Solo news 22 Mar

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So that’s a wrap for the winter. Look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on Sunday for the working party.  Those going to the Littleton open which always seems to clash with the WP - I know there will be more jobs needing doing round the club as we head towards phase 2 of the club-house development – please volunteer for those.

Prize giving for the Autumn series, Winter series, Overall and Personal handicap will take place at the working party.

I’m still waiting for the final race times from Sunday but I the personal series winner is definitely Ian who will be promoted. I will adjust all the handicaps ready for the spring/summer.

 

Please check the web site and tell me any errors or omissions…

Autumn

1. Gareth Griffiths

2. Mike Dray

3. Rob Pettit

 

Winter

1. Tim Lewis

2. Paul Playle (Tim/Paul tied on points and countback, broken on last race)

3. Rob Pettit

 

Overall

1. Gareth Griffiths

 

Personal handicap

1. Ian Peace

 

So – seemed like ages since I was in 5215 though in reality it’s only a few weeks. With the forecast light to medium I finally took the rig out of extreme rake mode I’ve been using most of the winter back to my normal mid setting (I just hadn’t got round to it before and had been curious to see how she went with heavy weather setting in medium conditions). Very hard to conclude too much from one race and without Paul or Tim as benchmark but the boat feels better – in extreme rake it feels underpowered upwind in lighter weather.

For me the difference is one hole back on the mast heel to take some rake off then adjust the shrouds sand forestay to have forestay just tight with the chocks in (both in front) and with the chocks out shrouds just coming tight before the mast hits the front of the gate.

From memory the course was start at 6 then 1, 8, 5, 6 with a NE 8-14 kn forecast to slowly go more Easterly.

Before the start I had time to sail a whole lap to discover that there were some big starboard tack lifts – such that sometime the first beat was almost a fetch, but the wind was shifting a lot. I could establish before the start the range of the shifts to have a chance of knowing if I was lifted or headed from the average, and was aware that the wind would overall probably gradually lift on starboard as it went more easterly. So, if no bigger tactical shift around I wanted to go right (on port sail into the heading tack first) to take the long lift on starboard later. I also found a fairly consistent starboard tack lift (wind bend) near the windward mark. I’m guessing this was a reservoir bank effect because it seemed to be there most of the time. I also discovered that 8 to 5 was varying between a beat (unable to fetch) and a close reach. Obviously important to make a close round-up and stay high initially on that leg.

? What were you discovering in the 15 minutes before our start? Races are often won and lost BEFORE THE START – preparation is important. It’s very important to get yourself in the groove – practice some tacks, establish average wind direction, check out course on each leg, even before you start looking at start line bias. All this gets you ready so that on the gun you’re in the zone, you know if you have a header, you know you can tack well because you’ve done several to get yourself accustomed to the speed of roll needed and how fast or slowly you will turn the boat. 

Despite good preparation however – my start was not the best. The line was fairly heavily starboard biased - although it changed a few times it was from varying from marginal port to major starboard bias. Rob had the best start – almost at the pin but moving OK and in clear air. I was right on his tail going slightly faster – got my timing wrong because the wind had headed slightly and gone a bit lighter. I should have been closer to the line. I was able to hold my line by making the boat point high (not what you normally want off the line but I’d been sailing flat out to try and get to the line so I was at least moving well). Because I had some speed on I was able to point high and squeeze out the boat immediately behind me and just make enough room to tack – why did I want to tack? We were below the average heading for starboard so I wanted to get onto the lifting tack. I was just able to clear the other boats (pretty sure Mervyn didn’t need to alter course but he was a bit closer than I expected). Again being able to tack well especially accelerating out of the tack is really important when it’s marginal if you have room to tack.  Once tacked I was first onto the lifted port tack. As I expected the lift didn’t stay very long and I could tack back onto starboard (the new lifted tack) and just cleared Rob.   Up the first beat I just stayed in phase with the shifts but worked the right side whenever I could, and as expected there was a lift close to the windward mark that allowed me to free off for some boat-speed and establish a small gap to the chasing pack. I would contend that I won that first beat before the start by being more in tune with the conditions and in phase with the shifts than from any real boat-speed advantage.

 

So this week’s theme is:

Preparation and Changing gear.

I’ve covered preparationb above – what do you do before the start…?

Changing gear means being able to quickly go from maximum pointing to maximum boat-speed. You can go at the same effective rate upwind (velocity made good) by pointing a bit higher but going a bit slower (shorter distance) or sailing a bit faster but a bit freer (longer distance but going faster).  Of course there is probably an optimum but provided you set the boat for it you can choose which to do with very little overall difference. Too far in either camp is slow but there’s a good range where it doesn’t make much difference. I tend to veer slightly towards the higher and slower (typical inland technique) whereas a sea sailor who needs the boat to drive through waves tends to sail faster and freer. In a blow I sail slightly higher than Paul because I’m lighter – he can use more power to drive the boat faster but overall we’re about the same.

If you can ‘change gear’ from extreme pointing to fast and free and back again it opens up many tactical opportunities.

Normally off the start if you have a gap to leeward you aim to start fast and free to get the boat up to maximum speed as soon as possible. Then you can start to point if that’s what you want. This week because I had Rob right in front of me and because I needed to get clear of a boat just behind and to windward of me I wanted to point high and use the lee bow effect to establish room to tack before Rob did the same to me. Coming in to the windward mark though I could now lay it easily so I eased the boat into fast and free mode to accelerate.  Being able to accelerate in those last 5-10 boat lengths to the mark can make the difference between having a gap and breaking clear or being sucked into the pack on the downwind leg.

 

Pointing high mode:
Sail in a bit tighter. Slight heel (note the word slight). Plate further down – vertical or even leading edge forwards. (Both those induce a bit of weather helm which helps push the boat upwind but slows you slightly because you have to hold the boat straight with the rudder). Possibly outhaul tighter (flatten the sail a bit), kicker tighter (bend the mast a bit flattening the front of the sail). Extreme pointing is slow but sometimes necessary to just make a mark or to make a lee bow really pay quickly because you want to tack and can’t.

Fast and free:
Plate up a bit – definitely angled back. Sail eased a bit. Kicker eased a bit. Outhaul eased a bit. (Downhaul off if you had it on before unless still very overpowered) Inhaul not quite as tight. Boat very upright.

Effectively you start to put the boat into reaching settings but not quite as far. The difference in speed is quite noticeable. If you can do this while still sitting out you can gain a couple of boat lengths right at the end of the beat, and because your settings are already half way there you accelerate better round the mark and away from it.

 

New sailing year – new handicaps
Please note that our handicap has been reduced – the RYA have cut it but our club results have resulted in a slightly larger local reduction (Peter Curtis puts all our results into the RYA calculator which tells us what the local handicaps should be and what degree of confidence it has (based on how many results). There have been quite a lot of changes in the RYA handicaps (many others have also come down) so please note the start times carefully on the next (first race) Pursuit race.

 

See you Sunday

 

Gareth