Solo News 21 Feb 2010

 

 
This was the fourth in our Open mini-series and we saw a couple of visitors arriving early with their boats. Unfortunately they were put off by the pack ice near the clubhouse despite there being a nice breeze blowing over most of the reservoir. We were able to pull a safety boat through the ice showing it to be quite thin, and the race team then used the safety boat to break up ice near the shore to allow launching. Paul and I moved our boats round towards the far Solo/Laser ramps which were clear of the ice. The concern was clearly whether there were any floating icebergs which might scratch/dent boats (especially shiny new ones). However after a short postponement we were able to launch and found that there was no ice on the far side (concern that there could be ice there which would drift into the race area). By the end of sailing even the clubhouse bank was ice free and most of the time the rain held off as well – we didn’t get the bright sun forecast earlier in the week but overall a pretty good sailing day.
 
 
So, a fairly cold start with a bit of drizzle in the air but a welcome force 2-3 with the odd decent gust making a welcome change to the recent light airs. With the senior citizens electing to stay in the snug comfort of the Solo rest area and a few more people put off by the ice we started with just 5 Solos. The start was slightly starboard biased so there was a struggle to control that perfect spot close to the committee boat. Arthur came within a whisker of shutting everyone out but Gareth just managed to luff and slow down enough to get above and behind Arthur and still bear away and avoid the committee boat to get to the line on the gun. (Missed the engine on the committee boat by about 6 inches). I’ve mentioned before that being able to sail very slowly without getting stuck head to wind is a great advantage coming up to the start. To bear away when the boat is almost stopped you need the centre-board up a bit (to move it back so making the sail tend to push the bow round the board a bit more) and you have to heel to windward (to move the pressure from the sails sideways and make that also twist the boat) preferably with the kicking strap quite loose as well. You can’t easily do it with rudder alone. So from the start Arthur was a boat length or so down the line at reasonable speed, Gareth right at the committee boat but not up to full speed – very even with the rest of the fleet in close pursuit.  The starboard start and attempted shut-outs continued in the B2B races this time with Gareth taking the leeward role and trying shut out the fleet in the last race. What was really good to see was that everyone understood the rules and didn’t try to barge in but worked on boat control to get out of a potentially tricky position. Quite impressive and good close starts in all the races.
 
The races all featured long starboard tacks which gave some good chances to look at the differences in technique or boat setup. Several times Gareth, Arthur and Tony were all in clear air on long starboard tack legs. Gareth definitely points higher but doesn’t go as fast as Tony who definitely goes faster but lower. Arthur is in between, loses a shade of ground to windward but is a shade faster through the water than Gareth, but consistently higher than Tony who is definitely faster but doesn’t point. This probably reflects Tony’s wavelength rig as a sea sailing setup where more power is needed to push through waves because pointing high on the sea can find the boat getting stopped by waves a lot more.  Not sure what the difference is between Gareth’s and Arthur’s rigs. In the stronger gusts upwind Gareth and Tony gain on Arthur probably just by being heavier but downwind Arthur gains on Tony by being lighter. Gareth seems to be able to gain height without losing much speed once the wind gets up while Tony foots very fast when the wind is lighter. Very interesting to have long legs where we could really see the difference. Mostly the wind on Sunday varied between sitting on the side decks and being just overpowered.
 
More lessons in ‘stay out of trouble at marks’ or perhaps it should be ‘plan ahead and make sure you know where everyone is’. Tony had slipped ahead of Gareth on the beat in the first back to back when coming to the windward mark there were also two RS200’s and Tony got trapped outside two boats allowing Gareth, from just behind, to cut inside and sneak through. Tony probably should have slowed down as he got to three lengths and dropped in behind the RS’s so Gareth would have been forced outside him or to have also slowed down.
 
We also had the interesting situation of a starboard hand windward mark after a short leg dog leg to mark X between 1 and F (to keep well clear of the ice in the first race). A starboard hand windward mark is tricky. If you are coming in on starboard you have no rights to tack in the way of a port tack boat coming in. Equally if you are coming in on port you have to give way if the starboard tack keeps sailing he doesn’t have to tack. Generally it is a cat and mouse game of timing your approach. Coming in on starboard you want to force the port tack boat to tack then when he does you tack round the mark. Coming in on port you want to be able to duck under the starboard tack and still be able to squeeze up to the mark. He can’t tack in your water, but if you go behind him you might not make the mark. Sometime both boats slow down slightly! Usually whoever is planning ahead best wins.
 
I have to say a few words of encouragement to Paul who had one of those days when things didn’t go right including a swim on the beat after losing a fight with his main jammer and a swim coming in at the end on his approach to the pontoon. We all get days like this and it was great to see him smiling after it in the warmth of the club-house. Great to have to have you in the fleet Paul – now the water has welcomed you as well!
 

Race 1 (Class race)
Race 2 Back to Back 1
Race 3 Back to back 2
Gareth
Gareth
Gareth
Arthur
Tony
Arthur
Tony
Arthur
Tony
Dave Thorpe
Paul
Paul
Paul
 
 

 
 
Overall mini-series it''s still Gareth from Rob Wilder from Arthur but Tony can romp up the table if he does the last three races on March 21.
 
Overall winter O-League Gareth edging ahead of Arthur with these two well clear of the pack but Gareth will miss at least one more race which might let Arthur through again, but with the O-League it is getting hard for either of us to score many points now.  The race for third remains too tight to call.
 
In the late winter short series it’s again Gareth from Arthur with Tony Penfold now moving into third place ahead of Malcolm but with four races to go nothing is decided.
 
Of course the back to back races also count towards the handicap pm series which is also very tight at the top with Gareth sandwiched between the RS200s of Peter and Mike Curtis. We have had a lot of incredibly close results this series – in the first B2B on Sunday Tony was third on handicap one second ahead of the Paul Browning (RS400) who was one second ahead of Julie and Tom in their RS200 and just behind them Arthur and Kevin Pearson (Laser) tied for 6th. Seconds matter – 5 places separated by 11 seconds corrected time – if you could save one second on each tack that’s more than enough. We had 5 marks, and two laps so again one second gained on each mark is about all it takes. It isn’t only about going fast it’s also about not losing time in every tack, gybe and mark rounding. It’s a bit like imagining a relay race – every changeover is critical – think of each mark like the changeover in a relay. Sure you need your runners to go fast on each leg but often the team who makes the best changes wins.
 
We also saw Graham Hughes putting his boat back on the water and giving it a good tryout between the races. Hopefully he’ll be back racing us soon.
 
Next week we’re back to the regular start sequence – class race as always Handicap then Laser then Solo with the Back to Back races just being one start for everyone.
 

 

Gareth

 

4859