World Championships Day 4: Riding the Magic Carpet
Main photo: Mara Stransky (ILCA 6). Australian Sailing Team competing the Sailing World Championships in The Hague (8-20 August 2023). Photo by Beau Outteridge / Australian Sailing Team
The Hague’s famous “Magic Carpet” tidal flow wreaked havoc with the afternoon session at the Allianz Sailing World Championships today, with races abandoned when light winds met the strong current to stop sailors in their tracks.
“Everyone knew this was going to be a tidal venue and the info we had was that it was going to be up to 1.5-1.7 knots, but something has happened with the weather systems and the tidal flows through the North Sea have been stronger with currents up to three knots,” said Australian Sailing Technical Director Michael Blackburn.
“An ILCA can do 4.5 knots upwind, but here, when they are zigzagging upwind into 3 knots of current, they aren’t moving anywhere at all.
“There will be windows in the next few days where the current will be slow and enable racing, but we are also expecting more times like today where racing won’t be possible if the winds remain under 10 knots.”
One of the classes that got a full schedule in was the ILCA 6. Queenslander Mara Stransky sits in ninth after posting a second in the first race of the day, but it could easily have been a race win.
“In the first race I was leading but then at the final gate before the finish I got a yellow flag,” said Stransky. “There was only one other boat that I was close to. We were both fighting for the lead, I was on the inside and I think we were probably just going a bit hard at each other. I was still able to do my penalty turn quickly and finish second.”
The Tokyo Olympian is also appreciating the opportunity to be in The Hague with the full Australian squad.
“It’s pretty cool as we are usually split up for our Worlds, so it’s nice to follow the others and get a bit of inspiration from those who are doing well. We’re having full team dinners each night where we chat about the conditions, learn lessons from one another’s day and really grow the team spirit.”
Today was the first day of racing for the iQFOiL, with young Townsville Yacht Club sailor Scott Whitehead finding himself in a messy situation with a mark.
“I came into the top mark slightly underlayed, then one of my lines happened to catch the mark and I didn’t see it until it was too late,” said Whitehead. “I got slingshot around the mark and gave it a bit of a kiss.”
Recovering from a tangle like that can be make or break for your race, as Whitehead explained.
“This one was bad because everyone was coming around (the mark) so you’ve got to keep your kite low to avoid them, but your board is upwind so it keeps dragging you away. After that you just hope that it’s not too wet and it’s not tangled too bad and get back on your horse and keep riding.”
Scott’s sister Breiana also began her campaign today, finishing tenth and seventh before being called in for the day due to the wind easing.