The weather forecast had been pretty severe – warnings of gales and floods – but as is so often the case the reality was nothing like as bad. It just goes to show that coming down to the club and seeing the conditions for yourself is better than trusting the forecasters.
The wind was varying from about force 3 to a few gusts up in the 4-5 range – nothing like the forecast gusts of force 7, but it did keep raining on and off but again not as heavy or persistent as forecast. We had five keen Solos on the line for the first race making us again the largest fleet despite the weather keeping the senior citizens in the warmth. Graham Hughes was on the line for the first time in a long while along with Gareth, Arthur, Paul and Peter Halliday.
As we sailed out to the start Graham discovered that sailing a boat you haven’t been in for a while can cause odd things to happen. He sailed beautifully all the way from the clubhouse most of the way to the far bank when he decided that it would be a good idea to make sure he remembered how to gybe in some wind. He swung the boat round but the main didn’t want to come over, assumed he’d lost his touch and miss-timed it, baled out of the gybe, settled down and tried again – same result. A bit confused he decided to tack and this time he found that the main wouldn’t come over tacking. He ended up capsized with the main stuck against the shroud – realizing that he had tidied up the outhaul return elastic and inadvertently tied the boom to the shroud. With a bit of help from the safety boat he was able to right the boat and untie it well before the start and be ready but probably a bit exhausted. It did look odd seeing the boat on its side with the boom stubbornly pointing straight up.
With a longer gap than usual as the lone laser opted to start with the handicap we had clear air and a chance to sail our own race with no other classes to provide obstacles. Up the first beat Graham established a small lead over Gareth with Arthur similarly just ahead of Peter and Paul finding the fresher breeze slightly more challenging.
The course was a large one with lots of marks 8,6,4,1,F,5 with two beats – 5 to 8 (first leg) and again 4 to 1. Being a Northerly coming off the club bank the closer you got to the bank the more disturbed the wind was – something to bear in mind when the wind has to blow up over the high banks near the clubhouse. By the end of the run to 4 there were two close battles with Gareth right on Graham’s transom and Peter/Arthur similarly close. Up the beat to 1 Gareth managed to squeeze past Graham and help it at the start of the run. Unfortunately concentrating a bit on Graham and with no Lasers to lead the way Gareth didn’t pay enough attention to which mark he was pointing at over the far side of the reservoir and neatly led Graham round 6 not 5, and all the way up the beat to 8 only finding his mistake as Arthur and Peter came up the correct beat. Gareth then went all the way back to 5, round it correctly with a very confused Graham behind him not understanding why he had turned round and gone up the beat again – Graham retired once he realised he had followed the wrong course. Two complete legs behind was far too large a mountain to climb. Paul meanwhile was having his own adventures as he found his rudder slightly hard to control ‘honest guv I didn’t do anything it just came off in me hand!’ With good seamanship he managed to take down his sail so that when the safety boat came he was all ready for a tow home and an early shower. The force that rudder pintles take is enormous – I once worked out on a slightly larger dinghy that the force was about equivalent to a man standing on a board eight foot long – probably on a Solo only about like someone standing on the tip of the blade. The forces are huge – bolts are essential! Meanwhile with a bit more wind for a while Peter was enjoying himself and establishing initially a small lead, but by the end a comfortable lead over Arthur to end up.
1st Peter Halliday
2nd Arthur Phillips
DNF Paul Playle and Graham Hughes
So the moral this week is don’t follow the leader (especially if it is Gareth – that’s the SECOND TIME he’s headed to the wrong mark) – make your own decisions, write the course down and keep thinking. You have to keep the big picture in mind – concentrate too much on one boat and you forget to check where everyone else is or even where you are going.
I won’t be there next week as I’m away on business in the USA. The results are all on the web site – overall it remains extremely close between Arthur and Gareth at the front who have a reasonable lead over the tight race for third.
Whether you are in the hunt for third or just thinking about starting again as the days get lighter and warmer have a great sail Sunday and I’ll see you in two weeks.
We have a sailing committee meeting coming up – let me know of any issues or ideas for improving our sailing. I will be bringing up some ideas for training / coaching to help newer sailors. Your thoughts as always would be welcome.
We are also still looking for helpers for the RS200 open meeting on the 20th. If you can help (shore or water perhaps just for a few hours please let Hugh know).