Definitely the dog days of summer, not a huge turnout but seven boats in the anniversary race filling the first seven places on corrected time. When you count the three Solo sailors on duty it was a pretty good turnout for peak holiday period.
Also noteworthy - Lorraine completed both the back to back races - small goals as I said in last week’s blog but a big hurdle well completed. Keep practicing – we need to persuade a few more of the newer sailors to join you – Andy / Nikky – we haven’t seen you recently.
I’m really not quite sure why we all did so well in the anniversary race – light weather tends to favour the Solo because she keeps moving well having quite a sizeable sail area and an efficient rig, but you would think starting two minutes behind the ‘faster’ boats we would be in dirty wind up the beats. In practice we seemed to catch the lasers and in most cases actually pass them.
In the second Back to Back I had a great struggle with Quentin – after the start I got caught out by a huge lift for the windward end starters that CJ and I never saw which put me right in the pack but somehow I picked my way through the shifts on the second half on the beat to be just a bit behind Quentin at the windward mark. We then sailed two laps during which I crept a fraction closer but there really was very little difference in speed. Finally on the third beat I got a slight lift as I rounded the mark and was creeping to windward – that’s what happened to me at the open meeting. I now think that Quentin (or me at the open) should have tacked to cover as soon as it was clear that I was being lifted. I’m still not sure it isn’t just one of those unpredictable situations but I think that would have been his best chance. Try to get back between the mark and the following boat. Don’t let it go on so far that you can’t cross even if you think the wind will come back. Take the header that you are in and get back to a loose cover position.
Things I noticed looking round, and that Roy noticed from the safety boat is that I use more windward heel on the run and that I keep the bow down more – sit further forward - in light weather I straddle the thwart.
I tried to think about what I was doing during the race – I think I spent about 75% on my time looking at the sail and wind indicators (shroud tell-tales and mast head wind indicator) – mostly the sail on everything except a run, mostly the shroud tell tales on a run. Just trying to keep the air moving over the sail, ease if it stalled, sheet in if it went finer. On a reach trying to get the leech streamers to stream. The other 25% is checking where I’m going, looking for patches of wind, and seeing what’s happening to the boats upwind of me (ahead on the beat, behind on the run) to try and predict the next shifts and gusts.
To get finer control of the sail on the beats I took the main sheet from the pulley of the main jammer (not through the jammer) because that is more sensitive and easier to control when standing up or (almost) sitting in the jammer. On the downwind legs I take the sheet from the boom – again more sensitive and easier to adjust.
In those very light winds concentration is critical but you also need to get the basics right – sit further forward – straddle the thwart to keep the relatively narrow bow in the water and the wider transom clear or just barely kissing the water. On the run heel the boat to windward to make the waterline as narrow as possible and get the sails over the boat, but make sure you are comfortable and wherever you sit/stand/kneel be sure you can see the sail and all your wind indicators, and look round for patches of wind.
Constant trimming to react to wind changes is needed, but not pumping or rocking. Those are definitely not legal. I watched the Olympic trial event on the TV recently and I was interested to see how much they were or were not allowed to pump, it was only ever one pump per wave. I’m attaching the full ISAF guidelines to the email version of this blog – I encourage the everyone, but especially the front half of the fleet to read it – reference is http://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/42interpretations2010final-%5B8881%5D.pdf.
Let’s first look at the rule (I have added some bold italics):
42.1 Basic Rule
Except when permitted in rule 42.3 or 45 a boat shall compete by using only the wind and water to increase, maintain or decrease her speed. Her crew may adjust the trim of sails and hull, and perform other acts of seamanship, but shall not otherwise move their bodies to propel the boat.
42.2 Prohibited Actions
Without limiting the application of rule 42.1, these actions are prohibited:
(a) pumping: repeated fanning of any sail either by pulling in and releasing the sail or by vertical or athwartships body movement;
(b) rocking: repeated rolling of the boat, induced by
(1) body movement,
(2) repeated adjustment of the sails or centreboard, or
(c) ooching: sudden forward body movement, stopped abruptly;
(d) sculling: repeated movement of the helm that is either forceful or that propels the boat forward or prevents her from moving astern;
(e) repeated tacks or gybes unrelated to changes in the wind or to tactical considerations.
(a) A boat may be rolled to facilitate steering.
(b) A boat's crew may move their bodies to exaggerate the rolling that facilitates steering the boat through a tack or a gybe, provided that, just after the tack or gybe is completed, the boat's speed is not greater than it would have been in the absence of the tack or gybe.
(c) Except on a beat to windward, when surfing (rapidly accelerating down the leeward side of a wave) or planing is possible, the boat's crew may pull the sheet and the guy controlling any sail in order to initiate surfing or planing, but only once for each wave or gust of wind.
(d) When a boat is above a close-hauled course and either stationary or moving slowly, she may scull to turn to a close-hauled course.
(e) A boat may reduce speed by repeatedly moving her helm.
(f) Any means of propulsion may be used to help a person or another vessel in danger.
(g) To get clear after grounding or colliding with another boat or object, a boat may use force applied by the crew of either boat and any equipment other than a propulsion engine.
(h) Sailing instructions may, in stated circumstances, permit propulsion using an engine or any other method, provided the boat does not gain a significant advantage in the race.
So, you can roll tack or roll gybe, but as we will see in the interpretations there are limits to these as well. You can pump ONCE to INITIATE surfing or planning (but only one per gust or wave and only to initiate never to sustain). You can heel to help turning as you round a mark but you can’t then repeat the movement because that becomes rocking. It is worth reading the interpretations – it gives a lot more detail but the principles are that you can’t propel the boat by repeated rocking, rolling, pumping etc.
You can (and should) keep adjusting the sails to react to wind changes or waves, you can roll tack and roll gybe but you should not come out of the tack or gybe faster than you continue (If the boat slows down after the tack or gybe you overdid it). You should not tack or gybe repeatedly unrelated to wind changes or tactical considerations. You can and should heel the boat to help turning as you go round a mark (heel slightly to windward as you bear away, heel to leeward as you round up). You can trim forward to catch a wave (or someone else’s wake – you can often get a good tow from and RS200 with its spinnaker up by trimming very bow down to help the boat surf on the 200’s stern wave).