Wow – eleven boats on the line on Sunday (even if one was a welcome visitor – Frank’s grandson – more on that later). It felt more like an open meeting start than a club race – eleven solos and two streakers. Although we had a simple course with just four marks, with the wind swinging to and fro it felt a lot longer. really good to see so many of our newer fleet members not just being on the water, but racing and being right there on the start line on the gun. You have come a long way in the last few weeks.
So… Sunday's race – summer pursuit which should make for un-crowded start… not so with 13 starters on the same handicap minute. The line bias kept switching but was mostly port end (pin end). Several of us aimed for that end but shortly before the start the wind freed meaning we all started sailing quickly down the line rather than holding station meaning several of us who were aiming for the pin found we were going to arrive too soon. Impressively everyone realised and did the right thing – circle round the pin and look for a gap to either cross or tack into. Unfortunately I was one of those who had to circle. Never mind I found a gap to tack into and set off after … of course Frank – clearly anxious to show his grandson a clean transom (and it was Frank conditions – light and shifty which we all know he reads very well). I found a my gap and was working to keep a clear wind lane and gain room to tack from Tom (Frank’s grandson in 3736) while up ahead Chris was going well in the Streaker (I think he got the start better timed), mervyn was looking good and of course Frank was sailing over the horizon. In the shifts up to the first mark initially I made some progress but I got the last shifts wrong – letting Mervyn back past me so we ended the leg with Frank well ahead of Chris followed by mervyn and me with I think Roy close behind but I was looking ahead more than behind. Round the first lap although we chipped away at his lead we couldn’t catch Frank. I think he finally got caught out in one of the big shifts between X and 1 where when he rounded the wind had headed and he couldn’t lay 1 but when we rounded the wind had lifted and we sailed over him.
This raises the interesting point – when you are in the lead how do you decide which way to go up a beat. If you are behind you can use the other boats to see what the wind is doing ahead of you, but if you are first, how do you decide. In general you need to know where you pointed last time round (or what the average direction is). Before the start I try to round the leeward mark (or marks if two beats) several times to get a feel for where I will be pointing after I start beating. That way I can tell if I’m headed or lifted as I start the leg. If lifted carry on, if headed tack. (Don’t tack as you round up – always get the boat moving close hauled before deciding and then tacking if you want to.) The main exceptions to this are: in very light weather I’ll be looking where the next patch of wind is and perhaps heading that side regardless of direction, or if I can almost lay the mark I’ll take the long tack first on the grounds that if I get lifted a bit I’ll make it anyway and if I get headed more that’s the time to tack. The tricky one comes as it did for Frank – the lap before we made X to 1 on starboard without tacking – mostly beating but easing off towards the end. This time round he definitely couldn’t lay – it wasn’t even close to start with. I think he should tacked onto port for about half his lead and then tacked. There is a saying ‘Spend a lead to protect a lead’ which I take to mean that sometimes you have to play it safe and put yourself in a safer position. If Frank had made a short tack on port early on the leg he’d have still been ahead and he’d have been upwind of the chasing pack. Maybe if the wind freed back to the old direction he’d have over-stood slightly but he would have still been ahead able to free off and trade his upwind position for a bit more speed. He would have spent part of his lead protecting his position. Instead by going his own way he would either gain a lot of lose a lot. Covering the fleet by keeping your boat between the chasers and the next mark can be very hard in shifty conditions so it isn’t always possible. Sometimes the wind just plays snakes and ladders and on that leg he caught a snake.
Results on the day:
3. Peter C
6. Dave L
7. Dave C
I think Tom Russell (Franks’ grandson) was about 6th but as a visitor he doesn’t count to the series. That was the last week of the Spring series. This week we start the Summer series so it’s all to play for again. Eddie and I are still verifying the results but at the moment it look extremely close 2,3,4 with Dave Lawton, Mervyn and Peter Cottrell separated by a single point. Provisional results on the web site – please let me know of any errors.
The forecast looks light and sunny for the weekend so see you there.
Coming up on the 21st is Commodores day. A long pursuit race for the Commodore’s trophy followed by BBQ and spring prize giving and then ‘fun afternoon’ aimed at kids (potentially of all ages) – usually featuring events like ball hunting, how many people can you get on one topper, water fights (bring your own super-soaker if you want)…