Sunday 5 Jan
Being a pursuit Sunday we don't have personal results this week but despite the dire forecasts we had another great turnout - 9 boats on the water with two more Solos on duty and as far as I could see (but I was rather busy trying and failing to catch Mark) good close racing all down the fleet.
The start line looked to be varying between a bit port end and very port end - it looked as if most of the fleet had realised this. I saw Mark making multiple runs down the line - he tells me he made ten timed runs - the goal being to arrive exactly at the pin on the gun but with the pressure of the fleet he still didn't get it right. With Paul, Gareth and I think Roy also all aiming at that key point Mark overcooked it and arrived half a boat length too soon. However what that shows is that being in the right place is worth a lot. Despite having to loop round the pin Mark was still in contention.
Up the first part of the beat Mark, Paul and Gareth tried to cover each other and catch the shifts. In those light conditions if you roll tack well you don't lose anything, but some of the shifts were too short to pay, and we probably paid more attention to each other than the bigger picture. Canny Peter Cottrell was sailing more strategically up the left side and slipping past us all. Places swapped a few times but by the windward mark it was Peter clear ahead of Mark closely followed by Gareth. Down the reach and run the pattern remained Peter, Gareth, Mark but the places closed up a bit.
We rounded up at mark 2 heading to 3. Peter first but Mark close behind rounded up slightly tighter and was in no danger of dropping into Peter's backwind. Gareth rounded on Mark's tail, got a small header and tacked, Mark covered but it looked as if Gareth might have gained. We both tacked a couple more shifts before I decided that heading to the middle should pay rather than risking getting closer to the shore. I didn't see what happened to Peter but the separation and a slightly better shift allowed Mark to slip past or perhaps maintain the fact that he had been just ahead at 2. At three Mark and I seemed to be clear, with Mark just able to tack round the mark ahead of Gareth. Down the reach we played a bit but neither of us wanted to jeopardise the overall result by fighting too hard. We suspected that with a gradually rising wind the fast boats would come through and so it proved. About 10 minutes before the end the Phantom came through followed by RS200.
From my side I just couldn't quite catch Mark - I could get close but couldn't find the edge to get past - I found myself falling between wanting to tack each shift and deliberately not tacking hoping the fluctuations were short lived. I didn't feel I was really in tune with the conditions, but that's often how it feels when you are behind in a battle. I didn’t feel there was any real speed difference, if anything Mark gained a shade upwind (but that tends to happen when you are ahead and loosely covering) and I gained a bit on the runs but again the advantage is really more with the boat behind on a run. Didn't have time to really compare notes after sailing as I was under a three line family whip (and bribe with a roast dinner) to be home after the first B2B.
In the B2B that I did sail I went the opposite way up the beat to most aiming to keep clear wind and avoid fighting with the faster boats - partly because I was slightly late on the line so tacked off to get clear. I guess I was aiming to do what Peter C had done in the morning though I went right rather than left. Really I was just trying to concentrate on sailing well mostly ignoring small shifts in favour of keeping speed up. The wind was a bit higher into the level where you do lose some ground on a tack. Don't know if it really paid but I seemed to come in at the windward mark in about my usual spot despite being second rank off the start.
Mark meanwhile had a relative disaster as his sail came out of the groove on the mast so he had to drop the sail and re-hoist. He ended up chasing Roy and remarked how Roy was sailing - using the shifts well, riding the gusts deep downwind. We are wondering how much difference the latest generations of technology make (new FRP hulls, latest foils, rigs etc) and where our mid fleet would be if they all had new boats... We suspect that the front of the fleet would be a lot closer! Perhaps we should have a day in which we swap boats based on current position in the series (1st swaps with last, 2nd with next to last etc). Make that a training day and pair the results as a buddy race... Something to think about for a nice day in the spring perhaps at the end of the series if the series positions are already decided. Hard to plan in advance because it needs sensible conditions. If anyone wants to try a swap for the B2B races though I’m happy to try. I really don’t worry much about the series results, I’m more interested in sailing well and learning more about how to tune these boats.
See you Sunday – forecast at the moment is a nice (!) gentle Easterly getting stronger as the day progresses, but there’s a long time to go. As always best idea is to look out of the clubhouse window on the dayJ
Sunday’s results (pursuit places in parentheses):
1. Mark (3)
2. Gareth (7)
3. Paul (10)
4. Roy (13)
5. Peter C (14)
6. Dave C (19)
7. Ben (20)
8. Ian (21)
9. Tony (22)