Solo news 15 May
Nine solos on the line for the class race despite there being two solo sailors on duty. I suspect it must have been a marginal call for Peter C and Mervyn as some of the gusts were definitely at the upper end of their range but it just shows what good sailors they are that no there were no problems. With it being the Anniversary series - I even wrote it on the white board by the entry rack - some of the lasers alas forgot they were first start, but we had a lot of boats out and the two starts split the fleet quite well with Solos Toppers and Feva starting together in the second set. Also nice to see Dave Lawton back on the water again even if the shifty gusty conditions were not ideal for a first Sunday for a while.
The first beat from 3 to 9 proved very hard to read. On the first lap the second start clearly had a quite different wind to the first start and were able to point much higher on starboard allowing us to get amongst the back of the lasers and up with the Xenon quite quickly. However everyone I’ve spoken to had at least one lap when that beat just went wrong. There was no consistent way to go, you just had to make the best of the shifts as they came, and sometime that just mean you sailed a lot further. Sometimes there was a lift up the bank, sometimes going out first gave you a great lift on port coming back into 9.
My turn for the bad beat came on the second lap when I was almost caught by Peter Halliday and CJ. That time the lift back to 9 on port just didn't happen for me. I tried to use small shifts to get back on track but I lost a lot of ground. It's always a problem when you look behind and see the boats all pointing much higher - do you tack over taking the loss but hopefully preventing worse, or do you continue anticipating that you will get a better shift later. Always a difficult call because you are clearly in a different wind and if you start to sail their race you get dragged back to them. Usually it pays to sail on a bit and find a favourable shift to come back on but sometimes that just doesn't come. After that beat though I seemed to pull away again but the race was quite frustrating because I could pull ahead of the Xenon upwind and get through a few lasers upwind but they kept coming back past downwind. It felt as if the whole track ahead of me was full of boats. Very hard to find both the right shift and clear air when you are in a pack - there's always someone else going the same way. However that's why we do a mix of Anniversary Handicap (fast boats get clear air) and Pursuit series (slow boats get clear air). It evens things up!
CJ continues to show good speed especially upwind, but Peter Halliday was quicker establishing a clear second place in the fleet with CJ holding off Paul for third.
4071 Peter H
4073 Peter C
4173 Dave L
3142 Peter R
I'd like to run a ruler over a few boats so we can compare our rig settings What I can’t work out is the best way to measure mast rake. If anyone has a good method please let me know. The problem with tape from the top of the mast is that my mast heel is further forward than most, and the problem with measuring how much the mast angles back (from a plumb line) is I don’t know how to set the boat level. Perhaps on a calm day with the boat empty and floating, but different builder’s boats are lighter or heavier in the bow. Does anyone know how exact the measurement of the plat case top is? I’m wondering if spirit level on plate case top would work. Obviously OK with same builder, but between builders? Paul – how close is that measured?
I'm experimenting with a lot more mast rake than the rest of the fleet. Not sure how much it is paying but the boat does feel fast and seemed quick upwind in a blow at the Welsh Open. The downside is that I have to also sail with the plate angled back once I'm starting to get slightly overpowered and it seems rather easier to get into irons. I think it is quick upwind but it would be interesting to compare settings and/or try some two boat tests. I suspect a few of you might be surprised how low my boom is but it is still (just) possible to tack. I plan to try reducing the rake in lighter winds but leaving the mast heel forwards and see what happens. Just need the right weather...
In the Back to Back races we had a lot of boats on the line - haven't seen the results yet but there were at least 20 boats with I think four or five solos. That made starting more like an open meeting with lots of boats jostling for the pin. You can't approach the committee boat on a reach and expect there to be a space. The boats below will simply luff up and shut you out. It's hard starting in the Solo with a fleet of 'faster' boats because you really need clear wind and you know that some of those fast boats will sail right over you. As far as I could see the line was starboard biased so the only way to get really clear wind was to start at the committee boat or very close to it and then prepare to make a short early tack. That way you might be able to get and keep some clear air for long enough that the really fast boats get out of the way and stop blocking your wind. If you start too far down the line a fast boat starting to windward of you just powers through and you get totally blanketed for a while. At least if you start at the end you can tack off and get out of the backwind.
Just as in the morning I think everyone had horror stories of one beat or another, sometimes the wind gods smile and it all goes really right. In the first B2B I started close to committee boat and as soon as the 300 and a 200 powered over me I tacked to get clear air and after about 50 yards got a major header that let me tack back onto a great lift that eventually led me to be being right with the leading 200 and 300 at the windward mark. I think I give myself about 7/10 overall for beats on Sunday, but that one was worth eleven. One great beat, once really good one, one horrible one and the rest OK but nothing special. I guess with a shifting wind two good to one bad isn't too bad but there is clearly lots of room for improvement.