I had planned to discuss heavy weather reaching running and gybing this week but you know there was lots to watch from the committee boat on Sunday…
On duty last week but the sailing looked really good. Because the committee boat steering was still out of action we moored in the right place to finish the race and then laid the start line from there – this gave an excellent view of the leeward mark which ended a run to round up onto a beat. The start was really good with at least three boats within a foot of the line – must have been a decent line because first and second at the windward mark started at opposite ends.
I wish I had remembered to bring the video camera because there were lots of examples or good bad and indifferent mark rounding (not just in the Solos) so I’m making that my theme for this week.
I’ll mention Paul because he consistently had the best rounding. Generally he had gybed before the mark so he was already on port and just had to round up. He heeled the boat slightly to help the turn, rounded up right on the mark with the mainsheet coming in as the boated rounded up keeping the sail setting but not over-sheeted, pulled the boat upright and tightened the last bit of sheet. The boat accelerated away from the mark losing absolutely no ground to leeward.
Where there was a less good rounding the boat ended up on a beat but if you took a line astern after the boat was beating it would have been anything from ½ to several boat lengths below the mark. The worst culprits were not Solos I’m glad to say but there is room for improvement. Do that close behind someone and you are in their backwind before you even start the leg.
In general don’t try and gybe at the mark, make the gybe just before the mark so one less thing to do. If you do plan to gybe at the mark try to come in a little wide have time to gybe and still be able to round up close to the mark. Sailors who gybed at the mark mostly sailed another length past the mark as they sorted themselves out and started to round up.
The boat pivots about the centreboard so you should be turning as soon as the board is alongside the mark (preferably before if you started slightly wide) not waiting until the helm is alongside the mark.
Using two hands to sheet in is almost essential. This means you need to have the tiller extension in front of your body so you can rotate that to pull sheet as you take another handful. Watch a top sailor sheeting in and they pull hand over hand with while still steering smoothly. (Takes practice) All the sailors who have the tiller extension behind them (as you would with an old stern sheeting boat) were very slow sheeting in as they had to pull, jam, take another handful, pull again etc.
Some people sheet in early – OK to take one handful but don’t pull much in because you will keep the sail stalled for too long. (It is inevitably stalled on the run but you want to get flow over it as quickly as possible to help drive the boat round, up, and away from the mark.)
Heeling the boat as you round up helps in two ways. Firstly it steers the boat so your rudder isn’t acting as a brake but just lightly guiding the turn that happens naturally. Secondly as you complete the round-up and bring the boat back upright that both accelerates the boat (beating is faster than running) and sneaks it slightly to windward.
The worst cases (not Solo) gave away at least 6 lengths just by a poor roundup.
I think the results are all up on the web site – the standard and general tightening of the fleet is much in evidence – Ian took the personal podium while Paul impressively sailed away from the fleet in the scratch series. The series is VERY tight – I think 5 people can still win the scratch series with just 2.5 point separating 1st from 5th and we’ve had five different trace winners out of seven races. We’re also holding the top three places in the B2B series though with four races to go there it is more open.
Hope to see you all on Sunday for one last pre-Christmas race and again on the 28th – that’s the last race of the autumn series. We start the winter series in January.