Gibraltar hosted the Natwest International 2019 Island Games. The summary below outlines the Orkney Team thrills and spills.
Natwest International Island Games: Gibraltar 2019
Orkney had a team of three for the 2019 event; Joshua Brown, the youngest competitor and a first timer at the Island Games, Mark Holbrook, from the small island of North Ronaldsay and Andrew Leslie from Kirkwall.
The Island Games competition is held every two years. The 2019 sailing event was hosted by the Royal Gibraltar Yacht Club. The RGYC provided 24 brand new Lasers for the sailing event, with ten races planned for both the Radials and the Full Rig fleets.
Venue: The sailing venue was at the Royal Gibraltar Yacht club which is quite central in Gibraltar. The club has a marina and is primarily a yacht club, but a small slipway was built for the sailing event. The yacht club facilities were very good with space for rigging boats, a bar, sunloungers and swimming pool for the friends and supporters.
From the yacht club there was a half hour sail to the race area where windward leeward courses were laid. Island teams were allocated a pair of boats each allowing a full team of two radials and two standard rigs. Race times were generally between 40 and 50 minutes.
The race organization was very good with committee boat starts and a jury boat to monitor rule infractions (in particular rule 42). Ten races were planned for each fleet over five days. Due to weather conditions nine races were held.
Saturday: Practice Race
Standard rigs off first then radial started in afternoon. Quite tricky sailing conditions, Westerly breeze which was shifting to NW at times. Quite lumpy water.
Race 1 Standard: After a general recall the race began with a black flag. Got a poor start, a bit hesitant with the black flag flying. Made up a few places during the race but it was a bit of a lettery due to shifting wind direction. Lost a couple of places at the windward mark due to the tide setting onto the mark, couldn’t quite make it round and couldn’t tack due to boats nearby on Starboard.
Race 2 Standard: The start sequence got underway then was abandoned due to a wind shift. The race started again a little later. Start didn’t seem too bad, but lost a lot on 1st beat. On second windward mark rounding touched the mark and did turns, didn’t lose places but after that wasn’t able to catch boats ahead. Made up some places after… Mark did better with a good 1st beat but lost a few places during the course of the race.
Race 1 Radial: Joshua capsized at the first windward mark rounding, and had some trouble getting settled after that.
Race 2 Radial: Joshua scored DNF, confusion over the finish line (he wasn’t alone in that).
Radials started, more wind today with 14-16 kts from the West for the Radials and then 17-20 kts for the Standards. Quite choppy conditions which built during the day. Joshua had some very close racing against the Gibraltar team.
Race 3 Standard: managed a reasonable start but things went haywire at the first windward mark. Couldn’t quite lay the mark and as a result ended in a messy situation among other boats. Touched the Shetland boat and had to do turns. Sorted myself out and then touched the mark, did more turns. After that I was playing catch up for the rest of the race. Capsized on one of the downwind legs but got back up again quite quickly. Not a great preformance overall.
Race 4 Standard: Wasn’t very well prepared for the race 4 start due to adjustments to the cunningham. Never the less got going alright. Perhaps a bit light for the weather. Very enjoyable sailing conditions, although hard work.
Race 5 Standard: The race started in fine conditions with a Westerly breeze of 12 to 14 kts. The fleet got off to a fair start but then halfway through the first downwind leg the wind shifted to the South West. The race was abandoned due to the wind shift. After several tries with the wind changing in strength and direction a race was started with the breeze from the South. The race was very shifty and the course was altered before the second beat to give a good upwind leg. I thought the race went quite well till I looked at the result and found I was black flagged.
Race 5 Radial: The Radials had more stable conditions with very close racing. Joshua has the boat going better upwind now and finished in position 20.
Race 6/7 Radial: After a fair wait the easterly settled in and the Radials managed two races in fine sailing conditions. Joshua finished 23 and 22.
Race 6 and 7 Standard: After the black flag yesterday I made an effort to start conservatively. My starts were not great but no penalties and managed alright finishing 14 and 15. Very close racing, seem to do ok going upwind but tend to lose a little downwind. Mark rounding could be better, particularly leeward marks.
Easterly breeze once again. Standard fleet off in the morning, and a prompt start today. Race 8, managed alright finishing 14 in the race. Seemed to lose places on downwind legs and leeward mark rounding.
Race 9 standard: got a fairly poor start but gained a few places upwind, then lost a few downwind. A frustrating race, finished at the back of the fleet, no major blunders.
Radial Fleet: Race 8, Joshua managed alright. Race 9, Menorca disqualified due to Rule 42 violations.