• 14 Worlds Wrap Up Report

    International 14 Worlds
    Report from USA 1200
    Perth, Western Australia

    The party is over. Boats are packed back into containers or road trailers and the sailors have cleaned the beaches and yards surrounding the Perth Dinghy Sailing Club. 67 International 14s were registered for the 2020 Worlds all anticipating sailing on the Swan River just inland from Freemantle W.A. were the famous ‘Freemantle Doctor’ resides. We knew it would be breeze on and we were often right, but other times the breeze was more moderate and even one day of light and shifty. Well, light and shifty in an W.A. way, lulls to 3-5 and puffs to 18 with 30-50 degree shifts.

    The U.S. container was initially packed in early Oct with 8 boats, plenty early to make the 42 day crossing to Perth, Western Australia via Singapore. Unfortunately, US Customs decided they need to find out what sailors pack in these containers. They held the container in LA for nearly a month. They pushed our scheduled arrival from 4 Dec back to 1 Jan 2020. Due to the holdup, a few of the crews decided to bail on the whole trip, the majority wanted to push on and sail on the Swan River and the Infamous ‘Freemantle Doctor’. This meant the US boats would not be available for the 4 on 4 Team Racing event held at every World Championship. This was The World Championship up until 1979 when the first individual Worlds was held in Long Beach, CA. Older Aussie boats were loaned to some of the US crews to allow participation. However, this did not allow a strong showing by the US Team on last minute borrowed boats, at a new ‘breezy, shifty’ venue. In the finals the AUS 1 team sailed against the GBR team and won the first race handily, but the Brits came back to win the 2nd race . In the finale GBR just squeaked by to take the Team Racing Crown for 2020. The infamous team racing party was held that evening, which proceeded to morph on into NYE celebrations and watching the fireworks over Perth City Center from the Perth Dinghy Sailing Club balcony.

    I had previously decided to not send my Bieker 6 in the US container so as to leave an open container space for my good friend Cameron Puckey (who helped me build /rig out the B6) to be able to send his newly built ‘Chinese’ Hollum named “Cluster” back to the US. Cameron is from AUS and had moved back there 2 yrs. ago after 15 yrs. in the US running and building SuperYachts. Cam had offered for me to sail the newly built boat at worlds, however, we would have to rig the boat entirely during the few days of lead up to Worlds. Definitely not a great idea as these boat usually take a year or so to work out all the little bugs and get things set up the way you like it. We were going to use an identical mast, so I did send my own sails which was helpful. I sailed the newly measured AUS 681, but under my USA 1200 sail number and temporarily named it “Nothing Drives Like a Rental”. No one else in the world I would have trusted to build a brand new boat and jump on and go at a big event, especially in windy Perth. Did I mention Cam designs and builds his own foils as well. Fortunately, he did come over and help with all the rigging. We had a fully adjustable rig, shroud, forestay, lowers, jib halyard and cunningham set up and sailing in less than 3 days. Our first sail was a short 20-30 min. sail which we found out how different the boat sails to the B5 and 6 that I have sailed in the past.

    A bit skittish in comparison. We also found out how much stretch is in the high tech lines with numerous splices that have to set in. We came in and made adjustments and prepared to have a longer sail the following morning. During that sail, in probably 18 kts. we set the kite and were absolutely flying, at over 20 kts. of boat speed in the flat water of the Swan River when a carbon plate in the T-foil rudder control system sheared instantaneously putting the T-foil rudder in full on position. The explosion at the back of the boat had the immediate effect of lifting the stern of the boat out of the water, not so much in a typical pitch pole but more of a getting bucked off a rather large bull. The support boats watching the Team Racing immediately rushed over to check on us as it was such a violent crash. This had the consequences of ripping the entire rudder pod off the back of the boat as well and shearing the solid carbon T-foil of the rudder. We limped back into shore and started to rebuild and reattach the entire rudder pod to the boat. Fortunately, Cam had built and brought an extra T-Foil rudder section which we reattached to the rudder. All this building and rebuilding was done under the watchful eyes of the Dinghy Club front balcony. I think the vast majority of people thought there was no way we would get it all done and sailing prior to the event. We were on the water again the following New Years Day. Minimal issues after that, a testament to the Puckey built boat and foils.

    Back to the US Container saga. The container was sch. to arrive 1 Jan. We were notified on the 30th that the ship was late leaving Singapore and would arrive 3 Jan., the first day of Worlds. The PDSC Commodore, Clayton Erwin was instrumental in assisting us in the local logistics of getting the container from Freemantle to PDSC and through customs and inspections quickly. The ship arrived afternoon of 3 Jan., the container was off loaded and delivered to PDSC the following morning 4 Jan. at 0730. The container was opened and unloaded starting at 0800 when the officials arrived to observe and inspect the contents. The container was unloaded within 45 min. and people started rigging boats to be on the race course for a 1300 start. Measurement of the US boats was performed the following morning so as to allow the boats to get out on the water ASAP.

    The Practice race was held 2 Jan and involved a moderately breezy day 18-22 kts. with a shortened course. Lots of crashes and less than 1/2 of the fleet finished. The first day of scheduled racing saw winds of 25-28 kts. The RC decided to postpone racing for the day which coincided with allowing the US Container to arrive and the US boats be unloaded and to not miss any races in the Individual Worlds. The 2nd schedualed day of sailing had racing changed to allow 2 races to be run. This was in 18-22 kts. After an early unload of the US container and assisting several of the US boats get rigged up and ready for the day, we went out for our first real racing. We got off the line in alright position and sailed fairly clean over the first windward leeward. We were still getting used to a new boat, but at least it was holding together. Some mistakes in the middle of both races cost us some capsizes and several boats. We had finishes in the mid 20s for both races. Not ideal, but at least we got around the course.

    The following day was slightly lighter and we had good sailing and ended up with a 9th. The fourth race had a bit more breeze and finished 16th, still alright and sailing in the group that we should be in. Getting into the top ten is a difficult challenge with the experience and depth in this fleet. The next day was “Big Wednesday”. Breeze on and the DR. was in, 18-22 kts. at the start with building breeze and puffs recorded on the course to 32 kts. We started the race with our “reefed main” and small jib and we were great off then line, with less sail area and drag we were hanging in the top 5-8 group up to the weather mark. Coming in on port tack just outside the layline I easily crossed a boat but hesitated slightly in the tack so as to not tack too close. As I know all too well in these boats, ‘ hesitation is death”. We flipped and anther top ten boat ran over our mast head breaking our gaff batten and tearing a hole in the mainsail. He also knocked our kite halyard turning block off the top of the mast head, so when we did hoist we were 2 1/2 ‘ short on the hoist. We got through the gybe and to the leeward mark, still in the top 15. At that point the wheels feel off in a down speed gybe / crash. The kite pulled out the back of the boat while recovering from the crash, then the tiller extension / T-foil adjustment mechanism sheared off the tiller. With all the damage we dropped the main and kite and limped back into shore for repairs - DNF.

    We got much of the repairs completed that afternoon with the tillers glued and screwed back on, batten replacement, mainsail tear repaired. The following day was supposed to be even more breeze, so the PRO planned to move the race start time up to 1000. We got to the club early to continue repairs. The PRO flew the AP over H flag - do not leave the beach. We continued our repairs but at a more leisurely pace. However, when he dropped the AP over H and we had less than an hour to rig and get out to the start line. We had not completed some splices for the reefed main strop which was lost the day prior as well and had not gotten the kite block lashed to the top of the rig. By the time we completed these repairs and rigged we were the last boat off the beach. We sailed to the start line as fast as we could, but had missed the start as well as the 6 minute window after which the start line was closed - another very costly DNS which we would now have to carry in our score, having already used our throwout for the prior day’s DNF.

    The following, and last day of racing started with a strong easterly which had happened on a few days prior, local knowledge said it would die off and usually fill with the normal seabreeze, however this had a bit more south in it and the locals were not feeling good about the prospects, saying it could stay easterly, move to the south or possible fill with the seabreeze. In other words, a “toss up”. It was a very puffy and shifty breeze when we got out on the course with huge holes, shifts and gusts. We figured it would be helpful for us being able to shift gears and pick shifts. We were learning how to sail the boat better having spent almost an entire week in the boat now. We got off the line at the boat end in a hole and were fairly deep. We starting tacking on some shifts and finding lanes of breeze and gradually worked our way up through a lot of the fleet. There were 30-50 degree shifts and breeze from 3-18 kts. throughout the race. We ended that race in 11th, again back up where we should have been the majority of the week. We ended up 25th overall, and that counts carrying a 67 in the final score count.

    The Next Worlds is scheduled for Flensburg, Germany in Aug 2021.

    Thank you to US Sailing whom awarded me support from the 2019 I-14 U.S. National Championship. All of that money was donated to support fleet transport costs for the entire fleet. Also, thank you Perth Dinghy Sailing Club for a wonderful regatta and time sharing your club. All clubs should aspire to be as helpful and supportive of their respective classes. Thank you especially to Commodore Clayton Erwin with whom the US container would probably still be somewhere in the Indian Ocean trying to get to Perth! And thanks to all the International 14 sailors and family who make this class what it is, the most fun and high performance dinghy class in the world.

    By Brad Ruetenic
    This article was originally published in forum thread: CST Composites International 14 World Championship at Perth Dinghy SC, Australia. started by Photoboy View original post