2011 Aruba Hi Winds Grand Slam – Day 2: Scorching sun, torrential rain, raging thunder and bolts of lightning continue to play havoc with the Caribbean trade winds haunting the second day of competition in Aruba.
A challenging day for the sailors and judges alike saw weather of all varieties plough through the competition area. As the riders arrived for the skippers meeting they were greeted with wall-to-wall sunshine and a gentle but building offshore wind; however the atmosphere at Fisherman’s Huts quickly changed as a thick blanket of cloud rolled across Aruba.
Several weather systems passed over Palm Beach bringing with it squalls lasting long enough to raise the hopes of the race crew, followed by large patches of virtually no wind at all. In an attempt to complete the opening heats of the competition, the judges headed out to sea to their floating platform. Heats 1 and 2 were started twice however the wind dropped within the opening minutes, leaving the sailors to wallow around on the crystal clear waters with barely a breath of wind in their sails.
As midday approached a particularly ominous cloud entered the competition arena stirring up a frenzy between the local organizers and the PWA judges. It was believed the cloud would bring with it winds of hurricane strength and forks of lighting. In order to make use of the wind the PWA crew were insistent on staying out to sea, however it was ultimately decided for the safety of all involved to head back to shore and place the competition on standby.
The PWA caught up with head judge Duncan Coombs to talk us through the conditions on the water.
“The set up here is fantastic; the judges are based on a pontoon out to sea so they will have a great view of how each move is completed. It has been a difficult day, the wind has been very temperamental, each time we went to start the heats it dropped, we were out of sync with the gusts. As a race director the conditions have been really frustrating the wind is unpredictable, and at some points we have had lightning. If the conditions remain the same tomorrow we will have to think about extending the heats in order to push through the single elimination and secure a result.”
Davy Scheffers (Gaastra / Tabou) provided us with an insight into the conditions on the water from a sailor’s point of view.
“The wind is really gusty it can change from two knots to twenty knots in two seconds. I was on my 5.2m but I could have been on a 4.2m or 8m. The conditions certainly weren’t suitable for competition.”
Hot shot Remko De Zeeuw (F2 / Gaastra) has been drawn in the first heat, he took the time out to tell us how he was feeling having been out in the tough conditions all morning.
“It was quite a difficult day as my heat started a couple of times and I had to be ready to hit the water the whole time, I really hope the wind comes tomorrow.”
The sailors remained patiently on standby throughout the afternoon, but with no change in the wind and a thick grey cloud still lingering over the event site the sailors were released at 4:00 pm. A promising forecast is lined up for day three of competition, the skippers meeting is planned for 9:30 am with a first possible start at 10am.
Scope The Action
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