OK – Summer’s over! There was ICE in the puddles on the covers in the bottom park on Sunday... and we have finished the Sunday summer series. The Saturday series finishes this week before the working party and prize giving.
This week we completed the class summer series and it was a very close run series.
In fact it shows some of the quirks in the scoring system because Paul started Sunday only two points behind Mervyn (apologies for last week’s web site which showed only one point back – I had incorrectly scored B11) but of those he could score points from only Gareth raced which made it a tall order to score the three points he needed to overtake Mervyn. The results have now been double checked with Eddie – he works it all out manually, I do it on a spreadsheet and we cross check.
As I think most of you know in the summer we use the o-league scoring which means you get a point for starting, a point for finishing and a point for every boat you beat who is within 20 points overall. That meant that unless Paul beat Gareth he could only score two points because Richard Barker, Roy Poole and Mike Lipscombe were just too far behind. The net result is that Paul could not overtake Mervyn although he sailed a good race pushing Gareth all the way and finishing 4th on handicap. Mervyn and Paul tie on points but mervyn has more 1st places so takes second on tie break.
In the Saturday series (scored by standard club low points 50% of races to count) I think that Paul has wrapped up the title but the minor places are very open. At the moment Dave Lawton is second on 38 points, from Tom Swithenbank in the Feva 3rd on 40 points and Peter Renn 4th on 48 points. However Dave and Tom only just have enough races to count, should either of them miss next week and have to count a DNC they will drop behind Peter. There are two races to go, so good results in those could make all the difference.
So... Sunday – last race of the Anniversary series as well as last class race of the summer. The forecast was 5 mph Northerly but on the water it was clearly more like 5 mph South West when we got there. The Race Officer set an unusual course that I would describe as an inverted arrow. (Try drawing it and you’ll see what I mean). Started near 1, up to seven, back to a mark in the middle, down to 5 and back to 1. Inevitably by the time we started the wind had begun to shift so the first leg was a fine reach. That gave an interesting start problem – do you start at the windward end expecting it to be easier to lay the mark and to free off for speed or do you start at the leeward end knowing it is a reach and expecting the wind to go round further so you can point up for speed and overtake the windward boats. The race officer had laid an interesting challenge because the line looked as if the leeward end would be square or marginally ahead but the windward end might be able to free off for speed and roll over any leeward starters.
With the light wind it was critical to start at full speed because it takes too long to accelerate in light weather. Paul went for windward end but was a bit early and had to stop on the line leaving a gap to windward, Gareth went for windward end but timed his run to hit the line with speed while Mike Lipscombe started well down the line also with speed. Gareth rolled over Paul due to his speed at the gun and Mike Lipscombe was able to drive up and into second again due to speed off the line with the freeing wind allowing him to sail fast. Constant vigil and trimming the sails to each puff was key to speed – on the reaches the gusts usually freed so ease sheets gather speed and sheet in again as the boat accelerates and the apparent wind moves forward. As the wind drops initially you have to sheet in as the boat glides on with less wind but then as the boat slows to the wind speed you have to ease again. Everything has to be smooth sheet in hand, never in the jammer fairly full sail unless the wind goes to almost nothing concentrating on boat speed all the time. Direction is far less important, speed is key. For the first lap in the changing wind we didn’t get a proper beat so it was all boat speed. By the second lap the wind had gone round further so there was a beat from mark 5 to 1. With a very shifty wind this now was more of a challenge because you had two opposing factors – where was there more wind for speed and what direction was the next shift to decide which tack to take? Also once you got into a patch of wind now you started to think about pointing rather than just speed. My method was largely to try and be on the lifted tack (sail the freeing gusts; tack the headers) but if I could see a patch of wind I was prepared to tack to get into it or stay on a header to reach the next patch. Try to resist tacking until it was a definite shift not just a brief lull. Although I won on handicap I can say for sure that I didn’t get every shift right – you try to play the percentages so that you gain more than you lose, and when you get one wrong you have to quickly accept it and get back in the groove.
Before the start as I was rigging I noticed that my new wind indicator was showing a different direction to others nearby. Then I realised that I had forgotten to adjust the counterweight so it was not balanced and the heel of the boat on the bank was badly affecting it. So I pulled the boat over in the shallows and altered the weight so that the weight of the vane was correctly balanced by the weight of the pointer (and weight). In stronger winds it doesn’t matter but in light weather it is critical to know what the wind is doing without the heel of the boat affecting it. Quite often you can sense the new gusts at the top of the mast before they reach the water or lower telltales. Being able to react quicker gives an edge. Being able to accurately see if you are sailing by the lee is important on shifty runs. It is easy to tell when we get headed on a beat and fairly easy to tell when we get a lift; it is almost as important but much harder on a run unless you have good wind indicators.
Ps Some of your know Melanie Hardman who sailed with us last year. Unfortunately she has back trouble and won’t be sailing with us (plans to sail a vintage Merlin on the Thames in summer) – she plans to sell her Solo 2297 – if you are interested please contact her directly firstname.lastname@example.org she can send you details and pictures.
SEE YOU ALL AT THE WORKING PARTY ON SUNDAY