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Solo News 24 June 2012


    Solo news 25/6

    Sorry no news last week what with writing up the Summer Special and no real Solo race there wasn’t much to report.


    This Saturday is OUR SOLO OPEN MEETING


    This is a great chance to see how the good guys set up their boats and it is a to show the wider fleet what a great place to sail we have and what a friendly fleet we are. Sadly I can’t be there (friend’s wedding) but CJ will be borrowing my boat.  Paul doesn’t think he’ll have his boat ready in time (re-varnishing) – is there anyone willing to lend Paul a boat? If you can’t make it for the Open would you be willing to lend your boat to someone so we can get a good sized fleet on the water?


    In fact if you aren’t able to sail in the Open might you lend your boat to anyone else in the club?


    On Sunday I did the Twickenham Open (an old haunt of Eddie’s) – small club on the river. Now that’s a whole different type of sailing with a very strong river current, all sort of wind (lots of trees) as well as rowing boats, pleasure cruisers etc. It looked like being a very lively sail with a gusty westerly wind roughly straight down the river – the only snag was that the strength varied from force 2 to force 5 and the direction from SW to NW.


    Oh and we sometimes think our starts are tricky... try a down wind and down current start – you could only just breast the current in the middle when beating.  Yes river sailing is a whole different game, for once the start really didn’t matter much because as you swept down river on a running first leg you could easily catch up (clear wind for the back of the fleet).


     In the first race the wind was strongest with some fierce gusts sometimes coming with massive shifts. Coping with lots of shifts being able to go from full hiked overpowered to barely sat on the edge and being able to tack in an instant were the keys. I even had a brief capsize on the first beat but didn’t lose a place – all the capsize practice I did in my youth must have some benefit! With the strong current the downwind legs were very quick and the upwind against the river were a real slog. The biggest obstacle was the top mark – they set a sort of elongated rectangle – very short cross river and long down river. However at the windward end you could just get round the windward mark but then you couldn’t lay the cross river mark because it was in the strongest current.  So you tried to tack up a bit further, but that put you in the wind shadow of Eel Pie Island ... in short somewhat of a lottery to get round the mark.  If you had a good gust you could breast the current, if the wind died you were swept down onto the mark.  Sometimes it took three attempts to get round it (and that was for the front of the fleet). Oh and one lap a rowing boat (long old fashioned quad scull) decided to stop right on the windward mark which was only about two lengths from the shore - with a long boat blocking stopped with stern on the mark (holding onto it). Really I was quite polite...!


    The last race saw really tricky conditions as a rain squall came through followed by almost wind from 180 degrees different – now we were trying to catch little zephyrs from behind, or was it a reach, no the other gybe etc.. We spent about half and hour roughly abreast of the leeward mark sometime creeping up river sometimes being pushed back by the current. The front of the fleet stayed by the leeward mark – the back of the fleet was steadily losing ground and heading for Richmond. It’s one of the few times I wished I had an anchor – anyone know the rules on picking up a mooring or hanging onto the bank for a while when the wind goes away? To reduce the current you wanted to stay at the edge but that was under the trees with even less wind. You could try the far bank (although that meant dropping back as you crossed the main stream) but that side had more current... eventually the wind came back to its old direction and we very slowly beat up against the current to finish the race.  I ended up third overall with two seconds.  I know I keep banging on about efficient tacking but yesterday it really came to the front – I think I did more tacks than I’ve done all year and against the river they had to be good or you lost ground to the current.


    See you soon