You get a suggestion from time to time about an event to attend. Essen was one of them. Few turn out to be as good as people suggest but Essen didn’t disappoint. The warmth from the hosts WSB 1919 on the Baldeneysee made up for packing the boats up in freezing temperatures in Frensham and turning up on Thursday to a wet murky Germany. 4 British boats, 2 Dutch and 1 Belgium joined a tough German fleet. A relaxed start time on Thursday allowed me to change my mainsheet block to the new Allen 45mm AutoRatchet and after tuning run with one of the Dutch, I re-rigged it to make the ratchet work the right way.
Wind Shifts, pressure patches and current were sailed to a tune of a music concert. The Brits were off to a good start with Steve Bullmore winning the first race, I was in second and Brian Harding 13th. Keith Gordon had to repair his boat in the morning but was racing by the 2nd race of the day. This race was no less shifty than the first and with a downwind against the current made these legs especially tricky. Steve managed to find a couple of holes which left him 6th. It was a close battle with the top 6 and somehow I found a good shift on the second beat to allow myself a little bit of breathing space downwind to finish 1st. It was becoming apparent that on these waters you could change your fortunes in a second, both in a good and bad way and it definitely wasn’t over until the end. The third race saw the music getting worse as did my starting ability. Up the 1st beat, all the Brits were hovering around mid fleet together. Jan Ten Hoeve was leading down the run but then the Dragon sailors of Ulli Libor and Ben van Cauwenbergh came through on both sides of the run. Ulli kept his lead till the end of the race with Jan holding off Ben to get 2nd. The Brits meanwhile weren’t having our best races but we all brought our places back to something respectable in the end. The fleet retired to the bar for beer, food and talking about the season ahead.
We woke the next morning to wind above the water but no visible wind on the water. It was also in the opposite direction to Friday. The fleet prepared not knowing who would get which shift in the day. The fire brigade were on the far shore with a water display, thankfully much quieter than the music. Eberhard Bieberitz made the early running in a massive left shift with the next 8 boats fighting close together. Biebe was becalmed at the bottom of the run which allowed the fleet to catch up. Jan took over the lead heading left as did three more of us. Three others including Steve and Ulli went right. About halfway up the sides came back together and the 90 degrees right shift changed everyone onto a reach. Steve, although the furthest right boat couldn’t capitalise on it due to a lack of pressure, slipped to 11th overall. Down the final run, I managed to hold off Ulli and Holger Humborg to finish second to Jan. After a long wait for wind and Hanns Hermann being rescued after falling out of his boat, we tried for one more race. The first beat was ok but as we beat down the second half of the run it was abandoned and we went in to enjoy the sunshine and waffles. Later the wind filled in further up the lake so off we went again. After a postponed start and a general recalled start the fleet was off although only those at the port end because the starboard end had no wind. After the 1st beat four of us had got away and I managed to pass Ben to win in what became a very light wind race.
After racing the German’s were running their Triple Match series that they run at every open. 4 heats of very short racing culminating in a final from the winners, with the first 2 going through to the grand finals later in the year in Berlin. Steve and I took part. I managed to win my heat, as did Ulli. Steve, unfortunately, lost to Biebe and the final heat was won by the Dutchman Dirk Jan Broertjes. It was too light winds for the finals so it was decided to run it in the morning. Much discussion took place that night over whether your phone would update the time automatically. There was no rush on that front anyway as Sunday brought no wind so after a short AP the fleet packed up for the prize giving. It was a nice start to the season and we are looking forward to our Queen Mary Open in April. I finished 1st, Steve 4th, Brian 14th, Keith 21st.
Full Results available at http://manage2sail.com/de/event/ERCC2018#!/
Megan Pascoe, 2.4mR