Monday, 2 May 2011

When Fishing boats attack!

So after about 6 months of no wind, we eventually got a nice F2-3 for the bank holiday pursuit. I was still at home 45 minutes before datum, but raced over to the club, rigged up, corrected the crew's mistakes and was at the start-line with about 10 mins to spare.

We sussed straight away that the port end of the line would be favoured, as it was looking difficult even to lay the red buoy on starboard. So, reasoning that the beat would be hugely one-sided and would favour port tack, we went for a committee boat end start on port - taking the hit on position but being assured of clear air on the long port leg to 'S'. Oddly enough, this ploy actually worked and we were nearly first around 'S', only losing out because we had to tack and Martyn didn't. Dead run to 'J', where we regained the lead for no obvious reason, then a really nice 3 sail reach all the way to 'A'.

This was followed by a beat to 'P', also pretty one-sided but requiring more tacking, and we were still in first place when we got there. Badders & JR overtook Martyn & Richard up that one, I think.

Dead run down to 'M', where Martyn came back at us a bit, and then start the next lap with the beat up to 'S' again.

By this stage Martyn/Richard were dangerously close, so a short way in we crossed them on starboard and then tacked to cover for the long leg on port. This worked very nicely, they fell away to leeward and we got a nice lift which put us about 30 secs ahead.

Then it all went pear-shaped. Still on port tack we observed a fishing boat coming up the beat on starboard (yeah, I know, but you get the picture) on collision course and travelling pretty fast. We shouted quite a lot and he shouted something back, but kept on coming. We shouted some more, but the moment came when I had a choice of putting the nose of my boat through the side of his bow, or opting for death-by-tacking. I chose that latter on the basis that there's a lot of aggro involved in having the boat repaired, but with Paul flat out on the wire before the tack, it was an instant capsize with Paul under the sail and me on the centreboard trying to explain the 'power gives way to sail' rule to the fisherist and get the boat up again at the same time.

Well we got it up, and Paul swam round and got in, and we took off again having lost about 3 places and with the mainsheet bridle around the tiller, so had to pause to untangle that too. NOT HAPPY! But we were surprisingly close to the boats who had overtaken us, even after all that mucking about, so I guess we must have had a pretty good lead before our little incident.

We got round 'S' just ahead of Badders and a good few boatlengths behind Martyn, and thus it remained all the way to 'J'. Gybe round 'J', set the kite, and seeing as how Martyn had gone low, we went high, just skirting OL to port and still finding time to explain to the passing 29er that they hadn't and perhaps they might like to.

A good reach followed, where we overtook Martyn, but got luffed up a bit and ended up right on his transom again at 'A'. Then he and a few others went off on starboard towards the wall and we and Badders went the other way on port. Five minutes later it was looking difficult to tell who had got it right, but we got headed and tacked onto starboard, before realising that the finish boats were coming our way. The finish line was heavily biassed in favour of the right hand side of the beat (see footnote), so that one little tack had let Badders and a 29er through to cross the line ahead of us. Anyone on the left hand side of the beat was down the toilet, including Martyn and the (formerly) 2nd place Solo.

So we ended up 5th after the 29er retired, which wasn't bad after the swim, could have been so much better of course but that's life. At the end of the day I'd rather have a good fun race to look back on than a pot on the mantelpiece, so I'm happy anyway.

Thanks to Niall, Nick and Pat & Jane for doing the difficult OD stuff.


A few observations then:

1) If you have a biassed beat, the finish line will probably be biassed too.
2) It was observed that the race might have been finished a bit early - personally I have no idea as my watch wasn't running.
3) When setting the pursuit race course, try to avoid having two beats which start and/or finish in close proximity, as you can't tell which boats are on which beat when you are finishing them.
4) These travelling finish lines are very difficult to get right - I'd go so far as to say 'impossible' in some conditions.

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