Sorry it was rather a wet welcome back for Tony Penfold, but you are very welcome.
Class race results:
1 Arthur Philips
2 Malcolm Barnes
3 Gareth Griffiths
4 Tony Penfold
Plus many members of the senior common room watching us get wet.
Another lovely day for a sail (if you like it wet and sometimes windy). Mostly the wind wasn't actually all that strong - hiking but not very overpowered, but there were sharp gusts that didn't come from the same direction as the main wind. They required rapid adjustments of both course and sail. If you get a gust that frees a lot (comes more from the side) you have to rapidly ease sheets and then start to point higher to get onto the edge of the new wind. It's key to do this before the boat heels too much and digs in instead of punching forwards.
I had the interesting experience of using a club boat while mine is having its pre-winter service. Nothing major but she acquired a few scratches last week when she blew off the launching trolley and I have a few small things I want fixing/changing so it is back to the builder. Hopefully back in the real 4859 next week. I used my sail in 1381 the oldest of the club boats. (more on that later). The class race start had a line that was very biased to the port end. My plan was to come down the line and hit the port end right on the gun. As I came down the line Arthur was ahead of me and slightly to leeward going slowly so I thought there was room to accelerate and pass him - of course he luffed a bit to push me up, but I sheeted in and got past but then I was travelling too fast towards the pin so I had to bear away hard to get below the line and try to slow down before coming back up towards the pin. Unfortunately I think I was about a second early - two hoots - Arthur obviously thought he was over and I'm fairly sure my bow was just ahead of the outer end so I looped round the buoy and started behind on port. Timing is everything, and I shouldn’t have been greedy trying to get exactly to the pin – psychologically I was thinking – I’m in a club boat - need to make the perfect start to have a chance. Result – started last of the Solos! Going for broke usually ends up broke – just like looking for the killer wind shift. Playing the percentages usually works out better.
A few interesting points from the race, there was a splendid example of keeping your eye on the big picture. Arthur recovered well from the start and by I think the second lap was pushing Malcolm hard for the lead with Tony about 50 yards back in third and me about the same behind Tony. On the broad reach from 5 to F Malcolm and Arthur engaged in a close dual resulting in both being way above the lay line. Result – Tony slipped gratefully through to a clear first and I caught up with Arthur and Malcolm. In the big picture whoever won the dual they both lost position on me and let Tony clear through. By the third lap Tony had pulled out a good lead on Malcolm and Arthur and I were very close to each other about 40 yards behind Malcolm.
Tony knows what’s coming… I think he’s been spoilt by sailing against the superstars ay Hayling so he has someone to follow… Beat to 4 reach to 5 and then F, but alas a laser misled him by going direct from 4 to F, Tony followed, Malcolm followed. When Arthur and I came round 4 we looked up and saw what was happening. By the time we’d called Malcolm and Tony back the positions had been reversed. Tony, being further ahead had gone further to F and had to beat back to 4. Malcolm didn’t have as far to return so we started the final leg almost together. A final almost run to the finish saw much positioning with anyone behind trying to blanket the ones in front. End result Arthur from Malcolm from me with mere seconds between and Tony fourth wishing he’d written the course down.
The back to backs had a bit more wind to start with. The first race Tony and I got away well and at the first mark we were almost together, down the broad reach/run I managed to get an overlap so that at X so that all I had to do was gybe and take the lead. The gods of the winds had other ideas. Huge (well fairly big, but nothing like last week) gust just before the gybe, I thought I’d got the boat balanced so carved into the gybe but probably knowing Tony was lurking ready to cut inside me I turned a bit too far and didn’t check the turn hard enough as the boom came over. Result – broached and capsized. It’s always important in windy conditions to stop the turn as the boom goes over otherwise the impetus of the boom hitting the stops spins the boat on round and you broach. Good sport for the spectators I’m sure – even though the boat went turtle by quickly bringing it up and staying outside the boat as it righted – I got the boat up with very little water in and pulled myself onboard to restart just ahead on Arthur and Malcolm. Unfortunately I wasn’t quite quick enough and they ended up just ahead on me at the finish with Tony miles ahead. Lesson here rather like the first start – don’t try to be greedy, more important to make a good gybe than try to cut too close to the mark.
So – sailing a club boat. End result – still competitive, but definitely a bit slower than usual – I spent most of the races snapping at Malcolm and Arthurs heels. Things I noticed or changed… The boat felt bow heavy compared to my boat – thinking about it I have x Kg of lead correctors on the back of the plate case – if that weight is in wood further forward it is not so surprising. Rigging the boat I noticed that the mast seemed a lot more upright. I would have liked to move the heel forwards but it was too well bolted so I let the forestay off a bit more which allowed the mast to bend back. This flattened the luff of the sail a bit more than I really wanted (seemed to make made it very sensitive to over-sheeting and hard to get all tell-tales flying) but was a reasonable compromise and good when the wind came up. I added elastic on the tiller (down to back end of toes straps) to get the self centering that I like. I replaced the wind indicator – essential for downwind in my opinion, and I made sure that all the controls would work with my sail.
In the first race a had problems with the main jammer (older style Holt) because instead of releasing as you lift the mainsheet the jammer would swivel up. I tightened the bolt for the B2B races and it was then fine. Being able to quickly release main in the gusts is vital to keeping the boat flat and driving. If you delay or the gear makes you delay you have to overcorrect to get the boat level and you’ve just lost a few yards.
The traveler does not adjust easily – rope is a bit too thick and the goes round a steep corner as it enters the blocks. I just set it an inch or so down and left it. Mainsheet was only three to one rather than 4:1 as I normally use, but it was surprisingly OK. Even in the windy parts I was able to play the main, but I did have to use the kicker rather than just mainsheet tension to windward.