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To win a continental DN Regatta in Europe is almost impossible. Everything has to come together

European Championship
January 29, 2016
Lake Glan, Norrkoping, Sweden
Click here to see results

Photo copyright: paya-photo.com

The Gold Cup and European Championship was sailed on Lake Glan in Norrkoping, Sweden, two hours from Stockholm. Karol Jablonski P36 continued his impressive string of Gold Cup victories by winning his tenth title.

Lake Glan was selected because it had 30 cm of hard black ice which was a good decision because the ice thickness held up under challenging weather conditions. The European Championship was supposed to start on Wednesday, but a tremendous storm moved through Sweden on Wednesday and Thursday. The storm brought 40-50 knot winds, 45F temperatures, and rain. Each morning, we waited for the Race Committee (RC) to return from the course and report on the ice condition. With those winds and temperatures, we were all concerned with the integrity of the ice. Amazingly, the ice held and after a two day postponement, the European Championship was able to be sailed on Friday, January 29, 2016.

Our only window was Friday morning when the winds were forecasted to be 10-15 knots before another storm was due to arrive at 1 PM. It was really hard to believe the ice held in there and the surface was still hard after all those days of warm and wind. The warm weather made the ice smoother and faster. On Thursday when it was blowing 50 kts, a sailor on a free skates set the Swedish speed record at just over 100kph.

Friday January 29, 2016
We arrived to the site at 8:15 and found the ice surface still hard and wind blowing 10-15 knots as predicted. I loaded up my boat with a dry bag, tools, and runner box with 3 sets of side runners and two front runners. We waited for Deb Whitehorse to call from the 9:00 skippers meeting to tell us if racing was called on. There were two spots where people put their boats on the ice. The skippers meeting was held in an area where it was possible to drive on the ice. We opted to launch a short walk away from that spot in an area where heavier trailers and trucks could park on the beach.

The Professional Race Committee did an amazing job. Every day, the members of the PRC would take an ATV to the course to check ice conditions before sending us out to race, an important task that kept us assured of a safe racing area. A skippers meeting was held every day at 9:00 am and the first race would start at 10:00 am.

Deb called and said the Silver Mini Qualifier would start on time at 10:00 and to get out to the course. With the wind and ice conditions I put up an ABSS Speed Sail on the boat and took the MS-1 high wind sail to the course in case the wind built as predicted.

The ice was smoother and faster than it had been all week. Mother Nature’s Zamboni had been hard at work. The wind was blowing about 12-15 kts. I put my 90 degree 3/16 X 36 in side runners with carbon wings and my Low/Pro front runner on the boat. These are the same 440-c runners I used for every race of the World Championship and European Championship.

With the faster conditions I decided to tighten my rig by shortening the head stay by one cm and lowered my halyard by about the same amount. These adjustments made the boat stiffer and kept me from over bending the mast.

The PRC called the Silver fleet to the starting line at 9:55 and started on time at 10:00 as promised. I sat on my boat as I tried to relax, get my heart rate down, and watched the Silver mini qualifier race.

The right side of the course which started on port tack had control as all the boats approached the first weather mark. On the following laps the lead boats sailed up the right side of the course.

Race 1.

I drew starting position 38 on the left side for the first race. I knew I did not want to go all the way to the left side so I decided to try and get a good start and tack to the right side as soon as possible. When I got about half way across I looked to my right and saw I had a clear lane to tack. I caught a nice puff when I tacked. As I sailed across, to my surprise, I had a big lead. I looked to my left and saw the weather mark on my beam. I tacked back to starboard right away, but I ended up about 100 yards short of lay line. I had to do two tacks to make it around the weather mark, and by the time I did all of that, Vaiko Vooremaa rounded in front of me and I was second.

Vaiko jibed down the middle of the second leg. I went a little further before I jibed, but did not gain any advantage. I followed Vaiko into the first leeward mark and we raced up wind to the right side together. I was able to get a little up inside of him and keep my air clear. When Vaiko tacked on lay line he must have hit a drain hole or something because his bow popped way up in the air. I looked around to make sure it wasn’t a crack he hit and tacked up on his hip. I followed Vaiko into the weather mark but had gained on him after his wheelie.

On the second downwind leg I jibed first and did gain an advantage. I only had to do one jibe to round the leeward mark while Vaiko had to do two jibes. This put me in the lead and I stretched it out on the last lap. I went across the finish line with my feet in the air in first place in honor of my sisters. Vaiko was second, Thomas Ebler was third, Madars Alvikis was fourth, Karol was fifth, Michal Burczynski was sixth.

Race 2.
The PRC ran a Silver fleet race and while they were racing, the Gold fleet was called to the line. I started in the second race in the number 1 starting position. I got a great start and led at the weather mark. I held my lead down wind, but it was important to pick the right time to jibe on the downwind leg. Michal was chasing me down hard. He tried tacking before I did on the second beat but I still beat him into the second weather mark.

On the second downwind leg, I jibed down the middle again Mike went a little further and Karol went all the way to the port tack lay line and jibed. I was still in front at the second leeward mark, but both Karol and Michal were closer. I called a really good lay line and sailed into the third weather mark on a great angle. Karol and Michal tacked short and had to pinch the weather mark and I beat them around. Michal jibed right after the weather mark and Karol went all the way to port tack lay line again. I jibed down the middle, but as I approached the finish line I got passed on both sides and finished third. Karol was first, Michal was second, Jost Kolb was forth, Matiss Alvikis was fifth. It is not a good feeling getting passed on both sides on the last leg, but I was really happy to have my finishes.

Race 3.

The good news was that I did not have much time to think about the last leg because they called the Gold fleet back to the starting line as soon as they changed the starting line without running a Silver fleet race in between. I started in the 3 spot with Karol to weather of me and Matiss to leeward of me. I got a really good start and for the first time beat Karol off the start. Karol had to tack away and I did not see him for the rest of the race. I tacked on what I thought was a good lay line but was a little short and had to pinch just a little going into the weather mark. There were some really big puffs on the far left and right side of the beat. I was in about eighth at the weather mark. The breeze was really up and down in this race. I sailed really well to come back to third place. This time I sailed to the port tack lay line on the last leeward leg. Shortly after I jibed I hit one of those drain holes that popped my bow way up in the air. I passed two boats on the last leg just before the finish line and was very happy to be third.

After I got measured (the race committee measured the top 5 boats and checked stickers after each race), I noticed some big nicks in my front runner from whatever I hit. Eric Anderson held my boat while I took my front runner off and stoned the nicks out of it. I also decided to shorten my head stay a little more before the last race.

As the silver race was being run the wind got light enough that Karol and many other sailors changed their runners and to their fuller sails. I left my runners and sail the same. My only choice for a sail change was to a flatter sail because I left my F-01 on shore so I left everything the same.

Race 4.
I spoke to the PRC and asked him how many more races we would sail today, he told me this would be the last race of the day for Gold fleet because this was the fifth race for those who had sailed the Silver mini qualifier and moved up to Gold fleet. As it turned out the storm came in on schedule and this would be the last race of the regatta.

I started in position 3 and got another good start. On the first beat the wind began to build. I over stood the weather mark by a little and rounded the first mark in fifth. I decided to follow Vaiko on the first downwind leg. This worked out great and I passed one boat and rounded the first leeward mark in fourth. I lost Vaiko somewhere and after the regatta I heard he had a hound failure which was a shame because he had a good chance of winning the regatta.

On the second beat the wind built to well over 20 kts. I was really glad I had not changed anything. The boat was really fast and I was reeling boats in up wind and downwind. After the last weather mark the wind had shifted enough to the right that I jibed right after the weather mark and sailed straight to the finish. Michal was first, I was second, Madars was third, Argo was forth, and Lukasz was fifth again.

To win a continental DN Regatta in Europe is almost impossible. Everything has to come together. I work harder at this than anything else in my life. Had a great time at the 2016 DN Gold Cup World Championship, and European Championship. Thank you all for your prayers and support. My results were better than expected. I want to especially thank my hosts Torsten Seims, Stefan Schweneker, and Joerg Bohn. I would also like to thank Eric Anderson, Deb Whitehorse, and the whole American team for their support on the ice.

1st Ron Sherry 9 points
2nd Michal Burczynski 16 points
3rd Madars Alvikis 21 points
4th Karol Jablonski 21 points
5th Tomasz Zakrzewski 27 points
6th Matiss Alvikis 33 points
7th Tomas Ebler 37 points
8th Rafal Sielicki 45 points
9th Maciej Zarnowski 50 points
10th Jost Kolb 51 points

I used a 1999 standard hull
1999 185 pound plank
Forstmann boom
Standard 2012 QIL mast
2010 North ABSS sail
2- 3/16 X 36 inch insert runners with carbon wings and 18 inches of .008 flat. 3/16 low/pro front runner 14 inches of .008 flat
All runners are 440-C.

See you on the ice and Keep the FUN Pedal Pressed.

Ron Sherry