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Solo News 23 Jan 2011

  • As I was away the class race report comes courtesy of our esteemed bar manager watching with his eagle eyes from the clubhouse.


    Results for Sunday as follows.


    5071   Malcolm Barnes

    3174   Roy Poole

    1802   Richard Barker

    3854   Martin Mitchell

    3861   Dave Clark


    Ben Jones 2701 was out practicing,  tacking and jibing , but did not take part in the actual race.  .It looked a good sailing breeze, a bit shifty by all accounts as it is when the wind is northerly,  but at least something you could get your teeth into. Malcolm surged into the lead at the start line and was never threatened for the remainder  of the race.   Richard Barker 1802 was well placed in 2nd spot , going well,  but once again suffered gear failure when his kicker control snapped under load .  It looks as if a little investment is needed in upgrading control lines and anything else where bits of rope are used on his boat.  Roy Poole, who was lurking just behind Richard, took advantage of the situation and romped past . The lower orders maintained their stately procession and places to the finish.

    It would appear a satisfying race for all concerned so well done all of you and better luck Richard next time.  Gear failure is no excuse


    I would like to address an incident that happened at the start of the second Back to Back race. From what I’ve gathered (I’ve talked to or exchanged email with those most involved) there was a fairly serious collision in that damage was taken – not boat sinking damage, but enough to probably need a professional repair.  No-one wants that, so I’d like to see if there are things we can all learn from the incident. From the accounts I’ve received, like most serious accidents it sounds like a real combination of events that led up to a nasty collision.  To start with I gather there was a fresh breeze so boats were obviously going faster and with more power in the sails.  The collision happened right at the start when inevitably all boats are in close proximity. There seems to have been a chain reaction – originating from a Feva (not starting) reaching across the starting boats.


    Lesson 1 – when not starting keep well away from the line – That’s something we should all remember and we should stress to the juniors who are new to this. If it is crowded behind the line go out to one side until the previous start has started.


    Lesson 2 – when Race Officer make sure there is enough room behind the line for those not starting (and for those coming up to the line).


    It sounds as if the line was quite close to the bank – you can set the line in front of the mark – 20 yards more room won’t make much difference to the lap length.


    It looks as if the first boats had to avoid a Feva which caused them to do unexpected manoeuvres causing the next boats to have to take stronger avoiding action – resulting in a minor collision (boats almost side by side so not bad) but then when one of those came out or irons it caused a more major collision which in turn caused an accidental (caused by the collision) tack which led to the final collision.


    This is rather like on the motorway when cars don’t leave enough space for ‘reaction time’ as well as braking distance.  On the motorway what happens is the car at the front unexpectedly brakes a bit, the next car doesn’t react until he is a lot closer so he has to brake harder, the next car is even closer by the time he reacts because of the harder braking ... unless there is someone with a decent gap it ends up with a shunt.


    Lesson 3 – in stronger winds things happen faster so leave slightly bigger gaps if possible


    The benefit of getting away cleanly at good speed far outweighs the risks of trying to make in the perfect place but not having speed on (which means you can’t manoeuvre).


    Lesson 4 – anticipate the unexpected


    That means having an all round awareness – particularly difficult at the start as you will be concentrating on your boat, but really pay attention to what is happening above and below you.  To position yourself well you need to know what’s happening – even more so if something does go wrong with a boat near you there is some chance of getting out of trouble if you have kept a bigger gap and are watching the other boats.  That boat below you has luffing rights – he probably should be accelerating to the line, but beware in case he suddenly luffs – yes he should give you time to keep clear, but that isn’t long and he might have further problems below him.  I remember at the end of season championship a couple of years ago making a decent start getting clear of the boats just above me, looking round and calculating I had now just got room to tack and clear the boats further above me. Of course I hadn’t expected to get caught on the boom mid tack... fortunately that was long enough after the start that there were some gaps – and the other sailors were very aware and managed to mostly miss me (or at least only lightly touch and verbally assault) – yes I capsized and then did my turns after righting so I started plain last – but it could have been a lot worse.  My problem happened 30 seconds after the start, not right at the start but the awareness of the fleet avoided potentially serious trouble.


    I know we have one of the best fleets with a really great bunch of sailors and I’m absolutely certain that this was just a horrible combination of events, but it does remind us that we all have a duty to avoid collisions (and I’m sure we do try to), but in stronger winds things happen very quickly. Boats and repairs are not cheap – let’s stay friends and avoid collisions! Do play hard by the rules, and please do be on the line on the gun, but also be aware of the other boats and leave a bit more room in strong winds.


    Hope to see you Sunday – still won’t be in my boat as I won’t have time to collect it after getting home from a very snowy Boston  USA but I’ll be trying as hard as even (club boat or whatever).