It was good to see double figures on the water again. 10 boats keenly contesting the pursuit, and seven solos in both back to back races. Despite the gentle sleet/snow outside my window as I write this on Monday the days are definitely getting longer and for the last couple of weeks weather is not quite as cold as it was a few weeks ago. It is definitely time to start thinking about spring sailing and getting ready for summer.
I will be asking those who haven't sailed for a while what we should do to get them on the water again as the weather improves. I can certainly understand that sailing when it is sub-zero is not for everyone but it is time to start planning for the new season! As you probably know Malcolm Barnes is taking over as trysail coordinator and for my sins I'm now sailing secretary (not giving up the day job as Solo Captain though). Last we decided that the priority for the club was boats on the water. We are a sailing club – the more people we have sailing the easier everything becomes. More members implies easier duties, more people to help on working parties etc. One of the areas we are concentrating on is joining up the great initiatives to help people start sailing (Trysail and Juniors) into regular club sailing. We need to make an easier transition from the euphoria of just sailing a boat where you want to participating in racing. It is a big step from being able to sail to being able to sail efficiently and quickly round a course, but I think we can help. After Easter I will be planning some more training sessions and perhaps seeing if we can get a small Saturday fleet going as well as our keen Sunday series. Let’s also not forget that just sailing for the joy of sailing is fine – not everyone want to race although it is a great way to improve your sailing. I know you will find that the more you sail the more you want to sail! If YOU have other ideas or request please let Malcolm and I know.
Hugh is planning to change the duty cycle slightly this year to try and improve team numbers on Sunday and reduce numbers on Saturday. The plan is to have slightly fewer but larger teams, but only have half teams on Saturday. The idea is that we need full teams on Sunday with the larger number of boats sailing but for Saturdays we will split each team in two sections each of which will do one Saturday. Overall each member does the same number of days on duty but hopefully we’ll be less stretched on Sundays and we won’t have more people on duty than sailing some Saturdays. If you didn’t attend the AGM you might not know that we have a vacancy for duty team manager to take over from Hugh – if this is something you might consider please let him know.
Well, back to this week’s news...
Sunday was a gentle but rather shifty northwesterly wind. We welcomed Paul Playle (5046) to our fleet for the rest of the winter (we hope to tempt him to stay longer) – with a very pretty home built boat. As the day went on he got faster and faster - finishing second solo in the last B2B.
The pursuit race started in a gentle breeze which never really got up to more than sitting on the decks although I'm told some of the faster boats were sitting out on their first beat - I guess that's why they seemed to get close rather quickly but when the wind went lighter we held them off for a bit longer. Within our fleet we probably slowed each other down a bit because we had a lot of excellent close racing. At the front Gareth got through but then forgot to check the course and took a rather long route from 8 to X letting Tony Penfold and Malcolm through, but after a couple of laps the places settled down to Gareth (3rd overall) chased by Arthur (5th) who in turn was being chased by Tony (7) and Malcolm (11) with Paul (12) not far behind. The second half of the fleet was led by Frank Beanland from Chris Smith, Dave Thorpe, Mike Lipscombe and Martin Mitchell.
In the back to backs we were comfortably the largest fleet which meant we got in each other’s way more than the other classes! More good lessons in watching the bigger picture not just fighting small battles. In the first Arthur sailed a great run getting past several boats by sailing clear out of trouble while they battled among themselves, and in the second Tony Penfold did the same to get clean away while Gareth, Arthur and Malcolm were in-fighting.
The first of the short back to back races (very short this week as the race officer was keen to allow the AGM to start on time) also showed what a good start and going the right way up the first beat can do, with the first Solos at the windward mark being two of the oldest boats in the fleet - Chris Smith and Dave Thorpe. Gareth and Arthur managed to slip past but Chris held on well to finish third while Dave's adventures at mark eight are best forgotten. The whole fleet was very close at the finish.
The second B2B started close but, once he had broken clear, Tony Penfold sailed away from us followed by Paul who also made a clean break from the pack led by Arthur. Gareth just crossed ahead of Malcolm with Dave Thorpe getting the better of Chris Smith. With shifty winds it is very hard to get all the shifts right as the variable results show but watching other boats and trying to work the shifts generally pays. You have to somehow be able to watch what's happening everywhere while still sailing the boat as fast as you can.
Overall it is very close in the late winter with Gareth and Arthur tied at the front and only 0.7 of a point between Malcolm and Mervyn for third. In the overall Arthur's lead is now only two points and incredibly close for third with only point between third (Merv) and fourth (Malcolm) and a further one point to Frank who's been keeping a low profile but putting in some good results when the wind is suitable. Peter Cottrell is only three points behind Frank. Four boats within 5 points - all still to play for. With some good turnouts there are lots of points available, and with the overall scored by o-league every race counts. All the results are on the web site.
With the Americas cup finally (hopefully) finally sailing (Monday's racing was abandoned due to insufficient wind) I think we can be thankful that we have such a friendly club. Sure we race keenly, but what goes on the water stays on the water and we share a beer in the Solo rest area (as it is now named) those of you who were at the AGM will understand - I will have to put some class stickers on the new window.