A Trip to Texel
Maya and Daniel Sturm took their Nacra Formula 18 catamaran to the 44th edition of the “Ronde om Texel” on the 10th of June 2023. The conditions for the Ronde om Texel were near perfect this year with brilliant sunshine and not too much of the dreaded surf on the beach. The wind was a bit more than forecast with 15-20 knots from a north-easterly direction. The skippers meeting at 9:00 was this year held entirely in Dutch using a rather professional looking slide show. The basic idea is simple, keep the island to starboard and try to get back as quickly as possible. The start was delayed to 11:30 to make sure we arrive at the shallowest area of the course closer to high tide. More on that below.
The start line was over half a mile long with a large coastguard boat at the committee boat end and another large vessel at the other end. The use of a helicopter to mark the start line at Texel has sadly been discontinued. The first leg was an upwind beat to Gate 1 next to the Texel lighthouse with 1 to 2 meter waves. While the field quickly stretched out between the fast cats and the slower boats it was difficult to get a clear lane while on port tack in dense cat traffic and we had to duck a number of boats at high speed.
The leg after the lighthouse to Gate 3 along the north shore of the island turned into a high-speed beam reach in fortunately much flatter water. Daniel decided that this was an excellent time to check his watch, which was rewarded with a near pitch-pole, several bruises and a lost pair of good sunglasses. Shortly after Gate 2 and on the way to the VC mark at the north-east corner of the course the water gets very shallow. A Nacra carbon F20 ran aground not far ahead of us and was turned around 180 degrees in the process. With boards almost entirely out of the water, our rudders hit the ground for the first time shortly afterwards.
Immediately after rounding the VC mark, the water is even shallower and we were sailing with both rudders half way up. A wing foiler hit the ground just ahead of us and we nearly sailed over him. He then joined his colleagues who were patiently walking across the shallowest stretch in knee deep water. The west side of the island with Gate 3 turned into beautiful spinnaker legs, with the only spoiler that Daniel had rigged one of the ratchet blocks the wrong way around. In the middle of the island, where the tide streams meet, there were some fun cross-waves but the further south we came the flatter the water got.
The southern tip of the island with Gate 4 is the most Caribbean looking part of the course. There are very large empty sandy beaches on Texel and also a windswept sand island, locally known as the “Rasende Bol” (the “raging sandbank”) that you have to leave to port. In the passage between the islands the water was almost perfectly flat but the wind pretty gusty. Maya struggled to put down the spinnaker as the helm was sitting on the tack line. That resulted in a smaller near pitch pole and Maya hitting the jib track. The resulting nose-bleed turned the boat briefly into a slaughter house.
On the final leg back up the west coast of Texel to the finish line we were chased by a large group of other F18s but managed to keep most of them behind us on the beat up the coast. The final obstacle before the finish line was this year a large dead wale – with his own temporary cardinal marker – about 600 meters off-shore on a submerged sandbank. We crossed the finish line after 03:01:42 with 13 other F18s finishing within four minutes of us. We improved our “Texel rating” from a 44rd place in 2019 to a 31st place this year. 207 cats completed the course in 2023 with a total of 242 cats entering. The full 2023 results are available here.
No trip to Texel is complete with help from the tractor department. To get the boat trailer on and off the sandy beach is impossible without a large tractor towing the trailer. On Saturday afternoon waiting times for a tractor ride were long but eventually it was our turn and we can be seen leaving our spot on the beach here . After a much needed shower, we joined the celebrations in the festival tent on the beach that run late into the night. The 45th Ronde om Texel will be sailed on Saturday the 29th of June 2024. Hopefully the turnout of GBR boats will recover from a low of just two entries this year!