Despite being tired and busy, Ian Vickers kindly stopped to chat from Foster City, California, during the lay-day today. I’d asked him to talk about how things were going half-way through the IOM World Championships (IOM is the International One Metre radio controlled keel boat class).
Ian is sitting in 7th place (of 76 competitors) 3 days in. Three days sailing are yet to come.
After an excellent start to the regatta (a first followed by a 6th) Ian was black flagged in race three. He said the worst part about that was being stuck in B-fleet for the following 2 races. With the high points he got from that episode he thinks the leaders have got away on him now (after 15 races). He thinks a top 5 finish is still achievable.
The British and Croatian sailors seem to be dominating the regatta, claiming the top 6 places between them at the half-way point.
On days two and day three Ian finished well in most races with several second place scores. He hit a plastic bag in one A-fleet race, which dropped him into B-fleet. He was able to climb straight back out of the next B-fleet next race. He had luck climbing out of B-fleet in one race. He crossed the line in 7th, but a boat in the top 6 was black flag disqualified, giving him 6th place and enabling him to be promoted to A-fleet.
Asked to comment on boat speeds, Ian is very pleased with the speed of his V9. He believes it is as quick or quicker than anything else in the regatta. He thinks the BritPOP is still a fast boat (The BritPOP won the previous two World Championships, in 2011 and 2013).
Ian’s V9 has received a lot of positive comments and offers to buy it. He also commented on how well some of the other V9s were doing, particularly Jess Atkinson and Mark Golison. Mark Golison may well have led the regatta after the first day were it not for a black flag disqualification [author – It must be a V9 thing!]. Ian was not surprised at his boat speed. He had a fair idea that “boat speed would be no problem”. He finds he can make good inroads into the fleet by driving off in the puffs.
At the Foster City venue the water conditions are very joggly, particularly where waves are reflected off the breakwater. He thinks the V9 handles those conditions better than the V8 (his previous boat design). He found that NZ (mostly flat water) settings didn’t work so well, and used the two practice days to find settings that would suit those conditions. He’s pretty happy with what he’s done.
There has been a bit of time to look at boat technology alongside the racing. Huub Gillissen is the designer of the “Chase” design, sailed by himself, and others in the regatta (including Aussies Craig Smith and Lindsay Walker, who will be known to some NZ radio sailors). He uses some interesting 3D printing technology that Ian is interested in having a look at. It’s generated quite a lot of interest at the regatta.
Ian said that he is “sailing well after the first minute” of a race. He finds the starts difficult with so many top sailors on the start line – a step up from regattas in NZ. The biggest problem is losing sight of his boat in the pre-start [author – I think most radio sailors can relate to that!]. He’s started several races from behind – making his results so far even more remarkable. “Everybody is just so quick”. He’s also given away the odd penalty turn including an unforced error. By forgetting to act as observer for another fleet he copped a penalty in his next race.
Ian finds the wind conditions quite shifty, a comment also heard from other sailors. Sailing the shifty conditions is particularly tricky in the congested fleets. He has a reputation for playing the shifts very well, so is probably at home in those conditions.
Wind strength is also quite variable. After one race in C-rig (smallest rig) the wind dropped straight into A-rig conditions for the next race (A-rig for the top sailors at least).
He is enjoying the racing – It’s “good to be here to test your nerves”. Ian was looking forward to a good night’s sleep, and the next three days of racing.
It was good of Ian to take time out to talk to us. NZ radio sailors wish him good sailing for the remainder of the regatta.