A good start to the new series – nice force three – not too strong for the senior fleet but enough to get everyone’s juices running. Great to welcome Tony Penfold back for the winter. Good to see Richard and Lorraine on a Sunday morning. Now if we can manage a week when we all can make it – just think if Malcolm, Paul, Mark, CJ , Chris (your Gerry Winder trophy is in the clubhouse) , Dave L (your Saturday trophy is in the clubhouse unless you already picked it up), Roy, Peter H, the other Peter C, Quentin, Harry, Martin, Alec, Mike, Glen, Ben ... could also make it - goodness me we could have 20+ boats on the line – that would be fun... Seriously I know we will never have everyone on the water every week, but as I think Gary Player said ‘The more I practice the luckier I get’. Might be a bit windier this week.
1. Gareth G
2. Mervyn C
3. Peter C.
4. Mike L.
5. Richard W-B
6. Tony P
On duty Peter Renn and Dave Clark
With ‘Barnstormer’ still on the bank getting a paint job the RO had to go for a shore start giving a rather long line that was quite hard to check. Normally I sail above the committee boat and get a transit down the line – find a shore landmark I can line up with the outer end so I can tell if I’m on the line at any point. The right method would have been to nip ashore and look down the line, but it is also important to be on the water early checking the conditions, practicing a few tacks and getting the boat sorted for the conditions. Anyway that meant I couldn’t get a good transit – I tried to sail close to the shore end and then look down the line but I must have miss-judged that. Coming up to the start the wind was varying between almost even and significantly port end bias. Given that I was aiming for the port end and managed to get myself under the fleet with about 30 seconds to go. It seemed to have shifted further left and I was a bit worried about making the pin so I hardened up and drive forwards thinking I was nicely going to be ahead or at worst in the lee bow of the next boat. Oh dear... two hoots – wasn’t 100% sure but I thought I heard my name and I was definitely the first boat near the port end so I went for a quick bear away and gybe back round the pin. Looked as if Tony P was also coming back but much further up the line. (Later checked with the RO and indeed it was both of us over.)
Because the line had been quite port biased I was now effectively making a slightly late port end on port and the bias helped me. Although Mervyn was away cleanly ahead on starboard and I couldn’t quite cross Peter C so I was still able to make a lee bow tack on Peter hoping that I’d be able to squeeze up then tack again. I thought I’d be in Mervyn’s wind shadow but fortunately I was actually straight line astern but several lengths back and able to keep clear air. Meanwhile Richard had tacked off and was leading the right side while Mervyn, me and Peter C were line astern going left. I seemed to have a slight boat speed advantage and was closing on Merv and pulling away from Peter so at the first small header I tacked (I could possibly catch Mervyn but there was no way I could get past from line astern). I didn’t want to go very far so when the wind came back I tacked again and it looked as if I had gained just enough to slip ahead of Mervyn. Richard was still looking very good on the right so on the next small header I tacked again to try work over to the right. I didn’t think I’d be able to cross but I hoped to be close. I was just thinking I’ll have to duck when Richard tacked. We both tacked a couple more times and I think I got the shifts right to be just ahead. When I looked back I saw Mervyn coming back on port behind me but again probably not able to cross Richard. Again Richard tacked. (I’ll have to find out if he thought we were on the paying tack or was just keeping clear even though he was on starboard). I was surprised not to see Tony anywhere in contention but I think he had lost a lot more returning to the start.
By the first mark it was Gareth from Mervyn and Richard (I think in that order but they were quite close) and then from memory Peter, Mike and Tony with Lorraine following. By the end of the next beat Tony looked to be getting back in contention but the next time I looked he was way back. I gather that he needed to rinse out his gear to get rid of all that salty stuff. (Actually his brand new mainsheet still had the new slippery quality and came undone causing an unexpected capsize and swim). The wind also increased slightly towards the end but everyone finished safely – well done to Lorraine because it was definitely at the upper end for her.
I was the only Solo in the B2B because Tony quite sensibly decided one capsize was enough and he was a bit cold and tired, and the wind had also increased a bit. The start was ‘interesting’ as the line was again port biased so many boats were heading for the port end – all jockeying slowly for position – sails spilled, creeping up to the line. Andy Collison in the magno was further up the line and I think slightly early so he bore away down the line. Of course all of us looking for the port end were to leeward and closing on the line. I called out to Andy that he was windward boat expecting him to spill wind and luff, but instead I think he got a bigger gust and gently capsized on top of me. I bore away frantically to not sail right over his mast (caused a fright to Julie in her 200 as a sail descended towards her and a Solo bore away towards her but she took appropriate avoiding action). Anyway it meant I started somewhat late and in dirty wind... If you find yourself early you cannot bear away and accelerate down the line if there are boats close to leeward. There are several tricks you can do – slow down and wait, if there is a gap you can spill wind and raise the centreboard to side slip without accelerating down the line. If there are already boats immediately below you may just have to bail out of the start and go back. Seeing the problem early gives you chances to avoid that. You don’t want to be late but you have to keep clear of boats below you. Actually I was quite impressed how well contested the line was with a good sized fleet.
Anyway, having made a poor start I tacked a few times to clear my wind and got going. Towards the end of the run I was heading for the middle of the RS200s who were gybing downwind and it was a very close call if I could sneak inside Julie round the leeward mark. It was a dead run and I was coming in on port to round up (but was a bit by the lee). The 200s had come in on starboard and were then gybing before the mark and coming back up. Julie had crossed ahead as had another 200 (both on starboard) with the spinnaker up a few lengths before the mark as I dead ran on port. Now the rules get interesting. Julie entered the zone clear ahead so I would have no right to cut inside as she gybed and closed back up to the mark. The other 200 though had clearly gone well wide and outside the zone when he gybed so as he entered (or re-entered) the zone on port I was definitely overlapped inside him. All this was going through my mind as I tried to judge if Julie was in fact far enough away from the mark that even without rights I could sneak into the gap. I had just about decided that she was in fact giving me room when I got a gust... I had been paying so much attention to the tactical situation I forgot to sail the boat – was now too far by the lee, big gust, not enough kicker or plate ... massive windward ‘death roll’ classic capsize with the boom sticking up in the air and me in the water! Fortunately I didn’t quite foul anyone and they were able to get round and away while I hauled the boat back up. There’s a moral here – you still have to sail the boat even when you are thinking tactics!
See you Sunday