Solo News 26 September
With the less than friendly weather, grey cold northerly wind with some quite nasty squalls and rain forecast for later in the day we only had six teams sailing, the ‘Grandads’ team (Dave C, Dave L, Alec) wisely deciding the conditions were not to their liking.
As I’m sure you all know by now we gave everyone a personal rating 0 (scratch) being fastest down to band 5 for our relative novices. This gave a very extended start sequence with a band 5 topper starting nineteen minutes before the base start, and an RS600 scratch sailor starting twenty two minutes after the base (or 41 minutes after the band 5 topper). To spread the fleet out the RO set a very long course – so long that every slot on the course board was used (good job is was a pursuit, there was no slot left for number of laps). This clearly caught out a few sailors who found an eight mark course just too much to remember!
The teams that did sail had some pretty fast sailing in challenging conditions - the personal handicaps definitely showed their worth with the first scratch sailor coming in a lowly fifth place. At the front is was James Curtis in a Topper – powering through the squalls and pulling out a huge lead for the fast boats to chase. Second was Andy Collison in the Magno benefiting from a band 5 handicap but making good use of it staying upright when many faster sailors sampled the waters. Third was Mike Storey in the EPS from band 1 with George Woolhouse (Topper band 4) just pipping Gareth for fifth.
In the team event however it was the consistency of the Curtis Crusaders that saw them clear winners. James first, Peter sixth and Mike 7th. Second team was the Windy Wobblers - Andy Collison, Dave Simpson and Nick Marley who made good use of their personal handicaps to just pip Gareth’s team of Solo ‘Young Pretenders’ – Gareth Griffiths, Paul Playle and Ben Jones. With the conditions taking their toll these were the only teams where all members finished.
In the solos we still had four boats on the water without the senior fleet presence – and to be honest it was not senior member weather. Ben Jones in his refurbished boat showed that he is well capable of managing tricky conditions, recovering very quickly from a quick dip before the start and looking quite at home on windy beats and reaches. Ray Poole sailing club boat – not driving it quite as hard but showing how to keep it mast end uppermost through some pretty ‘interesting’ gusts. Paul who’s speed through the water this week was not always matched by his direction round the course. It was a long course to remember and with two beats over similar territory you could easily forget which one you were going to. Several other people either missed a mark or half a lap.
It’s a shame the conditions weren’t better as I think the format has a lot to commend it. We have enough events that we all know will only be won by a handful of people, but this one with the team element and the personal handicaps meant that everyone counted and was challenged to beat their own handicap. As I said before the race – if you think you are in too fast a band be assured that your results justify it. If you think you are in too slow a band, sail well today and prove it. In the end we had band 3,5,1, 4, 0 in the first five places so I don’t think we were too far out. It does feel slightly strange though having to give some lasers a head start but it worked out pretty well.
Interesting to read Matt Howard’s comments from the nationals (full article on the boon boats web site)
I’m pleased to see he reinforces many of the points I’ve made in these blogs. Interesting that he takes the mainsheet single part on downwind legs – no pulleys or purchase. I tend to take it straight from the boom but through one or both pulleys. Not sure I’m strong enough to take it direct. Remember he was sailing on the sea with larger waves but ‘The majority of the time I will be single parting the main sheet (no pulleys) this is particularly useful if the conditions are such that it’s difficult to catch waves- the extra power you get from this pump versus through the blocks can make the difference between catching waves and not.’ Since he is an Olympic coach I’m sure he is only pumping legally (one per wave). He also says ‘When in waves I make sure the leech is super loose. You want the leech to be really twisted- more so than any other boat I’ve sailed. The shrouds prevent the boom going out to 90 degs but if you have the mainsail twist the top will be working properly. The great advantage of this is that it enables you to run by the lee. Unlike the laser where by the lee is preferred the solo shrouds stop “easy” by the lee sailing but the open leech will allow you to do it for short periods to stay on a wave. Sometimes due to the way the waves are this is your best option for riding waves...’ I think plenty of twist is important on flat water as well, but you have to be quick at catching a weather roll before it becomes a classic capsize if you have lots of twist. Fastest seems to be just on the point of starting a roll...
Overall for a short article it’s a pretty good guide to sailing fast on the sea and not that much different to sailing inland except you are usually playing the squalls and shifts rather than the waves.
See you Sat (for the laser open) Sunday on the water!