After months of talking and planning, the Dart 18 World Championship for 2019 was finally upon us. 50+ boats, world champions in attendance and some very ‘hungry’ looking crews – what were we letting ourselves in for?

After months of talking and planning, the Dart 18 World Championship for 2019 was finally upon us.  50+ boats, world champions in attendance and some very ‘hungry’ looking crews – what were we letting ourselves in for?

Dart 18 World Championships 2019

Royal Varuna Yacht Club – Pattaya Thailand – 12°55.065’N 100°51.430’E

Chris and Simon

After months of talking and planning, the Dart 18 World Championship for 2019 was finally upon us.  50+ boats, world champions in attendance and some very ‘hungry’ looking crews – what were we letting ourselves in for?

With our 18’ cat racing experience largely limited to F18 Hobie Tigers, we had borrowed a Dart 18 for the Championship.  With a collective total of two hours on the Dart before the event, we were more than a little curious to see how it would handle and compete.  We had a pretty rough 1st day (training day) with some very, ehmmmm, thorough scrutineering before we could enter the regatta.  

The Dart 18 is a one design, and there are some very interesting conditions of race, such as the color of a baton, though we stressed most over adding THA onto the mainsail.  Thankfully, with a beer or two in our wake, we were able to apply our sail numbers with surgical precision exactly where they should be and even the right way up. We were ready to race! 

Each race day saw two windward/leeward courses planned with 52 boats making the first start. Average wind speed was 12-15kts and a clear blue sky.  Perfect!

What really struck us was how well behaved and clean the starts were; a few general recalls only.  Our initial strategy was to stay out of the way and look for some clear air. However, it soon became evident that there would be plenty of room for everyone on the start line so we quickly opted to mix it up in the middle; on the whole a strategy that worked well as the fleet usually split very quickly for the beat up wind.  

Unfortunately, our boat proved to have major and overpowering, at times, weather helm.  It took us a couple of days of mast tweaking and trimming to get a handle on this, so we were struggling to keep up.   The fact that we had a combined body weight that was double most crews probably didn’t help too much either ….  

By the time we hit the downwind legs we were typically racing in the rear of the fleet.  Not to worry, we were in fine company back there and the battle for positions kept things lively and competitive.  I’m not sure how many times I asked Simon why the other boats were going faster than us, it seemed that way , until we got to the leeward marks, usually within a few lengths of the other boats.  So, just an illusion, but it made it exciting all the way down.  

We eventually got on top of the weather helm challenge, but not before I had developed arms like the Hulk, by trimming the boat with me helming whilst sat almost on the rudders and Simon directly behind me, though that meant I was usually garroted by the sheet.  Sitting five centimeters fore or aft seriously made all the difference.

In summary, a fantastic regatta, lots of adventures (Simon took a few dunking’s due to my handling errors, but he has forgiven me now), great sailing, excellent socials and a really good time was had.  For our first regatta on Darts we were glad to have been able to compete.