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Solo News 11 Oct


    Eddie reports…
    4859   Gareth Griffiths
    4647   Mike Lipscombe
    3457   Mervyn Cinnamond
    4073   Peter Cottrell
    3649   [ 2052 ] Andy Ford [ borrowed sail ]
    3649   Robin Pryke
    3365   Frank Beanland
    4252   Alec Adams
    2297   Melanie Hardman  [ Retired ]
    Good turnout of 9
    A pleasant enough day with a steady northerly wind of manageable strength but a hint of drizzle in the air, and a bit chilly.
    The boy Gareth got away at the start to build up a significant lead in a surprisingly short time which he held  to the finish [ not surprisingly ] . This proves yet again getting away from the fleet at the start allows you to sail your own race without interference.  Praise must be given to Mike on his second place despite his argument and subsequent injury with a pontoon a week or so ago. Well done that man. 
    Melanie put in welcom appearance but trouble with her outhaul forced an early retirement.
    Two boats with the same sail number caused confusion to the scorers at the finish so they left it to me to sort out. No problem when you understand the sort of characters in the Solo fleet, bless them.  Anyway well done everybody no doubt you all enjoyed it.
    Gareth comments…
    It was nice to see so many boats on the water - we almost made double figures again which for late summer is very encouraging. If we include the trainees from the afternoon we were well into double figures. The overall results are up on the web site. With the O-league system you can only score extra points for beating someone who is within 20 points of you overall. You get one for starting, one for finishing and one for each boat you beat who is within 20 points of you overall. This means it is very hard to get away at the top, it is quick to catch up, but slightly harder to actually overtake.Although Merv has done six races and I've done eight, I can't get far away because I don't score points from many people. In fact I can now only score from Merv, Peter, Mike and Frank. Mervyn actually scored more points than I did this week, but as you can see now he can only score from me, Peter, Mike and Frank so it is a bit harder for him to actually catch me. But it is still possible.  It's definitely everything to play for between Merv and Peter, with Mike rocketing up because he can still score points from almost everyone.
    The down-side of the o-league system is that the last few races are critical, because everyone stays quite close the last few races really count. For example if I had missed this week Mervyn and I would be tied on points. That's why in the winter we use the low points system (1 for 1st, 2 for second etc. with half the races to count). Although I'm not a fan of the O-league system it does produce a close finish and mostly rewards people who do more races. I'm still looking for a way to avoid the excessive bias on the last few races.
    ... and now onto the training afternoon.  We welcomed back Melanie Harman who sailed last winter (and plans to again this year) together with Nikky Daly, Martin Mitchell and Peter Renn.  Two from this year's Tuesday Try-sail, Melanie from previous Try-sail and welcome back to Martin. We have some more prospective new sailors as well who couldn’t make it this week.
    We did the basic rules using the rules quiz - see the link from the training section of the web site - and went through the b asics of starting, windward legs and markrouding, looking at videos from the training sessions ealrier in the summer.Then we went out for short windward leeward races so we could practice starting, mark rounding and get the basic windward leeward legs sorted out. With me counting down and encouraging everyone to get up to the line the starts were really quite good - it will be harder in a bigger fleet but in the club races there are not all that many boats. You will need to make sure you don't get blocked below the line. upwind, they go smarter upwind. They simply sail less distance because they use the wind shifts and tack without losing any ground. What was very encouraging is that I was seeing you starting to spot when the wind shifted in your favour - even with wet tell tales. Keep it up - that's how you go smarter upwind.
    For the first race the windward leg was pretty much just one long starboard tack all the way to the mark. That showed that on a straight leg everyone was pretty much the same speed. When we moved the windward mark so that it was a proper beat and you had to tack the fleet spread out a lot more and Martin's experience showed. That shows that you need to work on tacking more efficiently – it’s just practice - and making sure you don't miss favourable wind shifts. The good guys (and gals) don't go much faster

    A few points I noticed - when you reach the windward mark and start to bear away downwind let the sail out slightly ahead of the turn. If you keep the sail in too far it will stop the boat turning and also slow you down. You'll be fighting to make the boat bear away - remember what I said about the rudder – it’s a really effective brake.
    There was a really good example of what a good start can do - Nikki got away really well in one race so that she was first at the windward mark even though (as the newest sailor) she was a shade slower upwind.
    At the leeward mark (end of the run) everyone had got the message from the videos - the rounding up was pretty quick, rarely more than 1/2 a length away from the mark. (aim for no gap at all) but it is much more efficient to round up, get sailing and then tack rather than trying to round up and tack all in one go. That makes a 180 degree turn which stops the boat completely. Make a smooth 90 degree turn keeping the boat moving and then tack the other 90 if you want to go that way.
    Overall I was really impressed - I'm hoping that we will have an active newcomer section and it won't be long before you are pushing the back of the regular fleet. Keep practicing and if there is any particular topic you find hard let me know and I’ll try to help. I'll probably start to repeat the boat setup and sail setting advice appropriate to the conditions (like I did last year) for the newcomers. If you all start to do the races you will have lots of practice and I think you will get some exciting close races.
    A couple of rigging suggestions: Strong elastic loop from the kicking strap on the boom forward to the left of the mast, through a pulley by the forestay and back past the right of the mast to the kicker. Needs to be quite strong, but this helps keep the sail out on the runs particularly when the wind goes light.
    I also like to have an elastic holding the tiller down and central. It stops any chance of the rudder coming off the pintles (there are other ways of doing that) but it also keeps the rudder central unless you want to use it. It encourages you to use less rudder by providing some resistance as you push or pull the tiller. I just have a loop near the back of the aft toe strap (if you have a central aft strap). It means that if you drop the tiller extension the tiller doesn’t flop over and spin the boat, it keep straight.
    Overall a great start – let’s see you in the class race - you might surprise yourselves. 
    Target one - finish a race.
    Target two - start at the front - on the line and going. If people get past you try to work out where - ask them after the race.
    Target three - stay ahead of someone (if you do target two you will start ahead)
    Ask questions - if I'm out before the start and you are out I'm always happy to have a quick look at a sail etc.
    Finally happy birthday to June Curtis who does so much work for us in the tea bar – 70 years young this week.

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