Wind light but always there, first beat from 1 to 8. The class race saw some of the closest racing I have had this season. Off the start it looked quite even but Arthur took the right shifts early on the first beat to definitely be ahead from about half way up, showing impressive windward speed to round ahead of Gareth, Mike, and Malcolm with Peter a bit further back (Peter had gone for a different approach hitting the right corner on the beat but losing out significantly over the rest who went left or middle/left). On the run Gareth found some good speed and caught Arthur while Mike and Malcolm started having a close dual. The race continued really as two fights - Gareth and Arthur rarely more than a couple of boat lengths apart and behind them Malcolm and Michael having a similar battle.
After getting through on the run Gareth made a poor rounding and let Arthur drive through to leeward. (reason was that the mainsheet is slightly too short so to get the boom right out on the run I have to let the traveler out and I had forgotten to pull it back in so when I rounded up - no power). Arthur then covered Gareth up the rest of that beat and again up the beat back to 8 so we started the run again with Arthur just ahead of Gareth then a gap to Malcolm and Michael having their own battle. Down the run Gareth got alongside but Arthur had carefully stayed on the inside to have water at the leeward mark. This time however Gareth made a better rounding coming in from a bit wider to squeeze up on the mark and got a slight lift. Two quick tacks on a shift gave the chance to get his nose ahead. Then the tacking duel began again! Rarely more than a boat length in it Arthur tried to wriggle through but Gareth kept the cover tight - Arthur even resorted to a dummy tacks. Goodness knows how many tacks we made but amazingly Malcolm and Michael didn't catch us - I think they were having their own private dual, and good tacks in light weather don’t cost much. It’s all about being smooth and timing the roll – no panic tacks and no mistakes. So at the last windward mark it was Gareth from Arthur and Malcolm from Michael with Peter (unusually) at the back with positions maintained down the reach to the line.
The back to back races were over a quadrilateral course which unfortunately seemed ideally suited to three sail boats - they carried their kites on three legs. The first race though showed how close things can be. On handicap 5 seconds between the first 4 boats in four different classes (Laser, 470, Solo, RS200) with Gareth 3rd, Arthur 6th and Malcolm 10th. In the second race the three sail boats seemed unstoppable with the first single hander Arthur in 7th, Gareth 9th and Malcolm 10th.
Despite what I said in the blog a few weeks ago about it usually paying to go left on a beat to mark 8 I obviously wasn’t listening when I wrote it!. In the first race Peter C went right and for a while looked good but closing on the mark he had lost quite a bit. In the second back to back I made a good start but part way up the beat the faster RS200s Merlin etc. were blocking my wind so I either had to sail through all their dirty wind or tack earlier and go right a bit in clear air. I chose to try and keep clear air – I should have known better. Arthur and Malcolm hit the left corner behind the ‘fast’ boats and came into mark 8 clear ahead of me. So I guess my lesson for the week is to have a plan about which way to go up the beat and remember the bigger picture. Don’t get diverted by one or two boats if you think your strategy is right. Sure – try to avoid really bad wind shadows from other boats but if you think it pays to go left then find a way to do that. I got suckered into thinking about small boat on boat tactics and forgot the bigger picture.
We hope to welcome a new Solo to the ‘Barn on Sunday – Paul Playle in 5046 I know you will make him very welcome and show him how we do everything.
The forecast for Sunday looks promising medium winds and not quite as cold. Time for some of our hibernating winter sailors to start thinking about emerging?
It is also the club AGM after sailing so please come along and give us your feedback – as a committee have we been doing what you want this year, are there things we can improve for next year. As you will have no doubt seen from the agenda I have been asked to standing for sailing secretary – Peter Curtis will be a hard act to follow and I will be leaning on him for support, but I will want your input – as a club (and as a fleet) how can we make your sailing experience better?.