I forgot to mention last week that Lorraine Lynch sends her regards - the surgery went well and she hopes to be sailing again in the spring. It’s good to hear from you and get news about the fleet. I hope to start sailing again at the start of the summer season. The tendon repair operation went well and the arm is getting stronger. I’ll try and pop into the club in the spring and catch up with everyone. Please pass on my good wishes and season greetings to the fleet.
Good turnout this week with a gentle breeze - although it started really cold it's amazing what good clothes can do. I had two layers of wetsuit and an extra thermal under my splash top. If anything I was marginally too hot on a day when the frost never went away in the shade. Nothing to fear from the cold apart from initially a frozen mainsheet. Mind you the ramp was a bit like a skating rink on the way down - I just held onto the rope and let my feet slide.
The pursuit started in a gentle breeze - not quite sitting to leeward but mostly sitting on the thwart (traveller) varying from inside edge of the tanks to trying not to castrate myself on the main jammer with both feet to leeward. In those conditions I'm trying to stay quite well forwards straddling the thwart. If it goes light I stand up with both feet on the leeward side and if very light back foot or knee on the leeward side deck. As the wind comes up I sit on the thwart, then lie back a bit, bring feet to windward side, and slide up onto the side deck. As that wind changes I'm watching the sail especially the '4th corner' - if (like me you've before Saturday) you've not heard of the 4th corner of the mainsail let me explain. It's easier to see if you have one of those fancy classes where the top of the main is more like a square rigger, but even a Solo has a lot of roach (curve on the leech - back edge of the sail). The 4th corner is the upper leech - about the second batten down. I've always known that I mustn't sheet too hard in light weather (or have too much kicker on) but now I have a name for it and a better way to tell what’s happening. In general as the wind gets stronger we need more downward pressure on the boom to hold the leech tight. Too much and it 'hooks' to windward and stalls the top of the sail. Too little and the leech drops away and the boat won't point. Now I've got a better way of measuring this - adding tell tales near the leech just above the second batten down. I've always used the leech streamer but now with surface tell-tales I get a better view of the air flow over the sail up there. Watching these new tell-tales gives me an indication when to sheet in harder as the wind comes up and when to ease some sheet/kicker because the leech is stalling.
Anyway, back to the race... first beat very close - good starts from Gareth, Tony and Paul (didn’t see the rest apart from Roy) with Gareth right at the committee boat (sorry Roy), Paul and Tony a bit further down the line going well. Roy got shut out at the committee boat as Gareth shut the door - great rules observance by Roy knowing he couldn't barge in and quickly bailing out of the start spinning round above the committee boat. Up the beat the wind was quite variable but Gareth was able to just cross ahead of Tony and Paul to slip round the windward mark at 7 in the lead. Down the first broad reach cum run to 4 Tony got very close to Gareth and Paul close to Tony. No change on the close reach to 2 but on the short beat to X Gareth got away. I've got it on video and I still can't see why I pulled out so much, no massive wind shifts - I did tack on some small shits but generally just concentrating on keeping the boat moving well. Anyway on that leg, the short reach to 1 and the next beat to 7 somehow Gareth was away and gone. Behind though it was much closer with Paul slipping past Tony. Peter and Roy weren't far away either with Mike and Mervyn bringing up the rear of the main fleet. Ben Russell sailing a club boat was a bit further back - but really well done completing the race. Now we need to work on some coaching to get Ben up with fleet.
Final results (pursuit places)
1. Gareth (1)
2. Paul (7)
3. Tony (8)
4. Peter (9)
5. Roy (10)
6. Mike (12)
7. Mervyn (14)
8. Ben (23)
In the second back to back race I swapped boats with Tony to see if we could see why he wasn't pointing. The first thing I noticed was that his boom was way higher than mine and the rig a lot tighter - and I'd taken off some rake for the lighter weather. I nipped ashore and eased the forestay by a couple of holes but the mast still felt more upright than mine. It's always interesting sailing someone else's boat to see how quickly you can make it feel more like your own... Tony's been trying the traveller out and more kicker/sheet tension in light weather. I switched it to more how I sail with traveller just a couple of inches down but being careful to not over-sheet or over tighten the kicker. I do have to alter the kicker a lot - Tony - you'll have noticed that I have the kicker on the front cleat so I'm not sitting on it in light weather when I need to adjust it most often. I have the order of cleats based on which I need to alter when. Kicker at the front so I can alter it when sitting on or straddling the thwart in light weather, Cunningham at the back because I only need that in strong conditions when I'm already sitting out behind the thwart. Then the outhaul and inhaul in the middle because I don't change those once set going upwind. As far as boat speed went I did find it harder to make the boat point, probably because slightly less rake but the boat was very quick on the run - I nearly caught Paul on the last run (recovering from a 720 at the start). As an exercise in boat speed I suppose starting last is good but it wasn't deliberate. I tried to go through a gap that wasn't there on the run in to the line so did a 720 just after the start. Starting at the back I had to work hard for some clear wind making quite a few tacks. My feeling was that Tony's boat turns quicker than mine but it's very easy to over-rotate in the tack (probably because I have elastic stopping me using too much rudder). I had to concentrate on easing into the tack and not stopping the boat. My conclusion - Tony has a lot less rake than I do - fast downwind but generally doesn’t point quite as well up-wind. I used a bit more tension in the luff and slacker forestay to allow a little mast bend. You have to make the mast bend match the sail – too little and the front of the sail is too full so you can’t point, too much and the leech falls away. Since we don’t have spreaders the only way we can control this is using the forestay tension and chocks together with the amount on Kicker and Cunningham.
If anyone else fancies a boat swap in either the class race or the B2B let me know. Happy to compare measurements/settings or just try each other’s boat. Most things are adjustable on mine so it’s easy to fit to anyone.
Forecast for Sunday looks cool but above freezing with a nice breeze – not too much for anyone but enough for a nice sail. Of course the forecast changes every day so no guarantees.
See you there…