Apologies for no news last week. The short week and lots of work just didn't let it happen. For the record we had a good turnout with double figures in the class race in a gentle breeze. Also worth noting that in the back to back races Roy won the first, and Quentin won the second - great work - keep it up!
This week Eddie writes...
Solo results as follows
5046 Paul Playle
4418 Quentin Andrews
On duty - Malcolm Barnes and Mike Lipscombe
Not a day for the faint-hearted. Wind easterly force 4 gusting force 6 at times and shifting. Paul got away on the gun but Quentin was delayed before the start so was about half a lap behind for most of the race. Mark F, the jibe mark, was quite entertaining with Paul executing a spectacular capsize right outside the clubhouse. He righted himself in 18 seconds [ timed by me ] and was away down the broad reach like an express train never to be caught by Quentin.
Quentin had a strange problem with the F mark. He rounded the wrong way , came back, did not unwind, but then proceeded to re-round the right way, twice more !
The race officer ignored this slight infringement as he had overdone the rounding bit and awarded a position. We, the spectators, thought this a very fair decision. [Editors note - I'm confused - if he rounded twice the right way surely that was one unwinding and one rounding correctly - Gareth]
All in all a good race in sunshine and wind for those that were up for it.
In the second afternoon race Quentin had a heavy capsize and spent a very long time in the water with a rescue boat in attendance towing him off a lee shore several times. Glad to say no damage to his boat or his enthusiasm.
I was in S Wales at the Welsh Solo Championship (fancy name for a 2 day meeting). Someone asked me before the event where I hoped to finish - I said it depends how many boats but I'd be disappointed if not in the top half and pleased if top 10.
Eddie says it gusted force 6 at the barn - I can say that the wind there varied from strong to absolutely ridiculous. Some of the gusts were a lot more than force six. It seemed a shame to use my nice new sail but I hadn't got new numbers for the old sail and besides all the pros had nice shiny sails... About 35 boats with a lot of very good sailors. In fact my abiding memory of the weekend is going faster than I have ever been in a solo and the standard of the fleet who weren't just surviving those conditions but racing hard in them. I definitely need to get fitter - 5 races in two days is hard. In fact just the first race on Sat was more than long enough for me although after a rather poor start I was able to work through the fleet to finish 8th - definitely had boat speed especially to windward although losing a bit downwind, but was very tired at the end. Because the reservoir there is roughly rectangular and the wind was blowing across it we had short beats, started one end with a short beat, reach half way along the windward side, run to the far shore, reach along that and then another beat. If you've followed so far that was an S shape, followed by a long diagonal broad reach back to the start. It definitely wasn't a day for the lightweights although several did surprisingly well showing that it is quite possible to sail a solo even in 'survival' conditions without being a 16 stone gorilla. I'm about 13 1/2 stone and I felt fully competitive. I think the 10 stone lot were a bit over powered but still handling the conditions.
Boat set up was a bit of a guess because I hadn't sailed 5215 in a blow. I moved the mast heel forward a notch and chocked front and back. Looked like a LOT of rake, wasn't quite sure if I would be able to get under the boom but prostrating myself against the plate case (can't go further back because the boom gets lower as you go back) I could just about tack. So overall lots of rake, outhaul tight upwind, lots of Cunningham, traveller well out and plate angled back a lot (only about 2/3 down), masses of mainsheet tension and kicker just tight at that point. Reaching ease outhaul and Cunningham, and a bit of kicker but still needed quite a lot of kicker. Running just concentrate on keeping the boat under the sail. Sheet in and luff slightly if she starts to weather roll, bear away if heel to leeward and ease sheet. Someone else said he capsized so fast that there simply was no transition, one moment he was running, the next he was under water.
Sadly my large fleet starting technique was a bit lacking and when I did make a decent start I messed it up on the first beat - stuck in irons on one first beat, capsized on the first tack in another (that one was a good start as well). I definitely need to practice close work in a larger fleet. Anyway the new boat seems to be quick, just the nut on the tiller that's a bit slow. I found it needed a lot of plate up to try to balance the boat. In theory with the mast heel further forward and half chock behind the mast the whole rig should be slightly further forward to counter the rake but it seemed the extra rake clearly gave more weather helm and she also felt heavier on the helm. To lighten the rudder after Saturday I filed the stock a bit to let the blade go down a bit further - seemed better – I really don’t like a heavy helm. Anyway after a good (but rather long) first race we had lunch and then two back to back races. Unfortunately I capsized before the start of the second race trying to miss a safety boat (who was pulling a mark up so couldn't get out of the way) - got a huge gust at the wrong moment, bore away to miss the safety boat and rolled right in. Got the boat up second attempt and made the line but I think I was getting tired and starting to make (even more) mistakes, start was OK, first beat so-so but then got an almighty gust on the run and rolled it. Then I just couldn't get her up. What happened was the mast hit the bottom so the hull always blew round downwind then of course she comes up and over again and I wasn't quick enough to get her up again before the cycle repeated. Fortunately before I got totally exhausted a safety boat helped keep the bow upwind and then I was able to right her. So one good race, one DNF, not ideal. Nipped ashore for a quick energy drink and spare burgee while the fleet finished the race and got out again for race three. Moderate start but got stuck in irons on the first beat so again effectively started at the back There were boats near me and I think I was trying to point high to avoid dropping into dirty wind when I got a heading gust and just couldn't make the boat bear away. Just ground up into irons. Lesson - keep the boat flat and fast... (forget my usual mantra – flat is fast, fast is high) I wasn't quick enough to free off and keep the boat moving. It seemed to take ages to get going again so once again chasing the fleet, then I almost went over again tacking on the next beat - kept her up but took on a lot of water. Not my best race - lucky 13th - perhaps my luck would change on Sunday. Couldn't afford any major disasters as only one discard. In hindsight I think I was too tired from fighting to get the boat up (lots of lovely bruises from that) but I had to get a result - 13th is a lot better than DNF.
Sunday dawned even windier than Saturday - several boats didn't even venture out. Two races back to back. I tightened the forestay one hole because I thought I had too much rake/weather helm, also tightened the shrouds one hole (still quite loose) because I'm sure everything had stretched a bit - new rigging bedding in. I think those were some of the windiest conditions I've sailed in, but the top guys still race just as hard. Managed another top ten finish in the first race boat going very well upwind. Finally got a decent start in the final race to be fourth at the windward mark and looking for a good result only to drop it in on the run on lap two. I was just thinking about gybing when I got one of those crazy gusts and dropped it just before the gybe. This time I was reasonably quick to get her up and had just dropped from in the top six to just at the back (less than half the fleet did the last race). Was able to pull past the boats near me and got back onto the tail of the top pack again. Picked off a few boats as they sampled the water to end up with another reasonable result. Overall 9th and second veteran (over 50) so quite pleased. Told lots of people where we are - mostly boats from the West, Midlands or Wales. Quite a different crowd to our Thames Valley open circuit - another great bunch of sailors – the Solo really is a friendly class. When I arrived, as the only person from our club I was effectively adopted by the crowd from Crosby.
I noticed quite a few people sharing towing with a double trailer - even one massive triple-decker coming down from N Wales. Perhaps if a few of us start doing open's it might be worth thinking about.
Had an email from Arthur Phillips – clearly enjoying his move to the South coast. He writes:
The sailing here is fantastic. I have also joined Teign Corinthian with my Solo. The dinghies sail upstream at Coombe Cellars...a pub and a sailing club and nothing else. 14 solos out on a Sat morning at 9.30 sometimes. They can only sail when the tide is high which means launching anything between 9.00am and 5.00pm, and with sailors like Steve Jones and Hannah Showell, plus other very good helms it is Solo heaven...did I mention the scenery?
I did a 3 day regatta there last weekend and this weekend is the Paignton regatta. I’m still am member at Paignton with great bay sailing when I choose, and having a dolphin on your bow while planing is something special.
Please do tell people at IB if they want to retire somewhere, do it here. There are loads of good clubs and locations.....but you will always get your feet wet launching!
See you Wed or Sunday!