International Canoe Worlds 1990
The International Canoe world championship was held at the DKV club at Mardorf on Steinhudermeer in West Germany from July 21st to 28th. During the week the 62 competitors sailed in a variety of conditions which ranged from Force 4-6 at the beginning of the week to very light and shifty airs for the later races. The majority of the fleet had to count at least one poor result and in the most competitive fleet ever assembled any mistakes were severely punished.
The practice race was won by Lars Guck (USA) from the defending champion Robin Wood with Steve Clark (USA) third and Rob Michael fourth.
Wood sailed an excellent first race to win by about two minutes ahead of past champion Steve Clark. Mark Goodchild (GB) finished third in front of Jens Reichart (WG) with Guck (USA) fifth. British hopes were high with another four helmsmen in the top ten positions.
After the first recall of the week Guck won the second race from Ola Barthelsson (Sweden), Clark and Reichart.
He then consolidated his position with a win in the third race.
The race on Wednesday was abandoned when the race leaders were beaten by the time limit on the final leg. Wood had led for much or this race and many competitors were surprised that the race had not been finished at the end of the previous beat. With a forecast of light wind it also looked as if the week's program might not be completed.
After a long series of postponements, petanque games and the odd 'nogge-choc', enough wind filled in by the end of the day on Thursday to sail a shortened fourth race. Erich Chase (USA) won a race dominated by Americans from Paul Miller, Bill Beaver and Guck. Chris (GB) Eyre fell foul of the two minute rule and was understandably upset to be told that he was a non starter when he was rounding the windward mark in the lead! A protest against the committee was not upheld.
Two races were sailed on the Friday.
Goodchild won the first ahead of Wood, Mike Fenwick (GB) and Guck.
In the final race Wood led up the final beat only to get on the wrong side of a powerful shift and he had to watch 15 boats sail over to finish ahead. Chris Eyre was very indignant when no boats were disqualified after multiple violations of the two minute rule which lead to a series of general recalls. A protest to have the race thrown out, however, failed. Guck won to clinch the world championship with an astonishingly consistent performance. Clark finished second overall with Reichart third.
The championship was memorable not only for the difficult conditions but also for the warmth of the hospitality and the excellent social program, official and unofficial! It was good to meet friends old and new and to meet such dedicated travellers and dog-walkers as Tim Wilson (KA) and Hilary and even Seth Dunbar (KA)! The B-team made quite a splash on the opening night and recruited a few new members from the A-team on the water during the week. Despite his diplomatic and sensitive nature, Rob Michael only mentioned "it" once when his boat was vandalized by some teenies looking for pretty rope, but I think he got away with it! [Editor - reference I think to the TV programme "Fawlty Towers"]
Great interest was shown in the new British boats developed by Rob Michael and Chris Powles. These are very stiff, light high-tech shells engineered to the highest specification yet. Robin Wood sailed a new canoe decked by John Claridge and sported a deck stepped mast. Chris Powles' beautifully fitted version clearly has potential and Rob's Razorback Ring Burner is a force to be reckoned with, especially in a breeze. Colin Brown sailed his home-built canoe with his debut suite of home made sails to an excellent sixth overall which must give great heart to all ardent DIY canoeists.
Some of the Swedish canoes sported sleeved luff sails which aroused a good deal of debate but which did not appear to confer any advantage in the conditions sailed. Some of their rigs were very extreme with the jib tack a full metre back from the bow. Their daggerboards are getting narrower with a root chord of 200 mm and below! The sculpted Swedish seats are very comfortable to hike from and give a great feeling of security.
Ted Van Dusen (US) has developed a very neat arrangement which allows free fore and aft travel for the seat with tension on the sheets, while retaining the jib sheet cleats on the carriage.
With San Francisco in 1993, it looks as if there is some serious forward planning to do for the British fleet.