard" as well. The boat made no sudden movement so I decided we must tack away to avoid collision. We made the tack and the boat hit us in the stern. We quickly turned around and saw that they had tacked away and we quickly memorized their jib and main sail numbers for a protest. We continued sailing on finishing in a decent, but not amazing, place.

After sailing we quickly brought our boat up the beach (at low tide, it was a pain). We went to the jury desk and filled out a protest form. The jury said that we have to wait till tomorrow afternoon for the results. We also had our bouyancy test completed. There is one little repair. This will be done by the repairman. They will finish the test tomorrow morning. Additionally, we recieved a new rudder blade which will be put on tomorrow.

After all of this we had the daily pasta meal, daily awards meeting and a rules clinic. We then fixed some small parts on the Mirror that we found a problem during todays sailing.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 4

After a short night we tried to find the store where we had ordered our "CAN" letters for our main sail. This turned out quite a problem because there were no streets names. Another problem with these streets are they show the speed limit every few miles. After searching the area where we thought the store was, we found it. We received 6 letters for the low price of only £19. Afterwards we drove to ASDA - the Wales "Walmart". We've been at this same store so many times we basically know everyone that works there.

We managed to get the club where everyone was getting ready for the regatta's. We still had to finish quite a bit of things before we could sail. The most important was changing the letters on the main sail and placing numbers on the jib. The one thing that held us back in this was us not knowing whether we were getting new sails. We had to go around asking organizors if we did and finally we got a new set of sails which we placed "CAN" on. On the jib we have the number "22". We were planning to put "turtle wax" on the bottom of the boat but we ran out of time; we had to be ready for 10:55 and it was already 10:30 and the sails were not on the boat yet.
We got dressed into layers and layers of clothing. The wind, blowing at 23 knots, we set sail onto the Irish sea, near the Atlantic ocean. The course was very far away from the beach. It was approximately 30 minutes away sailing very fast. We plained almost the whole way there. We sailed to the stern of the commity boat to check in on the race course. There were 10 RIB's cruising around the course providing security and help for competitors. Additionally, there was a Mothership, which helped out crews in trouble. It was anchored on the leeward side of the course. Les was one of the volunteers on it and had a chance to take the awesome, superb pictures. We then sailed back and forth on the 450 m. start line on which 80 Mirror's started the UK Nationals.

Up until this point it was going smoothly. We started the race fairly horribly becuase of the fact that we had no idea what to do with 80 other boats and a starting line 450 m. long. The sea conditions were extreme. Sailing in this for the first time, overall it wasn't bad. The course consisted of going around one up-wind mark, plaining to the second mark, then down-wind to the third mark and doing a sausage up to the second mark and then once again around the third mark and plaining to the finish line which is 50 m. long.

We passed the first and second mark quickly but then got into some trouble. When we were about to gybe going down-wind the wind started to blow fiercly. We managed to gybe but then the boat started to magically go side-ways and almost up-wind. I tugged on the rudder which moved freely. I had no idea what was going on until I saw that the rudder blade snapped and was out of the water. We quickly pulled down the sails and a "RIB" (Rubber Inflatable Boat) came to us and towed us to shore. We came in and saw numerous other Mirrors sailing in with their own problems (many capsizes, 2 other broken rudder blades, 1 broken bom and another few broken centreboards). Overall only 60 Mirror's managed to finish the shortened course.
After a few minutes we saw every Mirror returning, so we assumed that they called off the next two races because of the weather. Unfortunately we were not able to finish the first race. We then had to de-rig our boat and search for a new rudder blade, which will hopefully arrive tomorrow morning. Luckily the Australian fleet was kind enough to lend us their rudder blade just in case we needed one. We are grateful that they were able to help us.

We then had a pasta dinner and awards for the first day (they gave a prize for first place on the first day).