Mundial de Vela

A lesson about the South wind

It was a hard day for the racers. Int he picture, a boat overturned.
It was a hard day for the racers. Int he picture, a boat overturned. / Daniel Pedriza
  • Following the boats yesterday was quite an experience

After just two minutes, licking your lips will fill your mouth with a sea salty taste. Soaking wet. «Its choppy until we get out of the bay», said Sergio, the boss of the inflatable boats. Following a regatta from the sea is quite an experience, but doing it on a day marked by the South wind is a lesson. A master lecture about maritime life in Santander. This warm wind tends to complicate everything. «Let’s head over to board in the maritime zone», the organization explains. Shortly before, a shore boat, pushed by the wind and a wave, was launched onto the CEAR ramp. It is quite a show to see the boarding in the water, which appears angry, violent. «The closer you are to land when the South wind hits from this side, the better». Sergio Díez de Velasco points towards El Puntal while he explains. If you look for the Radial Laser boats, today they are in the farthest area. La Magdalena, Mouro, Cabo Mayor Lighthouse… A voyage. «Today is going to be gorgeous». The prow is lifted and falls again; it bounces again and again. Along the way, one can see an overturned 49 and the Angolians’ 470, which straggles alongside its fleet. «There are specialists in wind and light wind when it comes to sailing. One day you sink and another day you are on a high».¨Chiqui García de Soto, who was an Olympic athlete in Montreal and Seoul, is aboard. The judges have postponed the events until the weather conditions are optimal while the sailors deal with staying warm. «These waits complicate everything you have prepared and your concentration goes down the drain». The expert knows what he is talking about. The Laser boats sail through the point where, some years ago, two coal merchant boats sank, the ‘Río Miera’ and the ‘Scotland’. A historic maritime place in the Cantabrian Sea.

It’s time to change fields aboard the inflatable boat, from eight meters (3.20 beam). The siren sounds and the regatta begins. With so much wind, the boards appear to float over the water. The wind blows between 20 and 25 knots, though predicted at 14 or 15. «Here it’s much more than sailing; it’s surviving». The wind is so strong that the 49 boats were sent back to shore for the time being. Now it´s time to wait. Some take advantage of the opportunity to go for a swim. The 470 boats are not far. Their maneuver around the buoy is spectacular. So much so that both the Greeks and Swedes almost tackle it. They are so near that when they are shouting as they approach the buoys, it seems that they are even closer. The Finnish fleet is also in the water. These large and solitary athletes arrive just on time, as if on a center street. They are impressive. And there is still enough time for one more race before stepping back on land. The 49s – the fastest ones seen throughout the day, not counting Nacra – are finally entering the competition. They are nearly sent flying, and the hustle and bustle aboard is almost violent. New Zealand takes home the yellow circle on their sail. The leaders. The Brits and Canadians have overturned. ¨The problem is getting the mast out of the water. But capsizing means losing the race…¨ Heads or tails.