Sailing in the World Masters' Games April 2017
By Charlie Simpson
The event took place at Torbay YC, about 20 km North of Auckland NZ. This small club hosted a huge number of boats and the organization and logistics were incredibly good. There were 154 Lasers and Laser Radials sailing and 48 Wetas. The Weta is a NZ designed trimaran with a 14' hull with an extra 4' of bowsprit and a beam of 11'6" and so took up a lot of space. It has a Mylar main and a jib and a large Dacron gennaker. I have had one moored on a black plastic float close inshore North of the RVYC (too wide & awkward to keep at the Club). My son John (full name Charles John) lives in NZ and agreed to crew for me. I was going to charter, but then John bought a Weta so we did not need to charter. The Wetas and the Lasers were completely different courses. The Wetas were divided into Single handed and Double handed and further divided into age categories, Apprentice 35-44, Masters 45-54, Grand Masters 55-64, Great Grand Masters (GGM) 65-74, and Great Great Grand Masters 75+.
For the Doubles, the average age defined our category - my age of 82 & John's of 57 putting us into the Men's Doubles GGM group. I was in fact the older of all 221 sailors in the regatta! John & I got the bronze medal for our category but there were only 4 of us, so our bronze medal was not quiote as great as it seems! However, all the 19 Doubles sailed together and the 29 Singles sailed together on the same course starting 5-10 minutes before us, a total of 48 boats, resulting in quite a bit of congestion on the course. Our points were recorded as all the Doubles together and then extracted without change to give our category positions. We placed 13th out of the 19 Doubles and 3rd in our group. Our best race was the first race where we placed 5th overall and 2nd in our group. All the rest of our races varied between 10th and 17th overall, and in our group all 3rd bar the 2nd in the first race. John, who had not raced since the RVYC Juniors course about 45 years ago, skippered some races and got one 10th overall. I was not sure that we were allowed to change helms, but did it because the stupid computer could not stomach putting John as his first name and listed us in all documents as Charles Simpson and Charles Simpson on the official results. We reckoned that as the Helm was listed as Charles we could both do it. When our names were read out at prize giving as Charles Simpson and Charles Simpson, it raised a good laugh anyway!
Conditions were varied. We had a total of 11 races. The first race was about 10-14 knots, one day was so light we only got one race of about 5-7 knots in. On two days it was enormous fun in 15-20 knots with higher gusts at times. We were going like hell off the wind with the gennaker up and I haven't had so many salt water face washes before! We only had 2 minor collisions and took our 360 degree turn penalties. One was with a Spaniard and we got tangled with him and the weather mark putting a small gelcoat chip on his float. He was perfectly happy with a good bottle of NZ red wine as recompense! We never pitch poled and finished all races, but I must confess to being pretty pooped after the two windy days (7 our of 14 races in total). All in all, a great time and bonded with John very well.