The wait for wind continued on Jinha beach, as competitors endured another day of teasing wind and abandoned heats.
A windless morning on day three of competition signaled another leisurely start for competitors. Hopes of getting the first men’s elimination underway began to build when the local thermal showed signs of kicking in, and early into the afternoon heat 1 was given the go ahead.
Disappointingly, in scenes reminiscent of the previous day, the race committee were forced to hoist the AP flag before the heat had a chance to get going, and competition was postponed until conditions improved.
This was to be the story of the afternoon, all four heats in the first round of the men’s elimination were scheduled to begin, but either had to be abandoned shortly after the green flag went up, or were postponed before they could begin as a result of the fluky wind.
During the afternoon’s wait, we talked to the race committee’s head protest judge, Dirk Kradisch, to discuss various aspects of the slalom discipline.
Q: What are the general principles behind slalom racing?
DK: “In slalom, sailors race against each other around a course marked out by buoys. The courses can take many different forms depending on the conditions that particular event has. PWA slalom is the fastest windsurfing race format there is.”
Q: Why do the sailors have a limit on the amount of equipment they can register to use during the events?
DK: “This means the sailors don’t have to travel with so much gear, and it gives newcomers to competition more of an opportunity to get involved as they need less equipment and therefore don’t need so much money to compete. Also, the format places greater emphasis on each sailor’s ability and tactics rather than advantages through other factors, for example equipment.”
Q: Do the equipment limitations cover fins as well?
DK: “No, the sailors can use as many fins as they want over the competition, there are no restrictions on the amount they use, or amount of times they change fins.”
Q: What course layout might be utilized for competition here in Korea?
DK: “The course is likely to be a downwind slalom course with four gybe marks, although we could have more gybe marks and different length reaches. It depends on the wind, if the wind is light; we try to make it as simple as possible. If the wind is stronger, and we have more races completed, then we can change the format and perhaps try a long distance race as well.”
Q: What are the minimum wind requirements to run a heat?
DK: “The absolute minimum wind speed is seven knots over the entire course, for the duration of the race. If the wind drops below this in a heat, the heat normally has to be abandoned.”
Q: What does the ‘no rules principle’ mean in slalom racing?
DK: “Typically, there are numerous regulations concerning all aspects of racing, like maneuvers at the gybe marks, and rules like right of way. These regulations have been deleted from slalom to make racing more interesting. For example, before it was not allowed to go for the inside line at the gybe mark. This rule has been deleted, it makes things more exciting, and racers can take bigger risks, but to assume there are no rules would be wrong, there are still rules and regulations to racing.”
Following several more abandoned heats, the race committee called an end to day three of competition just before 6.00pm. The day passed with no heats successfully completed.
Two days remain at slalom’s first event of the season in Korea, all parties involved have their fingers crossed in the hope they’ll deliver enough wind to get competition underway.
Tomorrow’s skippers’ meeting is scheduled for 10.00am, with a first possible start to competition at 10.30am.