1 3174 Roy
2 3457 Mervyn
3 4073 Peter C
4 4173 Dave L
5 3861 Dave C
6 3365 Frank
7 2052 Andy T DNF
Unfortunately my knee objected to something at or after the open (probably pulling boats out) so I missed Sunday. Fortunately Roy stepped into the breach and as the race winner wrote his thoughts.
After the hard work of the Solo open meeting on Saturday it was a return to typically light IBRSC conditions for Sunday's racing. With the wind shifting significantly in the hour before the start the race officer declined to set a course until out on the water and then, following a last significant shift to the west and a short postponement the breeze settled down to a steady force 1 to 2 and a course of 8,7,X,1,3 was set. the line was fairly short and seemed to be fairly square so I watched the earlier starts to see which side of the course seemed to pay best. Both Peter Curtis and Graham Potter went to the right and appeared to do well so I put my faith in their local knowledge and experience and decided that the right was the way to go.
The fleet stacked up under the committee boat and I decided to go for clear air at mid line. (Note from Gareth – I started down the line in clear and going fast in all three races at the open – very important to be going fast on the gun so you drive forwards into clear air.) Got a fairly good start after ducking a Topper who seemed oblivious to the Solo start with (I think) Mervyn below me and Peter a little way to the right. Frank went right early from a start at the committee boat end of the line and that convinced me that me earlier inclination was right. With Peter slightly ahead but the rest of the boats above me quite slow off the line I tacked, went below Peter's stern and headed up in clear air going right. Tacked back as the wind went light and crossed Peter and Mervyn easily but went too far left and when I tacked back Peter was just half a boat length ahead, and on starboard, as we came together again so I tacked close (perhaps a little too close) under his lee bow and managed to pull out a few boat lengths as he fell into the dirty air.
Round 8 and a close reach (fetch) to 7 with Peter close behind and Mervyn closing the gap to Peter. Around 7 and on to the run with Peter drawing abreast and to windward so I had to defend by coming slightly higher than the straight line to X. By the end of the first lap I had a lead of perhaps 100m but it varied continually as the gusts favoured all three of us in turn. Second beat I loosely covered Peter and he gradually gained on me with Mervyn also getting closer but by the end of the second lap I had my 100m lead back and Peter and Mervyn were is close contention.
Having made up my mind to loosely cover the pair of them on the last beat and hoping that they would slow one another down with their own battle I saw that they had split tacks so I decided to sail the best beat I could whilst doing nothing rash and always staying between them and the windward mark. Mervyn eventually came out the winner of the battle between him and Peter and was within my 100m cushion at the final windward mark. Knowing how quick he can be down wind in the light weather I made sure that I sailed as short a course as possible and didn't get tangled up with the back of the handicap fleet but it was still quite tense and I wasn't convinced that I would actually win until halfway down the final broad reach. Mervyn duly finished second and Peter third.
Not sure what made the difference today but can't help thinking that all the time spent in the boat recently, including the previous day's open meeting, is beginning to pay off. I'm still making more mistakes than I would like but fewer than in the past and I think I am sailing a little more intelligently (at least on this occasion). Away now for a few weekends on the big boat so I hope I won't forget it all again before the next time I race the Solo.
I think Roy’s point about practice and time in the boat is very important. The famous golfing quote “The harder I practice the luckier I get” applies to sailing. There are few substitutes for time in the boat. That said time has to be used constructively, it’s no use reinforcing bad habits by practicing them, but finding some particular skill that you need and working on it really pays. That might just be generally getting comfortable in stronger winds – but focus on which skill you want to practice – like being comfortable sitting out a bit more, or keeping the boat really flat but still driving as hard as you can. As stated previously on Tuesdays I’m now running coaching sessions working on particular skills – generally I’ll come out with you in my boat of yours and watch/coach showing how I would sail on each course and looking for any areas to work on. It also includes looking at your rig to see any obvious things to change.
For those of you who did sail the Open Meeting remember that the visitors generally represent the best from other clubs so it is no surprise that they tend to be quick. That said it was encouraging to see you on the water contesting the start and in getting into the mix. With Eleven club boats entering and another seven regulars who didn’t sail we could have had the biggest open on the circuit (as it was we had 23 compared to Littleton’s 26, but they had 16 home fleet boats). Well done to CJ who took the old boat prize (boats built in the last century – sounds impressive doesn’t it). Full results on the web site plus link to the Y&Y write up. LOADS of great pictures by Jim Champ – and thanks again to him for the results service.
Provisional results for the Spring series show Gareth followed by Peter C and Mervyn (as usual only a point between them) with Paul losing out by not sailing the last couple of weeks (hurry up and get that new boat completed). The results are still provisional as Eddie and I have to complete our cross check.
Commodore’s day on Sunday – one 90 minute Pursuit race followed by BBQ and fun day – we start on 10 use that extra time wisely! Hope to see you there.