The Dutch J/70 National Sailing League – “Eredivisie Zeilen” – had yet another successful year with record participation and an amazing increase in the level of competition.
The leaders of the “EZ” league, Alex Hoeve and Marco de Klerk, had this to say at the finale in Monnickendam;
‘Throughout the season, we have been able to get high quality sailing amongst our sailing club teams. We have seen the level of competition increase dramatically this year. This is a good development, as we can now sail in heavier wind conditions at any event, thanks to the much-improved sailing experience of the sailors. Most importantly, we see more and more youthful participants joining the “old guard”; this trend is important and fits into the philosophy of the Eredivisie Zeilen!”
In the end, it was the WSV Almere Centraal team that took fourth in the finale to “seal the deal” and clinch the overall title after sailing the five events (Almere, Aalsmeer, Scheveningen, Veere, Monnickendam) with a low point total of 108 pts. Ironically, there’s was not an easy win since only 11 pts separated them from the second place finishers in the end – Jachtclub Scheveningen.
For the first day of sailing on the Gouwzee, the fleet was greeted by a tough breeze blowing an average of 24 kts. Spice it up with lulls and torrential downpours on occasion and you get the picture. It was very challenging for both the sailors as well as the race committee. Three complete flights were run. With such a strong breeze, the big issue was (ironically) the teams maintaining (and anticipating) big puffs with tactical situations. For example, VWDTP had a collision with the SheSails Ladies from Amsterdam. Artur Knuppel said, “it was an unfortunate collision. We tried to dive below SheSails, but a big puff hit us as we bore off. So, we hit them amidships, making considerable damage, we feel so badly for this incident.’
The WV Almere Centraal skipper said, “the team is able to make the difference mainly on ‘boat handling’ and experience. They have been sailing in this event for three years now, and they benefit from it. The plan is to further build the lead, but we cannot make mistakes!’
Sitting in second after the first day, Jachtclub Scheveningen’s Tom Kerkhof commented, “it’s a lot of fun sailing! We have a first place in the first race and a third place in the second race. In our first race today we could benefit from a mistake by WV Almere Centraal, which we caught in the last leg. We kept the boat going hard and played the wind shifts as best we could.’
The second day of sailing on Saturday was completely blown out, with winds hitting Force 6 & 7- 40+ knots! So, the race committee wisely canceled races for the day after an initial postponement to 1400 hours.
For the Sunday finale, only nine points separated WSV Almere Centraal and Jachtclub Scheveningen after 147 races in the course of the 2017 season! Everyone’s patience was being tested all weekend-long on the Gouwzee- with puffs hitting 32 kts on Friday, 28 kts on Saturday, everyone was hoping Sunday would provide a fair test of the teams. As it turns out, the conditions on Sunday were considerably quieter than the previous days, making it a tactical game in five – seven knots of wind. Eventually, 24 races were sailed for the weekend.
WSV Almere Centraal was hoping to win another title. Team captain John Engelsman said, ‘Our ambition was to win another title. We also wanted to get the final stage in Monnickendam, but unfortunately, it just did not work. At the beginning of this season, we added four new members to our team. All experienced racing sailors, but every round was another challenge to set up the right team. Until this weekend, we managed to win three rounds, although the margins of winning are significantly smaller compared to 2016. Even for the Sailing Champions League that we sailed, the margins were quite small between the 36 best clubs in Europe; we finished ninth overall and the podium had a four point spread from first to third- amazing!”
Rounding out the top three in the Dutch J/70 National Sailing League was Jachtclub Scheveningen in second place with 119 pts and WSV Giesbeek in third place with 128 pts. Follow the Dutch J/70 National Sailing League Facebook page. For more about Dutch J/70 National Sailing League visit website.