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Solo News 7 Nov 2010

  • Solo news 7 Nov

    Great turnout for the Pursuit and B2B. 10 boats in the morning and most continued into the B2B races. The more boats we have on the line the better races we get – there’s nothing like having another boat close to see what works and what doesn’t.

    Next Sunday is the first of our mini open series. I know some who can’t make it this weekend – but it would be good to have a decent club turnout. Sadly I can’t make it but I know you will make all visitors very welcome.

    Sunday saw a fairly simple course in tricky northerly (1,X,9,7,5)  Before the start I made repeated approaches at the Committee boat to see where I could point on the beat. With the start down by mark 5 the answer was anything between just below 8 and the laser ramp. Roughly a 20 degree shift. Sometimes the start line was even, other times very port biased. My initial plan had been to try and head right up the beat because there seemed to be a fairly consistent lift coming into mark 1 on Starboard. Because the line seemed to be varying between even and port my plan was to start mid to port end and tack right when I had a chance, but with about a minute to go the line was very port biased so I changed tactic and went for port end on port (no-one else seemed to be going for very port end). What I did wrong though was tacking too close to the line without enough time to get full speed. The result was that although I think it was still port biased I didn’t hit the line at full speed and so couldn’t quite clear the boats coming down the line. Instead I had to make a lee bow tack and try to work my way through them. I think that the bias had reduced (most shifts seemed to only last a minute or so, sometimes less) but the real problem was that I didn’t hit the line with speed while those reaching down the line were going fast.

    Because of that I got involved with the boats going left and although I managed to work through them Mike Lipscombe who went right was clear ahead at the windward mark followed by Malcolm. Yet another lesson that you have to keep an eye on the big picture and not just get involved in winning small battles while losing the war. The next mark was a short very broad reach to X followed by a short beat back to 9. Now we had the whole fleet acting as a wind shadow so it was hard to maintain speed in front. I actually gybed left in a shift to try and keep clear air. Mike had started high (right - also kept clear air) which meant that he approached X on the inside still ahead he had a very tight turn with Malcolm only just behind. What happened next was that Malcolm made a better rounding than Mike so that when Mike wanted to tack he found he couldn’t clear Malcolm. As those two got involved I made a short tack to keep clear air and managed to sneak past them. Now we had the beat to 9 which involved the worst shifty wind patches as the wind was blocked / swirled round or over the clubhouse. I concentrated on staying ahead of Malcolm and Michael as we picked our way through the shifts. Silly me – I had again stopped watching the big picture – suddenly we saw the rest of the fleet had gone hard left and were then coming back in a great patch of wind – canny Mervyn had leapfrogged us all. With a slightly lucky lift to 9 I managed to round 9 without being too far back so as we started the long run down to 7 the fleet was really close but with Mervyn slightly clear. Again the difficulty was keeping clear wind with 8 solos spread out behind. I decided to head left reckoning that I could get clear and then approach 7 faster on Starboard and be inside. Richard initially went further left and gained while Paul went right with (I think) Malcolm.  By the end of the run Mervyn had simply sailed straight with enough gap to be clear, I had got clear ahead of Richard and I almost got an insider overlap on Paul as I approached fast from the left - but I couldn’t be sure I got an overlap in time (three lengths) so I tucked in behind him. On the reach I managed to get past Paul while Mervyn continued to pull clear. Up the beat I got a couple of shifts right and passed Mervyn. After that the fleet seemed to spread with Mervyn staying close on my tail but both of us gradually pulling away from the fleet. The beats continued to be a game of snakes and ladders with the shifts but usually that helps the boats ahead pull further away because the leader tacks on the shift while the person close behind either tacks and gets blanketed or risks getting out of phase with the shifts. The lasers however had closed alarmingly quickly and although we held them off for a while the inevitable happened and Kevin Pearson passed followed by the RS400 coming quickly through the pack. At the finish it was Laser, RS400, Solo. Mervyn stayed well clear of the rest of the solo fleet I think in 5th overall.

    Fleet results

    1.       4858 Gareth Griffiths

    2.       3457 Mervyn Cinnamond

    3.       4657 Mike Lawton

    4.       5046 Paul Playle

    5.       4743 Tony Penfold

    6.       5071 Malcolm Barnes

    7.       4173 Dave Lawton

    8.       1802 Richard Barker

    9.       Club Glen Cole

    10.   4242 Alec Adams

    My theme this week is rules observance. We sail a sport almost uniquely policed by ourselves but with moderately complex rules. I saw (or heard) several incidents that SHOULD have resulted in a penalty being taken or a protest. While I don’t like lots of protests it is important that we all know the rules and if in doubt on an incident the best thing is to take a penalty but discuss afterwards. It doesn’t take too long to do turns. Where however both parties feel they were right, a protest or an arbitration in the bar afterwards is a very good idea. Unfortunately protests are often seen as personal which they should never be. They are an appeal for arbitration by a panel who can interpret the rules impartially and advise who was right and who was wrong.  As Sailing Secretary I don’t want to see lots of protests, but I do want to see the rules being respected and applied. If there is a collision and no-one does turns or retires there should really be a protest because it isn’t fair to the rest of the fleet who observed all the rules. Hopefully we avoid collisions, but I think there should probably be a few more turns being made.

    Most of the incidents that I saw (or heard!) involved a port approach to a windward mark, a simple tacking too close, one boat outpointing another or forgetting to look before they tacked (especially when concentrating on ONE boat and forgetting that there may be others approaching). These are all fairly basic areas that we should know. Sometimes a combination of many of these while trying to cope with a shifting wind on a short leg makes it hard... Let’s try to cover the basic rules that apply here.

    Simple port/starboard... Clearly port has no rights, but how close can you tack and when do you gain rights as a (new) leeward boat? Well – quite simply you mustn’t make the starboard tack boat alter course to avoid you until you complete your tack and even then as a boat gaining right of way the starboard tack has to have enough room that they do not need to START taking avoiding action until the tack in complete. When does the tack start – when you pass head to wind. When is the tack complete? When you are on a new close hauled course – NOT when you pull the sail in and get moving. However when you GAIN a right of way you have to allow the other boat time to react and keep clear.

    Rule 10

    When boats are on opposite tacks, a port-tack boat shall keep clear of a starboard-tack boat.

    That one’s pretty clear so let’s check what happens as we approach on port and can’t clear the starboard tack boat, so we choose to tack.

    Rule 13

    After a boat passes head to wind, she shall keep clear of other boats until she is on a close-hauled course. During that time rules 10, 11 and 12 do not apply. If two boats are subject to this rule at the same time, the one on the other’s port side or the one astern shall keep clear.

    Again that’s pretty clear. While we are tacking we still have to keep clear. So now we complete the tack and we are leeward boat – that means we have gained right of way.

    Rule 15

    When a boat acquires right of way, she shall initially give the other boat room to keep clear, unless she acquires right of way because of the other boat's actions.

    So you can tack as close as you want provided you do not make the starboard tack have to alter course to miss you. However, once you have completed the tack you must ‘initially’ give the new windward (or clear astern) boat room to keep clear they do not have to anticipate you must give them the chance to keep clear – ‘initially’ is not very long though. Once tacked and on course if you can point higher, and in a lee bow you usually will, the basic rule 11 applies. “When boats are on the same tack and overlapped, a windward boat shall keep clear of a leeward boat.”  Sometimes between classes or just between two boats one points higher than the other. The windward boat simply has to keep clear. If they can’t point as high that’s just too bad, they have to keep clear (and slow down or tack). Generally once someone establishes a lee bow tack it pays for the windward boat to tack away unless there are other boats stopping this.

    OK so we’ve dealt with port starboard, but what about approaching a windward mark because now we start to have inside at the mark to consider. If you tack outside the ‘zone’ (three boat lengths) then normal rules apply, but what about coming in close to the mark on port. We’ll assume the mark is to be left to port because that is the most common situation.

    18 MARK-ROOM

    18.1 Rule 18 applies between boats when they are required to leave a mark on the same side and at least one of them is in the zone. However, it does not apply

    (a) between boats on opposite tacks, on a beat to windward,

    (b) between boats on opposite tacks when the proper course at the mark for one but not both of them is to tack,

    (c) between a boat approaching a mark and one leaving it, or

    (d) if the mark is a continuing obstruction, in which case rule 19 applies.

    So to start with while on opposite tacks rule 18 does not apply its just port/starboard. Things get more complex however once the port tack boat tacks inside the zone.

    First let’s just look at the basic mark room rule

    18.2 Giving Mark-Room

    (a) When boats are overlapped the outside boat shall give the inside boat mark-room, unless rule 18.2(b) applies.

    (b) If boats are overlapped when the first of them reaches the zone, the outside boat at that moment shall thereafter give the inside boat mark-room. If a boat is clear ahead when she reaches the zone, the boat clear astern at that moment shall thereafter give her mark-room.

    (c) When a boat is required to give mark-room by rule 18.2(b), she shall continue to do so even if later an overlap is broken or a new overlap begins. However, if either boat passes head to wind or if the boat entitled to mark-room leaves the zone, rule 18.2(b) ceases to apply.

    (d) If there is reasonable doubt that a boat obtained or broke an overlap in time, it shall be presumed that she did not.

    (e) If a boat obtained an inside overlap from clear astern and, from the time the overlap began, the outside boat has been unable to give mark-room, she is not required to give it.

    The key is if you have an overlap as the FIRST BOAT enters the zone. If you do you have room. If not you do not so if you are approaching fast but don’t make it by three lengths away have plan B prepared so you don’t get trapped with no rights. Note (d) that if there is doubt that you obtained the overlap in time then it shall be assumed you didn’t. (That’s why even though Paul said after that I might have had an overlap at mark 7 I didn’t push it because there was definitely doubt. I was coming up quickly but did I get there in time. There was doubt.) Its similar if you have been overlapped for a while but thing you have established clear ahead at the last minute. If there is doubt then you didn’t! I’ll deal with that more another time.

    Now we come to the tricky one...

    18.3 Tacking when Approaching a Mark

    If two boats were approaching a mark on opposite tacks and one of them changes tack, and as a result is subject to rule 13 in the zone when the other is fetching the mark, rule 18.2 does not thereafter apply. The boat that changed tack

    (a) shall not cause the other boat to sail above close-hauled to avoid her or prevent the other boat from passing the mark on the required side, and

    (b) shall give mark-room if the other boat becomes overlapped inside her

    This needs careful reading! You can tack (subject to previously mentioned rules) and after you have tacked rul 13 (windward leeward applies) but note that you may NOT make the windward boat sail above close hauled. In other words you can only push them up to give you room if they were slightly overstanding the mark. Also note that if you tack just in front of someone and they dive below you to become overlapped and inside, YOU must give them room. You might find that hard to do, they will still be subject to rule 15 but you be prepared for it they can make YOU sail above close hauled. Generally if coming in on port don’t push your luck. You have to tack with no rights and if inside the zone you are very vulnerable. Only do it if there is room! This usually means a lot of thinking ahead to check you have room or to plan your escape if the starboard tack boat speeds up a bit (remember he might be slightly overstanding the mark and able to ease sheets and speed up)

    Let’s make sure we occasionally re-read the rules because although the principles are similar the rules now are not the same as they were when most of us started sailing.  If we get it wrong, do our turns and move on. I think I’ve done penalty turns at least half a dozen times in the last year – sail close to the limit but if it goes wrong do take your turns!

    I won’t be sailing on Sunday – family commitment – but have a great weekend. First week of the mini series.