The 2017 WISSA is now over.
180 racers gathered in Togliatti city of Russia and fought the nature – first the strong winds and then the melting snow. The organizers did very well considering the circumstances and the fact that it is only the second time a WISSA takes place in Russia and first time on the Zhigulev Sea. Some 7.000 spectators attended the venue during the final two days of the event. Even with little international exposure, WISSA has certainly resulted in recognition of the sport on the Russian scene – both among public and decision making personnel. Getting winter sailing into Winter Olympics would be a great achievement and Russian racers would have a lot to say there. From the entire scope of disciplines available only snow-kiting and short track slalom present formidable options, STS being probably the most spectator friendly and standardized.
Day 1 – course racing in 15+ m/s wind on a very bumpy hard packed snow track, scary, but interesting.
Day 2 – slalom fitted between several puddles in strong wind again
Day 3 – everything was melting, four starts of course racing with 9-10 sq.m. sails, low speed, lots of pumping
Day 4 – just one start that shouldn’t even be there, not enough wind, more than 50% of the fleet not able to sail, result considered valid only after protest hearing due to ISAAF rule prevailing over WWR4 rule. Next year “non sailable conditions” will be defined more clearly!
Day 5 – Slalom attempts and marathon
Day 6 – Slalom races, finished only one hour before closing the event and prize giving ceremony
Monchegorsk team from Northern Russia came prepared best for course race in difficult snow conditions and Alexandr Trofimenko won before Evgeniy Mitrofanov from the same team.
The creator of the wide sled, Vadim Volotskoi came with updated version, MUST2, now with ski angle that can be adjusted during the race in “raceboard style” came third.
Vadim Volotskoi : My own goal was to challenge these whenever I could, but being not an expert in ski waxing for such wet conditions and lacking snow practice during past three years I ended up 9th.
Zhigulev Sea marathon is an interesting affair with total of ca. 70 kms to sail. First lap was in cross wind conditions and is relatively easy to sail. This allows even beginners to get their standing from the race. It is a DEFI-like thing with everyone smashing in the same direction and returning back after some while. Second and third laps are going upwind and in final scoring first everyone who has done full three laps gets a score, then two lap performers and the only one lap “easy riders”.
This time conditions were nearly suicidal for sails and only two racers made two laps. Valentin Dobryshevskiy was in his own class sailing on a traditional monoski. Grigoriy Kokus followed him on a wide sled with 9.5 RS-X sail. Evgeniy Mitrofanov was also this time on podium.
Evgeniy Mitrofanov : I couldn’t compete as we were waiting for possible slalom starts that never took place that day. Even though marathon is nice, I would hate to give my Champion title away for free!
On Saturday-Sunday night temperature was finally sub-zero and we ended up with a slalom track that was a lot better than on Wednesday. Richards Liepins waited for the wind to pick up and then ran another set of 7 starts with two qualifications. Boris Ljubtshenko gave me no rest at any stage – we fought at starts, almost in every turn and also on all straights. Amazingly there were no collisions or DSQs, just very fast tempo:
– check the sled and trims
– take your starting position
– think every step for first five seconds
– explode forwards at the start
– keep the lead
– do not let them overtake you at first mark
– pick up the right turning point at a split of a second
– pump away like an animal
– keep the focus at every mark
– accelerate to full speed towards the finish line
And that repeated over and over again every 15 minutes. Sander Aur is an Estonian newcomer who had to try it all – damaged his board, sail and few other things, DNS, DSQ, DNF. One collision, several crashes, and then finally, at the last start climbing to the first fleet. Was definitely the Happiest guy of the day!
WISSA has a tradition of two annual trophies. Viktor Hendriksson a “great sportsmanship” the award was given in memory of a former WISSA competitor who brought winter sailors from East and West together in 1991. He got killed on a search and rescue mission (his real work) and in his memory the trophy is given each year.
This time it was Alexei Razhev, long time WISSA competitor and organizer of this event.
BEST DESIGN is given for a construction that provides new level in development – in past years it has been given to constructions like Hiberna, ELF kite, Snowfer, MUST and also others who remained lower in numbers but provided inspiration for further developments.
This year there was competitors’ vote for 8 nominations and Vadim Volotskoi’s updated MUST2 sled was selected with Russian Custom-made speed skis, Ukranian Aeros kite and Atomic Speed Ski were very close to each other for the second position.
In total it can be said, that the event was successful despite all the challenges and the remote location.
Next WISSA is scheduled to take place on 26.2 – 4.3. in Lahti, Finland.
By : Feodor Gurvits | Wissa2017 | en.wissa-2017.snowkiterussia.com