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.