Last Sunday was interesting from a weather perspective. The forecast showed 9:00 SE 10 mph, 12:00 s 11 mph gusts 20, 15:00 NW 20mph gust 40 – oh and the temperature to drop from 8C to 4C during the afternoon.!
So we expected a 180 shift during the day and a doubling of the strength... yes there was a cold front coming through. Only three solos on the water but plenty more ion the clubhouse. Fresh back from skiing and remarkably in one piece I tried to look at the line bias but it kept changing. The RO had set a course to slightly anticipate the initial gentle wind shift from SE to S and my basic plan was to anticipate a gradually shifting wind so strategically try to go right into the header and come back on the lifting wind. I had planned to start nearer the starboard end to be able to tack for this strategy but as often happens it didn’t work out like that. The wind was quite shifty and well as gradually changing so I was hedging my bets a bit on where to start. About 20 seconds to go we were in a big header on starboard so I thought I would go down the line hoping to gain bias advantage with a quick tack onto port to clear everyone. Of course as I shifted down the line by the gun the header had ended and I was nearer the now wrong end of the line. At this point I had two choices – carry on because I’m now on the lifted tack and wait for the next header to tack and hopefully gain, or take my medicine and tack right behind the leaders hoping for the longer strategic wind change. In hindsight I think I would have sailed on a bit more, but I elected to get right. Initially it didn’t pay because I was out of phase with the short term shifts but I was able to the right of the fleet and after I tacked back the gradual lift on starboard started to pay so that I was able to cross Roy but Paul tacked on top of me so i ducked right again. This time as we came back Paul had to duck me – not sure if that was just a half length gain from better tacks or a real wind shift gain, but in 25 critical seconds near the end of the leg I had gained that boat length that meant that instead on being able to cross me and tack to cover, paul elected to duck my transom. I’ve just checked the timing from the video – I literally tacked when Paul covered, sailed for ten seconds and tacked back. The we sailed for another 5 seconds or so before Paul tacked and ten seconds later Paul ducked me. I had made two tacks to Paul’s one. That’s why I keep banging on about efficient tacking.
After that I was pulling away slightly up each beat and Paul was catching me on each reach – at the end of every lap we seemed to be back to square one with me just ahead of Paul but unable to pull out a significant lead. I don’t think we were slowing each other down much, rather spurring each other on to try harder. This pattern continued through the whole Pursuit until with about 5 minutes to go I stopped concentrating for a moment – a Phantom had just gone past but then retired at the end of the run (broken kicker apparently) and I had mentally relaxed for a moment – I’m ahead of Paul, no-one else in range to catch before the time limit. Just a short reach from 1 to 2 and then a beat would do it. Of course Paul took full advantage of my lapse an zipped past on the reach. (Sadly I have the overtaking on video!). Now we only had about four minutes to go but it was on a beat. Paul rounded up at 2, I rounded up and went straight into a tack. That’s normally a bad thing to do because you turn so much you slow down a lot but I had to break free to try and get past. The next four minutes would be critical.
00:00 Paul rounds on Starboard, I round up just behind and tack.
00:30 I tack back onto Starboard
00:40 Paul tacks onto Port
01:05 Paul is going to cross me – he looks to gained a length or two but elects to tack clear in front of me
01:06 I tacked back onto Port looking to find more wind / better angle in the middle Paul doesn’t cover
02:15 I get a header on port and tack back for the mark. I’m now laying 4 on starboard
Not sure when Paul tacks but I’m now in a lift on starboard and easing sheets for speed into the mark.
02:45 I round 4 – Paul is still several lengths away from the mark struggling to make it while I have been easing sheets and accelerating to the mark. Game over.
Again I have made more tacks but gained ground by using the shifts and gusts while Paul got into worse wind nearer the bank between 2 and 4. In many way the whole race turned on two brief periods of wind shift. The rest of the time there was almost nothing between us. I gained upwind, Paul gained cross wind and we were about even on the run.
Sunday looks like being warm with a gentle breeze – great time to practice (or come out of hibernation) before the Solo training on the 24th.
On the 24th Jim Hunt should be with us for 11:00 – plan is to be rigged and changed ready. Depending on the weather we may line up several boats on the bank with different sails so he can show us the differences and how he would set. We’ll decide that on the day. I’ve had some indications of numbers, if you can confirm it will help me plan with Jim.
Don’t forget the RS200 open next sat 17th – I’m away in Sweden this weekend (back Wed) so see you at the RS open.