Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Extreme Pursuit Racing

May Day pursuit race: F4-6, Course OL, S, N, C, F
So that was pretty epic. It probably shouldn't have been, the course was nothing to write home about - an olympic triangle in disguise with a wing mark that was way upwind of where it should have been. And the start was a joke - well mine was anyway - about 2 minutes behind Martyn & Richard, who were themselves at least a minute late. So you can see that it didn't bode well, and we were a tad downhearted as we crossed the line some time after the Darts had gone with the board showing "next start 33.5".
Anyway, we trekked up to the first mark - OL, and we already knew that the dead run back to S was too dead for comfort, so we gybed immediately and headed out to T before gybing back. We were promptly rewarded with a very tasty broad reach, and arrived at S with less of a massive deficit than we started with. The next beat was up to N, where we gained a bit more ground on M & R, and when we arrived it was just in time to see them performing a 360 for touching the mark. Well it was kinda windy by now, and when they gybed they ended up doing the other sort of 360 - the one where the mast goes under the boat. So we trotted off down the hideous close reach to C, overtaking a Dart somewhere along the way.

We're going high here - didn't dare bear away yet!
Quick gybe at C, up with the kite, and of course the leg to F is too broad to be exciting - not far off a run really. So we went low towards the shore and then came back up for a bit of speed towards the end, and that was the end of the first lap.
We then did the whole thing all over again, and it started to get properly windy around the end of the 2nd lap. Coming up the beat from F to OL I dropped the jib bars right out - we were already on 22'4" rake and some extra pre-bend - and somewhere along the way we overtook the other Dart which gives you some idea how fast we were going at that point. M & R were coming back at us though, you're never safe when they're around, particularly when the wind gets up.

Beating angles pretty poor, but wow that was fast!
Back down the run, back up to N, and we were halfway along that leg to C (now both unpleasant and enormously hard work) when I deduced from the penetrating cold wet feeling that I had forgotten to do the drysuit right up. Doh!
So we fixed that after the gybe at C, went low again, and shortly after that I wished we hadn't as the wind went properly mental, resulting in a barely-under-control hyperspace reach with the bear-aways giving us some (frankly unwanted) views of the shrubbery on the shore. Thankfully we avoided ending up the bushes and pulled out a better lead on the Dart, plus for an added bonus M & R had disappeared from my rear-view mirror by virtue of being upside down near C. I assumed the hideous reach plus mental wind had claimed them, but apparently they'd run out of the good stuff and gone in to windward.
One more epic high-wind beat, and then it started to calm down again. Jib-bars back in, Fevas all overtaken, just the Fred to go. But this was a quality Fred and we'd given it the best part of 8 minutes headstart, so I wasn't too surprised when the finish boats loomed into view before we got anywhere near it.
So that was more a battle against the elements than a proper race, but it was pretty awesome nonetheless, and a salutary reminder that the Fireball is the best boat you can be in when it gets properly windy.

Martyn & Richard
With thanks as always to Malcolm Lewin for the pics.