Sun 24 Aug...
After the fun trying out RS100 and Aero it was back to the day job this weekend trying to make the Solo go as fast as possible. I was impressed with the Aero - if I was a 30 years younger I'd probably get one. I think the RS100 is not as well suited to our water - much more a windward/leeward boat rather than a varied club course but it was fun trying to gybe with spinnaker up (and capsizing). Also I found it harder to tack quickly in shifty inland conditions. Watching others the trick for the gybe looks as if you have to be going flat out as you enter the gybe (I was running too deep and slowly).
This Sunday brought fairly light winds but very unstable direction although basically SW or W the actual direction was altering by at least 45 degrees - in fact in one of the B2B I was fine reaching on Port towards 8 on a parallel course to Peter Curtis who was on Starboard.
As far as the race went picking your way up the beats trying to keep in the right shift was key. Before the start I take lots of direction checks trying to find the extremes of the shifts and also get some idea how long they are lasting. Not an exact science but having some idea that the shift you are in probably won’t last much longer can make a big difference to starting plans. This is where the basic “which end of the line” technique needs a bit of refinement to think not just about the start itself but also about which tack to get on and which shift to expect next. You really want to be on the lifted tack which means if the line has become harder to sail down on starboard (more pin or left end) at the start you really want to get onto port as soon as possible because the port tack is lifted - you must try to cross the fleet before the next shift so you are on the right side (no pun intended) to take advantage of the next shift which will probably be a lift on starboard. This is a hard one to call because if the wind shifts hard back the other way you should have started at the other end unless you have capitalised on the start line gain. You must manage to cross the fleet on port and establish yourself on the right of the fleet ready for the shift. Someone who started committee boat end, tacked immediately and went hard right on the lifted port tack until the shift would come out well. This is another case of “cross if you can” to bank the gain you made. It’s also why I want to know if the oscillation is between the line being port or starboard end or just very port end to slightly port end or neutral. Being ahead but to leeward (starboard tack from pin end) makes you vulnerable to a big lift – starting pin end on starboard when the line became more biased effectively means you are starting on the headed tack – that’s why you will see people try to tack as soon as possible – yes you start in clear air and you are marginally ahead, but you are only ahead on that wind direction. Until you can cross the fleet you are actually sailing on a header. Someone behind who manages to tack onto the lifted port tack for a while can make a big gain when the shift comes back. That’s why a port end flyer is so good (but hard to execute) – you start at the favoured end on the lifted tack. Tricky isn’t it… don’t worry no-one gets it right all the time!
I know I keep banging on about it but being able to tack really well allows you to take advantage of shorter shifts or to quickly bale out if a shift turns out not to be there because what seemed like a big header was so short lived that as you complete the tack it's gone. This time of year there's an added problem - watch out for the odd weed patch. Really odd but there were some floating patches in the middle. I guess they must have broken off somewhere and not yet been blown to the edge. We did have some Northerly winds recently which probably shifted a load over that haven't yet been pushed back by the usual SW winds. I had to clear weed several times and I also tacked to avoid a big patch. I'm not sure if you can call water to tack for a patch of weed. My suspicion is that if you could sail through it you can't call for water but if you would get stuck then it's like a shallow patch. I'll have to see I there are any appeals cases on that one!
Sunday morning results saw Gareth clear of Mervyn followed by Dave Lawton - welcome back Dave - then a great scrap between Peter Cottrell and Ian Peace followed by Chris and Dave Clark. The personal results show Mervyn consolidating his slender lead with Ian second. I will continue to score the personal series any week when conditions are suitable for everyone and the times are available (not a pursuit) through to the end of October. Results I think up to date on the web site – as always tell me any mistakes and I’ll do my best to correct them.
The B2B saw some of the shiftiest conditions I’ve seen for a while because there was always some wind there, but the direction was varying hugely. Definitely a case for sailing on what wind you have not what wind you think you should have. I find the shroud streamers really helpful but a quick check to see if the mast head agrees is also good. Being quicker to be aware of what the wind is doing and watching the water for the next patch of wind can make a huge difference. Sometimes two boats 20 yards apart were on the same course but opposite tacks.
See you Sunday