Not as much to report as usual because I was on duty and for once we didn’t have many solos on the water.
This was the monthly Pursuit race – we decided to try out Mike Jones idea for the anniversary pursuit – the idea being to give a course where you could fairly easily see where the current leader was, and to spread the boats out round the water. The course was all the way round every mark, but with an extra windward, reach, leeward in the middle. I think the consensus was the that the idea was OK but using EVERY mark was just too much – too many mark rounding too short a legs. Better to do something similar but miss out enough marks to give better legs.
As far as the results went Mike Lipscombe soon overhauled the boats in front – a good turnout of Topper, Feva, Topaz, Magno but the lasers were always closing rather quickly, and from the start line a saw Peter Curtis start in more wind than anyone else. That set the tone for the race with the first few lasers getting past Mike, but Peter Curtis coming through with about 10 minutes to spare. I hear Mike took a tumble coming in miss-judging the step to the pontoon – hope that you are recovering OK.
Watching from the bank, and watching lots of the juniors I think there are a few things to consider. The wind was quite sharp at times, probably 2 gusting 4. Watching how people deal with gusts is very revealing. The top sailors just go faster – they probably anticipated the gust because they were watching the water, their boats stay flat but their course changes in response to the gust – you see their sail momentarily free slightly shape as they absorb the gust. What happens further back down the fleet is that the sailor fights the boat – leans out harder (even though that isn’t enough), pulls the tiller hard to hold the boat straight, and only when the boat is heeled way over (and nearly stopped) is any sheet freed. Using the rudder = putting the brakes on. Don’t wait until the boat is heeled over before reacting, ease a bit of sheet and point up a bit (if beating) to keep the boat flat. You have to anticipate to go fast. Look for the gusts coming towards you (dark patches on the water), monitor if the gusts are tending to head or free (and watch the boats ahead to see what happened when they got the gust). Flat is fast, heeling over macho fighting the to keep the boat straight is not! Particularly with a boat like ours where the key is keeping the boat moving – in a steady wind we all go at much the same speed so the differences come in how we react when the wind changes and in the direction we point. Avoiding the brakes (lots of rudder) keeping the boat balanced is one of the keys to boatspeed.