by Bob Lewis CAN 27
The 2023 DF95 Global Championships were held at Fleetwood Model Yacht and Powerboat Club from May 12 to 19. Fleetwood is a small town on the north-west coast of England about a 1 hour drive north of Liverpool. It possibly has the best man-made radio sailing pond in the world with regular strong West winds off the Irish sea. This was not to be missed.
Entry fee was £300 = CAD501 today. CRYA is chipping in $200 to help which is much appreciated. Other significant costs included airfare to Britain, rental car for 10 days, hotel for 9 days, gas at UK prices and in my case a $650 travel case, one time purchase.
BL in C Rig – setup looks pretty close to the champ. (Sue Brown photo)
Entry was limited to 78 competitors and Canada was limited to 2 entries on the first round of entries based on minimum allowed. We need more national championship entrants to get more places. As it turned out, only two Canadians expressed interest in going. Julian Kenney from Mississauga and me from Vancouver. My overall finish was 55th and Julian was 74th. To say the least, it was a bit of a shock to the system to sail with every fleet full of aggressive competent and fast skippers. Start lines included 24 boats crammed together and then racing full tilt toward a cement pond edge wall. To add more excitement to the starts, as the wind built to B and C rigs, strong lifted gusts rolled through starting fleets. At one moment you were quietly luffing your sails 6 boatlengths from the line, the next your bow was on the line, with no movement of the sticks. There were many recalls.
A report on the event by Tim Long of Soch Sails can be found here: DF Racing World Information Site – Information about the DF Racing Yacht Family
Here’s a link to the full results as a downloadable file:
Congratulations to the winner Craig Richards, a British former South African who was also the UK champion, followed by prior Global Champion John Tushingham of England and third, US Champion, Peter Feldman of the USA. Craig had a commanding lead by the end.
I had thought I would have to be relating any tuning tips I could pick up but those on Facebook will know that Craig has written up all his secrets in a series of posts found at Craig Richards | Facebook and Nigel Barrow has collated them into an html setup guide at Craigs Setup guide 1 | IOM Build Race Tune (nigelbarrow.co.uk) and Craigs Setip guide 2 | IOM Build Race Tune (nigelbarrow.co.uk). Nothing I can really add to that. Late in the series, Phil Burgess set up some interviews of some top skippers that can be found on Facebook. I tried to collate them into one 20 minute YouTube video here: (104) 2023 Globals Interviews – YouTube
Tips on How to Mess up Races at a Big Event
Success in a race is always measured by whether you finish in the top 6 to allow a promotion up to the next fleet. A seemly small goof up can easily shoot your chances. If you fail to promote, you get a big score and you are further punished by being locked into the “promotion prison” until you find a way to break out. The guys in the A fleet are pretty happy with this as it gives them a barrier that keeps most of the rest of the fleet from challenging. The first race is super critical. Getting hit by a port tacker at the wrong time gets you relegated down the fleets requiring a Herculean performance to climb up the ladder. An alternative system favoured by many Europeans is to have a shuffled fleet qualifying series of about 6 to 10 races. If you have a bad race or bad luck there is no additional penalty – take it as a drop and carry on. After the qualifiers, the fleet divides into gold, silver, bronze etc and finishes the event with no changes. (Like World Laser races are run). Races run more quickly as there are no promotion/delegation calculations and protests don’t have to be completed before the next heat as there are no promotions to worry about. All sailors get the same number of races as no one is on the bubble going up and down race after race. This allows more entrants in the event and cheaper entry fees.
I’m still surprised that there are so many ways to mess up a radio sailing race. At times I would find a new way to do this race after race.
Here’s my list for Fleetwood. (there were actually more but memory eludes me)
- Get in the lead for 4 of 5 legs and then catch the ground tackle on the last mark and lose 6 places and promotion. I guess the unusual heel angles of the DF classes requires more space to be given at a leeward mark that is a smallish ball with rope tackle.
- One minute before the start get hit by a wondering port tacker that causes the tiller linkage to slide off = end of race = instant demotion – not sure of the solution as I had tightened the nut as much as I dared without stripping. Maybe roughen the rod or re-tighten once a day or try medium lock-tite.
- In the stronger winds tacking was slower. One race after calling for room to tack and being given it, my boat took so long to accelerate that a following starboard tacker smacked me and the observers called for a penalty – probably unwarranted. In future I will look at the boat next to me and the ones following quite far behind him and make my hail fairly early and name any following boat that I might also need room from.
- One race, the stock rudder servo gave up while I was lining up to start – another demotion.
- In another race I had a beautiful port end start which was quite port favoured. A further header caused the whole fleet to tack. My fear of fouling the windward boat caused me to initially fall off a bit which turned out to be just enough to stop the boat in the header and be unable to tack. I was toast. “Fortune favours the brave” they say! I should have gone for the tack immediately and prayed.
- And with winds hitting over 20 knots there were a couple of just plain blown tacks and away goes the chance to make the top 6 in the heat. Need more practice.
- Coming off the start at near Starboard end, I thought I had room but the leeward boat hailed protest. I really couldn’t see the spacing at that distance and angle. Probably standing further up the course would give a better view of the lane but harder to hear the count down … maybe a hearing aid on high with a sock over to stop wind noise would work?
- And then there was a misjudged port starboard crossing that went bad?
- Part way through the series they switched to a windward, inside to outside gate due to a few pile ups at the windward mark in the normal configuration (far side of pond). My first time with this gate I was in second at the right mark and bore off on port only to find a line of starboard tackers (of course!!). I rammed the rudder over and stalled everything. After a slowish bear away, another two starboard tackers set up a barrier causing a repeat of the first maneuver … so much for that race. Later races I favoured the port side and fewer boats on the port tack layline. When the starboard side was favoured, I made sure to keep a reach on until a hole opened up. There was some wild steering by the leaders threading the fleet when there was no offset.
Some things I did right!:
- Bought a proper travel box to keep everything safe. It weighed 44 lb complete so qualified for standard baggage rate and no oversize charge (sporting equipment exemption). Don’t pack the lithium batteries in checked bags!)
- Sailbox with 4 rigs in lid including boat-stand legs
- Bulb, Stand pieces, spare Flysky radio, fin and rudder, extra wood bulb box, pencil case tool box, boat, Futaba radio with fibreglass rain cover. Also threw in warm radio muff (not shown) – not so waterproof.
- Very nice wheels for the airport and end handle.
- Considered building of glass or Kevlar and balsa for ½ the price but not enough time.
Made wee D sails and built the rig just before going but it was not needed. Maybe should have practiced instead!
Also splurged on a Helley Hanson coastal offshore suit as I thought – England, it has to rain? It didn’t but the suit was the ticket for standing in 13 degree, 20 knot winds off the Irish sea. There might be a use in Vancouver.
Oh, there’s the radio muff. Should have left the grouchy facial expression
at home but look at all those boats I’m leading!!(Wendy Martin photo)
A few favourite photos to close:
Bob and Julian in C rig holding off Joe Roddy of USA
coming off the wall fast in C rig
Sitting 5th (an A fleet placing) in seeding race but managed to work back to 8th to slip to B fleet. Still a good start to the event.
Oh, and there were some social events – fish and chip night, South African BBQ night, closing banquet and Timmy’s beer wagon????.