Another good turnout with 9 boats contesting Sunday's race with lots of close battles. The leaders mostly started a bit down the line with good boat speed. Tim led the way just a faction ahead of the chasing group. Up the beat the minor places fluctuated but Tim sailed very cleanly to a narrow lead from if memory serves (which it frequently doesn't these days) Tony Penfold, Paul Playle, Gareth and Rob Pettit all within a few lengths of each other. Down the reach and run Gareth slipped past Tony while Tim maintained his lead.
The wind had some pretty big shifts and up the next beat Tim kept a gentle cover, Gareth closed but never really threatened and Rob pulled through to third. On the next run Paul tried the weather heel to excess (he claims he sat too far forward and got tangled up, bigger gust... splash) - Rob and I both looked amused but promptly both also had sudden rolls so we decided we wouldn't gloat too hard. Paul - there are other ways to get a mention in the blog you know. Although it is theoretically faster to sail a dead run with the board tight up I always leave enough sticking out that I can still steer effectively just in case there is a nasty shift!
Down the run what I'm aiming to do is follow the wind. If I get a puff I'll go away to a read run to stay in it. If the wind shifts to very by the lee I'll gybe. If the wind shifts to more of a reach I'll generally bear away expecting to work back up later. I generally use the shroud tell tales as the main check for a dead run, but knowing that when they say 5-10 degrees by the lee that's actually a dead run according to the mast head. In my boat in lighter winds I’m usually sat on the thwart both feet in front, progressively moving back as the wind increases. Older wooden boats generally don’t need to have the weight quite as far forwards because they are heavier in the bows, but you still need to get that big wide transom out of (or just kissing) the water. From about ½ way down the leg I’m thinking about approach to the next mark – do I need to cover the inside, can I get an overlap on someone…
On the third lap up the beat Tim and Gareth worked the left side and pulled away from Rob who really slowed at the end of the beat. I was on Tim's tail round the windward mark and found a slight gust that Tim never seemed to get allowing me to just get an overlap at the end of the reach and slip past on the rounding. Not sure Tim could really do anything, but perhaps he should have started a bit lower and only reached up if I looked like passing to windward of him – very hard with wind coming from behind. Down the final run I slightly protected the left to make sure that if Tim got a gust I'd still be inside at the leeward mark. Round the leeward mark and onto the reach and after the lasers cleared the line the RO shortened.
The race for third to sixth was very close as the fleet had closed up on Rob, and Paul was working back into contention. Results on the web.
In the personal series although Ian isn't yet winning scratch races he's winning a lot of personal handicap races showing how the fleet is closing up as everyone improves.
BTW I intend to keep sailing the Solo in the fleet race but the Aero in the handicap. If anyone fancies a go in the morning let me know. Solos dominated the B2B races again - I clearly need to go even faster in the Aero but I'm still learning.