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Dec 9, 2016 |
Racing, 2016 - 2017,  |
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The Masters Europeans

We set out with probably our strongest team GB yet for the 2016 Masters Europeans in Hvar, Croatia.

We set out with probably our strongest team GB yet for the 2016 Masters Europeans in Hvar, Croatia. Most British boats were taken by Jubby from Sailboat deliveries and arrived before 95% of the other sailors and given prime launching position by the ramps (or where the floating ramps would eventually be, as it took a few days for them to be put up – I don’t think the Croatians expected the Masters to arrive so early)!

My own start to the regatta was not ideal when I went to the toilet near the end of the opening ceremony and got locked in the building. This saw me stumbling around in the dark until I found a key in the door to the boiler room which meant I could make my escape jumping over an 8-foot-high wall and subsequently injuring my left leg.

The first two days were sailed “outside” in 15 knots and great waves, and it was great to win four from four races. Maybe it was a bit of a boat speed contest but with so many happy smiling faces it was difficult to argue that it was not champagne sailing conditions. Thom Thou managed to get some great action pictures all week.

The club were super friendly, providing free food every day after racing. Unfortunately it was a good 10 minutes’ walk from the floating ramps we used for launching, so, after the first day walking over 20 minutes in my wetsuit I decided I would change before getting food (5 days of walking in a wet wetsuit could end up with a nasty bit of wetsuit rub).

So, after day 2 I returned to my hotel and quickly showered and changed but not quickly enough as they had run out of food by the time I arrived. They quickly reheated yesterday’s meal for me and the other late comers but sadly it was not reheated enough. At 3am the following day I found myself running to the bathroom with food poisoning and I was certainly not alone. Funny, as I remember one of the sailors (who had the fresh meal) looking jealously at my meat and pasta, the previous day.

Unfortunately, the waves were so big by day 3, that we raced “inside” between the Islands. The result was super gusty and shifty conditions, but probably much less hard work which was good for me (and several others) who were feeling far from 100% due to the food poisoning. A 2,1 score was respectable, especially on a day when many of the top sailors were picking up high scores and struggling to stay consistent.

Day 4 and again inside but this time with 10 knots from the west the shifts were more easily managed. Much to my relief I scored 2 bullets to win the event with a day to spare (which meant my leg had a chance to heal and I could have a dry wetsuit for the flight back!) Behind, things were super tight with Ian Gregory, Monica Azon, Terry Scutcher all scoring 6 points (3,3; 2,4; 4;2 respectively) battling it out for the remaining 2 podium positions.

Day 5 and the thought was on many people’s minds that with a very strong North Easterly would the catamaran taking us back to Split the following day be cancelled? The good news is there is a ferry the other side of the Island that always goes, departing at 05:30 but most people would prefer a few extra hours in bed.

I for one was glad not to have to race the final 2 races, as the second discard coming in after 10 races meant I could discard the last two races; giving me a leisurely day and the chance to pack a dry wetsuit for the flight home. It was Steve Smith who grabbed the bull by the horns to score two race wins: he said it was just like racing at Chew Valley! and propel himself into 3rd place overall (with Ian Gregory remaining in 2nd). Thus with Terry Scutcher 4th (Monica Azon 5th) and Rob Cage 6th, UK sailors took 5 of the top 6 places in the Radial fleet as well as winning every category apart from Legend where we didn’t have an entry (Jon Emmett Apprentice Master, Ian Gregory Master, Terry Scutcher Grand Master, Kevin Pearson Great Grand Master).

After the event the nicest thing was Jubby driving the boats back which meant not only did I avoid a long drive after a tough Championship it was possible to fly back for the UK Inland Championships in Rutland. Although the fast Catamaran was cancelled due to strong wind, the ferry was probably a much more relaxed trip in the extreme wave conditions.

Sadly, the regatta was overshadowed by the extremely sad news that Guo Chuan, Chinese single handed offshore sailor, was lost at sea whilst sailing from San Francisco to Shanghai. A great loss to the sport of sailing.

Jon Emmett has over 20 years of coaching experience from grass routes to Olympic Gold.