Well done Paul!
The whole idea of coaching and comparing settings and techniques is to improve our standard. I'm delighted to report that on Sunday Paul wiped the floor with me! We had a slightly unusual course with a decent beat (start at 3 towards 7 or 8 – can’t remember which) broad reach to 6, beam reach to F, broad reach to 4, closer reach to 3. We've known for a while that Paul is quick in marginal planing reaches but Sunday showed just how quick. Up the first beat it was close, I started pin end and after quite a long haul on starboard I was able to just cross ahead of Tony and Paul. Conditions relatively steady direction-wise but varying from fully powered to a bit over-powered. By the first mark Paul had overtaken Tony and was close behind me. Down the short broad reach to 6 no change, but on the long beam reach from 6 to F Paul just sailed straight past me! I thought - never mind I'll get the gust once he's past and I'll catch his stern wave, but it just didn't happen. He simply sailed away, and I think if anything Tony gained slightly on me. The worrying thing is I've reviewed the video and I still can't see why - I can see a few moments when my sail wasn't perfect but nothing very bad. Up the beats I could pull a little back but never as much as Paul was gaining on the reaches. The other key was that he didn't make any mistakes upwind and sailed really fast downwind. Well sailed indeed!
In the B2B we swapped boats but sadly the course was changed to have a simpler beat, reach, run, reach - now I think my setup might be better. No long reach to see if I could make Paul's boat go as fast. The wind had also come up a bit more - guess what - he did it again, this time in my boat beating me to the windward mark and in the first race going away. In the second I got closer but a bad tack cost me on the first beat - dropped the tiller and Paul's boat isn't forgiving with elastic to keep it straight so the boat tacked on it own and I had to scrabble to avoid a swim. Paul simply sailed better than I did - I console myself that perhaps my boat is easier to get used to because the ropes are easier (Paul's are very thin and slippery for old hands like mine) and my toe straps are adjustable but really I'm making excuses... Paul sailed really well. I'll be training hard...:)
Since we had a windy day Sunday - Mervyn and Peter wisely looked at the gusts and took the spectator option - I think a good topic is windy gybes. I was very impressed with the standard of all the sailing at the club on Sunday - apart from the RS600 (no surprises that he had a swim or two) I didn't see any other capsizes despite a course with far too many gybes including one right in front of the club-house. Paul and I were talking about gybing in a blow before the race. The most important thing is to be going as fast as possible into the gybe. The faster you go the less force there is on the sail. So fast into the gybe - actually easier to start from a slight reach - making sure the boat is well balanced - any heel going in and the boat won't steer easily and if you try to force it round you'll probably overcorrect and go in. So fast and balanced, then as the boom goes over stop the turn - what you don't want is the boat to broach - continue turning as the boom hits the tops and it will force the boat on round, the sail will develop more force making you heel more... and it's usually a swim. So there we have it, fast into the gybe, well balanced, stop the turn as the boom goes over, then as you complete you move to the new side you can round up to the desired course. Of course that all applies in medium weather as well but you can get away with more things then. Practice that technique and it will work in all weather.
Sadly I'm away on business this week, but I hope you can all get to the club whether you sail or not - it's Christmas party time - mince pies and mulled wine. Hopefully there will also be some good sailing. Could whoever wins tell me about the race and I'll pass it on!
Happy Christmas - see you on the 23nd