Monday, 8 November 2010

Light airs fun

There wasn't a lot of wind yesterday, and there wasn't much last Sunday either. On such days we have the choice to bimble, or go home, or go sailing regardless. Well I have to say that the 2nd race yesterday (when the wind dropped to absolutely nothing) was definitely not a good time to be afloat. But the other three races, held in 3-8mph winds, were great fun and definitely worth turning up for.

Quite apart from having a good battle with the rest of the fleet, you get a lot more time and opportunity to observe the boats around you when the wind is a bit light. Stuff I observed included:

  • Too much kicker. In some of those races any kicker at all was too much. The leech of the mainsail sticks out like a sore thumb, the flow across the sail stalls, and you go nowhere. I didn't see any Fireballs doing this, but there were a few other craft out there who clearly don't get the sort of critical feedback that Fireball ownership confers 
  • Too little kicker. We spent a lot of our time yesterday chasing Paul and Nick around, they were very fast upwind but dog slow offwind. The reason, easily identifiable from behind (where I spent a lot of my time), was that the boom was rising on the 3 sail reach, the leech was wide open, the top of the sail was doing nothing at all and the bottom was oversheeted to compensate. Thinking about this after the event, the kite's main duty on a 3-sail reach is to drive more air across the back of the mainsail (or something), so you should expect to need more kicker than at other times for a given windstrength. Anyway, I pointed this out to Paul, he eased the main and banged on some kicker and promptly sailed away from me again, so I guess it worked.
  • Sitting on the wrong side of the boat while the crew is trapezing. Some guys can read the mainsail even from underneath it, but most of us can't. If you get the chance to sit facing it instead of underneath it, take it, get the crew back in, sit or stand well forward in the boat and keep playing the mainsail and keep watching the luff. Crew tightens up the kite, the luff of the main starts to lift, and if you don't notice then you're going backwards.
  • Mainsail too full. When it gets into seriously light-n-fluffy territory, the standard issue full-cut mainsail is too full and just doesn't work. Last Sunday 1st race I went with 22'8", strut forward an inch and no kicker. And I was so far down the toilet by the end of the race that I was round the U-bend and halfway to the sea. For the 2nd race I went with 22'6" (ie, more pre-bend), and I pulled the strut on by at least 2". Now the leech was visibly wide open and I had a much more successful race, even with 13st of crew-ballast malingering around at the front of the boat. Interestingly, as the wind picked up, I dropped the strut back towards neutral and it apparently went just as well. But Pete B said he left his strut forward and put some kicker on to tighten the leech, and that it worked really well. As he just beat me, you might want to take note of that one 

Yesterday was also notable because it was the first outing for new winter members Pete and David Slack, welcome to Draycote guys and let's hope that we get a nice mild winter with plenty of wind so you get really good value out of your time here.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Fleet Championships 2010 - day 1

Windguru confidently predicted 2-3knts of wind, and rain, and in the event we didn't get either of them. Instead we had 20+ knts of wind which came in big lumps and made the sailing very interesting indeed.

Ho for race 1, and (to digress) I am currently tying the mainsail to the top of the mast as the halyard is down to its last few strands of wire and I don't want it letting go while I'm racing. This is no big deal, except that when I was fiddling about with the top of the mast on the beach, I put my hand right in a big lump of blue-green algae, and it went all over the string I was trying to tie a knot in as well. Much hand and string washing ensued, and not a great start to the day. Anyway, out at the start line it became apparent that the wind was not about to drop off to 3knts any time soon. So we all zoomed off, and it was Badders leading at the top mark followed by Martyn and then a load of other boats and then me. But it was to be a long hard race, and attrition took its toll on most of the fleet. I definitely remember overtaking an upturned Bob & Paul at a gybe mark, and we took Badders when he tried to fly his kite with only 2 strings instead of the usual 3. We had a long battle with Jez, which we finally won after he bore down on top of us on the reach to 'S', nearly removing my foredeck and crew and taking us the wrong side of the mark in the process. Grump, moan, re-round 'S' and carry on. Then we were treated to the sight of Peter & Mike putting their kite up when halfway up the D-K beat, apparently on the basis that they'd forgotten to go round 'C'. Duh. So we got past them too and spent the next lap trying to make sure it stayed that way, including luffing them up a bit on a couple of the mental 3 sail reaches. Martyn capsized at one point, but this was after Peter & Mike had done the kite on the beat trick, so there was nobody there to take advantage of it. We ended up 2nd by virtue of not capsizing or putting the kite up on the beat, with Peter and Mike 3rd. But, from a personal perspective, we were far too slow in that race and the boat was fighting us on the beats. And my bit of string holding up the mainsail turned out to be broken when I came to untie it (maybe the algae ate it), so the 3 strands of wire had done a great job after all.

Bit of lunch, then 2nd race, and we managed to arrive just after the start and then had trouble getting the kite down so sailed away from the line for rather too long before finally getting going. Peter and Mike had started on time and were away with the fairies, everyone else was somewhere between them and us, with the exception of Helen & Paul who started about 10 minutes late. This race though the boat was on our side and was bounding up the beats, so we took heart and got on with chasing the fleet. We beat Pete to the top mark - he had started about the same time as us - but it was a long time before we caught up with Jez, and there was a considerable amount of traffic (Richard, Bob, JT etc) which conspired against us. We eventually overtook Jez on the long reach to 'C' (which was great BTW), and by the end of the race had caught but failed to pass Martyn & Richard. So 3rd place in that one.

Then Paul had to go home, and I couldn't find a crew for the 3rd race so had to sit it out. It looked like a 2 horse race between Martyn and Peter, and they each had a go at the front a couple of times but it was Martyn who was there at the end.

All in all a very hard day's racing, very good fun (some of the reaches were really awesome), and we just might get the trophy off Martyn's sideboard yet 

Sunday, 10 October 2010

10 Oct

Finally got the good weather the forecasters have been banging on about for the past 4 days, and it was really good sailing as a result.

Race 1, and a lot of boats were late to the start line so weren't in contention for the lead, so it was us and Peter Wood fighting it out at the front all the way round. Neither boat was able to get away from the other and it was nip and tuck throughout the entire race (and it looked pretty good further back in the fleet too). Peter gifted us an advantage when he gybed involuntarily and hit OL with his boom and very decently did a 360 when I pointed this out, in spite of not having noticed this transgression himself. Then he got a bit of a reward for his righteous behaviour when he picked up a personal 30 degree lift while following us up the beat a bit later on, and made it stick when our kite wineglassed on the next reach. But we still managed to pull back onto his transom by the time we got to OL, so all-in-all a very good race.

Race 2, and half the fleet were definitely over the line when the gun went, but only one (Mo, I think) went back. Martyn and Jez showed us a clean pair of heels up the first beat, but Peter and Mike were practically over the horizon, they must have teleported themselves to the first mark by my reckoning. At the first gybe mark, new members Pete Slack and crew (welcome guys), managed to sit on Martyn's wind for just long enough for me to sail over the top of him and underneath them and get into 2nd place. So we were hunting down Peter & Mike and watching out behind for a Martyn or Badders or Pete Slack comeback, and when we got to OL we were rewarded by the sight of Peter & Mike trotting off to 'N', which wasn't part of the course. "Har har" we cried (very quietly), took kite down, nipped smartly round OL and off up the beat to 'H'. Everyone else followed us, and Martyn & Jez somehow got ahead of us up that one, but they decided to go high without the kite on the reach to E, presumably to avoid the shallows around 'F' which were in the way. We just stuck the kite up and sailed straight across the shallows, pausing only to tip the boat over to about 45 degrees when the centreboard started coming up and we heard graunchy noises (this reduced the amount of fixed rudder in the water) and we got ahead again. Cheers cheers. Then down to 'P' and then upwind again to 'S'. Then Martyn disappeared off the radar, apparently because the trapeze handle broke while Jez was using it and it all went a bit splashy, so we sailed around the course a few more times watching as Peter & Mike gradually got closer and closer, and then we finished.

Great fun, but a bit scary how fast Peter and Mike were going with the North sails.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Marriott Bucket 2010 - day 2

Bit of a poor turnout, truth be told, which was a shame as it was an excellent days sailing. We used the windy weather handicaps which caused some initial upset to some people as it clearly wasn't all that windy at 10:00am. However it definitely was all that windy by 10:45am when we started, so that turned out OK.

Helen and Paul were leading the series at the end of day one, but in the traditional spirit of fair play they did their best to lose the thing on day two. Tactics employed included getting the spinnaker sheet stuck over the end of the boom during a capsize in race 1, followed by further capsizes in races 2 and 3. As on the first day, the OD team were very helpful and set us some very nice courses - the leg from C to T in race 2 standing out in particular as an absolute treat. Graham and Theresa apparently managed to nosedive and capsize on that leg, which is a pretty neat trick and gives you an idea of the shenanigans going on out there.

Anyway, it became apparent that the series hung on the outcome of race 3 (as usual), in that Richard and Kris would take the trophy if they won the last race, and Helen and Paul would win it if they didn't. The latter pair neatly removed themselves from the fray by capsizing, as did Bob and Paul. So in a somewhat depleted field only Dangerous Dave and Mark could throw a spanner in the works, which they duly did by winning the race. The upshot being that Helen and Paul won the series by a single point.

Results are here

And thanks to Mike Shreeve for doing the start timing and hooter for race 2.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Marriott Bucket 2010 - day 1

Not a bad first day as it turned out. Not as windy as I had hoped it might be, but as a result pretty much perfect for the wobblier boats. Star crew of the day was Gordon's daughter, who was entirely unfazed by the big wobbly boat, the big flappy sail, the prospect of sailing with Gordon etc, but was very vocal when it came to the subject of the spider in the boat. Later heard telling her dad to go faster, she will clearly go far.

The first race was wayyyyy too long, so the early starters were totally wiped out by the time we eventually finished the race. This was a shame as we would have had a good close finish if we'd ended a lap earlier, and not got rained on quite as much either. Ah well. On the positive side there were some great 2-sail and 3-sail reaches which were pretty amusing in the gusts.

The second race involved sunshine and some really punishing close reaches where the choice of 2 sails or 3 was a tricky one to make and could make a lot of difference to your position and your verticality. We all had a some excellent blasts down these (with or without the kite) in the bright sunshine.

Then the wind dropped off for the 3rd race, which was a bit dull really.

I have no idea offhand who came where in any of the races, results are here:

Next and final day of the series is in 2 weeks time, it's still all to play for (it always is), be there !

Monday, 16 August 2010

16 Aug 2010

I did a bit of spontaneous ODing last Sunday, hence the lack of a write up for the 8th. I will mention that the wind was horribly light and variable, it was very tricky to OD, and nobody enjoyed themselves very much. I did however come to the conclusion that everyone who moaned about the course or the length of the race should do a bit of volunteering themselves when we're short handed, so they can show us how it should be done.

So back to today, and I rolled up at 10:15am with a whole half hour to spare for rigging, getting changed, launching, getting the course etc etc. And even had a bit of spare time to lend some moral support to the OD team who were once again looking for volunteers to come and help.

Ten boats out for the first race, pretty good for the holiday season, plus a nice 8-12mph wind and sunshine. So gun goes off and off we go, squeeze Martyn out at the committee boat, great start, go left, Martyn goes right, pops out ahead of us  , along with Mo and maybe a few others. Round H, nice 3 sail reach to P, dead run to N, close (3 sail) reach to B, gybe, close 3 sail reach to M, dodgy beat to Y, close reach to OL and start again. Old age and incipient senility have robbed me of a lot of the details, but I recall that Helen/Paul capsized twice for no very obvious reason, and that approaching N for the 2nd time, there was me/Paul, Martyn/Richard, Mo/Holly and Eugene/Graham all together on the run, all trying for the inside spot at the mark. Well I had just bagsied it when Martyn gybed onto starboard and took me away from the mark just enough to mess up my plans, then Eugene/Graham zoomed past on the outside, then we gybed at the mark and Mo/Holly zoomed over the top of us while we sorted the kite, and by the time we were settled, Martyn/Richard were over the horizon and Mo/Holly had got themselves quite a decent lead too. So we consoled ourselves with overtaking Eugene/Graham again and had to settle for 3rd place.

Race 2, and a different set of impromptu volunteers, but still none of the people on my mental list. So this time the line was excellent, no bias at all, right up until 1 min before our start, at which point it became so port biased you could barely cross it on starboard. So (remarkably) we got to the port end in time to be next to the pin when the gun went, tacked onto port just on top of Badders/JR and high-tailed it towards the wall. Badders got dropped out of the back door and went off left with Helen/Paul, and when I next looked they appeared to be so far down the toilet over there that they might as well go home. So we led the fleet up the wall, diligently tacking on all the shifts, got onto starboard near H and b***er me, all the boats from the LHS promptly went past ahead of me on port, led by Badders and Bob, with Graeme/Theresa and Helen/Paul up there too. Much grinding of teeth, but at least Martyn was still well behind us.

So we got past Graeme/Theresa when they couldn't lay H and generously didn't yell starboard at us but tacked off and took somebody else wide, so we got 2 for the price of one there. Then round H and up with the kite for a longish 3 sail beam reach, and not long after Helen/Paul generously didn't try too hard to stop us sailing over the top of them. So just Badders/JR and Bob/Paul ahead now as we raced towards D with the rest of the fleet hard on our heels. Well the wind is a bit shifty up by the shore around D, especially with it coming over the hill, and we noted with interest a big gust pick up Pete/JR and send them hurtling off towards B before they managed to trip the kite halyard and regain control. So on with the cunningham and off with the kicker, and the gust hits us hard so I jettisoned the mainsheet as well, but it was still too much so we went for the Aussie drop too and got back on track for D without too much of a detour. Behind us, Bob had extended a formal invitation to Paul to come in and get the kite down now please, and Paul was therefore standing in the boat with a handful of kite when the gust hit them and the boat fell over. So chalk one up to the Aussie drop there.

Round D and off on a dead run to B, again with some suspiciously iffy wind from over the hill and the entire fleet now on our tail. Pete/JR headed off towards B on starboard, but we spotted a potential bit of wind over to the left and gybed off for it. Unusually for us, we actually found it and by the time we got to B we were in the lead. Martyn/Richard had also gone left down the run and were right in the pack. A nice 3 sail reach to M followed, where Martyn/Richard overtook everything except Pete/JR, and then a beat up to Y followed by a run down to K. Off to OL and start again. Well the next lap wasn't as interesting, and somewhere along the way we were overtaken by Martyn/Richard and ended up 2nd.

For the third race I selected Graham from the (rather short) queue of people who wanted to crew for me, and spent the race trying to stay ahead of Chris in the RS300. But the reaches were too short and too close for the kite to be used effectively, although it was still great fun trying. We ended up 2nd to Martyn, either just ahead or just behind the 300 (but behind on handicap), and Bob just pipped Helen on the line by virtue of not flying his kite on the last reach to OL. Which I shouldn't have done either, but there you go.

All in all another excellent days sailing, and I've got the aching legs to prove it. Many thanks to fleet captain Richard for doing the OD all day, and the various impromptu volunteers - Jeremy Atkins, Andrew Weedon, Karen Hiles, Jason Hughes, and anyone else I may have forgotten or failed to notice. Let's hope we see some different people stepping up to the plate next time.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

4 Aug

Very good sailing indeed. Paul Roe kindly volunteered to crew, the wind entirely failed to disappear at 7pm as some suggested, and it was GOOOOOD!

The course was a motley collection of very short legs, mostly close reaches, and as we discovered, almost entirely useless if you wanted to fly your spinnaker. But the wind was glorious, coming and going in big lumps, and it was just perfect for the course. Any less wind and we'd have been plodding along the 2 sail reaches getting bored, any more and we'd have been properly overpowered and deeply unhappy. But as it was, it was great, with a lot of bearing away in the gusts and dumping flipping great armfuls of mainsheet. And there were usually a few upturned hulls to avoid at the gybe marks (of which there were 3).

In terms of actually racing, it was more of an assault course than a race course, the only way to overtake being to avoid making a mistake. This was most noticeable on the reach from X to K, which started life as a moderately broad 3 sail reach (the only one on the course) and morphed into a 'why the hell did we think the kite was a good idea?' leg, then a 'just about flyable' leg, then an Assie-drop at the end leg, and so on.

We had a good tussle with Tim Rush and Richard in Pete's boat, before they retired thinking they'd finished and we carried on (also thinking we'd finished, but up for another lap anyway).

Verdict, nice to see a bit more of the unseasonal windy stuff, and a distinctly mental course to go with it. Really good!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

1 Aug 2010

Bloody hell, it's August already, and right on cue the wind has dropped off to the sort of level that I was recently commenting that we hadn't seen much of this summer.

Well Badders and a few others were missing from the boatpark, but Mo had come back from Abersoch (2nd place, respect!) and a couple of suspiciously hotshotty types were day-sailing a nice shiny bit of kit with a view to joining up for the winter, so we still managed a decent turnout of about 8 boats.

Sadly I wasn't one of the 'decent turnout' in the morning as I was crewless and therefore in the RS300. I will digress at this point and mention that the 300 is a more interesting boat than the Fireball in light airs, largely because it threatens to fall over at the least provocation, which keeps you on your toes. But with a turnout of precisely 2 (one of whom - me - was late for the start) it wasn't exactly an interesting race and I have come to the conclusion that an 'interesting' boat in isolation is no substitute for a big fleet. Anyway, after boring the pants off me and wearing me out for the entire race, the 300 then fell over in spectacular style on the finish line in front of the clubhouse, thereby adding public humiliation to the list 

Thanks to Karen for offering to swim out and get me as I drifted past BTW - I didn't want to get my feet wet...

Back to the Fireball for the PM race, and we had a good 4 boat battle between me/Kris, Mo/Holly, Bob/Paul and the new blokes. Eventually we dropped the latter 2 (who continued to fight it out) and spent some time following Mo round the course. Twice we got past, and twice Mo came back, with a nice variety of tactical stuff on the shy reaches and dead runs. Well we got lucky at 'K' when Mo had to give water to a Solo, and on spotting that it had left a nice gap on the exit we dived through and took the lead. End result was a win for me and Kris, but it could equally well have been Mo and Holly had the Solo not been there.

Third race, we won the start and zoomed off at the pin end along the shore while behind us everyone else was tacking off. And what's this, woohoo, a big patch of wind arrived just for us, Kris jumped out on the wire and we stormed away into a lead which looked a lot like game-over for the rest of them. Sadly, when the patch of wind finally arrived at the fleet, they ended up with a lift the size of Mt. Etna, and by the time we'd crawled back over to the right hand side of the beat we were no longer in the lead and in fact were painfully close to a Solo. Booo!

Worse yet, the beat had pretty much evaporated, so we followed Bob round for a few laps and then finished 3rd across the line / 2nd Fireball / 3rd on handicap. Not brilliant, but still better than mowing the lawn.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

25 July 2010

So with about half of the fleet away on holiday, on OD duty or sailing yachts at the coast, we had a mere 7 boats on the start line on Sunday morning. But at least they actually were on the start line, as opposed to heading-towards the start line like last week.

We opted for a port tack start, which went wrong when Richard and Karen parked up on starboard by the pin, so in consequence we were last across the line. We went left, looking for the wind, but it rapidly became apparent that right was good. In fact it was one of those beats where you got lifted a lot on starboard (ie, going left), so you had to go right whenever the opportunity presented itself as it didn't happen very often. Anyhoo, we were nearly overtaken by a Fred on the way, but we pulled back a bit on the leaders and at the windward mark (C) it was Richard and Karen first, and me and Paul 2nd last, only Eugene and Graham behind us. Next up was a run to 'M'. Most of the fleet got into a you're-not-going-over-the-top-of-me mindset and went high, Richard/Karen, me/Paul and Eugene/Graham being the only boats to go low. Well we (and Eugene) overtook Richard/Karen on the run by virtue of a following gust and some cool kite playing, and all the boats which went high lost out, so at the bottom mark we were first and Richard/Karen were 2nd last (which seemed a bit tough). Next leg was to 'X', and Pete/Richard who had gone high to 'M' decided to go low to 'M', and lost miles and then when the reach closed up found it was too close for the kite. Then a quick beat to 'P' and a reach to 'N', run to 'K', reach to 'OL and start again. By this stage we had a good lead and were religiously going right as much as possible on the beat, and nothing exciting really happened after that. Although the wind filled in very nicely on the next reach from 'P' to 'N', which meant that we were charging towards the rest of the fleet who were doing 'M' to 'X', everyone with kites up, everyone on the edge of control, yeah that bit was pretty good. So we won that one, Eugene/Graham 2nd, Pete/Richard 3rd.

After lunch it was a bit windier, and although we had a decent start we were rapidly overtaken by Pete/Richard who were able to point higher and go faster, and seemed very keen on staying upwind of us and on the same tack. So we spent the entire race trying to split tacks with them and looking at their transom from various distances (sometimes needing a telescope). This time it was a beat to 'C', tricky close reach to 'B', beam reach to 'Y' (wooooo, excellent!), run to 'N', beam reach to 'T' (wooooo again!), beat to 'X', reach to 'K' (more wooooo!), round OL and start again. While splitting tacks with Pete on the next beat we let Eugene get past, but on the way to 'B' we spotted a gust building up by the wall, went high for it and rolled him just before the mark. So Pete/Richard won that one by a country mile, we ended up 2nd, Eugene 3rd. Verdict: great course but must get the boat going faster in those moderate winds.

In hindsight I should have done the 3rd race in the Fireball, but I put it away and had to sit and watch Tom break my RS300 instead. With the best wind of the day, I reckon that one would have been really good fun.

Ah well, roll on next week for the further adventures of the numpty fleet 

Sunday, 18 July 2010

18 July 2010

Yep, much as I hate to lay it on with a trowel, today was great and you missed it 

Firstly I turned up (late) to find that Badder's boat was wearing Martyn's rig, as Martyn's taking it to the Nationals. Then my luff wire wouldn't go into the jib, making us a bit later still. But it was still a surprise when we saw the red flag go up when only halfway to the start line. And a bigger surprise when, having started about 90 secs late, we looked back to see Badders in Martyn's boat and Martyn in Badders' boat and some other boats all starting even later. Game on!

So we all zoomed up the wrong side of the beat to 'N', close reach to 'K', broadish reach to 'P', short beat to 'Y', scary reach to 'T', beat to 'OL', broad reach to 'E', close reach to 'S' and start again. Up the wrong side of the beat again, and Badders and Martyn are getting too close for comfort. By the time we got to 'E' again there were only 2 boats still ahead of us - all the others had capsized or gone astray somewhere. So we watched Colin/Karen and Mo/Holly approaching 'E' and noted with interest that they'd left their kites up (we were planning on bagging ours). Colin gybed and promptly capsized, Mo gybed and then discovered that you couldn't fly the kite on that leg, and then lost a spinnaker sheet into the bargain, so we did the gentlemanly thing and zoomed off and left them to it.

There then followed a long race, loadsa laps, where we watched Martyn/Richard getting closer and my blood pressure went up, then some good reaches where got away a bit (we at one point doubled our lead), blood pressure back to normal, and we eventually ended up winning the race by about a minute, cheers cheers.

Then lunch, and 'ho' for race two. It was perhaps a bit predictable, although still a complete surprise to me, that this race also started while we were on our way to the start line. As Mo pointed out later on, it's a bit of a poor show that someone (ie, me) who lives about 100yds from the lake can't get to the start on time, particularly when he (ie, Mo) has to drive for about 5 days to get here and can manage it quite nicely thank you.

Anyhoo, once again the fleet had a bit of a headstart - 2 mins this time, and once again the forces of darkness (Martyn/Richard) were even later than us. So we all set off in pursuit of the seven (yes, seven) boats that had started on time, beat to 'N', reach to 'K' (at which point the leaders were pretty much at 'D', then 'D', beat to 'Y', awesome reach to 'H', beat to 'OL', reach to 'E', reach to 'F'. We passed a few boats on the first lap, and then had a lucky reach to 'D' where we started the leg as the leaders were about halfway there and finished pretty near their transoms. Quick beat to 'Y' where we overtook Colin/Karen and were duly overtaken by them again, and then the awesome reach to 'H'. Bob asked me later how we managed to overtake everyone on that leg, and I think the most honest answer is that we picked up a huge gust and just rode it all the way. Then another lap and a half of trying not to let Martyn catch up, where the only notable occurrence was that the spinnaker pole attacked the jib when we tacked on the last beat and poked a hole in it and wouldn't let go. Small pause to sort that out, zoom up the beat, and woohoo, we won that one too. Although I should mention that we started about 2 mins ahead of Martyn and finished only 1 min ahead, so you can see how that one should have gone.

Then Paul went home and Tom leapt aboard for the last race - a 2 horse affair between me and Tom in the red corner and Martyn and Richard in the borrowed boat corner. We weren't late for this one, and even had time to read the course, look at the line etc. Then off we go, zoom up the beat, Martyn gets there first but not by much, 'N','T','OL','K','P','S', spend entire lap looking at Martyn's transom, but not from very far away. Then round 'N' again and a lucky gust blows us into the lead while we're both putting the kite up, niiiiice, but Martyn threatens a windward attack and takes us high on the run. "OK", I say cheerfully, "we'll gybe onto port and get the kite down and then gybe round the mark". Well predictably that didn't go according to plan at all, the pole got all knotted up in the spinnaker sheet, and by the time we got onto the beat, the kite was only notionally in the bag, the sheet was all over the pole and the clew inhaul had fallen off the mainsail. And Martyn was back in the lead again, and the shortened course flag had gone up. So it wasn't looking good. So we tidied up a bit, and plodded up the RHS of the beat with the boat looking like a ball of spaghetti, and Martyn opted for the lift up the wall and the dubious benefits of the corner where 'J' lives. When we tacked onto starboard for OL, and they tacked onto port, I was sure we'd got them. We were charging along and they were virtually becalmed, and we're going to pop out ahead. 20 secs later, and we're going a bit slower, and I figured we'd get them on starboard, har har. 10 secs later, they've got a gust and they cross ahead of us, chiz chiz, another dream lies broken. But they can't lay OL, so they tack onto starboard, we go tack onto port, they cross ahead, tack on top of us, momentum does its thing and we crossed the line together but with the nose of my boat about 6 inches in front. 

In a nutshell, it was great. Class racing is alive and well and well and living at Draycote. Many thanks to the ODs for giving up their time so I could experience that, it was utterly brilliant!

Sorry Peter 

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Wednesday 14 July 2010

That one was a bit unusual. I was out there in it with Kris in the Fireball, we started about 40 secs late due to me not having a watch or any clue whatsoever, so the red flag went up while we were some distance away and sailing away from the line. Got back to the line on port tack to find a lot of boats still trying to get across the line, and this was before the squall really struck. Continuing on port up the beat, we could feel the wind strengthening and could see a wall of grey bearing down on us. Then it all went a bit wet and windy, with upturned hulls all over the place, thunder, lightening, poor visibility etc. We got to the top of the beat up by the club shore and decided to hang about a bit on the basis that (at the time) it looked as though the race should be abandoned. But within a couple of minutes it was clear that the cloud, rain, lightening etc was moving away, and that by the time the water was cleared of boats it would be pretty calm again. So we carried on, and TBH it was all pretty dull after that.

Monday, 12 July 2010

12 July 2010

OK, not as windy as last Sunday (shame!), it started off pretty well and faded through the day. But we still had sunshine, good turnout, enough wind to capsize and some interesting courses.

Race 1: roughly 10 Fireballs at the start - minor shout at Colin (he got between us and the line) not a good start, not a good first beat either, we went right, fleet went left, we came out somewhere near last at the top mark. Spent the next 2 laps catching up with people, eventually only Badders (near distance) and Pete Wood (far distance) remained. Went right up the last beat in desperation and came out just ahead of Badders at the top mark (C), wow! Kite up, charge down reach to 'N', gybe, charge down reach to 'X', somewhere pulled out a decent lead on Badders, gybe, charge down reach to 'J' and..... Hmmm, somebody has parked Pico training in the middle of this leg, possibly they are learning how to deal with fully powered up Fireballs with kite up bearing down on them on Starboard ? Anyway, person in Pico apparently attempting head on collision made unhappy noises so we bore off a bit (risky to go upwind of them with kite up - one gust and you're both toast). Wind promptly dropped, plod plod, we just got alongside Pico when we looked back and saw Badders screaming towards us, JR fully out on the trapeze, PB hiking hard, boat in a patch of water that was black with localised gust. Two boat lengths from our transom (and Pico), somebody turned the gust off, JR went in the water, boat nearly went in to windward, whole lot stopped dead, presumably to great relief of Pico sailor (and me). While they recover we plodded off and finished a titchy bit ahead of them when they found they couldn't get past the pontoon without tacking. Pete Wood had finished long ago and was halfway through his lunch by this stage. Honourable mention to Pat and Jane who manfully (and womanfully) plodded home about 30 minutes later, hopefully having enjoyed themselves and certainly getting max value for money out of that particular race.

Race 2: Distinctly less windy, somebody over the line at the start, ODs gave extra hoot and pointed in my direction, but couldn't be me as I was buried by John and Jim and making another crap start (pretty sure it was Mo actually). Gasping for oxygen at this point, we tacked off and went right while everyone else bounded off left. Got a bit of a lift towards the shore, then headed, tacked (natch) and got lifted so we were laying 'C'. At this point the entire rest of the fleet were apparently down the toilet, and although they did recover a bit towards the end, we still popped round 'C' before anyone else. Mo was hard on our heels though, and Badders not far behind him. Broad reach down to 'Y', still quite quick though, then close reach to 'N', where Badders overtook Mo, then off to 'X', then 'J', loads of kite legs and kite gybes to keep the crew happy. Beat up past OL to 'K', then kite up for close reach to 'S' and start again. We went right up the next beat, Badders went left and nearly caught us, everyone else followed us but they were all pretty close at the end of the beat. More reaches followed, somewhere before 'J' we had a personal gust and left Badders behind. Wind then dropped off hugely halfway to 'J', turning our 30 second lead into a 5 minute lead. Plod up to OL, then K, then pick up some wind and scoot off to 'S' while rest of fleet still languishing in the doldrums around 'J'. Lead now roughly 10 minutes, surely even I cannot lose from here. Wind now a bit light n fluffy, so headed left for the patch in the middle of the lake, but it eluded us. Meanwhile we were being lifted big time (good), and the rest of the fleet when they arrived at 'S' found that they'd got the lift too and could lay 'C' on starboard without tacking. Yours truly is now somewhere near 'Y', still on starboard, still being lifted and looking at getting back to the RHS of the beat without losing too much ground. Well we ended up with the fleet back on our heels again, but fortunately not quite close enough to catch us. Zoom back down the reaches for the last time, find that Pico training now parked on the 'N'-'X' reach for more instruction in the noble art of Fireball avoidance, navigate through that lot and off to the finish line. Hurrah!

We later discovered that Pete Wood had capsized en-route to 'J' at some point, which might have explained his general absence throughout the proceedings. Hahaha (sorry).

Race 3: No wind, rookie crew, we won due to Helen throwing the lead away between J and OL. Fabulous turnout of RS300s in that one, possibly more of them than all other fleets combined.

Thanks to the OD team for doing a flawless job, and to whoever was providing the weather (perhaps a bit more wind next time please). To say I am getting good value for money out of my sailing at present would be a big understatement. This stuff is priceless!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Inter-fleet championships

And another excellent day for the IFC. Enough sunshine that I got mild sunburn, enough wind to make it interesting, enough shiftiness that anything could happen; port biased lines became starboard biased, the wind went away for periods of up to 5 minutes and then came back again in a big lump, fortunes were won and lost on a roll of the dice.

And, as always, another chance to enjoy a great practical demonstration of all the reasons why you wouldn't ever want to buy a Laser Vago ever.

Here in the Fireball fleet we were a bit short of good sailors, partly because a lot of our 'team' had buggered off to the S. coast for the weekend and partly because we're always a bit short of good sailors. A rallying call brought in 8 team members by 11 am, giving team organiser Helen great cause for concern. This swelled to 13 by lunch. Overall 14 people (including Helen) took part (Paul Roe, John Tenney, Kris, Richard Botting, Mike Deane, Colin Snowdon, Richard Glen, Graham Gittings, Teresa Tonks, Alex Filmore, Graham Collett and Ian McWhinnie (on loan from the menagerie fleet).

IFC newbie Graham Gittins demonstrated some skill in everything he sailed and gets the 'unexpectedly great' award. We were also aided and abetted by crews Theresa and Kris, both of whom were new to the IFC and showed great skill at doing crew things at the front of dodgy boats while the bloke at the back got it wrong - invaluable for year round Fireballing.

Colin Snowdon gets the "Longest legs in a Pico" award.

The "How did they do that, and why?" award for the only capsize of the day goes to Richard Glen and crew Paul Roe in a Firefly - very 'tippy' was the verdict. Somewhat redeemed in the afternooon when Richard managed a second

Making good on our promise to put the heaviest sailors into the smallest boats, the best 'going sideways when trying to make the windward mark' award goes to Bob Morris and Ian McWhinnine in a Vago - checking numerous times to see if the centreboard was down (or even in the boat!)

Biggest losers award: Paul Roe (helm) and crew Graham Collett who dropped from 2nd place to 5th when tacking for the finish line. Blamed it on 'no wind behind the committee boat'.

But at the end of the day, we were all winners. Another excellent event, lots of tired children and parents and sailors. Really good, a credit to the club!

Many thanks to the huge pile of volunteers and organisers without whom it would not be possible.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

13 Jun 2010

So another day when you might have thought that the wind was too light and fluffy for anyone to have any fun, and again you'd have been wrong. I skipped the morning race to take part in a fun run and bicycle thing, so turned up at midday to find that the morning had been a bit rubbish. But the wind was filling in, so I bagsied Paul Roe, Jez went and commandeered Richard out of his Buzz, all boats now suitably crewed up and off we went. First beat was a bit so-so and heavily biased, and we all turned up at 'B' in a big lump. Round B, up with the kites, mine got stuck, rubbish hoist, ah well. Pootle down to 'M', go low to avoid the pack, reach goes all close, take kite down, squeeze round 'M', gybe, bung kite back up again. All Fireballs bar about 2 are now immediately in front or immediately behind, reach to 'P' very interesting, We sail over Colin, Mo luffs us up, somebody else sails over Mo, Badders goes low, Paul is in there somewhere and Jez, we go down the middle, end up about 3rd at 'P'. Sail past mark, then gybe late to avoid the pack - pack promptly get a bit of a puff and threaten to zoom past, then don't. Round 'S', stupid fetch to 'J', nothing interesting happens on this leg at all. Then short beat to 'OL', run down to 'T' and we start the next lap in 2nd place a bit behind Badders.

This beat really tricky, starts off as simple tacking on the shifts type of thing, we go left, get ahead of Badders, all going nicely. Then we spot Mo coming in from the LHS of the beat on port tack pointing high and going fast. Other boats on LHS also looking good, quick, go over there (on starboard), get headed, tack onto Port, Mo now 1,000,000 miles ahead but below us, Colin just about level and above us. Still lifting on Port, we can now lay 'B' easily. Mo gets headed, tacks across, now behind us again. We get headed, can't lay 'B', go on, tack, weirdly now in front of Colin and everyone else, how that happen ?

Round 'B', up with kite, halyard stuck between leeward spreader and mainsail, bugger about a bit, finally get it flying. Colin still behind us, albeit a bit upwind now, how that happen, scratch head, more wind, zoom off to 'M' with entire fleet breathing down our necks. Gybe onto port at 'M', Badders and Colin cary on down the shore on Starboard, no idea why it's completely the wrong direction, ah well. Mo chasing us hard now, the run upgrades itself to a beam reach, Colin has gybed and is down the toilet, Baddders went even further and is round the U bend as probably can't even lay 'P' from there with the kite up. Mo chases us round 'P' and fails to sit on our wind properly all the way to 'S'. One more fetch and tiny beat to go, still in the lead, hurrah!

Notice that Miracles are going up the beat pointing very high on starboard tack, so instruct crew to leave kite up for fetch to 'J' as it's clearly going to be a lot broader this time. Mo takes his kite down, reach promptly goes horribly close, we have to take kite down and end up tacking, try to put a lee-bow on Mo but he points too high for us and wriggles out of it. We end up downwind, sailing through the moored boats by the wall as Mo storms along further out. I have blown the race, tack onto Port, Mo can now call 'Starboard' and stuff me up but for some reason he tacks too and promptly has trouble getting around 'J'. By the time we get around 'J', I'm upwind and ahead and only have to get to OL, which I can lay from here. Mo tacks off for clear air, shall we tack to cover him, crew says 'yes', I say sod it, can lay OL anyway, why tack?

Wind promptly drops, heads us, Mo has tacked again inshore, loadsa wind, big lift, storms past upwind going faster and pointing higher, and again I have blown the race, this time too late to fix it. Mo wins by about 10 seconds, Badders almost creeps in too. All very close, I am an idiot, should have tacked to cover. But I still had a great race 

Sunday, 6 June 2010

6 Jun 2010

Another chapter in the sporadic text loosely titled 'Good times we had in Fireballs'...

The weather forecast suggested 8kts gusting 12, but my guess was light 'n' fluffy and I was right. Still we figured we'd give it a go anyway. Sadly I had left it a bit late getting rigged, and the gun went while we were still on our way to the start line, still it makes it a bit more interesting if you have to catch up with people  . So we got across the line just as the Freds were massing for their start and took off up the right hand side of the beat. It was a bit shifty and with hindsight the LHS was the place to be, so we hadn't really made much progress by the time we arrived at the top mark. Pete Wood had got clean away, but there followed about an hour of place changing, with us, Mo, Colin, Jez, Richard, Graham and Eugene all doing inspired and fantastic tactical stuff and then watching the opposition getting lucky and overtaking again. Towards the end of the race the wind was fading, and with it our chances of getting a decent result. We were back in about 7th place when we arrived at 'N', with only 'T', 'J' and 'OL' to go. N-T was apparently a close reach, and as I have observed before, these aren't generally very much fun if you were hoping to overtake anything (not that we were going fast enough to do that anyway). Everything ahead of us was treating it as a 2 sail reach, so on a whim we left the kite up and went low thinking we might get halfway there before having to bag it. But as luck would have it the wind shifted and made it that little bit broader, and we popped out at 'T' ahead of everyone except Mo. Much banter and jocularity at this point. Woohoo!

Gybe at 'T', kite leg to 'J'. Weirdly the wind shifted round locally and this leg got a lot closer than the expected run, Mo took his kite down, we kept ours up and it wasn't too close at all. 'Har har', I thought, we've got you now. But we hadn't - Mo took off with impressive speed and we managed to fall further behind if anything. Down with the kite, round 'J', quick tacking battle with Mo (we lost), and across the line in 3rd place, nearly pranging Fleet Captain Richard who was drifting around aimlessly in his Buzz-thingy. Excellent fun considering how little wind there was.

Crew departed at lunch time saying he couldn't take the excitement any more, so I leapt nimbly into Paul Anthony's boat for the 2nd race. This felt completely unlike my own, in fact it felt like a sack of potatoes. But as it turned out, it actually went pretty quickly. We started fairly badly, but with the wind picking up gradually clawed our way back to do battle with Eugene for a bit, before dropping them and getting onto Mo's transom again for the final reach down to 'K' and then 'OL'. By this time it was quite windy and we and Mo were zooming down the reach, but I fancied it was my turn to beat him now, so we paused briefly to bung the kite up. Only it wasn't so much 'briefly' as 'longly', and by the time we'd got it flying, Mo had pretty much escaped. Still we had an excellent 3 sail reach to 'K', went for the inshore end of the line and finished only a few yards behind Mo again. Very good !

Third race the wind had gone again and so had Paul Anthony, so I took the RS300, and the wind promptly got up, and it rained, and I parked up in front of Richard Glenn AGAIN when I dropped the mainsheet on a reach (sorry Richard). And eventually I capsized and then gave up knackered, although it had been kinda interesting up until then.

So I think the moral of this story is that you can have a lot of fun in your Fireball if there's any wind at all, whereas you shouldn't go out in the teeth of a thunderstorm in an RS300 unless you weigh a lot more than me.

Yeah, I think that about sums it up 

Monday, 26 April 2010

26 Apr 2010

Another pretty good turnout from the fleet, with something around or above 10 boats out. Good weather too, the wind a bit light 'n fluffy in the morning but rising through the day to a distinctly interesting level by the end. And the sun came out in the latter part of the day too, so we were scooting around with the sun glinting off the white horses and it was the sort of day that we pay our money for.

Being monumentally cr*p at present I was able to watch all the stuff that goes on at the back of the fleet (indeed, I was last for a time), and I have to say that hardly anyone has a problem with boat speed - when you get dropped out the back door, it's generally something you did wrong. But I am stating the obvious - the recurring theme in the furball is that pretty much anyway can get it up to the front before 'making a bit of a booboo' and losing out. It's one of the endearing qualities of the boat.

Anyway, a good start to the season, let's hope there's a lot more like that to come.

Monday, 19 April 2010

19 April 2010

So it seems as though I've been away from racing Fireballs for years, although in truth it's only been a month. Anyway, predictably my return was met by a forecast of NO WIND AT ALL, but luckily it was wrong. So the faithful all rigged up in a mild onshore breeze of about 6mph (max) and the Firebowl was GO!

Or at least it would have been 'GO' if we could have laid our hands on a hooter, but they had all been hoovered up by the open meeting and club races. Doh!. OK, Quentin's got a whistle, Firebowl is 'GO'!

So the early starters zoomed off in a fairly decent breeze, rapidly went round the flyaway mark 'T' and disappeared off towards 'E'. Later starters such as yours truly were lumbered with less of the moving air thing and the need to tack to get to 'T', and on such details do entire races turn. So the 10mins-and-over boats had an engaging race amongst themselves, while the early starters had what appeared to be an equally engaging race for the good places at the front; the chances of any of us catching any of them never looking terribly good to be honest.

Anyhoo, we (me and Alex) started with Jez/Dave and spent the entire race swapping places with them in a good natured and unstressed manner. Along the way we came across Colin & Karen with the brand new North sails, Mo & no.1 daughter Holly, and JT & Quentin. And with the exception of the latter pair, who went out the back door by going too far right on the (rather excellent) beat to 'G', we stayed with all these boats the whole way round. And we picked up a couple of Freds too, so the whole thing developed into quite a nice little race. I was able to observe the lead boats taking mark 'F' in a small lump with some shouting, this appeared to be Dangerous Dave, Pete Muggleton and somebody else. I didn't get much time to follow this little battle because Jez had just overtaken me again and everyone else was coming up fast too. This culminated in the run from 'E' to 'D' where it seemed that the whole lot (including the pair of Freds) arrived at 'D' at the same time, with the boats at the back of the pile blanketing the ones at the front and Jez calling that he needed more than the 3ft of water that was on offer. Woooo!, that was a close one, but remarkably nobody hit anybody else and after I'd opened my eyes again we all sailed off to 'P' (hideous fetch) and then OL to the (hideously biased) finish line. On the way there we discovered that it was better to 2 sail and go high into the freshening breeze than to 3 sail and go low into the header, cue victory for Mo and some grinding of teeth from yours truly :-)

All in all, a great sail, in spite of me coming in somewhere around 9th by my reckoning. The wind dropped at lunchtime so we canned the PM races, and what a good idea that was. The wind dropped to about four fifths of sod-all and it looked like one of those times when you'd actually have more fun mowing the lawn.

Still, I can conclusively report that it is possible to enjoy a decent race in winds of 4-6mph, and I'm looking forward to races 2, 3 and 4 on the 8th May.

Results here

Thanks to OD team Richard, Ray and Anne for all their good works.

PS, did anybody else notice the explosions on the farmland on the other side of the main road in the afternoon. That was weird, anyone know what was going on there ?

Monday, 1 March 2010

1 Mar 2010

So I turned up late again, and it's cold and Northerly (onshore) and windy and raining. Not quite perfect conditions, but after the last 2 months of windlessness, I'll give it a bash. Rigged up the North sails which are currently on loan to the fleet and arranged some more mast bend as that's what they like apparently. Got the the start line with minutes to spare and made a decent start given that the watch was still in my sailing bag.

Plod up the first beat to 'P', get there quite near the front and yet also quite near the back - it seems the slower boats have got faster or the faster boats have got slower. Anyway, there was Helen in my way and Bob getting away up front, with Colin/Karen out there somewhere too and Badders about level pegging, and Paul/Nick and Peter/Mike somewhere a bit too close behind. So off to 'B' then, and this was supposed to be a broad reach, but with the wind swinging to the West it was kinda close now. Up with the kites anyway, bear away madly in the gusts, luff up in the lulls, mast at a jaunty angle to the vertical the whole way down. Woohooo yeah, this is the real deal, this is what we are here for. So the further down the reach we get, the windier it gets and we arrived at 'B' just behind Bob as a gust came over the wall. I tripped the kite halyard so I wouldn't get blown over in the no-bearing-away-now-we're-nearly at-the-mark zone, sadly Bob was just going past B and the crew was just coming in when the gust hit, and there was one of those splashy moments. But they had the decency to drift on past the mark, so we were able to dive through the gap, re-hoist the kite and then gybe, and off we go to 'M'.

Memory not being as good as it was, all I can tell you is that we spent the whole of the next lap chasing after Colin, whilst letting Peter & Mike and Badders & JR get past us and fending off Helen & Paul, but down at 'M' a lap later we we could still have decimated 70% of the fleet with one well aimed hand-grenade. So it was all to play for up that last beat, and we utterly failed to overtake any of them. The only saving grace was that Peter & Mike went the wrong side of 'Y' on the way to the finish, so had to retire. Colin/Karen 1st, Pete/JR 2nd, Me/Paul 3rd.

Being unable to blame myself for our lacklustre performance, we changed back to our old Speed sails for the afternoon. Although it's worth bearing in mind that Colin and Karen had won whilst sporting a dacron mainsail of dubious parentage which was made in Canada and given to Karen by some South Africans a few years earlier. I very much approve of people doing really well on a shoestring budget, so I can only grind my teeth very quietly when they beat me.

Anyway, on to the afternoon race, and the OD team had wised up to the windshift and set a course which looked to be just about all good. We had to start down between J and the wall, which had prompted some comments in the morning to the effect that all those mooring buoys in that corner were a bit of a hazard. I had previously gone on record as saying that it would be fine, surely nobody is going to run into them if they are looking where they are going. So it came to pass that while Paul was tying a bit of string onto the jib halyard in case the proper stuff frayed through, I was distracted and ran over one of those big yellow floating potty affairs and dented my boat .

Ah well, off we go, still no watch, pretty much last to the first mark ('D') and then something which looked on paper like a rather dull broad reach to 'Y'. But no, the wind had just picked up and from our vantage point at the back of the fleet we could see that it was a bit on the close side now, and the entire fleet was going all over the place as the gusts tore across the lake. So we threaded our way through the carnage, went for another aussie-drop round Y, a bit of wobbliness at the gybe, and then a very excellent reach to 'H'. Wooooo, that one was a real treat. Then a quick beat to 'S' and what should have been another 3-sail reach to 'K' but for some reason it was too close for the kite so we all chose to 2-sail it. Gybe at 'K', through OL to 'J' and start again. Somewhere along the way the feeling returned to my fingers and I got the hot-aches, so rather lost interest in the race for about 10 minutes. During this time Pete & JR capsized, but managed to come back and overtake us again. Peter & Mike had established a whopping lead by this time, so we contented ourselves with sailing over the top of the (somewhat overpowered) Colin & Karen and just failing to overtake Pete & JR on the final leg from 'K' to 'OL'.

So another 3rd place for yours truly, but a great day on the water. I don't know quite what has happened, but the racing (which has always been close in the middle of the fleet) has become really close at the front too recently. No, hang on, it was always close at the front, but the gap between front and the middle tended to get stretched out. What appears to be happening is that the middle of the fleet is catching up with the front. Anyway it's a good thing, personally I'd rather lose a close race than win a tedious procession any day. Although I wouldn't mind winning the close stuff a bit more often too  .

Sunday, 14 February 2010

14 Feb 2010

Yes folks, it's another of those posts where I tell you how much fun we had today, if you don't like hearing about it then I suggest you stop reading now.

So this was week somethingorother of the Winter Super Series, and Martyn was away so there were 2 lovely first places up for grabs. Although Pete says he beat Martyn a couple of weeks ago, so it's clearly not impossible to win when he's around, just very difficult.

Pre-race preparations, and I came prepared to change the jib halyard (which bears all the rig tension, remember) as it had been breaking up, one strand at a time for the past 6 weeks. I spent most of those weeks saying how there were still plenty of strands left and it would last a bit longer, but my policy of reducing the rig tension to eke out a few more weeks was messing with my pre-bend, and the twanging of breaking wire was messing with my head, so now was the time to replace it. I came equipped with the jib halyard off my old mast, which is a bit ancient, but it looks OK so what the hell. Arrived late, but it took a mere 15 mins of coaxing to get the old one off and the new one on, and then ho for the changing rooms to find that I had left most of my winter stuff at home. Back to boat (rigged by crew), launched just as the 6 min gun went, left watch in changing rooms, hit line about 45 secs early, went for port end, got luffed and shouted at by fleet capt Helen so tacked off and went for the starboard end as being probably a better bet for those of us with no watch. Gun went, Helen was called as OCS, we tacked onto starboard laughing like drains and off we went.

First beat wasn't great, lots of shifty stuff, we went right but it was pretty clear that left was the best idea when cap'n Bob zoomed round the windward mark (D) in first place with most of the rest of the fleet hot on his heels. Quick reach down to 'X' (I think) and another beat up to 'E'. We took a few places back and were following Pete who was in 2nd place, both of us on port tack and us to windward. Then Pete decided to tack and then decided not to after all (apparently in case he collided with us, which did seem kinda likely at the time). So he slowed down a lot as a result and then sailed on into a patch of no wind. We tacked off, caught a lovely gust and were in 2nd place around 'E', leaving Pete back in about 5th place. Then a nice reach over to 'H', gybe and down to 'T' and then 'J'. We got in front of Bob somewhere along the way and were in the lead in a small way by the time we rounded 'OL' for the start of the next lap.

Then it all went a bit pear shaped. We decided to go left, but Bob was trucking over the top of us, pointing about 10 degrees higher and going just as fast. And Pete went right, so we decided to go right to cover him, cos if you let Pete go off by himself upwind you end up looking at his transom. So we went right and got a lovely lift which put us in the pound seats for 'E'. Meanwhile the rest of the fleet went left, which looked OK if you wanted to go to 'D', but we were going to 'E', so that was fine. Then Paul pointed out that we were, in fact, going to 'D'. Hmm, that wasn't a good moment. By the time we got to 'D', Bob was over the horizon and both Pete and Colin were ahead of us. So we did our best for the next few legs, and ended up ahead of Colin and just behind Pete as we went round J. Noticing the flag was up we left the kite up for a 3 sail reach to the leeward (shore) end of the line (onshore wind), whereas Pete took his kite down for a 2 sail reach to the windward end of the line. If taking the kite down was a big mistake, then not sitting squarely on our wind made it worse. Pete had a bit more wind and a shorter distance to travel, but we still got across the line first. Well 2nd really as Bob was finished and ashore by this time, but in front of Pete anyway.

Came ashore, big smile on our faces, that was an excellent race.

So PM then, and we turned up far too early for this one and I got cold while hanging about. Watch still in changing room, but we had a decent start and ended up in 3rd place at the windward mark, with Colin in the lead, Bob 2nd and Pete and JT not too far behind us. On the reach down to 'T' we pulled Bob in a bit and were threatened by Pete. Then a beat to 'S' which didn't change anything too much, then up with the kites again for a close reach to 'H'. This one was pretty good on account of it being fairly close and fairly windy, we ended up dumping handfuls of mainsheet and going quite fast. Bob went low, so we steamed over the top and took 2nd place, only got to catch Colin now.

By the time we'd done the broad reach to 'J' we were a bit closer, but Colin kept his kite up after J and we took ours down on the basis that it would be too close to fly it to OL. But when we got to OL, it was apparent that Colin was going to 'K'. Poorly Paul was convinced that 'K' wasn't in the course, so we nipped round OL and started up the next beat, while the rest of the fleet trotted off to 'K' and sniggered. I guess my brain had frozen over, as by the time I worked out that we were wrong, it was too late to do much about it. So rather than sail round by ourselves for no result, we sadly had to retire.

Out there in the race where people who had brains were still going round, Bob caught up with Colin and then lost out to to him again. Then Pete caught Colin and then lost out again. Net result, Colin (crewed by Karen) won the race.

So in conclusion a great time was had by all, and if I had a brain I'd do a lot better