Solo News 148 2011

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14/8

 

Just three for Sunday’s race due to the Cycle Race blocking most roads in the area. I watched the cycles whoosh past in Leatherhead and they looked a lot more comfortable going round the bends than the lead cars!

 

For the record Quentin won from Dave Lawton and Dave Clark – series results are on the web.

 

Reflections on the summer so far...

 

It always seems to me that when Trysail finishes and the Wed evening series is done it’s almost the end of summer, while in reality the summer series and Saturday sailing continues to the end of October. That said it’s a good time to relect on the season so far.  As a fleet we’re continuing to grow and I’m hoping that we can keep attracting new members to the club and new sailors to our fleet.  Jim’s Wed blog last week mentioned goal setting – for the new sailors that’s important. I see huge improvments in many of our newer sailors – not just in our fleet but generally. That’s achieved by practice, by asking when something doesn’t work and by setting small goals so that you can see and feel the progress.  Initially just getting on the water regularly is enough but practice and goals might be something like:

·         Sail at least once a week (That will make big improvements)

·         Complete a race

·         Complete a race and finish on the same lap

·         Sail in force 3 or above without capsizing
Right from capsize more quickly, right without getting boat full of water...

·         Finish ahead of another boat (initially perhaps on Saturday on handicap, then in class)

·         Start in clear air

·         Reach the first mark ahead of ... (whoever your rival is)

·         Complete a lap ahead of ...

·         Complete the race ahead of ...

 

And so on with small gains and achievable progress. If anyone wants coaching sessions I’m happy to do coaching after the Sun races or by arrangement on Sat now that the Tues evenings are done. It’s better to learn good habits and then practice them than having to unlearn something. I’m on vacation 2-9 Sept and I’m on duty on the 11th but after that I’m open again.  It’s great to see the cub boats being used – hopefully we can encourage these to become regular solo sailors.

 

 

More advanced goals might concentrate on one aspect like gybing in heavy weather or tacking more efficiently. I can definitely say that the more I practice the luckier I get – what that means is that the more I practice the better I get at quickly assessing the right thing to do so I can take advantage of whatever happens.

 

I know CJ has a goal of beating me in a race and he’s getting close – he’s already done the ‘Start ahead’, the ‘Ahead at the first mark’ and the Ahead for a lap so it’s only a matter of time but he’ll have to work at it!

 

This Wed was interesting and showed my poor preparation! I was over the line at the start – that’s sort of OK – if you aren’t over occasionally you aren’t starting close enough – but I ducked back to the right side and then couldn’t remember if I had to go round the end – so I did that as well to be safe.  Since I’m responsible for the sailing instructions there’s even less excuse for me not knowing that I didn’t need to go round the ends (unless code flag ‘I’ was up and it never is in club races but you may find it at open meetings). I wonder how many of you have actually read the sailing instructions and the racing rules. Do you know what flags we use to change course, or postpone? (One of the lasers didn’t spot the course change on Wed.) Do you always check the course board on the committee boat just to be sure (if there is a conflict it’s the committee boat that counts – sailing instructions again.

 

Course change is signalled by Flag N (chequered blue and white) with three hoots. (Abandon that race). Then the flag is taken down with one sound signal one minute before a new start sequence with the new course shown on the course board on the committee boat.

 

Anyway I started late which gave me a chance to chase and compare where I gained and where I didn’t gain. There were two other solos, M<ark Phillip I think in a club boat and Roy.  Against the club boat both Roy and I were clearly pointing higher – I knew from recent coaching sessions that when we say sheet right in going to windward a lot of people don’t realise how far to sheet in. I’ve several times said sheet in, yes, more that that, now really pull it in..., If you don’t get the sail right in you cannot sail close to the wind and so you sail a lot further on each tack. (Experienced sailors don’t just go faster, they sail shorter distances).

 

Against Roy it was interesting. Up the first beat I got within about 20 yards, within touch but clearly behind. On the reach (light wind) I don’t think I gained at all.  On the run I seemed to creep up (I think less kicker, probably less centreboard, more heel to windward to reduce the wetted area and hence drag) although Roy was also using the opportunity to watch me from close ahead and try to do the same. On the beat when the wind was steady I don’t think there was much in it, but as the wind shifted (and it did quite a bit) I seemed to creep away and in the horrible patch near mark 3 (in an Easterly) I seemed to get away. I wasn’t pointing higher but I think I accelerated quicker in the gusts or coasted more in the lulls.  Talking to Roy after he said that he was trying to copy me (flattery always welcome) but in particular coasting a bit in a lull to wait until the boat has slowed down a little before assessing if it really a lull. The issue is that if the wind switches off it will seem to come from straight ahead – don’t immediately think it is a header (and tack or bear away) but let the boat glide a bit to see if it is only a lull. If you bear away too soon you lose ground to windward and you slow the boat even more by using the rudder. If you feel a header and more wind then probably tack, but most times be gentle, if it seems like less wind and header wait a bit to see if there is really any shift. In light weather if the wind frees ease the sheets and let the boat accelerate a bit before pointing up. Make the sail work efficiently first so if the tell-tales say the sail is stalling ease it briefly to get airflow (and hence) power and then gently luff back to close hauled sheeting is as you do.  Just as a decrease in wind will feel like a header, an increase will feel like a lift until the boat has accelerated. Boat speed really matters until you are sitting out – at that point it is hard to go much faster so pointing higher starts to be more important. Don’t neglect pointing close to the wind, but get the boat moving first.

 

Gareth

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