Regatta Reports
2004 South American Championship Report
By Manuel Bunge
Feb 20, 2004, 18:02

The regatta started with a preparatory race on Saturday - the 60th Darke de Mattos Regatta, which was very different from that to which we are accustomed. This is the oldest Brazilian regatta that has been raced every year since its inception. Its course was around fixed buoys inside and outside the bay, using the rock know as Laje as one of the turning marks. From there, we toured the Pao de Azucar, very close to the rocks in order to avoid the foul current, to a buoy in front of the Copacabana Palace. We continued along the beach of the same name, and returned to the finish inside the harbor of the Yacht Club of Rio de Janeiro.

Clearly, passing close by the shore always brings its surprises, as 7200 discovered when they heard the noise of the boat hitting the bottom. Luckily, nothing was broken and the damage was not great.

With very little wind, and much (really a lot) current, it was a difficult race for all, except Torben, who won it easily. And far back, we finished 15 out of 25. One of prerequisites in this fleet to have a good finish is to start very well. The Polack (the boat’s skipper - Alejandro Chometowski) is (used to be!) accustomed to starting against half a dozen boats. Here, in the third row, we did not manage to do well.

Oh well, the race was good for us because we saw that when we were in more or less constant wind, we did not lack boat speed.

The prize giving for the Darke de Mattos Regatta was with all the elegance of the yacht club, with dinner, speeches, and much wine (Brazilian…)

On Sunday, we started the South American championship. Foreigners (non-Brazilians) were the Portuguese Olympic team (Afonso Domingos and Bernardo Santos – racing chartered Lillia 7774), Julio Labandeira and Valentin Thomson with their boat and us with Folli hull #7777. Our (very ambitious) project was to finish in the top ten.

For the first race, course 4, the wind was a 10-12 knots from 180 degrees, with the current coming in the Bay strongly, more so on the left than on the right. It was necessary to go the right. The problem was that everyone wanted to go right, in a line that would favor the right… 24 boats pinned on the same side with us again in the 3rd row. At the first windward mark we were about 20th. But, as we had confidence in the performance of the boat, we risked a little in playing with the current and we were able to improve during the rest of the race and finished 13th.

Julio (Labandeira), who knows this fleet and the Bay of Guanabara well, started very well and finished 6th. One thing that is the same in all fleet racing, when you entangle yourself in the middle of the fleet, you won’t get out. You’ll weave yourself a spider web.

Second race, course 5, wind from 180 at 12 to 14 knots, with the current flooding at the start and ebbing by the end. The situation was the same as race one, with the same favored side of the line. Only that, this time, we placed ourselves a little to leeward of the fleet, getting a good, clean start. We found the right place to tack to the right and the only one the crossed us was Gastao Brun. He tacked on us three times, and we did the same to those behind us, and then we continued on separate tacks. At the first windward mark we had a comfortable 2nd place. We worked hard catching waves, and were still in 2nd at the leeward rounding. We tacked and returned to the right. The current was much weaker and we could not read it well so we ended up 4th at the 2nd windmark mark. We sailed into a wind hole, fell to 8th. and that was where we finished the race.

Julio, who started under other boats and did not have clear air, finished 9th. A very satisfactory race, given that the position we had lost really was caused by the wind hole.

The 3rd race on Monday, was course 4, with the wind from 220 at 20 –22 knots, with the current flooding strongly. Despite a long wait, when the race committee boat had us waiting two hours because they could not anchor, we started well again, all going to the right side. When the fleet tacked, the only one that passed us was Torben by three meters. At the Naval School layline, we followed immediately behind Torben with the 3rd boat a distance back. In this wind speed, Torben/Marcelo are unreachable and disappeared on the horizon, in another realm of velocity. At the 1st windward mark we were 2nd. Behind us, with bones in their teeth, were the Portuguese, Julio, Alan Adler and Daniel Wilcox, with sails open like fans. After our wipeout to leeward, worthy of a film, Alan and Julio passed us.

Second upwind we were in 5th, always waiting an opportunity, without chancing loosing a place in relation to the others. Arriving at the Naval School layline, Julio had the bad luck to find a lost rock, so lost that the Portuguese passed between him and the rest of the rocks on the coast. Julio was stopped and lost several positions. We got 4th place and maintained it through the last leg when the wind died and those is front were joined by those behind. At the end of the race, we were in 7th and Julio was in 5th overall.

(Bunge and Chometowski finished 6th overall after 5 races.)

Final Results

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