Sorry no news last week - things got very busy at work and I just ran out of time! Anyway we can have a bumper two week edition this week.
One quick note - please get on the water in time to get to the start line. We won't always be kind and ask the RO to postpone to let you get there. It really does pay to be in the start area seeing what the wind is doing well before the start.
Great turnouts the last two weeks with none bots on the water and at least one Solo sailor on duty as well - we're so close to double figures again... What is lovely to see is some new faces in the fleet with Ian, Ben and John starting to join the racing. It's a big step from sailing round to joining the races so well done, and we'll do all we can to help you quickly learn. Don't be worried if you seem to be way off the pace for a while - racing demands you learn how to do every step more efficiently and it takes time both to learn how to sail the boat efficiently and then how to change the setting for different conditions and different legs of the course. I plan to run coaching on Tuesday evenings once we get to the spring, but in the meantime I will try to sail close to you to help get the basics right between races. To help you judge how you are doing (as long as the Race Officer remembers to time us and not just give a finish order) I plan to compute some personal handicap results (the pursuit race won't count because I can't time that) but the regular Sunday class races will. At the end of each series there will be a personal winner and the handicaps will be adjusted to reflect your results. Anyone who comes in the first three on regular handicaps is not eligible for the personal prize which should go to whoever has improved the most and raced regularly.
We'll start with the personal handicaps based on the bands used last summer plus the new sailors in band 5 then I'll adjust at the end of each series perhaps to a finer granularity. The bands work in 5% increments. Also I'm going to start a new series of basic 'starting to race' tips working round the course.
To start with last week’s results - with a moderate wind the fleet shuffled a bit from the previous heavy weather, in particular Paul suffering and dropping right down the fleet. The finish order extracted from the pursuit was:
1. Gareth G
2. Mike L
3. Tony P
4. Peter C
5. Roy P
6. Dave C
7. Paul P
8. I Peace
9. J Carpenter
with Mervyn and Peter H on duty
This week we again had nine boats on the water - Paul taking a rest after doing the 'Bloody Mary' yesterday and finishing well in the top half of finishers (top third of entrants).
Results this week:
1. Gareth G
2. Mike L
3. Tony P
4. Roy P
5. Peter H
6. Mervyn C
7. Ian P
DNF Peter C and Ben R
Much close racing this week with quite a lot of place changes in a shifty Northerly wind which occasionally threw up a stronger gust as some people found to their cost. The start line seemed to me to be just about perfect, I couldn't be sure of a bias one way or the other. My plan we just to hit the line at speed not too far away from everyone else in case of a late shift but I didn't want to get involved in a fight for the end preferring to just start quickly in clear air.
In the end I was a shade ahead of where I aimed for and didn't have quite as much time to get up to full speed but I was quite pleased. Once going I had boats above me but slightly behind - I needed a shift to be able to tack and cross. On the first shift I tried but wasn't sure I could cross Tony (I think it would have been close but he'd had caught me by a couple of feet). it rarely pays to push your luck on that especially early in the race when a 720 would cost many places so I tacked into Tony's lee bow and then worked at pointing high (plate a bit further down, very slight heel, and sheet a bit tighter). Once I had worked up on Tony I could tack and cross the fleet. In the meantime though Roy was taking the left and sailing very fast a long way lower and to the left. I elected to stay with Tony and Mike L working to the right when there were shifts as I think it usually pays coming in to mark one on starboard in a N wind. If you get too close on port you are in the shadow of the bank. In the end I think Roy came in second closely followed by Tony and Mike - not sure of the order. Places behind me kept changing but by the end the fleet had spread out a lot more.
Back to basics part 1 – Starting to race…
So... first section of 'Starting to race'. The areas most new racers find hard... the seven deadly sins or the most common areas for big improvements. Since the Reher number is seven plus or minus two (the number of items most people can remember) - I wonder of that's why there are SEVEN deadly sins not 5 or nine... Anyway the seven deadly sins (or helpful tips) for new racers... I'll cover areas in more detail in future weeks. The goal of this series is to help new sailors get up to the back of the main fleet – sailing is somewhat unique in that we can have world champions and novices in the same race. (No I’m not a world champion, but we have had them at the club.) Sailing is also a bit like Golf in that you can be competitive much older than many other sports – as well as being great fun at any age. Seven may be too many for a first list, ask if any are not clear. Get these right and you will make huge strides. We’ll cover these and other topics in more detail as we go through the season.
1. Starting - DON'T BE SHY - GET up onto the line. Never be behind the line in the middle of the line. Your wind is blocked by the boats who started on the line and you might not even be able to lay the end of the line. If you are over the line a few times don’t worry – in fact when first starting even if you are slightly over I would carry on because you’ll learn more seeing where other boats go past than by starting behind them and not seeing what they do. Aim to start in the middle of the line on starboard tack but RIGHT ON THE LINE – that way you should miss the crowd at the end but have a decent start. Then watch what happens to boats near you – are they getting closer to the wind or going faster. Get fairly close to the line with 30 seconds to go with the sail flapping, at about 10 seconds to go pull the sail in and start sailing close against the wind. For the first week or two don’t worry if you are over the line – I expect you will find it hard enough getting close. We’ll explain any rules if there are other boats near you, but basically anyone to leeward (further down the line) has right of way if they are on the same tack.
2. PULL THE main sheet in upwind. No, I mean REALLY pull it in. Yes it is possible to over-sheet but most novices don't sheet in nearly hard enough. The boom should be almost on the corner of the boat. (probably have the traveller about 2 inches off the centre as a start point).
3. Going upwind WATCH THE TELL TALES. Keep them all horizontal. Very easy to miss a chance to point nearer where you want to go when the wind shifts slightly. If you find that hard ask for help – not all sails have the wools in the right place. We’re mainly looking here at wools about 12-18 inches back from the mast and about 1/3 of the way up the sail. (Ideally all the way up the mast all those front tell tales should be setting horizontal). If the one on the FAR side of the sail (leeward tell-tale) drops you need to point closer to the wind (luff slightly) because the sail has stalled. If the one nearest you drops (windward tell-tale) you need to pull the sail in more or turn slightly away from the wind (bear away a bit).
4. Stay on the edge of the wind and feather the gusts. That means if you get a gust rather than letting the sail out nudge the boat a bit closer against the wind. The effect is the same you change the angle of the sail, but by turning the boat a bit closer to the wind (and hence also turn the sail) you go nearer where you want to go. Note that it’s a nudge with the helm you don't want to keep turning, just nudge the course a bit closer to the wind. Push the tiller and centre it again. If not enough nudge again, but do it before the boat heels too much. If there is enough wind sit with your bottom just over the edge of the boat – don’t worry about leaning hard out, but do get you bottom ticked over the edge (it’s much more stable because you can’t slip and quite comfortable – don’t hunch up sit tall and relax)
5. Keep the boat flat. If you get a gust do not let the boat heel - lean out, feather the edge of the wind or if necessary ease sheets a fraction but keep the boat flat. If you had to ease slightly be sure to pull it hard back in and point a bit higher. Easy to let the sheet out and progressively slip away from close against the wind.
6. Let the SAIL OUT going DOWNWIND. I mean REALLY out - when the wind is coming from behind the boat (at least 30 degrees either side on straight behind you) the main should be right out (yes boom touching the shrouds) and the plate 1/2 up. Cross wind you adjust the sail to keep the tell tales flat (upwind you alter course to keep them flat because you want to go as close to the wind as you can).
7. Sit further forward - Right against the thwart when sitting out or straddling it when lighter.
We'll worry about technical refinements of how much Kicker or Cunningham or outhaul another day, but above all ENJOY THE SAIL - it's fun to just get round! I'm really hoping Ben, John and Ian can sail regularly because sailing with and against each other you'll all learn much quicker.
The first Personal results showed
1. Roy P
2. Mike L
3. Peter H
4. Tony P
7. Ian Peace
8 Ben Russell
Based on recent speeds and last year’s anniversary/Wed results I have put Mike and Tony in band 1 (+5%), Mervyn, Peter C, Peter H in band 2. Dave C will be in band 3 (that’s a promotion) as will Frank. Paul will be in band 1. Ian, Ben and John will start in band 5. Others I’ll allocate as you sail and get results. No sandbagging in the first few races please! As you can see the personal results change the order a lot – and are very close. It will still pay to sail lots of races but your positions in the personal series should reflect your progress.
I'll figure out all the rules as we go - like probably will not count days which are too windy for many.
The winner of the series on personal handicaps will win the Gerry Winder cup for the series – for those of you new to the fleet Gerry was a long serving Solo member who we remember with this trophy.