Solo news 12 Aug
So that was the Olympics was it – and jolly good it was too. Now it’s time to starting it doing ourselves again rather than watching others. Although the Wed series finishes this week the summer is still young (in fact some might question if summer has even started). I can verify that the water is definitely warm because I miss-judged the pontoon on Sunday thinking I could jump the gap between boat and terra not very firma. Splash – but very pleasantly surprised that the water actually felt quite warm and I could have easily stayed in a bit longer.
Sunday was a warm gentle breeze supposedly E going SE and dropping before going S and strengthening according to the met office. Overall they had it about right but the actual progression was not at all smooth – very shifty as Easterlies tend to be to start with only really steadying down for the second lap of the second B2B.
The first race started to mark 2 with a starboard rounding – always a tricky place with an easterly, and with a starboard rounding if you come in on starboard you have to tack (no rights while you tack) or on port (no rights v starboard). Off the line I was going fast at the committee boat end with Mark similarly off the pin. The bias had been shifting to and fro. It all depended on the shifts. Initially I looked good, but then the wind went left and Mark tacked. Now he would be able to cross me so I also tacked (don’t let him cross - wait for the next shift). This continued with frequent shifts. Mark tacking the shifts up the bank with me trying to stay in phase with the shifts but working more to the right. My logic was that the wind was supposed to be on average going right (E to SE) so I should on average be lifted on starboard coming in to the mark. However I also know from experience that there’s often a lift into 2 on port close to the shore (I think the effect of the shore bending the wind) so it was less than clear which way to go. We were both also seeing a big clump or lasers (is that the right collective noun for lasers?) which meant that the middle had the wind blocked so working either side was likely to help. I thought I was looking good as the wind freed so I was easily laying on starboard when the lasers about 20 yards ahead of me close to the lay line suddenly tacked (or perhaps I should say were tacked by the wind). Meanwhile Mark was coming in on port but not quite crossing the pack. The lasers tacked back although still not quite laying (one of those very short shifts) so I was expecting it and rather than tack I just coasted through and picked the wind up again after the shift. The lasers now had not made the mark and were all approaching in a massive block on port with Mark outside them coming in quickly and Jim Champ in the Moth closest to the mark. I was now closing rapidly on starboard with the next shift helping me lay easily and starting to hail ‘starboard’ at the mass of boats approaching on port. There was no way that six boats would be able to tack in time so I was wondering what to do when I realised Jim had just left enough room for me to squeeze a tack in and slip past the bunch.
Technically I could have been tacking in their water, the ‘correct though unfriendly’ technique coming in on starboard is to force the port tack boats to tack and then tack yourself. If you tack in their water you are wrong. If you can tack and complete the tack ahead of them you’re golden but starboard marks are always tricky. In this case I figured that if nothing else I was avoiding a serious collision by tacking and there was no danger of Jim complaining I was in his water – I didn’t have any choice. Coming in on port it’s better if you can to slow down – you should be warning the starboard boat ‘don’t tack in my water’ with the goal of ducking him and rounding in side. With just two boats it can be a bit of a cat and mouse game. The port tack wants to be close enough that the starboard cannot tack but behind enough to duck and still make the mark. The starboard tack boat wants to force the port tack to start tacking and then peel into the tack herself. Both boats can slow down if necessary, the right of way (starboard) may not alter course to obstruct but may adjust speed. That’s why we prefer and generally have a port rounding windward mark.
That beat illustrated lots of points – staying in phase with the shifts both Mark and I had gained on the fleet but the tactics of coming in on starboard gave me the advantage – in that last few yards I slipped by all but two of the lasers while Mark was outside them and in their midst. Had I decided Mark’s side looked better and tried to follow I would have passed well behind him after that first shift. By staying with the shifts we both sailed a shorter route to the windward mark but from opposite ends of the line. Neither of us could consolidate the gain (cross if you can) because the wind always shifted back before we were forced to cross (due to reaching bank or lay line). It all depended on the last shift and the mark rounding. It’s amazing just how much you can gain or lose on a mark rounding. To my surprise having slipped past the bulk of the fleet I was able to catch and overtake the leading two lasers while Mark was stuck in the pack. Pretty much that first mark decided the race.
4. Peter C
In the first B2B the wind went lighter and the course was changed to what amounted to a long beat and run. (There were 4 marks but effectively it was all beat and run). This time although I got away well enough up the beat but on the run the wind went light and Mark was able to sail straight past me on a small gust – I think in very light weather I’m quite slow on a run with that rig. It’s great once there is a solid breeze but that sail won’t seem to set well on a run in very light winds. I had also probably made the mistake of raking for medium winds – the strength was there when we arrived and in the morning race there wasn’t a run – broad reach is fine, it’s just the dead run that seems to be a problem because I can’t get the boom right out without the bottom half of the sail inverting the battens. In very light winds and in very strong winds a fairly flat sail is an advantage. It helps upwind because it doesn’t stall as easily and it helps downwind because it is easier to get the boom right out. I tried to escape upwind but Mark kept a loose cover between me at the next mark until I tried to escape by tacking when a covering tack would have had him blanketed by an RS200. I felt he was probably going the right way and he spotted the RS200 and let me go - it was the only way I could split tacks. Of course he was going the right way and just pulled away to a well deserved victory (overall in the race as well).
Second B2B looked like a repeat when I got well away on the first beat but the wind died completely on the first downwind and I was caught and passed by the Vareo. Fortunately this time Mark wasn’t quite as close and the wind filled in again from the South and strengthened back to force 2 so my rig started to work and I was able to pull back through the Vareo.
Something you will see from an email to all members is that we are planning to have some gentle coaching on Saturdays for new members – if they are rigging club boats and you are there please help them. The aim is to help the transition from Tues evening to club sailing. Equally if you want a bit of coaching and it’s a week I’m there let me know.
Last Wed of the series tonight...