Solo news 18/9
Welcome to Mark Ampleford (5180) who is joining us for the winter - and we hope he likes us so much he stays on...
Nine Solos starting this week with another on Duty. I'd like to see us regularly hitting double figures on decent days. We're not far away from it and it will give everyone an even better race. A rather shifty wind this week with some big holes and patchy wind but nonetheless a good race in the Anniversary series. With the wind shifting around just before the start we could almost lay the first mark on starboard so I aimed for a committee boat end start. Of course as often happens the next shift will go the other way so those who started further out then came over and crossed the fleet. Mark started just below me and we had a drag race for a while - he tried once to cross but had to tack back as he couldn't clear me, but then on the next shift he crossed me comfortably. Unfortunately it was now obvious that Quentin and Paul who had started further down the line were able to tack and easily cross both of us. This is an often under-recognised fact - if the wind is shifty and it has just lifted on starboard you can expect the next shift to lift on port. If that shift is enough to swap the original bias on the line then starting at speed in the open a bit down the line (or even quite a lot down the line) pays off when the shift comes and you can tack and cross the fleet. That's what I did at the Open Meeting and that's what Quentin and Paul did on Sunday. Of course if the shift doesn't come before you need to tack you're toast (but you probably started in clear air so not all that far back). Getting in phase with the wind shifts is important. I don't know why but it does seem to pay to approach mark 8 on port - there just seems to be a lift coming in or port far more often than not. However at the windward mark it was Quentin from Paul from Gareth from Mark (not sure after that - was too busy looking ahead and trying to figure out how to catch people!)
The reach was quite fine and not much chance to do a lot other than keep the boat moving by really concentrating on the sails. The odd RS200 and laser were a problem separating the Solos. On the run the advantage is behind - puffs come from astern so there is always a chance to catch and hopefully blanket (block the wind) from the boat in front. I managed to get a small puff and work over Paul's stern to gain an overlap at X. The close reach to F was another consolidation leg - I was able to get a bit closer to Quentin while watching out for Paul on my tail. The run from F to 1 though was much more interesting because we had now caught a bunch of (slow) fast handicap boats. As we approached mark 1 I had caught up to Quentin but he had defended his position to be inside me. The tricky part however were the boats in front who had been clear ahead of us. There was a small raft of (I think 200's) that Quentin had no overlap on, then me outside him. I saw the problem coming and went a bit wide before the mark hoping to cut in late and end up close to the mark. Unfortunately for Quentin he was not quite able to cut in after the raft and had to go a bit wide to miss a 200. By going wide early however I was able to round up hard inside him (he couldn't respond because he was still avoiding the boat in front) so by slowing down with a wide entry I was able to end up right on the mark inside the tail of he bunch and start the beat in clear air to windward of Quentin. It's often a good tactic if you look like being outside a raft of boats to slow down a bit and start a bit wide so you can cut in behind them close to the mark. Anyone coming in from behind can't get an overlap on you once you are in the 'zone' three length from the mark. You mustn't of course go outside three lengths (can happen with big fleets in open meetings but rare at club level).
Topper Open - Paul and Chris
I see the Solo fleet was represented at the Topper Open...
Well done to Paul (9th) only just behind top Island Barn Nancy Scott (7) just ahead of Will Scott (11) and Alistair Smith (12). Chris Smith also had a good result at 21st just behind James Curtis (18) - from a fleet of over 50 Toppers. Well done everyone.
Jim's Blog on the Anniversary series covers the over results but I must comment on Dave Clark who is leading the personal handicap series now with three wins and an OOD - that's effectively an uncatchable 4 wins in a five race series - Well done Dave on his first trophy. I think next season you're heading for promotion to the next band. That's the great thing about the personal series - you should all have your small goals for improvements but with the personal series you can really see who is making steps up the fleet. On Sunday Dave finished with two Solos behind him who are in higher bands. The Anniversary series has been mainly quite light which has probably helped us, but the Solo fleet seem to be dominating the results - Quentin looks to be uncatchable in second in both the scratch and the personal - I think another promotion is likely!
I intend to write some notes on the rules pre-start – I’ve previously discussed why you can’t barge in at the committee boat, but the rules here can start to get complicated. Because this will be of more general interest than just the Solos I plan to put it on the web site and reference it from here (next week if I have time)
Sunday afternoon was all about very light weather sailing – the first leg was a very shifty beat. In those conditions I tend to stand up with feet on the leeward side straddling the traveller, with a knee firmly on the side tank to give stability. I want slight leeward heel to reduce make the boat narrower on the waterline and to help the sail hang in a good shape. I take the mainsheet direct from the last pulley on the boom (if you don’t have pulleys on rope strops that might not work, you might need to take it from the bottom pulley). I don’t pull through the jammer because the angles are all wrong. Then by standing I can see the water to look for patches of wind. Mostly I’m watching the sail tell-tales, leach ribbons, shroud streamers and mast head wind indicator (if it is sensitive enough). I concentrate on keeping the boat moving – speed is more important than direction. I’m trimming the sail and then gently altering course back to a beat (luffing or bearing away gently – very gentle with the helm). I think it is trim, trim , trim, look for wind, trim, trim , trim, check other boats, trim, trim, trim,... where trim just means concentrating on sail and wind – make the absolute most of the zephyr of wind – try to get the flow over the sail so the leach streamers fly. See if the wind at the top is different to the shroud streamers – often the wind changes at the top of the mast before it changes lower down so you get some advance warning of a new wind pattern. Concentration is very important – it is hard to keep the sails setting without much wind over them.
Looks as if we have at least two Solo teams for the pursuit depending on the weather. Anyone else can form teams on the day and individuals are welcome to race if not part of a team, but we should be able to get everyone in a team on the day.