The Redline boys moved up north to Helsinki to compete in the grade 2 Open Spring Cup. The city of Helsinki is north of Stockholm and one of the most northern major cities in Europe with only a few dark hours each day. The weather was peachy for all days except the last when the wind kicked up and temperatures dropped. Similar to the Tom28s used in Poland we felt at home on the J80s with symmetrical kites. See the entry list below:
1. Olli-Pekka Lumijärvi ISAF Rank: 20
2. Mark Lees – GBR Race Team ISAF Rank: 23
3. Antti Luhta – West Coast Sailing Team ISAF Rank: 27
4. Matthew Jerwood – Redline Racing ISAF Rank: 32
5. Markus Rönnberg- Team ALANDIA ISAF Rank: 62
6. Marios Zisimatos ISAF Rank: 80
7. Ville-Veikko Niskanen ISAF Rank: 126
8. Lauri Kääpä ISAF Rank: 137
9. Ilya Baraev ISAF Rank: 213
We sailed well against our first opponent in the round robin to just get the win after good tactical calls on the finish line to beat Rönnberg by a few meters. Our next race went much smoother until we had a small scare at the bottom mark when the course was changed for another flight and our opponent went around the changed mark, this planted seeds of doubt. Fortunately we backed ourselves and sailed clear for an easy win.
Following those first two unsettling races we got into gear and sailed well to win the remaining round robin races. In some sense we were quite lucky because we sailed fast boats as we felt there was discrepancy between all the J80s used for the event. Nevertheless we made the most of our opportunities to win 8 from 8 races in the round robin.
For our Semi Final we chose Rönnberg in the first to three points final. The first two races were sailed with genoas in 5-8 knots in the evening of the second day, we had a fast boat and sailed well to beat Rönnberg 2-0. This meant we only had to win one of the next three races provided there was no damage to qualify for the final. The race on the third day was in very different conditions gusting over 25 knots and was essentially down to boat handling and speed. We had an extremely tight race were we had to overtake from behind on the first downwind to ultimately roll and take the win by only a few meters. We were very happy to win in three races straight and stoked to still not have lost a race thus far. We watched the five race final between Luhta and Lees which was won by Lees in a thrilling 5 race final. From experience were know there is nothing better than a tough qualifier to prepare yourself for the next final.
The breeze was steadily building throughout the day and left us with a constant 25 knots gusting 30 knots for the final. The pictures do not do justice to the strong wind on the flat water, we could only just hold the sheets as we were being pulled into the blocks. With this in mind the race committee decided the change the finals from first to three points to first to two points. We were not happy with the change because it meant the brits had the best boat in the fleet for one extra race should the finals go to three races. We sailed a clean first race by winning the start and extending throughout the race to win by a comfortable margin, we were so far in front that we dropped early to avoid jibing in the nuclear conditions. The next race was much more difficult after we misjudged the start and didn’t give Lees room at the committee boat giving us two penalties off the start – this meant we had to do one straight away and a penalty in 25-30 knots is very expensive. Lees sailed well to keep the boat moving fast and finished with a comfortable margin. This left one final race to decide the winner of the 2015 Spring Cup. Unfortunately luck started to go against us as we had the slower boat of the two for the penultimate race. The team knew that in the strong wind it was down to speed and boat handling.
Off the line we were behind and in dirty air, not ideal but the team dug deep and picked a few shifts combined with hard hiking to claw ourselves within 1 boat length at the top mark. Around the top we had a killer set and almost felt the boat launch onto the plane as we further closed the gap to the brits. Once the gap was only meters we both jibed and luffed. Our jibe was better than Lees and that was enough to roll and sail over the bow of the opposition. Again we both jibed and powered to the bottom mark. At this point both boats had only 5 boat lengths to drop the kite pole, hoist the jib and drop the kite, to makes things interesting we were coming in on a tight reach in extreme conditions (see below). Going into overdrive the boys dropped and jibed faster than Lees and rounded the mark. Lees had a poor rounding took too much room giving him a penalty. We came away from the bottom mark with a big lead and held on for the final unstable run to win the regatta! The Boys were very happy to win with the slower of the two boats and are happy to have won two grade 2 regattas in two weeks!
Many thanks for following the Redline Racing progress.
Matt, Alex, Patrick and Mark