Solo News 18 Apr 2010

18 Apr

A rather small turnout on a beautiful warm Sunday, but with almost no wind. Several people decided to watch and sunbathe rather than race but Gareth, Malcolm and Frank took to the water for the first of the Anniversary series.
 
Gareth took the honours finishing ahead of all the lasers with Frank again showing his light weather skills catching several lasers and leaving Malcolm some way behind. We started two minutes behind the lasers (no ‘fast’ boats) but by the first mark Gareth had passed all but one of them!
 
 In light airs the Solo is very effective – sit a bit further forward (not too far – I sit on the traveller/thwart) and heel the boat to reduce the area in the water. I sometimes lift the rudder so that only a small part is in the water (careful with that if any wind comes up) because it gives a better ‘feel’ and also reduces drag slightly.
 
In the back to backs there was a shade more wind although the direction was somewhat variable. Paul Playle joined the fun and two Solos battled it out with the lasers - winning line honours in the first race but being overtaken by the leading laser in the second where Gareth and Paul had a very close race. Paul got ahead but was stopped by one of the huge shifts right by the windward mark allowing Gareth to creep past only for Paul to gain at the start of the next leg. On the very short leg between F and 9 what had been a reach became a beat, a need to tack and then a reach back on the original tack. Somehow with the two Solos fighting each other a laser slipped past!
 
 
Very light conditions require absolute concentration – the tiny zephyrs of wind can come from such different directions that keeping the sail working efficiently is really hard. I wonder if everyone uses all the ways you can see what’s happening. These are some of the things I was using on Sunday.
 
·         Boats in front (look at their racing flags/wind indicators) and their sails
·         Boats behind – watch for gust from behind, anticipate what is coming next
·         Water – look for patches of wind on the water
·         Wool on the shrouds to show lower wind direction
·         Tell tales (wool on the sail) to show airflow over the sail (not great when really light)
·         Leech streamers (ribbons on the back of the sail) – can indicate you are getting a flow over the sail
(I used the top and second batten streamers a lot on Sunday)
·         Wind indicator at the top of the mast.
 
It is critical that your wind indicator is properly balanced, otherwise heeling the boat to reduce the wetted area (make the waterline narrower) will cause the wind indicator to flop to one side. Several time on Sunday I was using the leech streamers more than the wind indicator, and the wools on the shrouds were showing a very different wind to the wind indicator at the top. It is important to use ALL the available tools and keep trimming to catch the tiniest puffs – although the actual speed is very small the percentage changes are huge. With our full length battens it can be hard to ‘read’ the sail because the shape is forced into it by the battens. With a soft sail you can more easily see if it is not filling – that’s why all the extra methods are so important. In the past I have even seen non-smokers ‘light up’ to get a better wind indicator with a bit of smoke!
 
Possible training/buddy race (please reply)
If the weather is suitable are you interested in making Sunday a training / buddy race rather than regular class race?
It only really makes sense if some of the new members or people who want some coaching are coming so we can help them get up to speed – I realise it might be better to do this later in the season once everyone has started sailing and ‘found their feet’ again. I’m happy to run it but equally if it would work better on a Saturday or in a few weeks time when everyone’s got going again please let me know. This particularly applies to our new sailors Lorraine, Nikky, Peter R. but happy to do it if we have enough people coming with a spread of skills/speed that the coaching element works
If the weather is not suitable (force 3 max) we’ll just have a regular race and arrange some separate coaching.
 
Sunday is the first opportunity this season, the next would be in a month’s time on 23 May (can’t be a 1st or 3rd Sunday in the month as those are Pursuit and Anniversary series and it has to be a day that there isn’t a nearby Solo Open meeting that the keen types might be going to)
 
Let me know what you think – I’m happy to run some Saturday coaching if you think that would be better (or some Tues evening coaching for that matter.)