ISCYRA  Regatta Report

Mon Aug 21st, 2006 through Wed Aug 30th, 2006

Winners Andy Horton and Brad Nichol

Winners Andy Horton and Brad Nichol

Qingdao International Regatta 2006


Event website

Final results are below. The Medal Race was completed with a fresh south easterly breeze blowing across Fushan Bay.


The first Olympic sailing test event is taking place in Qingdao, China in preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games.

While some buildings are yet to be completed for use, such as the media centre and the Athletes Village, the main venues are all complete and ready to host an Olympic Sailing Competition. The Athletes Village, which will house all the athletes and team officials, is still being constructed but is due to be completed and operational f/or the 2007 Test Event. Post-Olympics it will be taken over by a global hotel chain.

The Practice Race took place on Sunday, Aug. 20 and Monday, Aug, 21 saw the start of official racing for eight of the eleven Olympic events. Racing will take place over four race courses, with nine days of scheduled competition and two reserve days. The regatta will follow the format of the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition, with a ten race opening series, followed by a Medal Race between the top ten competitors. The Medal Race, scheduled for Wednesday 30 August, will be judged on the water and scored at double points, with letter scores counting double points based on the original fleet size.


Medal race report by Horton/Nichol
The race course for the Medal race was moved from our usual circle (6 miles out) to right off shore between the venue and the city. When we left the harbor we had 15 knots of wind and huge waves left over from the previous day's blow. By the start the wind had subsided to 8 knots but the lump was still there and we had 1.5 knots of current pushing us to weather.

Going into the race it was a show down between us and the Brits knowing that whoever came out on top would win the regatta. George Szabo needed to win the race and put the Brits between us to finish second. Despite the weather forecast and the tide report telling us that the right side was going to be very strong, we thought the left side of the race course would pay because of a large cloud to the north. The pin end of the line was favored so we decided to start to leeward of the fleet.

The pre-start looked more like a match race then a fleet race with the Brits, Szabo and us circling to jockey for position. We secured the leeward most position but realized that we had all set up too early and the current was going to push us all over the line so we jibed out circled one more time and started at the pin on port with the Brits to leeward and Szabo directly behind us.

We split with the Brits to head for the left and back together at the top of the leg with the Brits on starboard and us on port. We were not crossing them which put us in a difficult position. We were ready for anything and the Brits lee-bowed (tacked under) us to protect their starboard advantage. We worked our hardest and were able to roll over (pass) the Brits by the weather mark rounding first.

We extended a bit on the run and having the lead we were able to take the favored mark at the leeward gate. The Brits split with us taking the other mark and right side of the course. We were able to cover them for the remaining two legs and sailed downwind to victory.

Aug. 29: Wind gusting over 20 knots and huge rolling waves made for a spectacular day of racing as the opening series concluded.

Aug. 29 report from Horton/Nichol:
Wow, the whole sailing community has been talking about how Qingdao has no wind and is a difficult sailing venue. Well, today was difficult for an altogether different reason. We arrived at the boat park in heavy rain and fog with the flags flogging in a 20 knot easterly. When we left the harbor we realized that we had a more serious situation; the current had built swells from 6-8 feet with the occasional breaking wave over ten feet high. The conditions were "heavy."

After tuning up the boat and warming up for the race we reached around having a blast in our new boat. These are the conditions that get really exciting in a star boat and we were psyched. We started at the boat in the strong ebb tide and were able to hold the fleet out to our left. The British were so confident in the right side that they tacked and ducked us, a difficult maneuver in these conditions. Left by them selves they were able to edge us out and round the weather mark first. Now for the excitement...

Downwind in these conditions the crew goes from the cockpit to the bow to get the boat to surf down the waves. When we were on the verge of catching waves today I was on my stomach with my head at the bow with one foot hooked on the mast and the other on the shrouds so I don't fall off, AND the bow was hanging over a wave 10 feet in the air! Then when we start to surf, I have to dive back in the boat and get my weight as far aft as possible to keep the bow from plunging into the next wave and filling the boat with water. When I move back I can never get far enough back, and sometimes end up on Andy's lap!

We had three such downwind legs and even though Andy and I sailed better in these conditions then we ever have, the Brits were able to hold there lead and we finished second in the only race of the day. Tomorrow is the medal race, which counts double in the final results.

Aug. 28 report from Horton/Nichol:
Today provided yet another difficult day of sailing in Qingdao with light wind and strong currents. We left the harbor at our usual time today only to be chased down by the Marshals and told to return to the harbor as the race committee had postponed on shore, after we had left the dock. After a short delay and a long tow out we began our preparations to figure out the race course.

There was 5-6 knots of breeze from the east with 1.5 knots of current from the west and about 1/2 a mile of visibility in the haze. The current was pushing the fleet over the line so we held back as much as possible at the boat end. One boat was over early and retired at the first mark. We jibe-set to lay the leeward marks in the current and rounded the left gate first. Unfortunately, the Aussis picked the other gate which was favored by the current and mounted a big lead. We were caught up in a battle with the British and the Italians and came up short finishing fourth.

In the second race the current began to switch. In most places the current goes slack (stops) and then slowly builds from the opposite direction when the tide changes. In Qingdao it behaves very differently, and sometimes differently from day to day. In past days we have observed the current actually clock around from flood to ebb. Needless to say it is difficult to plan your race when you do not know what the water is going to do under you!

The leeward end of the line was favored so we decided to start there and protect the right side as we had observed a persistent shift that way. We got pushed left off the start and did okay despite a right sift and rounded close 4th. On the run we decided to go to the opposite side hoping for more righty. The fleet let us escape and we sailed the leg alone with more pressure, rounding first and extending the rest of the race.

With a 4, 1 today we lead the regatta but the scores remain very close. We are scheduled to make up our remaining two races tomorrow with good winds forecasted and then we have the medal race on Wednesday, which counts double and acts as the tiebreaker for the series.

Two more races on August 25:
Today stronger winds were forecast, with a return to the conditions seen last week during the practice sessions. As the fleets headed out ready for the start, the RS:X men planed across the bay, the Qingdao skyline stood bright in the background and everything looked set for the first day of big breeze. And then the rain came down. A short but heavy shower coincided with the early breeze dropping out, and another day of tactical racing ensued.

As quickly as they secured themselves at the top of the leaderboard, the newly crowned European Champions Diego NEGRI and Luigi VIALE (ITA) fell out of the top three entirely after todayís races five and six. While scores of 5,5 would normally be considered worthy, in the seven boat Star fleet competing on Fushan Bay, the damage such results bring is considerable, and the Italians now find themselves in fourth overall, but only by a point.

The points scores remain close, very close, with the top four crews only sitting one point adrift of each other.

The world number one crew of George SZABO and Eric MONROE (USA) have patiently sat in second place overall since the start of the competition, but tomorrow will carry the yellow leader dot after posting results of 1,4 today. Team mates Andy HORTON and Brad NICHOL (USA) move into second overall with Iain PERCY and Steve MITCHELL (GBR) retaining the bronze medal slot.

Aug. 25 report from Horton/Nichol:
Last night there was a note in our room from the hotel staff, "there will be much rain tomorrow". Apparently monsoon season starts in just a few weeks. So, we weren't surprised this morning when it was pouring outside.

Luckily a little wind came with that rain and we were able to get 2 more races completed. For the first half of the day the tide was pushing against the wind so it was pretty choppy and a bit rough. The race committee had a tough time setting a course as the wind constantly shifted coming out of the rain clouds. Finally after three attempts, we were off. We had a solid second place up the first leg until the breeze shifted a little further light than expected. We did a good job of not loosing a huge amount as this shift completely inverted the fleet. We ended up third at the top mark. Nothing really changed after that and that's where we finished.

The breeze came up a bit for the second race and the current changed direction so it was now coming with the wind. We had a good start, sailed a few shifts and were first at the windward mark. We sailed pretty well for the next two laps of the course and were able to extend nicely for the win.

Today we had the most breeze of the week topping out at about 10 knots and over 1 knot of current and this was the windiest day of the regatta.

After four races:

Newly crowned European Champions Diego NEGRI and Luigi VIALE (ITA) broke the four-way tie at the top of the Star fleet today, posting seconds in both races to move into a two point lead. Acknowledging the challenging conditions in Fushan Bay, NEGRI said, 'Today was a difficult day like yesterday and the day before. The wind was about 6 knots, and we had a very strong current. We managed to take the lead a couple of times, but in the end we finished 2nd, but we are still the leaders. We are very lucky, but I donít know if it will last for long!'

World number one crew George SZABO and Eric MONROE (USA) had a good start and rounded the top mark leading along with Iain PERCY and Steve MITCHELL (GBR). SZABO and MONROE pulled away as the Brits fell back, and had established a big lead over NEGRI and VIALE by the second upwind mark. From there in they sailed on to the bullet, with the Italians second and the second American crew of Andy HORTON and Brad NICHOL (USA) recovering from a bad start to take third.

PERCY and MITCHELL were back to their best in race four winning ahead of NEGRI and VIALE to move into a tie for second overall with SZABO and MONROE, who finished todayís race four in fifth. HORTON and NICHOL maintained their consistent form with a fourth place finish and lie fourth overall in the fleet.

Report from Horton/Nichol:

The forecast for today did not look promising and when we arrived on the race course we debated putting up our sails but with even a hint of wind this race committee is not afraid of firing one off. We started the first race with the crews hiking to leeward and the current ripping from left to right. We tried for a pin end start and had a hard time with the boats to leeward and tacked out to the right. The whole fleet arrived at the weather mark at the same time and that set the tone for the day; tight racing on short courses.

We battled up and down the course for six legs as a very distinct tide line added a little fuel to the fire and the fleet battled for position. George Szabo (USA) came out on top followed by Diego Negri (ITA) and Team Horton-Nichol in third.

As we prepared for the second race the wind filled and the tide line moved off the bottom of the course. For the first time in the regatta the crews could drop over the side and hike. Racing was so tight that at the second weather mark, we made a bad tack and could not lay the mark in the adverse current and dropped from first to sixth! In the end we finished fourth after dropping both the Aussis and Italians on the last leg of the course.

Place Boat Skipper Crew Sail #: Fleet 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10-Medal Total
1 USA 8156   Andrew HORTON   J Brad Nichol   USA 8156   NB   3.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 3.0 1.0 4.0 1.0 2.0 2.0 21
2 GBR 8261   Iain Percy   Steve Mitchell   GBR 8261   NFB   2.0 3.0 5.0 1.0 4.0 3.0 2.0 2.0 1.0 4.0 22
3 USA 8129   George Szabo   Eric Monroe   USA 8129   SDB   1.0 4.0 1.0 5.0 1.0 4.0 8.0 [OCS] 3.0 3.0 6.0 28
4 ITA 8266   Diego Negri   Luigi Viale   ITA 8266   VE   4.0 1.0 2.0 2.0 5.0 5.0 3.0 5.0 8.0 [DNC] MDNC 49
5 AUS 8234   Peter Conde   Andrew Hunn   AUS 8234   Isol   5.0 6.0 6.0 6.0 2.0 2.0 1.0 4.0 4.0 MDNC 52
6 AUS 7836   Iain Murray   Andrew Palfrey   AUS 7836   LMac   6.0 5.0 4.0 3.0 8.0 [DNF] 8.0 [DNC] 8.0 [DNC] 8.0 [DNC] 8.0 [DNC] MDNC 72
7 CHN 1049   Shaojun WANG   He WANG   CHN 1049   Isol   7.0 7.0 7.0 7.0 8.0 [DNC] 8.0 [DNC] 5.0 6.0 8.0 [DNC] MDNC 77

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