Sunday, 11 August 2013

Sunny and Stupid

Back at dear old Draycote again, where I turned up early to finish reassembling the boat, and still ended up tightening the kicker shackle with pliers on the shore as the 6 minute gun went. Out at the start, we made a decent fist of getting away given that we didn't have the watch running, but had a slow beat and were somewhere near the back at the first mark (B). Still, overtaking is what we do best, so we bunged the kite up for the leg to M, and found that it would go up, but only just far enough up that it dragged in the water. Get it down while rest of fleet sail past, drop the rig tension off, re-hoist, turn up at M in 3rd-last place. Gybe at M for broad reach to X, but spinny-pole ends are as Iain likes them, and Paul not happy. Gybe takes forever, and Paul moans like mad. Zoom down towards X, catch up with Bob & JT, then they promptly get away again and Helen & Paul and Colin & Karen catch up too. Round X, dead run to H, Helen goes past us to leeward, now 2nd-last. Paul gets kite down at H, takes ages, moans like mad. Beat up to P, some big windshifts, overtake Bob, Helen, Colin and Badders. Remarkable. Just need to catch Mo & Holly and Peter & Iain. Nice reach down to T, up through gate, and off we go again for the 2nd lap.

After that it got less interesting. We overtook Mo & Holly somewhere along the line, caught up with Peter & Iain, but just couldn't get past. We ended up in a little tacking battle, where we managed to break the cover and claim the favoured side of the beat, but it can't have been all that favoured as they just scampered away and ended up beating us by a decent margin.

Back ashore then, lunch, rebuild spinnaker pole to be more to Paul's liking, afloat and at the start by the 3 minute gun. It's windier than the morning race, plus gloriously sunny too, and we've raked back to 22'6", which feels good. Got a great start in that one, but we're still behind Peter & Iain at the top of the beat (B). Up with the kite, which was now working fine, and chase them down to J, gybe and hoon off to G on a very acceptable 3-sail reach, taking care at the corner of the wall where it can be a bit shallow. Still 2nd at the mark, but I think something bad happened to Peter & Iain somewhere around there, as we ended up zooming up the next beat to P neck and neck with them, both on Starboard, with us marginally upwind.

At the top of the beat they had pulled ahead and tried to tack across our bow, but the lead wasn't big enough and we were forced to tack too, to avoid holing them. They did their 720 while we scampered off around P, 3-sail reach to E, gybe, 3-sail reach to T. We had a pretty good lead at T, but regrettably I allowed the boom to go in the water while Paul was getting the kite down, and we capsized. It didn't take long for us to pull it upright again, but the boat was full of water and by the time we'd got the kite kite down we had Peter & Iain going round T on our outside. They had much better speed than us, possibly because they weren't carrying half a ton of water in their boat, but I kept them from tacking for the gate until we were both over the lay line, reasoning that the later I left the tack, the more water would have gone out of the bailers.

After tacking, Peter & Iain were upwind of us and overlapped, and they thought that this qualified them for water at the gate buoy.  I however reasoned that this was a windward mark and therefore that they shouldn't have any, particularly with me having a boat half-full of water, so I forced them the wrong side of the mark and they had to come back round for it.

We then had a cracking lap where they chased us around instead of vice-versa and Mo & Holly started catching up too. Peter & Iain snuck past us down at G, we tacked off, they tacked too, and we had a repeat of the previous lap going up to P, except with us to leeward this time. Remarkably, we went faster than them, pulling away with better boat-speed in the rising breeze to establish a decent lead at P. A couple of nice close 3-sail reaches later and we sailed up through the gate to take the win by a decent margin.

Unfortunately, I later discovered that my notions regarding mark-room at a windward mark were based on a misunderstanding of a previous version of the rules, ie a load of old cobblers, so we retired from the race. For those of you who didn't know already, the rules say that you get mark-room in the normal fashion if you are on the same tack as the other boat, and that you can't claim any if on different tacks. I'd somehow got the idea that the latter clause applied to same-tack boats, hence my feeble performance at windward marks for the past 4 years or so. Ho hum.

Anyway, a fabulous day's racing, and well done to double race winners Peter & Iain. We'll be back for another round next Sunday, arguably with a better idea of the rules.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Nationals Pt. 3

With no wind on Thursday, we spent the entire day sitting about on the off chance that it would fill in, but sadly it didn't. So that meant an early start on Friday and three races.

The cat woke us up in the middle of the night again, prompting the long walk to the toilet block to relieve my bladder. Cat is sociable and comes along for the exercise, waiting until I am out of sight and then haring past me at top speed, although he has occasionally run into guy-ropes. But once in the block, he won't necessarily follow you out - Elaine once found him lying on his back in a shower cubicle at 3:30am with his legs in the air - we don't know why.

Friday dawned, and I could again hear the wind whipping about in the trees on the campsite, which didn't make me particularly happy at the thought of doing three races. But down on the beach the wind was pretty light, and the sun was out too. We put the big kite on, partly due to the lighter winds but mostly due to the fact that the normal (almost brand new) kite had a rip in it. Sigh.

Out at the start, the wind remained pretty moderate and we had a good first race, reckoning a 13th place when we finished. We then pulled the pins out and went to 22'8", and scored a rather less impressive 22nd-ish place in the next one. Then another good one, roughly 15th place at a guess (and I can only guess as the results haven't made it online yet). This was the sort of sailing I signed up for, sunshine, moderate winds, and a bit of tactical sailing. Not the huge waves and big winds of earlier in the week.

Then pack the boat up, bring the trailer round, tow it off to the campsite, back to the clubhouse for the prizegiving, much cheering and clapping of the winners, and we got a mug each. Another night of dubious comfort in the poxy caravan, and then the opportunity to spend 5 hours on the M5 getting it all back home.

Back in dear old Rugby the sun was shining and the wind was blowing, but having spent the entire week sailing I couldn't really expect to get to sail on Sunday too. So I took the boat back to the club, where a decent fleet of 9 Fireballs were out racing. The wind promptly dropped and it then rained on me for the entire time that I was reassembling the boat, so it's clearly not just Looe that gets iffy weather for Fireball events.

Fair play to the UKFA and Looe SC, who did pretty much all it is possible to do to make the event work, and should be proud of what they achieved. If we'd had the sunshine of the week before it would have been perfect, but you can't dictate the weather, so we had a mixed bag of sun, rain, clouds, a thunderstorm, big winds and massive waves instead. I would have like to have done a few gate starts, particularly on day 1 when we had more general recalls than I care to remember, but maybe these have gone out of fashion in recent years.

Next year it is in Tenby. Will I be going?  Hmmm, not sure. Ask me again in 2 months time when I have recovered from this one.


Since I have returned home, it appears that a number of you have read the blog and that more people are interested in the cat's exploits than mine. So for the benefit of these people:

We took Jasper (aka, Mr Fluffy) with us, rather against my better judgement, on the basis that two weeks is a long time to leave him home alone to be fed by neighbours or locked up in a cattery. Week one was spent in a house by the beach in Saundersfoot, where the weather was fabulous. Jasper went for walks on the beach on his lead, which he dislikes intensely, and I made sure it was always somebody else on the other end of it as there is something distinctly wrong about being a bloke with a cat on a lead in public. Particularly a cat which tends to fall over at random intervals to have a chew at the harness.

Jasper said he liked the sand but was unsettled by the big lumpy crashy thing at the far side of it.

For week 2 of the holiday, given that we were spending it in a caravan we were never going to be able to keep him in reliably, so we gave him a few walks on the lead to acclimatise him, then put on the GPS tracker collar and let him roam free. The promise of a bit of tuna every day kept him from straying too far, although he seemed to expect it at some very odd times of the night too. He also liked to accompany any member of the family down to the toilet/shower block, and would go in with you and explore - much to the amusement of the other campers.

Travelling in the car he just lies down in the footwell and falls asleep, and on arriving back home trotted straight round to the neighbours to complain about his treatment and claim 2 weeks worth of the chicken chunks she gives him. He then came back home and settled down for a bit of a nap in his special place:

A great cat-bed. When he's not there, it washes clothes too