Solo News 24/Sept
I started this a week ago but somehow events overtook me and I didn’t complete it so two weeks for the price of one.
The last couple of weekends I’ve been helping instruct on the Level 3 course. Good to watch new sailors improve and start to grow in confidence. (Hopefully some will become Solo sailors as well.) Slowly they become in control of the boat and one step ahead of the boat rather than reacting to what the boat is doing. In particular practicing sailing slowly and feeling how the balance of the boat is affected as you ease the power or sheet in. Now, instead of sheeting in, heeling, starting to sit out, or easing sheets, boat comes on top of you so sit in I could see them start to lean out as they powered up and start to lean in as they eased. In other words they were looking ahead and being one step ahead of the boat. After a while those predictive moves become instinctive provided good habits are started early. Keeping the boat flat by reacting as the power comes on rather than after the boat has already heeled is so much quicker.
Another drill we did was very instructive. We started two visions on a broad reach – the leading boat had the sails over-sheeted – just hadn’t really let them out. The second boat eased the sheets correctly. Very quickly the correct setting sailed straight past the over-sheeted boat – so we swapped and the speeds quickly reversed. It’s easy to see when you need to pull the sail in, but you really need to concentrate on when you need to ease sheets reaching – or when beating the equivalent is when you can point higher. Easy to see when you are too close to the wind because the sail flaps, harder to spot when you are missing a lift and sailing too low. Too often I see people reaching but never adjusting the sail. Upwind we feel all the slight wind-shifts – when reaching we need to adjust the sails for each shift but many people just put the sail about right and leave it there. – How do we tell when it isn’t right – tell tales, shroud streamers, leech streamers.
Last (but one now) weekend Paul and I went to the Papercourt Solo Open – great turnout of I think 34 boats. The starts were really quite crowded as it is a narrow lake so the line pretty much went from one side to the other. Strangely it didn’t pay to start right at either end because the ends got too crowded so there was no way to accelerate to the line. Being a few lengths away from the end you could find a space and time your acceleration to punch clear of the crowd and have a chance at a decent first beat. Sadly my sailing AFTER the first beat wasn’t as good – I led both the first and last race at some point during the first lap but failed to maintain it. The wind was quite shifty and after a lap there were boats all over the pond so I never felt I had time to really look ahead and was sailing too much eyes in the boat or eyes only at where boats really near me would need avoiding. Once clear I should have been able to sail fast and let those behind affect each other but it wasn’t to be. Paul however had a fantastic last race coming within a whisker of his first Open race win. We rounded the first mark Paul 1, Gareth 2 – down the run we swapped but then I sailed a terrible second lap beat dropping from 1st to 10th. Paul meanwhile stayed in the battle for the lead dropping as low as fourth but coming back to first and then second on the last run. That good result put Paul one point ahead of me overall – great result with some seriously quick sailors present. We have the speed to be competitive – now we have to believe it and not make so many silly mistakes.
Only a month now to our own Open Meeting – let’s plan to have a great fleet turnout – if you only want to do one race that’s fine – or perhaps do one morning and one afternoon.
3357 is coming along nicely all the structural work is done, now just need to get enough coats of paint and varnish to protect her for the winter. Hope to have her on the water this weekend… I’m really keen to find out just how much slower I go with an old boat or an old sail. I will try with both combinations – might even try with my rig if it fits. It should be possible to quantify how much difference the hull makes or the rig makes… will be fun trying. Paul, Mark and Mike Dray will be my benchmarks as we are all very much the same speed.
Last weekend saw Bart’s Bash – what a great day with 45 boats on the water – great buzz around the club and 12 solos starting even without a few regulars like Peter C, Mike L, Rob P, Ben R etc. Of course we will never get everyone out on the same week but potentially we could easily have 15 boats on the line.
Both series are really quite tight – although I have a decent lead in the standard series, the O-League scoring is making for a very close race for the rest of the podium between Ian, Paul, Chris and Mervyn – only 2 points between them. In the personal it is even closer with Chris now sliding into the lead from Mervyn and Ian.
As I said earlier time to start planning for our Open Meeting (18 Oct) – If Papercourt on a crowded water can get 34 boats why can’t we… well they got 20 boats from their own fleet. I know some of you only want to do one race – but please do come along just for the first race if that’s all you want to do. Very reduced entry for just one race…
See you Sunday
(In 3357 hopefully)