Whilst the earthquake raged in Swansea, a stillness prevailed in Club Nautica El Balis. The Hungarian team (light builds) put up their sails at 9.30 am in a vain attempt to convince the Race Committee that a howling gale was approaching. The rest of the fleet adopted the prone position and watched the unmoving palm fronds. And so passed Day One of the Barcelona 29er Eurocup.
Day Two dawned - sunny yet still. Once again the Hungarian team hoisted their sails. Once again the remainder of the fleet adopted the prone position only to be shocked by a seismic shift in the palm fronds. Five knots beckoned and out went the fleet. ESP 2116 showed how it was done with two bullets in light and shifty conditions. Unfortunately Team GBR was a tad enthusiastic to depart the start line - resulting in four black flags and one nameless GBR boat the proverbial 29er country mile over. Still with three GBR boats in the top ten and four with hefty discards, there was much to celebrate. True to form, whilst the sailors got in an early night, the GBR 29er parents did not.
Day Three arrived with an even more dire forecast. The GBR parents drank water and groaned occasionally. Ever hopeful the Hungarians hoisted their sails. Whilst the remainder of the fleet adopted the usual prone position, Team GBR watched the Hungarians, then watched the motionless palm fronds and decided it was time for a spot of footie. Two hours later with many dodgy football bounces off the slipway, the palm fronds began to move as out of nowhere 5-7 knots arrived.
The Race Officer cracked on through five races allowing Team GBR to discard their motley collection of black flags. At the end of the day with three GBR boats in the top ten, GBR was looking pretty good. Not so Team ESP who despite leading the day did not sail in the correct flights rendering their efforts null and void. Cue a Protest from Team ESP that the flights had been incorrectly placed on the noticeboard leading to their error. Whilst the rest of the fleet had observed the subsequent flag indicating the flight change, Team ESP and their coach had clearly not. Note to self - whilst adopting the prone position at a sailing event always face the flagpole.
Day Four exploded with the news that Team ESP had won their protest and their results were reinstated though the rest of the fleet also retained their results. Brexit was forgotten in an instant. The 29er circuit once again demonstrated the way to build bridges between nations. Cue a joint international counter protest which proved unsuccessful though the fleet was held ashore whilst it was heard. The lighter boats lamented as the wind continued to build from four knots during the delay to a storming 7-9 knots by the time the fleet was released.
The winds suited Freya Black/ Millie Aldridge fighting their way up from fourth to finish with a bullet and second overall. Possibly the first female GBR boat to achieve Silver at a Eurocup. So words from the wise. According to Millie on the Easyjet flight home, it paid to start on the pin end. Despite getting pinched out on most starts, Freya/Millie tacked out and made massive gains on the downwinds. Keeping the boat calm despite the pressure to perform was key. A fantastic result for Freya/Millie and no doubt not the last time we will see them on the podium at a Eurocup. First male boat and second GBR boat was Ewan Wilson/Fin Armstrong coming ninth overall clawing their way up from eleventh. A great first European event for Ewan/Fin boding well for the future. Third GBR boat was Bella Fellows/Anna Sturrock demonstrating that as heavy wind experts they can also manage the light airs. With six boats in the top twenty Team GBR may (with fair winds behind them) storm the Europeans in Helsinki this year. Update to follow in August ....