When I got back to Perth I was thrown straight into the world of Vipers. Not the snake or the high performance catamaran but the three or four man sport boat also called the Viper 640. A while back I had been contacted by TB saying he had been offered a tacticians role on a Viper for the worlds in Perth but he couldn’t do it and wanted to know if I wanted the job. My first response was “What’s a Viper?” and my second response was “YES”!! This was how I first got introduced to Justin, one of the founding members of the Viper 640 class and and a keen yachty. He was a British citizen but had been living in the states for the better part of 30 years and was making the journey to Perth for the worlds. His normal crew couldn’t make the trip across so he was looking for sailors in Australia and luckily he stumbled across me. We went back and forth via email for a few weeks in November last year but now the time had come and before you knew it we were shaking hands at the airport.
Dispite months of preparation we ended up having quite a few last minute dramas. Justin had asked a few weeks before the event started if I could find a second crew as well as none of his team was going to make it now. I managed to find a perfect fit for our team but with only one day until I picked up Justin at the airport he had to pull out with illness :C This left me scrambling to find someone who could drop everything they were doing for 10 days and come sail at a minutes notice. I knew just who to call. Connor picked up the phone straight away and was keen from the get go. We’d sailed against and with each other since we were kids so it worked out to be a great fit.
After two days of intense boat work and set up we were on the water and up and running, quickly learning the ropes (quite liteally) of how to sail a Viper. Straight away I knew these things were fast. It felt like I was sailing a giant dinghy, nothing like the slow SB20 that I have raced before. The boat was lively and responsive and wicked fun downwind. After two days of onwater work it was time to do some racing. SoPYC had organized a small pre-regatta the two days before the event started and we were keen to see where we would sit in the fleet. It was light winds all weekend and very flat water. We started with a difficult 8th place in the first race but went on to wind the remaining three races to win the pre-regatta 😀 This felt pretty cool but we deep down knew we had heaps on. As a team we were really under weight, at least 30kg on most of our competitors and the forcast was showing big breeze most of the week. We were going to have a fight on our hands to make our top 5 goal.
The forcast had promised 20 -25 knots on day one and boy did it deliver. We had 4 races and it got winder each one. By the last race the fleet was barely surviving in 25 + knots. We had our moments but found ourselves going sideways upwind without the extra weight some of our competitors had. To top it off we had a UFD added to our scorecard in one of our better races. We finished the first day in 10th overall with Nick Jerwood looking unbeatable with three firsts on his scorecard.
Day two was only a little better for us. The wind was less but a little bad luck hurt a lot. After being third all race in the first we watch half the fleet sail past in more wind on the final run. Then we got caught behind with a massive wind shift in race two to put us way back. We were pretty demoralised by this point after our high expections from the pre-regatta. Luckily we finished the afternoon strong with a 2nd and 6th place to be in 8th place after the second day.
We had a lay day the next day and we had a great class cocktail party in the maritime museum with all the sailors. It was a great location and time for everyone. When racing resumed we got to work. The wind was 10 – 14 knots and super flat water. If were going to move up today was our chance. As a team we stepped up and put in the work and just got on a roll. 2nd then 2nd then 2nd then 3rd. The best day in the fleet in what was a really tricky breeze and with that score card we boosted up to 3rd overall. We couldn’t belive it but to make it better we now had a shot at 2nd. When our second drop came in we were only 7 points behind Keith Swinton who had been holding down 2nd place all week behind Nick. We had two races left so decided to see how the first race went and then see what would happen. We lead around the top by a lot race one but in what was a super fickle race lost a few to place third, four points in front of Keiths 7th to put us 3 points away from him.
To beat him we had to get three boats between us and him and also finish inside the top three because he was only dropping a 7 and we were dropping a 17! Another thing to note is that Keith was a World Matching Tour champion and won multiple events around the world in that discipline. If he just harrassed us enough and put us behind we were in danger of even holding onto our third place. Let the games begin. We ended up doing some full on circles and proper match racing pre start as we tried to escape Keith. He ended up pursuing us towards the pin and we go an average start and held in. The wind was super shifty and we just got enough of a lefty to tack and cross him. Now we had him behind we got to work chasing down the rest of the fleet. We rounded to top mark 10th and needed to finish 3rd to get him. We had an amazing run and a great second beat to just come into third and managed to defend a tense last run to the finish. It was a great feeling and felt just as good as winning I think, to have such a great come back. We were all ecstatic.
A big congratulations to Nick and his team for a great win was well. Really classy sailing and an even classier winner.
Since the Viper worlds I’ve been back in routine in the gym at WAIS before I went to Sydney for two weeks to do a training camp. The Kiwi boys came over for the first week as well as the best new wave guys in Australia coming through so we had a big group to train with. I was pretty rusty not sailing the Laser for two months but I was super keen and I really enjoyed the sailing. I got better as the camp went on as I got my feel for the boat back. Now this last week has been the final bit of preparation before I head to Spain. I’m flying in two days and I’m super excited to get into it. I feel like a little kid again 😀
I’ll keep you updated,