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Solo News 8 May 2011

  • Since it is now Friday there’s lots to talk about with Sunday, Tues evening Trysail and Wed... That’s why this report is a bit late, but it does let me remind you the forecast looks good for the weekend and it is the Anniversary series so everyone has a great chance in the personal handicap side.


    First Sunday’s results.

    5215    Gareth Griffiths

    338     CJ Cavallari

    5046    Paul Playle

    3142    Peter Renn

    3174    Roy Poole - Retired

    4647    Mike Lipscombe - Retired

    On duty  Chris Smith, Peter Cottrell and Mervyn Cinnamond


    Sunday was another distinctly breezy day with quite large shifts in the gusts. The first race saw the start line rather too close to the clubhouse bank for my liking – apparently the committee boat was dragging. Lines close to the bank aren’t too bad for Solos but  are rather nasty for things like the Canoe who really aren’t able to manoeuvre in close quarter as well not stop and hover as easily. Anyway when I looked at the line it was definitely starboard (cttee boat) end and to get there close hauled you had to be right off the end of the second pontoon – if you came in from above the pontoon you were reaching to the line (and it was only about 20 yards). If you came from below the pontoon you couldn’t make the committee boat. I did a practice run on the two minute gun – always a good idea to practice the approach especially if it is a tricky one. Paul came from above the pontoon and I could simply block him out.  There is no ‘room at the mark’ before a start mark surrounded by navigable water – to his credit Paul realised exactly what I was doing and didn’t try to barge in but baled out and tacked away, spun round and came in behind.  What neither of us had realised was that the committee boat was slowly dragging towards the shore so that the line had now become port end biased. CJ made a great port end start followed by Roy who both crossed ahead of me. Up the first windy beat I just concentrated on boat speed in the strong winds to overhaul Roy and get within range of CJ.  CJ held the advantage though I think In pulled a bit back and maintained his lead down the reach. On the run I was able to find a good wind lane creep past. Towards the end of the lap (second run) we could see the Albacore in trouble – looked like a capsize on the run and the centreboard had dropped completely into the plate case.  I was slightly concerned about how long they were in the water because it didn’t look as if they were able to get the boat onto its side to put the plate down, and I could see plenty of other capsizes that needed watching. Very sensibly the safety crew simply anchored the inverted albacore and took the crew ashore. The boat was quite safe and would subsequently be rescued after the race. Good decision.  


    This does prompt the question – suppose the albacore had been inverted like that but the crew or helm was trapped underneath (maybe foot caught on a rope or something). What should the safety boat do? Normally you can right an inverted boat to its side by standing on the underside on the gunwale but without the centreboard you just can’t pull it upright, but the albacore doesn’t have much gunwale. The answer for the safety boat to quickly get a boat onto its side it to grab the painter (or put a line round the bow) and pull it hard at right angles to the boat (effectively this means pulling round in a circle) – that will make pull the hull over the sail and get the boat onto its side.  Only do this in an emergency but it is a technique safety boats should know just in case. Generally with more traditional shaped boats there is plenty of air trapped under an inverted hull, but that isn’t the case with some modern low freeboard designs. I didn’t watch the final rescue of the Albacore but I did see a safety crew sailing back in after the race.


    Come the back to back races the wind had piped up again and I again went for the committee boat end (this time with a bit more room – thanks Chris) but trying to shut out a Paul W-A’s laser we ended up both just over the line. Went back and set about catching the fleet – because we had been at the right end of the line even after restarting we weren’t too far back so that by the run I had just a few fast boats in front with Paul W-A again rapidly approaching.  Now we were just approaching the ‘zone’ I was watching by stern to see if Paul had crept up enough to claim water – very close but at the last minute he decided he couldn’t get there and luffed across my stern to be outside.  I think I relaxed thinking OK I’ve got inside – or maybe it was the lull as Paul took my wind and then it returned – but I began to gybe and then fell over – in both senses. As far as I can remember, and it is all rather a blur because we were in a huge gust, I tripped over and ended up in the bottom of the boat which promptly broached (before the gybe) and capsized. The laser, now above me took drastic ‘avoid that idiot in the water’ action and similarly capsized – the RS200 above the laser did the same so three boats all in the water at the same time. Great seamanship avoiding what could have been serious collisions as we were all going quite fast.  Oops as they say. By now CJ and Paul had shot past and were flying away.  Back to back races are too short to recover so no chance to recover and well sailed CJ and Paul.  My conclusion at the moment is that with the extra rake I’m using the rig is fast but the nut on the tiller needs more practice getting under the boom on gybes and it is also quite easy to get in irons – very important to tack far enough and get the boat flat and moving quickly after the tack.


    Wed saw a very ‘interesting’ start line with the committee boat starboard end of the line tied onto the end of the pontoon and mark 1 as the outer.  That meant there was no room to sail above the line and very little room behind it.  Some people considered starting by holding the pontoon and doing a Le-Mans start but in the end everyone tried more conventional approaches. The problem is that you CAN claim water to tack from the pontoon and the normal ‘anti-barging rule does not apply’ The preamble to rule 18 (section C) says

     “Section C rules do not apply at a starting mark surrounded by navigable water or at its anchor line from the time boats are approaching them to start until they have passed them.

    Well that’s clean enough – there is no way a committee boat tied to a pontoon can be described as a starting mark surrounded by navigable water.  That puts us back in the same sort of territory as creeping along the bank of a river. If there is room for you to get in then you can claim room for the obstruction against leeward boats who want to push you into the bank, but you can’t stick you bow into a gap that isn’t big enough and then claim water. See rule 19 (If you are not familiar with this site I strongly recommend exploring it

    (Click on the rules book to see the rules, and appeals cases. Click on the quiz sections to see animations and examples.


    Oh – the actual race on Wed... see Jim’s write up on the web site which may well get some more rules observations – as far as the Solos went Gareth started on the committee boat with Paul close on his tail I think CJ started a bit down the line but going fast and I didn’t see where Chris started. By the windward mark in the Solos it was Gareth - just ahead of the Albacore (clearly well recovered from Sunday)and Xenon - from CJ from Paul and Chris. Gareth continued to have a close race with the Xenon pulling slightly away from the fleet. For most of the race CJ was ahead of paul but I think when the lasers caught up he got too involved with where they were and let Paul slip through. Great to see CJ mixing it with the fleet and showing in windy conditions that he is a force to be reckoned with.


    See you Sunday






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