Sorry no news last week as I was away finding some snow to slide down. Little did I know I would return to find it white here!
Great turnout (double figures again) last week while I was away with Peter Halliday showing a clean transom to the fleet and Chris Smith joining us from the Scorpion. This week, the second of our mini-open series, the ice put off the senior section after Eddie slipped before anyone rigged – hope you’re OK Eddie. Rob Wilder, Mike Wilkie and Joe Maclauglin came down for the open day but Joe decided that with limited time, no winch and lots of ice in the dinghy park he would stay warm instead. So, just Gareth and Arthur from the fleet against Rob and Mike. Those who stayed ashore missed what turned out to be a really nice sailing day. Enough wind to sail smoothly but never over powered and with the sun out it wasn't really too cold either. By the time we got changed for the start we were all quite warm as the winch wouldn't work so we pulled three solos, two RS200's and an RS400 up by hand. The ramp was treacherous but with six people on the rope pulling on the grass we soon got everyone to the top.
After helping us pull the boats up Arthur only just made the start (two minutes earlier than usual because there were NO LASERS - shame on them) but proceeded to start at the favoured outside end and cross the fleet. The beat became quite tactical as the wind was always there but shifting by about 10 degrees - enough to make tacking the shifts worth it. The two Island Barn boats coped better with the shifts and with a bit of local knowledge (that it usually pays to approach mark 8 on port) the first beat ended with Gareth just pulling through Arthur who had led for most of the beat. For a change, both Island Barn boats fairly well clear of the visitors with Mike Wilkie ahead of Rob for most of the race. On the second lap Gareth had to cover Arthur quite hard going up the beat which condensed the fleet a bit but by the end the positions were quite stable with Gareth clear of Arthur who was comfortably ahead of Rob and Mike. With a quadrilateral course and both reaches quite shy the main scope for overtaking was the beat or run. Tactically the run was generally a case of keep to the left to make sure you were inside at the next mark if not still ahead, but with similar ten degree shifts there was a fair amount of gybing to keep on the favoured tack.
My drill on the run in light weather is to have the plate right up with slack kicker (but cleated so the boom doesn’t sky during the gybe), the boom right out and windward heel. The plate right up makes the boat rather unstable but so long as you are smooth and don't start to weather roll it seems to be the fastest. When the wind shifts to go by the lee I gybe - that's plate down to at least a third down maybe half, roll the boat to windward (that turns a shade more), pull the boom over to the middle (just grab the whole sheet bundle) then let it run out again, check the turn and bring the boat over to heel to windward on the new gybe and then lift the plate again. This week was a shade harder than usual as I lost my wind indicator when I capsized two weeks ago and haven't had time to replace (Father Christmas are you listening) - I tied some thin wool to the shrouds and used the old fashioned tools instead of a sensitive masthead. Thin wool works surprisingly well - you can tell when you are getting by the lee to gybe or when the wind has headed so you can bear away a bit more.
For the Back to Back we had a very short course with no real run which meant that the main overtaking chance was up the beat. Both races followed a similar pattern with Gareth creeping ahead of Rob up the first beat and thereafter keeping a close watch for shifts covering Rob when he was going in phase with the shifts but trying to avoid being suckered into covering too tightly. If you cover regardless of the shift you end up tacking at the wrong time and potentially tacking on a lift which means you turn the boat so far that the positions can be reversed. This is where 'herding' or loose cover comes into play. If you know you want to go left up the beat when the boat behind tacks right you cover hard and sit on their wind, but when they go left you allow them enough room to be clear to leeward so you sail side by side but a few lengths to windward rather than trying to sit on their wind. That way you can, to a degree, dictate which way the boat behind goes (herding). If you get embroiled too closely by always tacking on the boat behind you allow them to dictate when to tack so they are tacking at the right time and you aren't. The result is that while you might stay ahead, they gain on you and anyone further behind gains on both of you.
Overall a great days sailing rounded off with mulled wine and mince pies in the clubhouse. Once again our thanks to all the catering and bar team for all their work making the Barn such a friendly place to sail.
The overall club and open series are on the web site as is this and previous news. Please let me know of any errors or omissions - if you were on duty this week let me know to get your OOD points.
Have a Great Christmas everyone, hope Santa has lots of go-fast goodies in his sack for everyone.