Solo News 11 Sept 2011

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OK - Holidays over, schools are restarting... time to get sailing again!

 

Anniversary series this week - Dave Clark is leading the personal handicap series.  Also Dave Lawton is up to second in the Saturday series. The Solo fleet is on the move! The main series is close at the top with CJ now only a point behind me, but anyone starting now with some big fleets will get lots of o-league points to catch up.  

 

 

Pontoons

I've been asked to suggest that people sailing in the morning AND the Back to Backs could make life a lot easier for those who only sail one race if they could keep at least one pontoon clear for those who want to take boats ashore. If you are going out again it doesn't matter if you use a different pontoon to the one you launched from.  Since it tends to be the front of the fleet who do all the races it can make it hard for those finishing later to get their boats out. I know there is a slight issue in that some pontoons are a lot more boat friendly than others but we should be able to keep one clear for those who want to de-rig.

 

On a slightly related theme... We discovered a new sport while on vacation - I call it musical boats... sort of like musical chairs with a nautical theme. It goes like this.  In Greece you usually moor stern to a quay - round up, drop anchor and reverse back to the quay tying up stern to the key a few feet off the edge (with a landing plank) keeping the boat straight with tension between the anchor chain and the stern lines. That's sort of OK, but tricky when you have to slot backwards into a narrow gap between two boats with a cruiser that doesn't steer well in reverse and there's a crosswind... . Then, once the space on the quay is nearly full people start coming in to the pontoon that sticks out at 90 degrees. Of course they also go stern to but now the ones nearest the quay are putting their anchors down over where your chain runs. Then someone figures out they can sneak one more boat into a gap and lays their cable out... but they didn't line up quite straight and their cable crosses yours... Come morning someone tries to leave - pulls the anchor in but gets stuck where someone else's cable goes over the anchor. Now they may or may not be able to reverse back into the gap they came from and the musical boats starts trying to remember and figure out who's cable is on top... It pays to be almost last in (first out) - but that means the trickiest last gap to get into and risks no spaces left. We only had to do one massive shuffle. The last boat has been screamed at by everyone as he laid his anchor on top of about 6 other boats cables. The funny thing is he was the one who got completely stuck the next morning and had a dive boat trying to free his anchor (after getting it up past ours) while the rest of us got away. (Oh and all the boats being charters speak different languages - we had German, Italian, Rumanian and us Brits - in a Greek harbour...)

 

 

Race cards

One more bit of admin – Please put your cards in to enter... if you don’t you can do it later with £1 to the lifeboat but it makes the Race Officers job a lot easier if you follow the rules. Even more so on Saturday when I sometimes get results with no names. I do know most people’s numbers but it makes it so much simpler if the race sheet has the names.

 

Last Sunday

Sunday was quite busy - not a vast racing fleet but with the morning races, B2B, RYA Level 3 course and the juniors there were a lot of boats out with many thrills and spills to keep the safety boats very busy. I think we should recognise that the club solos are not really up to sailing in more than force 4. They are fine in lighter weather but I don't think they are up to really windy weather unless sailed by very experienced sailors. Over the winter I hope to do some work on them to make them better for next year (but that means I'll have to get my garage cleared out to make some room). It's a sad fact that it is harder to sail club boats in a blow than our own because our gear and better sails allow us to de-power more effectively. We (committee) are thinking about how to better manage club boats - any ideas let me know. Currently several members of the fleet try to keep the Solos going but with increasing numbers and use it is tricky.

 

As Race Officer I had a good view of Sundays racing which showed how quickly Paul is making his new boat go. CJ was able to stay close and sometimes sneak through downwind or rounding a mark but in the end Paul had the edge on boat speed - sufficient to win the second Back to Back on handicap. There's been a debate on the solo class site about how to play the main upwind - ratchet block, downwards jammer or upwards jammer. All I can say is it is personal preference, but the key is keeping the boat flat with the sail tight in most of the time. I spent last week on vacation sailing a 42' cruiser and teaching my son-in-law the basics of helming. It was interesting how many times I had to explain that we're always making a compromise looking for something between pointing as close to the wind as we can, still going fast, and not being too over-powered. Of course in a keel boat we have to let it heel a bit before the lump of lead on the bottom really does much, but heeling too much still slows you down and is uncomfortable. As we were sailing the last leg back to base we had two reefs in the main but full Genoa while the nearest boat to us still had full sail. He was heeling like mad and fighting to keep control, we didn't heel as much, we were able to see and use the wind shifts a bit better and overtook him. While that doesn't apply quite the same in a dinghy there is a similarity - being overpowered and heeling is bad. Matching the power from the sail to keep the boat flat is required. The more efficiently you can do that by flattening the top of the main and making the leech free (by lots of Cunningham downhaul) the more efficiently you can sail. Yes you need to lean out if you can, but sailing the boat accurately is even more important. Whatever mainsheet system you use has to let you play the main in the big gusts before the boat heels too much. You have to be comfortable steering accurately while leaning out (another compromise – maximum hiking but still with comfort and control). My preference is a downward jammer but it has to come out really easily when I need it. I don't like ratchet blocks because I find they are less precise when reaching. Others (CJ) likes the ratchet and does not use the jammer much, Peter Halliday (and several others) love the 'upside down' cleat pulling up to jam and down to free. Find out what works for you!

 

Laser Open 1 Oct

I still need a few more people to confirm theatre availability for the Laser Open (Sat Oct 1) - I think we have a kitchen crew (Merv organising) and a Race Officer (Mike Jones) but we still need more safety crews and ramp helpers.

 

See you soon

 

Gareth