So, last weekend – of course the BIG event was Dave Clark’s birthday... which I hear was a great day out but as far as the sailing went, with the Topper Open on Saturday (56 entries!!) there is only Sunday to report on, Anniversary series and two back to back races.
In the Anniversary we just Gareth and Paul in Solos but a reasonable turnout of lasers and faster boats starting ahead of us. The wind was somewhat variable 2-4 with the odd strong gusts. The course was a beat from around 1 to 7, reach to 5, run to B (placed a bit inside 3) and then a very shy reach all the way up to 9 and back down to 1. That shy reach was very hard work when the wind was strong – nothing for it but to work the mainsheet in the gusts trying to keep speed on and work up to windward whenever the wind eased a bit or once you got up to speed in a gust. Once you reached 9 it was an almost 180 degree turn to head back to 1 including a gybe. Great recipe for a grandstand capsize in front of the clubhouse... (no it wasn’t me). Gareth made the first beat just ahead of Paul and for the first lap and a half the gap remained quite small generally Gareth gaining a bit up the beat and Paul catching up a bit on the run – both catching the back marker lasers which sometimes proved awkward to overtake.
Jim has provided his usual write-up of the anniversary race in his blog section so I won’t dwell on it.
In the B2B races the wind was mostly slightly stronger.
My observations from the conditions were that I had to keep adjusting for the wind strength. In sustained gusts I had to add Cunningham, kick/mainsheet tension and de-power, but then in lighter patches the boat felt very dead unless I remembered to power up again. Very easy to be over-sheeted in the lighter patches. Keeping the boat optimally configured for the varying wind is hard. The classic adage is ‘trim for the lulls’ meaning you lose more is you are underpowered in the lulls than you do by being overpowered in the gusts, but with modern rigs and quick easy adjustments you can quickly compensate. It’s very hard to make a Solo actually go much faster, but it is easy to slow down. Generally where the ‘faster’ sailors gain is not because they go steadily faster, but they react better and quicker to changes and notice smaller changes so they lose less/gain more in each gust or lull or shift or (on the sea) wave pattern.