Friday, March 07, 2003

Estonia 2003 - thoughts outloud

COMPETITORS - I can not hide my disappointment...
KITES - Almost all of the races...
RACES - The first three races proved...
MARATHON - The marathon was all...
CHAMPIONSHIPS - Besides the races the participants were...

I can not hide my disappointment with Canadian, German and Swiss teams that did not come to the Championships - they had a real opportunity to lead course race. Of course, if they would join us the races could be more interesting and result more objective. However, those who came to Lake Harku were very strong and dangerous competitors. (No matter how they call this small Lake - it is a race site and not a vacation sailing spot: the competition show must happen.)
Boris Filimonov who was one of the strongest monoski sailors before performed extraordinarily in the Championships. No shame to loose to such a racer.
Slava Shemjakin - just super! He is older than most of us yet sails among the best.
Anatoliy Sarafannikov could not get any prize position but no one doubts in his tremendous potential.
Juriy Shuvalov is just starting up as a racer but obviously soon we will sneak into the leaders group.
Once again Vladimir Zakharov has confirmed his speciality as the fastest stayer.
Certainly, Roman Lubimtsev is a talent as strong racer and designer and manufacturer of the kites. Another senior Sergei Akeljev can really bet up anyone.
In short, most of the strongest Russians were there and performed as the best. Too bad that western countries did not interfere in this argument.
In our opinion Valentina Abaeva has beaten in absentia all of the renown kite-girls!
During the last year kitesailing in Russia has made a giant leap forward thanks to a great number of internal competitions ad constant growth of the number of participants. Comparing the performances of Russians in Finland, Italy and Estonia we dare to claim that we are able to compete in course race against anyone in the world!
We are going to prove this next year in Canada.

Almost all of the races (5 of 7) were driven by weak winds that enabled to carry the biggest kites. (I think the real limit for course race is 10m2 because anything else would not let go upwind sharp enough.) That is why the tiniest fault in the kite tune up or improper ski wax could cost the race. The first reason put me fifth in the very important first race. My new 10 m2 ParaAvis B-2 was not properly tested in-design and adjusted.
No one is guaranteed against mistakes and I believe that ParaAvis - the maker of great kites will fix the problem very soon.
Jo-Jo RM are other great kites that I used. These are pure racer's choice and are no good for amateurs - they do not forgive any mistakes. We are just going to relay to the manufacturer some pretensions regarding wind range of the RM kites.
New ELFs give great impression: stable and fast. We hope that Roman will soon produce a good race kite and even export it abroad. Big kites are the most difficult to design and manufacture.

The first three races proved no hope for "dolce vita" for leaders - the positions will not be determined until the last race. Weather conditions did not match organizer's promise of ten races. That has created a lot of tension among racers. The problem was that the number of dropped worst races depended on the number of races performed. Thus every bad result was considered as the step to the bad final.
The fight on the course varied by scale form Sarafannikov's finish in the first race with the whole mark lead to the "photo-finish" of me and Boris Filimonov in the third. Nevertheless the results after seven races practically matched the results of the first one.
The day of Feb.14th was real fun when the wind picked up from smooth 4-5m/s to gusty 10-12m/s. Fifth race - again on 10 m2 kites. Sixth - scattered the racers who used big kites and as a result - collisions, cut lines and protests. The last, seventh race was a true "ice battle". I was dumb enough to choose Jo-Jo RM-6 which in result was holding me away from the finish line when Sergei Akeljev was enjoying the race on his Batwing-3.
The intrigue with result dropping reached its culmination and we were waiting for the judge's word - continue course races or do marathon? Finally for Feb.15th a marathon was appointed and the resulting disposition in course race was left to settle by international protest committee. Of course we wanted to have more races to prove the scores on ice but alas, the jury decided differently and we were all left with a feeling that results are a kind of lottery.
The mistake was made and admitted by judges on Feb.12 when the race day was closed too early, but nothing could be changed.

The marathon was all crumpled. At first, the loop counting was not well thought through which had impact on the result. Then the start was open with no clear sign so that some racers could not start in time. Vladimir Zakharov who is known as a risky and lucky guy hit the jackpot choosing the big 9m2 kite. He rode far away from the struggle with Sarafannikov who did not risk with his 6m2.

Besides the races the participants were mostly left for themselves. The dace club party was not too inspiring and the majority rested at the hotel drinking traditional Russian beverage.
The closing ceremony beat all records by modesty and speed.
Analyzing Championships in Estonia of 1991, 1996 and 2003 we have to admit that the last one was not the best one. This would not have happened if the organizers were one team from the beginning to the end. Even in such Swimming Pool Harku the races can be enjoyable if everything is done right.

Alexei Rajev (TT)
Translated and edited with permission of the author by Dibutil.

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