Wednesday Week 12 Four Races To Come

Breeze on... The look on various folks'' faces as they climbed up the steps, the wind hit their faces, and they looked on a wave-blackened lake with white crests, told its own story. Another similarly unsettling story was told by heaps, banks, even mountains of low cumulus scudding across the sky...

Yes, it was going to be windy, it was going to be shifty and it was going to be gusty. The clubhouse anenometer was showing Force 5, rapid onslaught gusts up to force 6, and perhaps even more disturbing, sudden drops down to F1 or 2 for a few seconds as eddies in the wind went past.

The result was a big queue to rig boats on the clubhouse jetty rather than on the bank as normal, but nearly everyone who wanted to sail managed to get on the water in time. Others augmented the safety boat team...

In the end the wind diminished some during the race, but there were always big gusts in the background. The course was a slightly fiddly affair, beat, reach, run, reach, but then a shorter beat to X in the middle of the reservoir, a broadish reach back down to 9, near the clubhouse and a gybe and very short reach back to the start. This last, giving lots of control problems in a very confined area with no room to leeward was perhaps not universally liked: I don''t suppose the forward hands on spinnaker boats relished all the work of extra kite hoists in such conditions either...

Well, who looked good... The fleets split up fairly early, but Clare James, in her Laser with radial rig, didn''t look bad in the early strong wind, but lost out when it went lighter. Mike Storey''s EPS was snapping at Mike Curtis'' RS 400 heels for much of the race, but again lost out a bit when the breeze reduced. The RS400 and 200s were going well at times, but the X9F combination caused all sorts of problems, it was never clear whether it was better to try and hang on to the kite after a gybe at 9 for 10 seconds or so and struggle to make X or drop before 9... Personally I might have tried a gybe drop at 9 to hold on to the kite right to the mark, but I wasn''t out there... and it would have been nasty if a gust hit at the wrong moment... An adequate amount of testing of the water went on... Gareth Griffiths, predictably relishing the conditions in his Solo, managed a brief splash and go at one stage which hardly delayed his passage... Rob Pettit seemed comfortably the fastest of the Lasers out there, but perhaps not entirely comfortable himself at times... One Laser sailor, having had a particularly awkward gust at the gybe at 9, ended up being towed by his boat with his head in the water until he managed to disentangle himself and climb back on the boat without actually capsizing... of course this would have to be after the *last* gybe approaching the finish...

So results... Gareth took the race, his third win in the series, and Mike Storey was second. Carl Mayhew, in a 200, and Rob Pettit dead heated for third, and 3.5 points.  That half point could make a lot of difference... %th went to Paul Playle in a Solo, and 6th to John Smith in a Laser. In the personal handicap Ian Hamilton won again... This is really in many ways an improver''s series, and they have come on in leaps and bounds since the winter: they certainly won''t be getting band 5 again! Second was new member C Cavallari in a club Solo, followed by Clare James, Paul Playle, John Smith and Mike Storey. Full results are here.

Series wise:

Well, game on in the Scratch Series: with Gareth on 8.8 points, Cal on 8.9 and Mike Curtis on 9 points its likely to go down to the wire. Unfortunately, it being August, family holidays may come into play: Gareth, for instance, can only do one more race and I think Mike and Carl have at least one week away too. At the moment Gareth, Carl and Mike all have three wins and three seconds, plus other results incluing two average points for duties for Mike and Gareth, and one for Carl (presumably with another to come). Unless we have a race abandoned in the last 4 it will be 8 races to count. The average points bring an especial subtlety into things, because discards and DNFs count for the average, but DNC does not: a gear failure could be fatal! Mike has a 7th and 8th, so the worst average *at the moment*, the other two having two 3rds (Gareth) and one 3.5 (Carl). The person who gets the most wins in the last 4 races will almost certainly win the series, but if they tie on wins then a "down the pan" could be a nightmare. Mathematically Kevin Pearson is not out of things either, but its not proving easy for Lasers to pick up wins this year.

The Personal Series is open too, rather wider in fact. There''s a slight complication in that we have to decide what band to allocate to S. Cavallari: as a new member we do not, of course, have any past results. I initially put him down as band 5, but his results to date suggest that band 3 will be nearer the mark, and with current scoring he has a 1st and a 2nd: affecting others places: we probably need to rethink this. I don''t like retrospective scoring, but in this sort of case there is little choice. At the moment Alasdair Maclean still just heads Ian Hamilton, but Ian has only been beaten (provisionally) by C.J. Cavallari in recent weeks, and will take a lot of stopping. Paul Playle and Clare James are still in contention and Dave Baldwin and John Smith in 5th and 6th aren''t altogether out of it either... Ian has to be the favourite now though: whilst their performances over the winter and earlier in the year were statistically well based to put them in the band 5 bracket, recent results are around the band 3 area - I reckon something in the order of a 10% improvement in speed round the track. Keep it up guys!