Well, I was RO on Sunday so although I didn’t sail I did get a good view of the racing.
Really nice to see Peter back on the water and our winter friends returning. Rob borrowed my boat and seemed at home from the off.
First the results:
Observing from the water, Rob was pointing higher than Tony or Roy and keeping the bow a bit lower (weight further forward). I had put the rig into my light weather setting – mast heel back one hole, forestay tighter and shrouds slacker – standing the mast a bit more upright.
Sitting in the Committee boat with Paul Wright-Anderson we were watching both the laser fleet and the solos starting and thinking that this is an area we could all practice. There were not many boats hitting the line on the gun and at speed. I think we need to practice fleet starting – that means being able to sail very slowly on or near the line and then accelerating over the line on the gun. We tend to come in too much crowding the committee boat and without speed. I think some practice hovering on the line and keeping control at very slow speed would be good. I’d like to see a line of boats on the line rather than a string of boats coming in late at the committee boat. The start is the one point in the race where anyone can be in front. If you aren’t in the front rank off the line you will sail the first part of the beat with your wind blocked or disturbed by the boats in front. What might have been one boat length back at the start becomes 5-10 lengths before you can do anything about it.
Perhaps this would be a good practice session in the spring – maybe jointly with the lasers – it works best to practice with more boats and solo/laser are close enough the same speed for a decent practice.
Something I do repeatedly before the start is to check pointing angle – that is I start a beat at one or other end of the line and note where I can head. I do this frequently from the same spot to see how the wind is shifting. (If you have a compass you might be able to do it that way but I prefer to spend on sails than compasses because I mainly sail inland with plenty of landmarks.) Similarly if possible I also check that at the leeward mark so that when I round up at the end of the first lap I know if the wind has changed. I don’t know what you do pre-start but I’m trying to concentrate on learning the wind pattern. Is it shifting to and fro, which way do I expect the next shift?
In a steady wind we always want to start at the upwind end of the line. How do we tell? Several ways – to which end do we have to sail with the sails pulled in more? Point head to wind and sight across the boat etc. But what about an shifting wind?
Wind is oscillating every 5 minutes or so between the line being port biased and starboard biased – by biased I mean which end is further upwind. I note that the starboard end is favoured and has been favoured for the last few minutes. Where do I start?
Answer – not right at the starboard end, but down the line a bit to make sure I’m clear of the bunch and able to start fast in clear air because I expect the next shift will reverse the bias and I’ll be able to tack on the header and cross the fleet. I probably won’t go all the way to the pin unless the line is very crowded but I’m expecting a shortish section on starboard, get the header and tack to cross the fleet.
You can only make that sort of a call if you have been monitoring the wind direction for at least 10 minutes - … were you on the water at the line checking 10 minutes before the start… - OK last Sunday with the delayed remembrance day start made it tricky but there is real value getting to the line early. On a similar vein do you look at the run before the start to see which gybe it is?