European Championships 2015
Rutland Waters 

Report by Jerry Balam

Tue 7th July Day One...
Collected boats from our yard, Tony took boat 7 so I took boat 3. We were very grateful to be helped by John Davies and Owen when we loaded the trailer and set off for Rutland and the adventure which was the 2015 HANSA Class European Championships.

On arrival Richard, a member of Frensham Sailability, helped unload and prepare the boats for measurement and weighing. After that we made our way to the race office to have our sails measured. Without Richard's help it would have taken us a very long time to get organised but as usual there was always someone willing to help, so a very big thank you to Richard.
After the paperwork was taken care of and the boats packed away for the next day we headed to our accommodation and got ready for the opening ceremony that evening. After a lovely meal and glass of sparkly wine it was time for bed to prepare for the next day's racing.


Day 28th July
First race was the double crew boats that managed to get three races in before lunchtime. After lunch it was our turn, the wind was getting up and getting stronger by the minute, I went out with full sail but after a short time decided to reef. I turned into the wind and adjusted my position ready to start reefing when a gust of approximately 35mph put my boat on its side and sent me for a short dip in Rutland water. Having been in the water up to my chest and freezing cold I decided to drop out of this race and head to shore for some dry clothing. Tony came 16th but that was to be the only race of the day as the wind had got to a level where it made sailing of any description almost impossible. Racing was abandoned.

Day 3 Thursday 9th July
We had the day off while the two-crew boats, Liberties and Skuds made up their tally of races needed for the event.

Day 4 Friday 10th July
We were first up and had to complete 3 races. As we lined up for the start I crossed the line with the leaders. It was clear from the start that we were competing against very skilled sailors some who were previous European champions and even a reigning world champion. The competition was excellent and of a very high standard - a credit to the Hansa class. After a couple of hundred meters my rudder jammed and sent me on the longest reach of my sailing life, it was approximately three quarters of a mile before I was able to gain some control and complete the race, I finished last, Tony finished mid field. Race two saw the same gear failure with much the same result and the race ended in much the same way except, this time, I was second from last. Race three, again the same problem occurred and with Tony finishing again in the mid field at least this time I managed 19th still very frustrating because at this point both my roller reefing lines were loose on the deck, I didn't have a clue what was going on with my boat? On returning to shore I spoke with Ron Sawford about the issues I was experiencing he pointed out a few problems and set about repairing them, the boat handled superbly after the repairs had been carried out and I was once again a very happy sailor.

Day 5 Saturday 11th July
Two races ahead of us and with my boat now ship shape and Bristol fashion I was raring to go. I took an early lead at the start of race one but was soon caught by the rest of the fleet. Tony was again holding a midfield position but I was going backwards very quickly and started to wonder if my lousy luck had returned. Tony had come in 10th and this time I came last, well behind the main fleet. After the race was over I realised that on a reach I had tried to run the wind, hence every other boat catching and overtaking me, boy did I feel a wally! Our last race was about to start and I gave myself a literal slap in the face to get my racing head back in working order. I set off on port against the fleet and at the last minute tacked onto starboard and joined the leaders for the first lap, keeping them within grasp - I felt a lot better about this race. As the race progressed the fleet stretched out and I found myself holding steady on a sure fire 8th place with Tony just ahead which was how we finished 7th and 8th respectively. However after four disqualifications in front of us for being over the start line we ended the last race in 4th and 5th - a good final showing but too late for any accolades. Tony had finished the Championships in 10th and myself a very disappointing 19th although having propped up the table all week I was extremely grateful to have clambered off the bottom, a satisfactory finish, it could have been a lot worse.
Saturday evening was the closing ceremony and awards presentation, followed by a meal. First place went to, Australia? Now I did question when Australia became part of Europe but the explanation was that although the winner was Australian he did in fact live in Weymouth but wanted to sail under the Aussie flag. Good on him, he raced extremely well and only had one disqualification for being over the line at the start and one DNC, he finished first in every race a worthy winner indeed. Trophies were also won by the Dutch, Polish and Swiss. Frenshams very own Paul (sorry forgot his surname) won the Liberty class; in fact I believe Frensham had a second and third place in the Liberties so massive congratulations to them. The overall team European Trophy went to, DA DA DA! TEAM GB so we all did our bit to ensure the trophy stayed with us here in the UK.
During the week we were helped by everybody in one way or another from Rutland Sailing Club and all I can say is a very big thank you to you all, also to Richard once again from Frensham for your help also the chairman of the HANSA Class Association the helpers from Chisel Sailability who all helped with the loading of our boats thank you all.
Throughout the week we were looked after by Jackie and Greg and the rest of the team in the Rutland canteen. The food was excellent and the service, with a smile, was something that helped brighten the day. Also a very big hunk of gratitude for the supply of milk, tea bags and sugar that helped start our day with that essential first cup of tea. Thank you for the excellent choice of menus for Breakfast etc. Thank you.
Once again a big thank you to Waveney Sailability for supporting us with the supply of our competition boats, without your backing this wouldn't be possible. THANK YOU.

Come along and join us....