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Solo News 16 May

  • Another week passes and summer finally seems to be here. The Tues trysail is well under way, Wed series has had its fourth race and the sun is out, but some Solos still seem to be sleeping under their covers on the bank.


    What are they waiting for?



    I wrote the following piece really for the Tues sailors (last year’s try sailors) but on reflection it's probably useful for others, and this way it will be on the web site for reference.


    Last week was the Anniversary race - general handicap race with personal handicap (similar to Wed evening) - with the class result extracted like we do from the pursuit series. Unfortunately Tom had not read the latest sailing instructions (they are on the web site or the notice board) and didn't realize that the race office could shorten the course at any time, and once shortened you finish when you next cross the line. That meant the leading Solos, Gareth, Paul, Tom and Dave Lawton all had an extra lap to do while Peter Renn, Dave Clark and Graeme Stevens finished a lap early. Tom thought he must have not heard the hooter and stopped part way through the 'extra lap'. (I have to confess I was starting to wonder if I had gone the wrong side of F or something) In the spirit of a Grand Prix finish I have awarded him 4th on the grounds that he was clearly ahead of the three boats who finished a lap down. That means the Dave Lawton 'overtook' Tom on the extra lap but I think it is the fairest result.  So the class result shows:

    1. Gareth

    2. Paul

    3, Dave L

    4. Tom

    5. Peter R

    6. Dave C

    7. Graeme


    There were several good races taking place, Gareth got away after the first lap, but Paul and Tom were having their usual close battle with Dave L always in sight but not quite on terms. Further back there was another really close race between Peter Renn, Dave Clark and Graeme - really good to have multiple close races within the overall race. Let's get a few more boats and we'll have even better races.


    Wed again saw a close battle between Gareth, Tom and Paul finishing in that order but swapping places a few times on the way. In the Wed personal handicaps Paul took the honours and he is fighting with Chris Smith at the front.


    Hope you find the following useful...


    See you Sunday




    Training thoughts - originally for the Tues team…


    Tacking – make sure you start as close against the wind as you can, then try to make a smooth turn to end up again close against the wind. I’m going to assume you start from sat on the sidedeck, but not leaning out. Here’s the full sequence for lightish winds:


    Start (normal sailing position) tiller in the back hand in front of your body (extension over your knees), mainsheet in your front hand pulled reasonably tight (boom should be about over  the corner of the transom), traveler all but central.


    1.       Lean in slightly to make the boat heel a bit more (this helps turning)

    2.       Push the tiller away but only to just over the side tank (too much slows the boat down) – move the tiller smoothly don’t jerk it over.

    3.       Ease about a foot of mainsheet and lean back to pull the boat upright as it passes through head to wind, and ease – keep steering the boat round the turn – don’t pull the tiller as you lean back.

    4.       Stay on what is now the ‘wrong’ side of the boat as the turn completes so you end up with the boat heeled on the new tack.

    5.       Duck under the boom turning forwards to sit on the new side-deck. At the point you should fine you have the tiller extension in what has become your front hand but with the hand behind your back and the mainsheet in your back hand. Steering like this takes practice but you have to do it for a couple of seconds.

    6.       As the boat is pulled upright on the new tack the battens should pop over and the boat will be squirted up to speed. Pull that foot of mainsheet back in and cleat the sheet. Change hands on the tiller and pick up the sheet again in you (new) front hand. Swing the tiller extension back in front of your body and settle down on the new tack.


    THIS IS A LIGHT WEATHER ‘roll tack’. If there is more wind you don’t stay on the ‘wrong’ side of the boat in step 4 but pass under the boom as the boat turns. The principle that you let the boat heel a shade more instantly before the tack, ease a bit of main and then roll the boat through the tack applies in all weather, the timing of the body move alters to match the wind strength. If you don’t roll the boat a bit in very light weather you may find the battens don’t pop over to give the right shape for the new tack.


    For those starting to race…


    Mark rounding especially starting on a run and ending on a beat against the wind.

    Key thing to check – once you are beating look back and see if your boat is in-line with the mark.  Less important when the next leg is not a beat to windward because you can angle your way back to the desired course, but beating once you’ve lost some ground towards the wind you can’t get it back.


    Mark rounding

    Note how the boat ends up close to the mark and looking back the line is close to the mark. I’ve exaggerated how wide to start slightly but the key is to end close to the mark beating as close against the wind as you can (fully sheeted in and driving the boat upwind). As you get better you can make tighter turns.


    Mark rounding – Bad


    Note how much ground has been lost to windward. I see this quite often, brown doesn’t start to round up until the mark is reached and then slowly sheets in and turns the boat so that she ends up losing a lot of ground to windward.  If we superimpose where the good rounding has ended up…



    Imagine brown tacks, see how far behind green she will pass.   Losing ground upwind means you have to tack more and lose a lot. Downwind you can just alter course a bit back towards the mark so almost no loss.  Angle a bit wider on the way into the mark if you can. If no room to start wide at least turn very hard round the mark – always aim to end up close to the mark and heading close against the wind.


    Maybe see you at the weekend. I’ll post this on the web site somewhere. Malcolm – feel free to copy to other Tues sailors. I have forgotten the name of the other club solo sailor last week.