Major place changes at the Belgium Nationals……

At this morning’s briefing, the PRO Henry Antoine explained that yesterday’s delay in starting some of the races was due to a technical issue with the Pin End Starting Vessel, so it was really appreciated by all of today’s sailors that everything ran like clockwork and two more Belgium National Championship races were completed… Credit where credit is due, the lines were well set and the course well managed. I attended the briefing and listened carefully to the Meteorological Forecast, although somewhat doubtful that the races would get underway with the forecast I had both seen and heard from various sources! However, I could not have been more wrong, the predicted S/W wind held true for race 1 and then with a little patience, the fleet were rewarded with a 2nd race with wind from a more Northerly direction, so well done to both the race management and the weather forecasting information……..

Whilst some may be a little surprised, other’s maybe of the same opinion as Lars Hendricksen, in that he and his Ukranian team sailor Yevgeni Braslavetz, were purely using the first two days of this championship as a tune up for the following Gold Cup.. Lars explained,  “We are both satisfied with our performance so far, so now we are focusing on the GC. I feel that we have a pretty good picture of what we can expect at the GC. Very long days on the water, lots of current, and shifting winds combined with very changing wave patterns. This will mean lots of opportunities in the races to have the ability to change gear/mode according to the conditions.”  So by not sailing today, Lars has basically given up his chance to win this championship and the same will happen to Braslavetz tomorrow when he fails to start the final race……….  However, this does mean that the Belgium Nationals is thrown wide open with now around 4 boats who could “Mathematically” still win the title………

In the first race today, the fleet got away cleanly at the first attempt despite a strong favourable tide. At first the left-hand side looked to have an advantage, but as the beat unfolded the right side started to pay, BEL 79 helmed by Alex Helsen, who pushed furthest right, had a clear lead by the top mark. Closely followed by BEL 80 Ben Van Cauwenbergh in his unmistakable Black & White boat… Also doing very well on the first beat was NED 312 Jaap Bakker who rounded in third place.. These three boats all hoisted with a bear-a-way set and started to run against an extremely strong tide. The rest of the fleet split, some gybing & some following the leaders, but after a long, long run it was the three initial leaders, BEL 79, BEL 80 and NED 312 who rounded the gate in that order and also finished in the same order after another upwind and downwind legs…  GBR 744 Tim Tavinor battled hard to finish 4th and this would keep him well in contention overall, particularly with the drop-outs of the two Ukraine boats.

In race two the predicted Northerly wind settled to around 8 kts and after the third attempt the PRO got the fleet away under a Black Flag. This was exactly what was required because the line was fair, but the fleet to enthusiastic. Also the tide was now across the course and as soon as boats sheeted in and steered onto the wind, the lee-bow affect accelerated boats over the line, so a deterrent was required..

The first to make a jump on the fleet was GBR 745 Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen, who reminded us all why he is still called “The Man” by crossing the fleet comfortably on port and rounded the top mark well ahead, to then go on and win the race with ease..  In 2nd place and following his fantastic 1st in race one, was BEL 79, so Alex Helsen completed an excellent day of racing….  Well done.  In 3rd place was the hard working Tim Tavinor GBR 744 who won’t know it yet, but will start tomorrow as the overall leader after UKR 9 fails to race (or so I am informed)…  But, Tim will not have an easy ride to lift this Belgium National Title, Poul-Richard, Ted Sawyer and Ben Van Cauwenbergh are all still in with a chance, separated by only 4 or 5 pts….  With just the one race, who will prevail ???? 

Higher, Longer, Faster……  Chasing the Leader……    Stavros (USA 310).

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