Even though the loss in Newport was tough, it we came away with some every specific things to work on which we knew if we could get right we would be a force to be reckoned with come the final in Marstrand. With training hard to come by the team was able to offset some work hours with a few hours on the M32 Cats at home and we managed to nail down a few of the boat handling issues we were having in Newport. Some great coaching from Mikael Lundh we felt ready for the event. Like all things, nothing is perfect and with a week until we flew Patrick our traveller trimmer managed to badly roll his ankle meaning he could not train the week before we left and left us wondering if he would be ok to sail in Sweden. Pat gritted his teeth and we called it would be ok, with some serious anti-inflammatories, lots of ice and strapping tape he got through the regatta like a champ! Our goal for Marstrand was to make it through the qualifying fleet racing stage in the top 3 of our 5 boat pool to avoid the sailoffs for 16-20th. We did this placing 3rd in our group and along the way winning our first fleet race in the new format.
Next up was our super 16 match against one of the favourites, Nicolai Sehested from Denmark and his superstar team. It was rather windy and we managed to dominate all starts to be leading 2-1 going into the 4th race of a first to 3 points series. In the 4th race there was a massive crash between the boats with our boat not being able to keep sailing ending up with us winning the race to put us 3-1 up but there was to be a damage hearing ashore that night. The result of the hearing was we would lose one point and he would lose 2. So the next morning the scores were left at 2–-1 with us on match point and him needing 4 races straight. We managed to knock him off in one tightly fought race to our joy! We then went into the quarter finals against Olympic 49er Gold and Silver Medallist and Volvo Ocean Race Helmsman Iker Martinez and his team. The wind was lighter but we sailed with craft and came from 0-1 down to win 3-1. The team couldn’t believe what we had done, we were into the final day and guaranteed a top 4 finish! Sleeping was hard that night with the excitement but the next morning lay Phil Robertson for the Semi Final.
Unfortunately the team wasn’t quite up to Phil and his team, leading the last race only to get past on the last upwind. We held our heads high and prepared for a 3rd/4th playoff in the now seriously fresh 25-30 knots blowing down the Fjord in Marstrand. The team was up against long-time friend and rival Chris Steele and his 36 Below team from NZ. In both races we were behind off the line but our superior tacking in the strong wind meant we clawed ahead to win both races and finish 2-0 and in 3rd place on the podium!!!!!! Phil Robertson won the event with Taylor Canfield in Second. It was a great last night with our medal presentations, a few celebratory drinks and the single guys (not Matt or Alex) on the team struggling to keep their new Swedish fans away!
After the initial dissapointed we remmebred that the next two days we were to be sailing in a high intesity camp on the M32 catamarans that are to be used in the World Match Racing Tour next year and into the future. These boats are sailed with four people, have a mainsail, a big code zero gennaker and racks for the crew to sit out on. They are incredibly physical boats to sail with all the sheets having much more load than what we have become accustomed too, many more metres of rope to be pulled and trampoline to be run across and the float is forever grinding the gennaker sheet in and out of manouvers. For the camp to coach the teams we had three members of the 2013
World Match Racing Tour Championship winning team and current M32 Series leaders, the
US One Sailing Team.
Taylor, Hayden and Ricky were incredible in helping the team develop a base of knowledge on how to sail these boats and also how to manage a team. So Day 1 started with a 6am gym session at Windy City Crossfit where we had Hayden’s trainer running us through a warm up, a curcuit and then a team rowing challenge. The challenge was a 2km for time which you could split up however you wanted within the team. With our prior training with the fantastic team at Southern Crossfit back in
Perth, our team had the advantage and won the challenge completing the row in 6 minutes and 10 seconds, beating the coaches!
After our gym session we went down to the match race centre had breakfast and got the boats sorted. The forecast was for fresh breeze and it wasn’t wrong! We headed out under the instruction of a full main but we quickly realised we needed to put a reef in which we did and started doing laps of the winward leeward course. The wind was blowing straight offshore and gusting over 30 knots making for a real baptism of fire for all the teams! After our first go we hoped off the boat, worked a few things out and when we got back on we were sailing much better and with a lot more confidence. Then all of a sudden the wind kicked a little again and one of the other teams had capsized, it was quickly communicated that we weren’t to use the gennakers and to sail downwind on main only.
Doing this isn’t too easy as now with the boat going slower it loads everything up more and on our second time downwind a big puff hit us, the bows went in and Matt couldn’t bear away to depower as we would have cartwheeled. Matt made the split second call to try and spin the boat up to get rid of the power but the puff was too strong and we too ended up swimming. After a little while we managed to get the boat back up with the assistance of a power boat and all was ok. By then the call was the reef again so we got one more sail and practice race with Chris Steele and his team in the blustery conditions which we managed to come out on top of. After a debrief and dinner all the teams were wrecked but we knew we had it to do all over again tomorrow and we couldn’t wait.
Day 2, same thing, early morning at the gym where we again won the fitness challenge. Even with this though after how hard the sailing was the day before we know we have to keep getting fitter and fitter as it will only mean the boat will go faster for longer on these tough days! Day 2 though brought lighter wind 0-8knots. This allowed us to run some racing on the a standard M32 course, much the same as an Americas Cup course with the reaching start and finish and a top and bottom gate. We had a great start to our race flying a hull across the enitre leg and around
mark 1 with the gennaker deployed to lead start to finish. We finished up the day with a debrief and went back to the apartment hooked on what is to be next year!
Redline Racing has just finished up its second tour of the year over in the US. Since our last update the team has been in Chicago and Detroit catching overnight buses cross country to compete in the final two events of the Grand Slam Series as well as an M32 Catamaran training camp. It has been an intense two weeks sailing where we have been on the water for long hours for 11 days straight!
After our win at the Oakcliff International the team had a day or two to rest up before we caught an overnight bus to Chicago for the next event, the Chicago Grade Two Grand Slam. The bus ride was a bit of an adventure taking 15 hours but we got to Chicago in one piece, settled into the apartment with our hosts and quickly realised they had
Netflix. This meant that Netflix combined with the tetris style arranged living room covered entirely with air mattress became a haven for after racing R&R. The wind in Chicago was 5
-12 knots for the most of it and was sailed in Tomm 28 Max yachts which are hard not to like. They’re manouverable, quick and ergonomic boats which most teams seemed to enjoy. We finished the round robin off on 7 wins and 4 losses with a few silly mistakes costing us a couple of races leaving us in 4th going into the quarter finals. This left the team without a pick of opponent and leaving us
to race training parteners Neptune Racing in a first to 3 point quarter final. We knew from the outset it would be a brutal affair and after 3 tight races we finished the day ahead 2-1 going into the last
day. The next day though the Neptune Racing boys came out swiniging and even though in race 4 we rounded mark 1 ahead they forced an incident at the bottom mark which the umpries judged us to be in the wrong and left us behind and unable to catchup. The decider was within 1-2 boat lengths the whole way around but we just could not break through the defence of our opponents and they took the series 2-3 and knocked us out. We were incredibly dissapointed as we had felt
like we had sailed a strong series and had been fast all week but we just could not finish them
off, credit to the Neptune boys.
The next morning we caught the bus to Detroit where we would sail our last regatta of the Grand Slam where the four teams could still win the series if they won the event. The event is sailed out of the Bayview Yacht Club in the Detroit River, which has a strong current that runs from Lake St Clair down to Lake Erre making for some very close tactical racing as boats fight to get in or out of the current. The boats were small, three man, A-Symetrical style boats which were super light and could turn on a dyme. With the current though it was all about getting to the current relief upwind along the exclusion zone along the shore and then jumping out into the current at the right time to get
around the mark and shoot off downwind. If you didn’t win the left hand side off the start it was very hard to win the race. We started the regatta slowly finishing the first round robin on 4 wins and 5 losses and with only a top four go through to semi finals we were in serious danger of not making the cut. The team though came out stong in the second round robin and won 5 races straight including a decider against Chris Poole for who was to make it into the semi finals. We managed to dominate the race getting to the left first and scraping into the semi finals! The last day brought a different wind direction where we were now flying upwind with the current and struggling
downwind against it making it incredibly hard to defend a lead downwind. Neptune Racing won the round robin and elected to pick local hero Nate Hollabach leaving us to race other Grand Slam
contenter and world number 7 Chris Steele! The result meant a lot for us not just in terms of the
Grand Slam series but if we were to lose the semi Chris had a chance to over take us on the Wo
rld Tour Standings. In an epic five setter we came from 1-2 down to win 3-2.
In an incredibly mentally and phycaically draining seires. This left us to face Neptune Racing in a sudden death final. The winner would not only win the regatta but also the Grand Slam. After a tight tustle in the start we came away with a small advanatge and held it to the top mark but had Sam and his team only 2 metres behind us. They managed to sail the boat fast and got a little puff of
wind that we did not and postioned themselves to block our turn and held us until they needed to turn and overtook us leaving us to follow him around the bottom mark now behind and trying to catch up. Sam and his team sailed fast and were able to extend away enough on the leg to be
just too far away for us to get him on the last leg and they eventually won by around 10 metres. A great race all the way around and well done to the Neptune boys for taking it out. This left us second in the Grand Slam and the regatta, a performance we are proud of but one we know with a little more experience could have been one step better.
Redline Racing has just completed our third of five regattas for the second tour this year through Poland and USA. Our first event was the World Mtch racing Tour, Energa Sopot Match Cup held in the Baltic Sea in northen Poland. This event had the toughest field to date with 7 of the 8 tour card holders plus formidiable wildcards including 2002 world champion and past Amercias Cup skipper Karol Jablonski. Being a world tour event we were treated like royalty with a 5 star hotel provided by the organisers and high class post racing functions amoungst the event sponsors. This event though was cut throat with one round robin leading into quarters, semis and finals.
Having never sailed the boats before and our training session cut short after 20 minutes due to no wind we were put on the back foot going out on day 1. Our first race of interest was against Johnie Berntsson’s team, to escape from the dial up before the start we attempted a “steel balls” manouver where we attempted to dip his stern, unfortunatly our judgement was slightly out and our two boats collided causing damage to the fiberglass on both boats. Redline was penalised with a half point penalty which came back to bite us later in the regatta.
Moving further into the round robin we had nail bitting finishes with both bows crossing the finish line within a foot of one another, these races are decided by the final decisions where every move by every person on each boat counts, if any one person makes an error the race is lost. We found ourself doing well in these tight finishes and just got 2 important wins. We put ourselves in a reasonable position going into the third day where we needed to win 2 of our final 3 races to make the cut for the semi finals. Unfortunatly the team was just out sailed in the first two races against top teams and going into the last race we couldn’t qualify for the quarter finals. Our last race was against the Swiss team skippered by Eric Monnin who we managed to beat after sailing the shifts on the second beat to put ourselves in 8th place for the regatta with 5 wins and 6 losses but 4.5 points. Although we just missed the cut for the quarter finals we were happy to be an influence on the results and only missed out by half a point from the damage against Johnie Berntsson.
Our next regatta on the trot was the Knickerbocker Cup held in Manhasset Bay with the regatta having a long history over the past 32 years. This year was the first year that the SM40s were not used and the Sonar boats were used. These are small light boats originally designed for 3 people, hence we found the boats a little cramped. As the locals at Long Island said the wind is very unstable in August with the potential for back to back days of no wind, hence the race committee were very keen to get racing under way with any breath of wind.
The reagtta was sailed with a double round robin then quarters semis and finals, We finished our round robin on 10 wins and 4 losses placing us in equal second and third on count back, this put us up against the top US team Skippered by David Storrs with 2013 world champion Taylor Canfield to call tactics and Current world no1. Bowman Ricky bobby to crew. We sailed well in race one to lead comfortably until 50 meters before the bottom gate we noticed one of the gate marks was being pulled from the water, we incorrectly rounded the remaining gate as a gate mark rather than as a sperate bouy, resulting in our disqualification much to our disappointement giving the race to Storrs. The following race was saw us infront again as we won the start but up the second beat we fell into a hole of no wind and Strors sailed around us. The final race was equal off the line until we couldn’t quite hold our lane to windward, missed forcing us to the wrong side which inturn put us behind and the experience on board helped the team stay infront to the finish. We were very disappointed to ose the quarter finals but it was fair and our opposition out sailed us.
This gave us a few days to recover from a little bit of sickness the team was experiencing and gave us a chance to check out New York City.
Our third regatta was the Oakcliff international and once again the competition was feirce with previous legends sailing amoungest current talent. The competition format was once again a double round robin with quarters, semis and finals. With wind failing to come in before 1300 each day the second round robin was cut short to only 4 races. We were surprised to end up winning the split round robin with a race to spare, giving us a slight advantage going into the final series because if we couldn’t race due to lack of wind then we would win on default and if we raced then we could choose who to race in the semi finals. Through some contraversial discussion it was decided that we couldn’t pick who to race in the quarters and had to race the 8th place boat, this happened to be David Storrs again and even though he didn’t have any world champions on board this time he still put together a very strong team. The racing was held in extremely shifty conditions under a head land with a developing seabreeze. We defended the right when in doubt to win the quarters 3-1, a good comeback from the week prior.
Next up we came aginst local legend Chris Poole and his team Riptide Racing who have a lot of expereince in the SM40s. Coming to the end of a long day the race committee shorterned the series making it first to two points rather than three points. Redline won the first start and sailed away to win convincingly in race one, giving us one point. The second race saw Riptide Racing come out very aggressively to try and take down Redline. The first incident went against Riptide putting them a penalty down but this only further fueled the aggression as they kept attacking us and they successfully put a penalty on us resulting in both penalties cancelling. Riptide kept attacking but the next two penalties went against Riptide, leaving him behind and carrying a penalty into the race. We started infront and made a few boat handelling unforced errors putting Riptide back in the race, on the second beat we split gates and they came back in front but they still had the penality and decided to try and spin before the finish line. We positioned ourselves to be on startboard as they finished the penalty on port, just as they finished the penalty we put another penalty on them for port vs starboard giving us the race and the semi final win.
Our final was aginst tour card holder and world no.3 Eric Monnin from Switzerland> The finals day had no wind forcast and in the event that we didn’t sail would default in us winning the regatta but of course we wanted to win in a final showdown rather than by default. The first two races were a carbon copy, the winning stragery was simply win the left and defend the left, both teams knew this and fought hard for the pin end start. We led back early and managed to burn the time to start at the pin, giving us a massive advantage to go left, this paid for us and we won the race. The second race was not to be, we again lead and tried to burn time to the pin but couldn’t quite burn the time hence we lost the left side of the course and lost the race.
With time ticking by we had time for one last race to decide the winner. The race started with both boats over the start line and needed to return. We both returned except Monnin put pressure on us forcing us to take a longer manouver to return to the line resulting in Redline behind by a significant margin. We kept pushing as the win was very unstable. By not jibing at the top mark we halved our lead and on the final upwind we got a big right shift while sailing on the same line and Monnin and managed to use our starboard advantage to control the top mark rounding and zip downwind to the finish. The shift was fortunate but nevertheless gave us the win! The team is stoked to have won our third grade 2 for 2015! This will help our world ranking and is a great comeback from Knickbocker. We look forward to Chicago for our next event.
The Redline team rolled into Southampton the day after our win in Helsinki giving us plenty of time to acclimatise to the new venue. We were blown away by our kind hosts living less than 100 meters from the yacht club in beautiful houses where each of us had our own room and bathroom! No doubt this helped the team stay fresh throughout the regatta.
The Grade 2 Royal Southern Match Cup was sailed in the famous Solent waters, a stretch of water between the Isle of White and mainland England. This is a very technical area to sail as the tide eddies and bends around the island and up the various cannels. The tide can be extremely strong and changes speed quickly, our time on distance calculations before the start needed to be closely monitored from flight to flight. This extra curve ball makes it slightly harder for the international teams to adapt. Also the a-symmetrical kites where launched and dropped from the cabin rather than the forward hatch, this was an additional mechanical issue all teams were wrestling with.
We started our round robin against regular rivals GBR Race Team followed by Aschenbrenner Racing Team. Our race with the Brits was held in a steady 20 knots, racing was close around the entire race until the bottom mark where once again the race was decided. We had a terrible drop and rounding, luckily the Brits had a worse rounding under pressure forcing an extremely wide rounding allowing us to sail away for an easy win. Our next race against Aschenbrenner was a little cleaner however a lot of little mistakes were made by both teams where we made just a few less mistakes giving us the win. We were happy with the two wins, however our boat handling was behind where it needed to be, this was a similar problem felt by a lot of teams due to the strong winds, tight racing and cabin drops.
After a break we came back on for two races and started to gain momentum with 4 wins on the trot, but more importantly we started to sail the boats cleaner with better manoeuvres. As we finished the fourth race an umpire spoke with Matt and while he was focusing on the conversation forgot to steer the boat and crash jibed, knocking himself out in the process. It was a big hit, and put Matt on the floor of the boat. He was sent ashore for treatment with Pat to hold his hand as requested by management on the basis that our races would be postponed. Mark and Alex were left to sail the boat around. After 15 minutes the umpires said we had two options: accept two random crew and race or accept forfeit, this was a frustrating situation because we wouldn’t have sent our bowman to shore if we needed to keep racing, however we had no options and couldn’t fight the decision. So Mark took the Helm and Alex continued as mainsheet. Fortunately the boys rose to the challenge of the new roles and new crew to sail clean for another 2 wins without the opposition crossing in front once.
Our final 3 round robin races were in a fresh 25 knots. We won all except our race against 5 times World Match Racing Tour Champion - team GAC Pindar skippered by Ian Williams. Although we lost, it was a close race. We were behind slightly at the start, hot on his tail at the top mark and again kissing his transom around the bottom mark. We got a split right up the second beat and came out in front, another match was on our ladder rung and we accidently gave Ian the right thinking it was a boat in another match. A careless mistake that shouldn’t have been made. He used that to his advantage and lead around the top mark, he sailed well on the final run to defend the small lead.
From the round robin we went straight into semi-finals, partnered up with the inform Rascal Racing who are the current British Universities Match Racing Champions. The overly vocal team who made a lot of noise in the pre starts brought a tough set of races where the lead never extended more than 3 boat lengths. Our play of the series was in race 2 when we rounded the top mark just in front with a penalty, Both boats jibed just after the top mark and luffed, they rolled us, but we held on to defend the jibe back. We carried Rascal Racing past the bottom mark layline cleared our penalty and put a penalty on Rascal Racing before going back on a reach to the bottom mark. Although a tight series we came out on top 3-0.
We waited a good couple hours to watch an epic 5 race series between GBR Race Team and GAC Pindar. The young Brits sailed very well to almost beat the mighty GAC Pindar but ultimately Williams won out 3-2.
Our final we held in 2-5 knots with big wind shifts as the thermal breeze built and the gradient wind shut down. It was very similar to a Perth sea breeze pushing over the easterly gradient in summer. Both starts were very even and both races were ultimately won by whoever picked the shifts and puffs. This is an area of sailing that we as a team feel comfortable with hence we felt very happy to have equal starts. Both races saw us in control at various points and we had the choice of where to go up the beat, unfortunately both pivotal calls we made were wrong letting GAC take the cross in front from our decision. From there were struggled to break free. GAC Pindar are defiantly a level above the rest, and as you would expect being 5 time world champion.
Writing this at Doha airport in Qatar, the team is very proud of the results from the tour, our only losses in the finals were to full time, professional sailors. Our strong results have briefly put us on top of the World Match Racing Tour! Something we want to do a lot more of, the team can take a lot of lessons from the month for our next trip to Sopot and US Grand Slam. Look forward to seeing you all in Perth shortly.
Matt, Alex, Patrick and Mark