The first international sailing regatta in Iceland in 25 years!
The RS Aero Arctic Championships underway in Iceland and is the first international sailing regatta in Iceland in 25 years! The travel day was fun across Iceland to Akureyri on Iceland’s north shore, situated at the top of an inlet just 1-degree south of the Arctic Circle. The preparation day of the charter fleet of 16 RS Aeros saw a breeze of 24kns funnelling down the inlet creating some (unnecessary) trepidation of what was to come!
An awesome Pre-Event Training day was the perfect sociable warm up to open the event! Before launching we watched a pod of whales swim slowly by, to add to the seals spotted the day before.
After the onshore intro briefing for those new to the Class we were all set to go afloat. The whales had gone but we had 8 short races under blue skies, mild temperatures and an incredible back drop. The medium 8-12kn breeze allowed everyone a chance, large or small, in the fleet of RS Aero 7s on flat and nearly fresh water at the top of the inlet.
They say you are only as good as your last race and the podium of the final race on the training day was; 1st Phil Whitehead GBR, 2nd Stephen Reichenfeld CAN, 3rd Boris Mezhibovskiy USA.
After the training races some trepid RS Aero explorers went to sail under the hot waterfall opposite Akureyri! We rounded the day off with a wonderful Champaign reception at a local bar overlooking the harbour and the late sun lit mountainous backdrop.
Heading the Race Team is our International Race Officer Marina Psichogiou of Greece, who had devised a schedule with charter RS Aero rotations were one of the competitors will rest out each race in turn for an average points score with up to 8 ‘short ‘n sharp’ races each day!
On Day 1 the race team did a great job of smashing out 7 good races with quick turnarounds. By the end of the day they had fine tuned to be within a second of their 20mins target time!
The racing was awesome with the flat water and light/medium breeze a great leveller for the different sized sailors across the fleet of RS Aero 7s. The clouds had receded further with blue skies and beautiful views of the mountainous terrain. This created a real challenge to not forget the racing whilst admiring the incredible vistas!
Day 2 saw another 7 great races! The day started moderate cloud cover and blue skies in the distance. Initially a right orientation in the wind favoured the right and then it switched left, with gusts and lifts off that side – catching out the unwary! The pro race team were all over it, adjusting the course quickly for each race.
Again the breeze started light around 7kn but increased to a full hiking and planing breeze of 14kn by the last race. So over the two days so far the conditions have enabled everyone to be competitive with a mix of sailor sizes.
Winner of the day was Philip Whitehead (Yorkshire Dales, GBR) with a solidly consistent 6,5,1,1,3,2,2 – and those last two 2nds were so nearly 1sts! Roy Van Maanen (IRL) won the final race, pipping Phil right at the finish.
Going into the final day just 2.4 points split the top three with Phil, Ellie Craig (GBR) and Peter Barton (GBR) contending the podium positions for the first RS Aero Arctic Champs with 6 more races to be sailed.