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!