Friday, 26 February 2016

More capsizing!

My time on the water seems to be reducing every week at present. Last week I only got one race, this week not even that much...

There were 13 Fireball sailors on-site today, so enough to put 6.5 boats on the water. However, one person didn't arrive until midday, two were on the committee boat, and another 4 decided it was too cold and stayed in the wet-bar. That left a meagre 3 boats doing the race.

Wind: onshore and chilly F4 ish
Course: H, X, J, A, P, C, K, Gate

Off the line we were immediately blown into the long grass by Peter & Dave, pointing higher and going at least as fast as us upwind.  Note the lack of leech tension on my boat (778) compared to the others, maybe it was down to that.

Paul & Paul made a decent fist of the first bit of the beat, but then went off even lower than us and ended up way back at the top mark. Peter & Dave had a bit of a lead on us by then, but we clawed a bit back on the run down to X. We then bagged our kite before gybing, whereas they left it up and promptly capsized even before they had a chance to find out that the next leg was too close for it. So I did my little 'Happy day oh happy day' song again and hared off to J, quick gybe, and up with the kite again.

The next leg was a pretty good 3-sail reach to A, kite up, zoom past clubhouse and committee boat, where's Malcolm and his camera when you need him. Then a beat up to P, another nice 3-sail reach to C, and a 2-sail reach back to K that I can only describe as a bit tricky. 

Armed with a decent lead, we started the next lap and were still well in front at H and X. However, the wind dropped for us on the way to J, and Peter & Dave rapidly arrived with their own personal gust to sit just behind us at the gybe mark. OK, up with the kite for another blast down to A, and this time it was even windier, so a whole lot of fun. We were photogenic as hell, straight past the clubhouse, surely Malcolm would snap us this time and win prizes for awesome pics...

Anyway, round A and P&D were too close for comfort, but there's probably only 3 legs left, just got to keep it together for another 20 mins or so. P&D tacked, we tacked to cover them, Paul left the jib cleated and we promptly capsized. He then fell in the water and left yours truly to do the centreboard thing, then climbed back in and said he was too cold to carry on. Apparently he'd been in the Bahamas for the last 2 weeks, 30 degrees in the shade etc, and didn't much like the 3 or so degrees stuff that had just poured into his wetsuit. So we wobbled off back to the shore and packed up. Peter & Dave carried on round to win, and Paul & Paul had 'a bit of trouble' on the 2-sail reach, but ended up a well deserved 2nd place.

For the record, I was wearing a drysuit and 2 thermal layers plus winter gloves and a balaclava and a wooly hat on top of that, and I was absolutely toasty the whole time I was out there. It wasn't even all that windy, well nothing like last week anyway. Just wear everything you own and get out there, days like this are few and far between and too good to miss.

Bring a hardy perennial crew with you though.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Last minute stuff

"Don't try any last minute...stuff", said the assassin Mr Teatime to the figure of Death, while waving around something dangerous and pointy.

"I am last minute stuff", replied Death.

After which it all ended rather badly for Mr Teatime, if memory serves correctly.  You want more?  go read the book - The Hogfather by T. Pratchett, he wrote some sublime prose, whereas this is just a second rate sailing blog.

Out on the lake, nobody died, it was more a case of wounded pride and some bruises to the crew, but it was undeniably a bit last-minutey at the end, and every bit as exciting.

Race 1 (and only)
Course:  Ridiculous Triangle Thing (near N), T, E, G, Gate
Wind: 15-20mph from the SW
Lake: Divided into 2 by the Laser event at the top end

Five boats pulled their sails up for this one, although only one had to rethread the main halyard first, a result of Poorly Paul's exuberant efforts immediately before going on holiday 2 weeks earlier.  Another Fireball was present in spirit in the form of Bob and Paul on the committee boat, and Jane and Pat were fettling their boat on the bank having just had it back from the menders. Iain was kindly standing in for PP this week at the front of my boat.

Out at the start we rapidly discovered that it was not a 22'6" sort of a day as we had supposed, definitely more in the 22'4" region - ah well, too late now.  To compensate, I moved the strut forwards an inch, wanged on the cunningham and let the jib bars go up and out a bit.

Once again, the gun went before we'd got the course, so we went and read it off the board before setting off in pursuit of the rest of the pack.  We could have opted to just follow everyone else, but you know how that turned out last time.  Unusually though, there were no Lasers at all and only a couple of Freds in the vicinity of the committee boat, which made a nice change.

Zoom up the beat then, more reaching than beating, but it was good enough that we overtook JT & Quentin pretty rapidly. Round RTT and a short broad reach to T which we could have kited, but nobody else did so we didn't bother either. We ducked inside Colin and Karen for the gybe at T, which would have been a dubious call for water if I'd actually made it, but they generously allowed us through anyway. Next up was a 2-sail reach to E, which was bloody hard work but we did at least overtake Paul & Paul (to leeward) on that one. A quick gybe at E, and there in the near distance were Peter & Dave capsizing while launching the kite. Oh happy day, oh happy day etc.

I should mention at this point that the leg from E to G was kite-able, but E is in a little bay and if you bunged the kite up straight after the gybe, you would have got it set just in time to accelerate into the bushes on the bank.  So we all hooned out from the shore on 2-sails before putting kites up, and that worked well all round (except for the aforementioned Peter & Dave).  On lap 1 we took the lead there, and still had it on lap 2.  Both times the kite took an age to set and was a bit 'meh' when it was up, although probably better than not having it at all. On lap 3 it all came together very nicely and the boat achieved hyperspace speeds for about 60 seconds, before we had to drop it again.  This is where you miss having a decent sized leg, B to G would have been the dog's bollocks, but E to G, reduced by a bit of 2-sailing out from the shore, was just not enough. Still, you takes it where you can, and that bit was bloody excellent while it lasted.

Behind us we'd had Colin & Karen and Paul & Paul for the entire race, and we didn't seem to get much of a lead on either of them.  Now Peter & Dave turned up again, and simply demolished us upwind, pointing way higher and going at least as fast.  They just beat us round RTT and were still just ahead at T.  After a decent gybe, we were able to sail over the top of them, but they stayed firmly on our transom as both boats charged across the lake on the 2-sail reach to E.  That leg was always a bit epic, and we had good value for money out of it this time too.  You ride the gusts, dumping the main, bearing away wildly, then coming back up as the boat settles in, and the thing is doing about mach 5 and you glance back to see the other boat is still there, going just as unfeasibly fast as you, and still unaccountably upright too.  Yeah, epic.  Round E, and we came out from the shore but it was kinda windy, so we didn't get the kite up. Further on, we should have done, but we didn't and they didn't, and we figured maybe we could sit on them for the last little bit of beat up to the Gate.

Round G, adopt beating position, but now with centreboard further down and jib bars further in. We tacked onto port in unison, and I guess they thought we'd drop down onto them and be screwed, but we held a course almost as high as theirs, with the result that they just pulled gradually ahead but we stayed to windward and they couldn't tack.  So we hit the lay-line, then went past it a bit, then tacked in unison again onto starboard, but we could lay the committee boat now and they were higher but slightly behind. All we had to do at this point was stay upright for 30 seconds and cross the line, whilst going as fast as possible...

What actually happened was that we came level with the transom of the committee boat, a big gust arrived, the jib wouldn't uncleat, and we capsized.  And this left just enough room for Peter & Dave to charge through the gap and win the race.  Iain fell onto the forestay, the boat went turtle, and then Colin & Karen zoomed past as well. Well we got it up again, with some sterling swimming from Iain to get the bow round while I cowered on the centreboard. Then we plodded over the line for 3rd place and limped home with one trapeze line trailing in the water.

You might think that this was all a bit disappointing, but in fact I enjoyed it enormously.  I have always said that I'd rather lose an exciting race than win a dull one, so I could hardly complain about this one, could I?

Many thanks to Iain for doing the bounding about and swimming, not to mention the rethreading of the halyard.  Next Sunday I will be screwing the jib downhaul block back onto the foredeck after it came loose when Iain hit it, but how hard can that be?