Wednesday, 16 December 2015

A game of two halves Jimmy

After weeks of too-much-wind, not-enough-wind and too-few-centigrades, we finally had summat you could sail in. Now admittedly the bush forecast was a little out, it was probably a bit over 20mph in the morning, and it didn't drop to 10mph until about 2pm, but it was still mostly sailable and not too cold either. 

Race 1 - M, B, D, P
Of the 12 assembled Fireball sailors, 2 stayed ashore waiting for less wind and 2 more had a swim by the start-line and then came back (I think). That left 4 boats to start the race. Of those, Bob & Paul capsized with the kite up at the end of the run, had a swim, destroyed their mainsail and came back in. Helen & Paul had a swim up near A, got the mast stuck in the mud, and came back in.Peter & David had a swim halfway down the run, broke a trapeze wire and came back in. And that only left yours truly and Poorly Paul to saunter round for the allotted hour and then finish. No swimming included smile emoticon
The morning course (basically a rectangle, beat, 2 beam reaches and a run) would have been great in a F3, but was just hard work in the conditions we had then, and offered no 3-sail reaches at all. Boo!

Race 2 - B, OL, X, P

In the afternoon we had a triangle with a kink in it, with a really nice broad reach from B to OL, which was clearly going to be just awesome - unless the wind dropped. Which it did.  But it did boast a closer reach from OL to X too, so we still had a good time, and a fetch from X to P which was useless.

The assembled boats (now down to 4) managed all this without any incidents, although Peter & Dave took a commanding lead while I was trying to get the (not particularly) fast-pins to come out, and went on to win by miles.  We came in 2nd, with Helen & Paul not so far behind us and Bob & Paul not too far behind them.
Incidentally, I have worked out why the water-level in the lake is still quite low - there's at least 1000 gallons of it goes home in my sailbag every week, bloody drysuit is more of a water accumulation device, everything I own is now soggy.
Also I ache all over. Aargh!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Tales from the reservoir

Sunday promised to be interesting, but when we arrived it looked a bit flat.  The 6 boats rigged up anyway, and trotted off to the far side of the lake for the start, where it was at least a bit more lively.  Course: Orange (near M), H, S, T, D.  Stand-in super-crew Richard​ was time-keeper, so I asked him how long we had to go and he said "15 seconds", so we threw in a quick gybe and (being at the port end of the line), went for a port-tack flyer which neatly crossed most of the fleet and probably looked like we'd planned it.  We then carried on to the wall, which looked OK, but we then spotted that the orange mark was a long way from the windward shore and we had gone past the lay-line already.  This little faux-pas left us mid fleet, and Peter​ & Steve​ promptly zoomed off for a decent lead while we got the through the traffic.  Traffic part one was Helen​ & Paul​, who stayed with us for a few laps until Paul went water-skiing with the kite up on the approach to H, shouting summat about "pull the mainsail in".  He then rejoined the boat, but the whole flappy mess promptly charged past H on the wrong side and disappeared off towards F, never to be seen again.  Traffic part two was Colin​ & Karen​, who regrettably made no mistakes whatsoever and were still ahead of us at the finish.  Bob​ & Paul​ had an exploded kicker and retired, leaving JT & Quentin to fight it out with a slightly soggy Helen & Paul for 4th and 5th places.

Ho for race 2 then, and we were still on 22'6" as the wind looked almost non-existent from the shore, whereas it was in fact quite a bit windier than the morning and really wanted 22'4" - a fact we didn't deduce until way too late to do anything about it.  At the start we were luffed to what felt like over-the-line by Helen & Paul, but apparently we were OK.  We then proceeded to go hard left and overstand the first mark 'Y' from the opposite direction to the AM race, this time pinning Peter & Steve below us so they had to go too.  This gave us a little lead at the windward mark, and we chucked the kite up and tore off to S, quick fetch to H and then beat up to T.  We were still in the lead, so went high, then bore off to put the kite up for D, whereupon Peter & Steve promptly 2-sailed over our wind and proceeded to sit on it while getting their kite up. Doh!  They then sailed off, leaving us chasing them for the rest of the race.  An honourable mention goes to John Tenney and Quentin​ for gaining on us during the latter stages, but we ended up 2nd anyway.

Back to the bar for a debrief + find out what wisdom Richard had gained from sailing with me.  "Don't over-stand the first mark" was all he could think of...   But a very nice day's racing, not too cold, not too windy, some chunky gusts and good long courses with sexy 3-sail reaches.  Definitely worth getting out of bed for, and many thanks to Richard for manning the front-end of the boat!

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Worlds - Friday

We knew it was going to be windy on Friday, you could hear it in the trees on the campsite. So we went out to the start line with only one item on the agenda: Getting round in one piece. To this end I pulled every bit of depowering string at my disposal, and it still wasn't enough. So although we were going pretty fast upwind, we weren't pointing high enough or indeed going fast enough to get a decent placing.

It perhaps didn't help that our first tack after the start revealed a certain deficiency in my garments. On starboard tack, the waves were crashing over me and being shrugged off by the 'December spec' kit I was wearing. On port tack, I noticed a certain chilliness when the first wave hit, and a massive dampness after the second. Could it be that I had not zipped up the lower part of the drysuit? Ah yes, it could. So we parked up and sorted that out while a few more boats went past. Then round the top mark and off down the run, where the pole once again refused to go out without a big fight, which is just what you need while surfing down the backs of waves while doing about 20 knots. We fixed it though, and had some epic moments, including gybing halfway down. Then another struggle up the next beat and onto the triangle bit, with the 3 sail reaches. Only we didn't fly the kite on the first leg as it was too close and too scary. Out at the gybe mark, the trick was to make sure you gybed while surfing down the back of a wave, whilst picking your way through the upturned boats and avoiding the bloke on starboard who was planning to gybe a bit later, ie maybe Tuesday when the wind had dropped. We declared a full 'code brown' for this bit, but remarkably we pulled it off. We then left the kite in the bag for the 2nd reach.
Then one last slow beat, one more run, and a final short leg across to the finish line. We crossed it, congratulated each other, and promptly capsized. It came up well enough, but we decided that enough was enough, so joined the little procession of boats that were heading for the shore. The 2015Worlds was over.

And finally, a great pic of me, occluded by Paul of course, but definitely there...

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Worlds - Thursday

The day off on Wednesday was pretty windy, but we spent it wandering around Port Merion, so it didn't matter. More importantly, the forecast for Thursday was also for fairly copious amounts of wind, so we did a bit of de-powering of the boat before we launched. Old jib, smaller kite, but I kept the new mainsail because it seems to like windy weather. I also bought a spanner along and tightened the centreboard bolt that had allowed the board to rise unexpectedly offwind yesterday. Out at the start-line, there wasn't anything like as much wind as I had expected, so I reversed some of the de-powering, and off we went.

This being a new and slightly weird mainsail, it generally takes me a little while to find the sweet-spot that gets the boat motoring upwind at a decent speed. This time it came good quite early on, and we rounded the windward mark somewhere in the top half of the fleet and took a lot of boats on the following run and next beat. Then came the reaches, which were great fun, although the centreboard started coming up again. Another beat and a final run ensued, and we then decided to drop the kite for the short leg to the finish. At this point we had a minor disaster, with the spinnaker sheet looping over the end of the pole, so we parked up at the bottom mark and sorted it out. This lost us 2 places, and we finished just ahead of Pete in 32nd place (I think).

The wind, which had been rising through the morning, was now getting a bit fruity. I dropped the rig tension off and dialled in a bit more pre-bend, and tied the centre-board down again. We then went on to make a great start at the pin end, whereupon the entire fleet just sailed away from us. It's generally quite hard to tell how you're doing on the first beat, but this time it was clear that we were almost totally down the toilet. The problem with this, apart from the obvious one, is that you are now sailing around with the more wobbly contingent, who tend to capsize in front of you and generally contrive to slow you down. This was all very painful. Anyway, on the 2nd lap, the spinnaker pole refused to go out and it became us who were slowing everybody else down, so we called it a day and retired. Badders, in contrast, was having a great time in the top 20 boats until another unfortunate spinnaker-pole / clothing incident occurred at the Gybe mark, so he retired too. This only left Colin and Karen to fly the Draycote flag, which they did with no incidents at all (that I know of).

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Worlds - Tuesday

Y and Y did a nice write-up of today's racing:…/Gul-Fireball-Worlds-at-P…

We had another day of mixed fortunes. We had a decent enough start in the first race, but it was a general recall. We then missed the re-start altogether and crossed the line (at the wrong end) about a minute behind the rest of the fleet. Luckily it was quite windy, so we overtook a lot of boats that were upside down and quite a few that weren't, and ended up just inside the top half. The centre-board had taken to sliding up on the fast 2 and 3 sail reaches, which is a massively bad idea when you're hurtling down the back of a wave whilst trying not to lose the crew on the lumpy bits. I tied a bit of string to it so it couldn't come all the way up after that.

For race 2, I sailed doggedly up and down the start-line so the buggers couldn't go without me, and wound up near the (favoured) pin end with about 90 seconds to go, so we parked up and watched the hotshots doing the clever stuff about 3 boat lengths ahead of us. There was no room to get in amongst them, so we hung back and followed them across the line. We were in dirty air but it was pretty windy by this time so there was plenty for everyone. We then charged off to the left hand side of the course, and upon tacking found that we were on the lay line for the windward mark. We must have gone round in the mid 20s, and although we lost a few places to passing hotshots, we also took a few back from people who were as surprised as us to be up there, and some who capsized in the (frankly mental) lumpy water on the reaches and runs.

We did a lot of excellent surfing down the backs of waves, buried the bow a few times, and Paul came back and sat in my seat on the runs, which made steering a bit tricky at times. The 2 sail reach was very hard work, with the crew unable to get low enough to gain traction without risking being knocked off the boat by the next lump of water. In the first race we spent ages chasing Badders (and never caught him). In this one we didn't see him at all, although he was apparently somewhere in the vicinity until he had an unfortunate spinnaker-pole / buoyancy-aid interface issue leading to some swimming and a massive fall down the results table. We were in a respectable 26th place, which I traded for a 27th rather than play silly buggers with the next place boat on the final leg. A great days sailing, and now a day off to recover.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Worlds - Arrival

Here we all are in sunny Wales, where it has rained solidly on me all throughout setting up the boat. Catching up on the news, Badders has changed his mast due to the old one being dodgy, and Nick & Karen won a prize. Miles Thomas is here, but not Richard B (back problems) or Pete S (too rainy). Tomorrow we're doing the first World Championships races. Yay!

Sunday, 16 August 2015


Worlds News - part 1. The advance party of Pete & Jez and Nick & Karen have (hopefully) landed in Wales and formed a beachhead. They'll be sussing out the terrain and demoralising the opposition for the rest of the week, until the reinforcements arrive in the shape of Richard & Andrew, Paul & Andy, and me & Paul. And Colin. We then execute our master-plan for world domination. Bwahahaha.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Drifty again

Course:  P, X, OL, T, N, Gate
Wind:  Rubbish, vaguely Northerly

As it turned out, today was even less windy than the forecast suggested. 5-6mph would have been way better than the 0-5mph we ended up with.  However, 6 Fireballs took to the water while another 3 boats stayed ashore for bimbling - two of those being hit by a crew shortage. In an attempt to help, I was crewing for Richard​.

What little wind there was was on-shore, but for some reason the OD had chosen to park up in the middle of the lake, resulting in a long tedious drifty beat to the start line.  Would we make it there on time?    Well, no as it happened, but we weren't as late as some.  When the gun went, Jane & Pat​ were already a decent way up the beat thanks to their 3 minute headstart, Mo​ & Holly​ were vaguely in the vicinity of the line, we were a bit further back, and everyone else was behind us.

We all drifted in an Easterly direction for a bit, there being wind on the water in Toft Bay, but we were headed and decided to tack.  We had been practising the roll-tacks on the way out to the start and had it down to a fine art.  (a) Tip the boat to leeward a bit, (b) tiller away and both sit heavily on the windward side, (c) wait while boat leans into and through the eye of the wind, and then (d) pump upright by the helm as he goes to the new windward side of the boat.  Only this time Richard had arranged his legs wrongly, and we replaced (d) with '(e) capsize'.  Naturally I climbed somewhat belatedly over the high side when I heard the splash, and naturally the boat turtled.  So we pulled it up again, with me avoiding getting my feet wet and Richard splashing around in the water like a sick whale - all of which must have taken at least 2 minutes.

By the time we were upright and pointing in the right direction, Mo & Holly were long gone, but we were still just ahead of Paul​ & David​ and everybody else - which gives you some idea just how slowly they were all going at the time.  The wind filled in a bit and we plodded around the course, boat still full of water, catching and overtaking various Freds, while manfully staying ahead of various Lasers and Solos.  The starboard tack 3-sail reach to N went very close, then after we'd finished it, turned into a beat and then a port tack reach.  We were becalmed again when we arrived at the gate, where a kindly OD took pity and shortened the course for us.

Final result, Mo & Holly first, Jane & Pat 2nd, us 3rd, Paul & Dave 4th, Helen & Paul 5th.  Bob & Paul had packed up when they suspected a 2nd lap was on the agenda.

Ashore then for lunch where the wind disappeared altogether, so much chatting and poking about with boats ensued. And then, like a one-man blast from the past, Steve Digby turned up wanting to crew Fireballs again like he used to back in the day.  I am sure he'll be in high demand - and I'll be circulating his details on the next fleet email.  Welcome back Steve!