The Estonian and Finnish teams arrived today, delayed by a storm in the Baltic that kept the ferries in port. There are over twenty boats now, with racing to start tomorrow. Today we explored the lake in a fresh breeze, and I learned how to communicate with my sheet trimmer: thumbs up, thumbs down, turn signals and head nods and shakes. It appears to translate very well into Russian.
The poor guy in the foreground left his diamond stays at home, so he borrowed a pair of old shrouds and was splicing new ends with an ice pick as the sun goes down. In my country, I think the sun has already set on seat of the pants skills like this.
He teaches a course at the University of Sport, St. Petersburg, on iceboat sailing and construction. Two of his students came along to sail with him. It’s a holdover from the days of state sponsored sport. There were over 500 Monotypes in the USSR in the eighties, all state owned.
Sailing these boats is challenging with all that sail area on a 13′ plank. With the stiff mast there’s no where for the power to go but into a hike, so the trimmer constantly has his eye on the windward runner. Having the sheet trimmed for you is truly the lap of luxury in that “your wish is my command” kind of way. There is a delightful older couple from Germany and she drives the boat while he hauls the sheet. I suspect teamwork is a critical part of sailing these boats well. Dimitri and I seem to have figured it out today, but tomorrow is showtime!
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