What a wet day! Don’t think it stopped raining all day. That makes sailing well that little bit harder because all the tell tales are stuck to the sail. Upwind I was having to watch for the tiniest flicker from the luff to tell me when I was pinching and to watch the shroud tell tales a bit more. Much harder to spot lifts. I probably sailed a shade too high rather than risking missing a lift.
The first race was dominated by Mike and Paul. I thought I had a decent start but then I went right and lost out big time. Tim went even further and lost even more… meanwhile Paul and Mike were duking it out at the front with Paul having the edge for most of the race until he got tangled up with the lasers. I think the key here is that you have to watch not just the boat you are trying to cover but also the other boats. If I’m trying to escape cover I will try and tack at a point when the covering boat doesn’t want to tack (when it would put him but not me in the wind shadow of another boat). I didn’t see what actually happened because I was still too far behind… but sometimes you can use boats from other fleets to your advantage. I was trying very hard to get back on terms but they didn’t make any big mistakes. Even with Paul making a 720 on the last lap I could only get to a within a few lengths (and then I had a laser between us). Not a huge turnout for the B2B races but again Solos the largest fleet. I altered my rig slightly after the first race as I felt the forestay was a bit too slack and I didn’t have enough power. Probably didn’t make any difference because I got away much better on the first beats in the afternoon. Although I was over the line in the first B2B I knew I was going to be over and was already heading round the pin so apart from ducking a few starboard tackers I was able to clean away from almost the pin.
Downwind part 3 - Using the puffs and shifts
Gybing the lifts (like tacking the headers but not as obvious)
Running we have to take advantage of wind shifts just like we do when beating. We’re trying to do two things – get in a gust and stay in a gust, and sail the most advantageous course given the wind. Solos like to dead run but they don’t like to get much by the lee (unlike lasers who can fully square their boom or even let it go in front of square). I spend a lot of the time running watching the shroud tell-tale. That’s my main downwind indicator – I’ll glance up at the masthead to see if the story is the same but the biggest part of the sail is lower down so knowing what the wind is doing there matters most. If the wind comes round to a broad reach (that’s technically a header) I’ll bear away to keep it more on a run because I know I can point up again later. If the wind goes by the lee (technically the wind freeing) and I’m on course for the mark I’ll gybe unless there are tactical reasons to point up and avoid being by the lee. I won’t sail very far by the lee.
Apparent wind direction on reaches
On reaches trimming the sail is critical. You can try to stay in the gusts a bit longer by bearing away in them and pointing up in the lulls but sail trim is the biggest factor. Let’s say you are sailing at 90 degrees to the wind. If the wind slows down the boat is still moving forwards so the wind seems to come from a close reach (or even a beat) until the boat slows down to the new wind speed. You need to sheet in as this happens but then ease again as the apparent direction returns. If you get a gust it will usually initially be a freer direction because the boat is travelling slower than it should be. As the boat accelerates the wind will come forwards again. That means you must free the sheet as the gust strikes – even more so if the boat heels initially because as you correct the heel you will exaggerate the freeing effect of the wind. It’s a constant adjustment to keep everything just right. As a gust strikes the boat heels slightly - as you correct this you ease the sheet and if you want to bear away to follow the gust you bring the boat to a slight windward heel to facilitate the bear away and then sheet in as the boat accelerates. If you don’t do that you will have to use rudder and apply the brakes. Steering by weight control really does work. The rudder is a brake.