Solo News 20 Feb 2011

What a difference a week makes... Gentle wind and not too cold (at least when sailing)
12 Solos on the line this week.

Shifty NE wind always enough to keep moving, but never enough to sit out.  Mostly sitting on the thwart straddled round the mainsheet – I decided to not switch to stern sheeting but try a different experiment this week. (With stern sheeting you have an open centre of the boat – much more comfortable in light weather.) Normally in light weather I stand the mast more upright by moving the foot back a hole and re-adjusting the forestay/shrouds to match – as usual forestay barely tight at extreme back of the gate with no chock and shrouds just coming tight at extreme front of the gate. Then I chock hard in front.  This week I left the mast heel in the extreme forward position but steed the mast up a bit by checking one in front one behind. I’ve read about this but never really tried it before. Trickier getting the right shroud slackness because you are setting up mid-gate so you need to set the shrouds slacker than usual at front of gate. – Reason for trying is that the new boat will allow the heel to go further forward so I thought I’d see how it worked in lighter weather. Still want to reduce rake, but do it by chocking mid-gate (I have two chocks so used one in front, one behind). The boom was noticeably higher than windy setting so I think that worked, and the boat seemed to go OK!  Next time in these conditions I’ll try this setup with stern sheet as well, but I don’t like to change two things at once.

Without the stern sheet the centre of the boat is a lot more crowded – I straddle the sheet which tends to put the main jammer just where I don’t want it! It’s OK when there is some wind, but in the lightest bits when you want to get further to leeward it gets very uncomfortable.

At the start I committed a cardinal sin – I was late! I had decided I wanted to start windward end so I could tack right as we seemed to be in a slight header off the line. Those of you with compasses can spot the header if you note the pre-start heading on starboard a few times. I use landmarks round the lake. I wasn’t all that late, but definitely second rank – with Mervyn right behind me. Twelve boats makes the line a lot more crowded than we are used to and messes the wind up a lot more as you approach so you need to be there a bit earlier, but avoid ‘barging’ – I tried to come in more close hauled to shut out the boats coming in on a reach but found so little wind that I couldn’t get there on the gun. The kids these days are all taught to stop on the line and the ‘pull the trigger’ a few seconds before the start. I think that works better in some boats than others, Solos take a bit longer to get up to speed again so I was trying to arrive with more speed – the start tactics are very different with a large fleet than with just a few boats.

Anyway Mike Lipscombe was ahead of me, Mervyn directly behind so I tacked off to get clear and I hoped find a lift. I didn’t want to get separated from the fleet so I came back quite soon on the first small header. Paul went harder right but I was concerned that further up the beat there was less wind to the right and I wanted to stay in touch with everyone else. By tacking back on a small header I closed the gap on Mike and was able to cross him a few tacks later. He briefly got back past but I could see some wind ahead and left and once in it I crept ahead again. Close to mark two the wind got very shifty and I had to make several tacks to try to stay in phase with the wind – (my usual lecture about tacking practice paying off – I probably made at least ten tacks on that windward leg – you can do the sums, but every yard not lost by making a good tack multiplied by ten soon adds up). At the windward mark I had about 20 yards on the fleet which was enough that I made it down the reach to mark one clear while they were in a bunch and dog fight.  After I had rounded one and set off on the run I looked back hearing some loud insistence on water at the mark to see a swarm of Solos. (What is the right collective noun for Solos? – Swarm, fleet, herd (no surely not) Flock (they did look like sheep where one has found a way out of a field) – I’ll stick to swarm).  There were for sure six, but maybe more, with I think Malcolm handily on the inside hoping that it was physically possible for all the others to give him room.  I think I had it easy after that as clearly the fleet were getting in each other’s way a bit and I was able to keep pulling away. It looked for a while as if Paul had a safe second, but no, looking back from the finish there were four Solos abreast and it looked like Mervyn or Mike had the advantage.  Behind the gang of four (Malcolm, Mervyn, Mike and Paul) were two more (Roy and Chris) in close company, and then two more (Peter C and Frank) then two more (Peter R and Martin) all having their own close race. A great sight – the biggest fleet and closest racing (even on the RS200 day). We should also mention Andy Turner finishing his first race (after breaking his tiller last week).  Well done Andy – now you just have to keep practicing!

On the final short fetch to the line Mike L showed tactical awareness and freed off to aim for the outer committee boat end rather than staying close hauled and sneaked ahead of Mervyn by a short head. (The hoots were all but simultaneous). With the overall o-league scoring that gave Mike a great haul. Full results are on the web.

Class race results:

1.       4859 Gareth

2.       4647 Mike L

3.       3457 Mervyn

4.       5071 Malcolm

5.       5046 Paul

6.       3174 Roy

7.       2042 Chris

8.       4073 Peter C

9.       3365 Frank

10.   3142 Peter R

11.   3854 Martin

12.   2052 Andy

The senior citizens team clearly showing that their layoff hasn’t slowed them down!

Lovely to see lots of boats in the Back to Back races as well. With seven Solos in B2B1 and six in the last race.  The B2B results are slightly confusing because our esteemed commodore forget to take the RS200’s times so they all got average point results. However as far as the Solos go we had two more good close races with the results showing how close the mid fleet are to each other .

B2B1            B2B2(Solo extracted)
1 Gareth        Gareth
2 Paul          Chris
3 Roy           Roy
4 Mike L        Paul
5 Chris         Malcolm
6 Malcolm       Peter R
7 Peter R

The positions don’t show how close the finishes were. In B2B2 there were only 22 seconds between Chris (2nd Solo) and Malcolm (5th Solo).

I am away this weekend – could I ask for volunteers to write the blog – whoever wins please send me a write-up of your experience... I will edit and add my ramblings.

Early days, but the forecast looks nice at the moment.

Gareth