What a glorious day for a sail - the summer special certainly lived up to its name. Enough wind to be going but not too much to be worried about.
The mass start meant that it was a bit hard to find clear wind in a solo with the faster lasers and RS200s going past even if they hadn't made quite as good a start. I had been planning to start outside end, but with about 1 1/2 minutes to go I thought the wind had shifted so I switched tactics and went for committee boat end, nailing it right on the boat on the gun. It looked so good for the first few minutes but how wrong I was. After a couple of minutes I was in a nice lift and thought it looked good - I seemed to be well to windward and almost alongside some of those who started at the port end, but by 3/4 of the way up the beat I was being headed and the wind was dropping but those who went left (port end of the line and kept going out were flying along and then as the wind headed they tacked and cleared me by miles.) I think I've worked it out... the wind was alternating from slightly starboard end to significantly port end. I started when it was slightly starboard. That sounds good, but the next shift was always going to be the other way and so when it came in those who had effectively made a longer tack on starboard made the biggest gain by tacking in the new wind.
I finished the beat well down, behind Frank who had a real flyer, Peter Cottrell, Mervyn and Paul (and a lot of lasers). On the first downwind leg it looked as if those in front were all being pulled to windward and I had some reasonable wind pressure so I stayed very low dead running in a small gust to creep away while the pack fought. I managed to get through to second Solo but Frank was still well away. On the short beat to X I followed Frank trying to work the shifts and gain on him, but Paul put in a quick tack then came back and cleared me by some way, but with both of us closer to Frank. On the long beat back to 7 I finally managed to get clear of Paul and caught Frank just before the mark. I dipped his transom on port, he went for the quick tack as I ducked hoping to stop me tacking back for the mark. Generally it’s a bad idea to tack just when someone dips you because it puts them, in your lee bow (they get helped to out point you by the wind bending round your sail) but close to a mark it can pay because for a while you can stop the other boat tacking. Very close but I was just able to make the lee bow pay in time to tack for the mark ahead of Frank. Another few boat lengths and Frank could have tacked first and been inside at the mark. Thereafter my race was one of trying to creep through a pack of lasers while keeping an eye on the Solos. Get ahead of one laser and there was always another one in the way! Behind me places kept changing showing how shifty the wind was with Mervyn pulling through the pack to end up very close behind me. When the age factors were put in I was behind most of the Solo fleet coming in just behind Dave C.
The course was the same for the second race, but some boats thought the wind was coming up and elected to give it a miss - that was a shame because they had not realised how well they were doing on the age corrected handicaps! This time I went for the port end having learned my lesson, and Paul tried what I had done and suffered similarly. This time I was able to power off the port end and head out in good wind pressure fighting off an RS200 who was trying to creep over me. I just ignored boats to windward of me anticipating that when I got a solid header I would tack and make the gains on them. After a long starboard tack I finally got the header I was looking for and was almost clear, one more pair of shifts and I could lay the windward mark coming in on port but clear of the first two RS200s. After that I just tried my best to stay with the 200s for as long as I could (they took me on the reach but I got them back on the run). Upwind they made good wind indicators! With that first beat and clear air I was able to stay well clear of the chasing pack and work my way through the shifts to make up for my poor showing in the first race. This time I had no problems with the lasers – the first four boats (Canoe, two RS200s and me) broke away from the pack and were able to pull clear while the pack no doubt interfered with each other.
We extracted the class results from the first race.
In the class series the points are now:
21 Dave C
20 Dave L
12 Peter C
8 Peter R
8 Peter H
As you can see the O factor is now licking in – you only get points for beating people who are within 20 points, so I only get 3 points for first, but Mervyn gets 8 points for second. This scoring systems means it is easy to catch up near someone, but remains fairly hard to actually overtake. A couple of good results in the mid table can make a major difference.
The Saturday series seems to have taken on a new life this year. If a few more people do both races the series will be quite close. With only a few weeks to go the series is quite close. (Results on web site, Paul is looking good if he can keep it up).
Wed this week we were a bit thinner on the ground as Paul suffered gear failure launching (broken halyard). If you use a rope halyard it is worth shortening it by a couple of inches every month or two so the load on the know and as it goes over the mast head pulley and on the cleat moves to a new part of the rope.
Tuesdays continue to be well attended by the new members – we look forward to seeing you for Saturday or Sunday races soon. The training on the 26th should be ideal for newer solo sailors - if you plan to use a club boat book it now...
The forecast for Saturday and Sunday look good, slightly windier on Sat if the forecasts are right.