Monday, 21 December 2009

21 Dec 2009

I didn't sail or even hang about until the end of the 1st race, so the report will be a bit brief. A potential 6 boat turnout was reduced incrementally thus:

1) I thought it was too cold and no crews turned up to convince me otherwise. 5 boats.
2) Peter Wood couldn't get the cleats to unfreeze, even after spraying them with antifreeze. 4 boats.
3) Pete Badham and JR launched but then found the centreboard was frozen in the case. They sailed sideways for a while and then came back in. 3 boats.

So 3 boats raced, which made us the largest fleet out (at least in the morning). Martyn and Richard must presumably have won, being way out in front when I left. Gordon and Richard must presumably have needed medical attention after capsizing. I take my hat off to the lot of you.

Merry Christmas and see you on Boxing day (weather permitting), when I will again be needing a crew.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

1 Dec 2009

The point that I keep trying to get across is that it's better to have a really good race than it is to win, unless you're at the Nationals or similar (which we aren't). That last race of the fleet championships wasn't a really good race, although admittedly it wasn't ever dull. It was one where you just tried to go as fast as possible, fast as possible, fast as possible all the way round. The boat directly behind us never tried anything too tricksy, presumably because they had half an eye on Martyn just behind them. Martyn did nothing more radical than bang the right hand side of the beat every time and fly the kite on a leg which was too close for it. So we just all sailed round as fast as possible and I tried not to get overly stressed when the boats behind went different ways up the beat. Sure, if you're going to have that sort of race, then it is good to win it, particularly when it's only by about 2 seconds as this was.

But there can only be one winner in any race, whereas there can be a whole fleet full of boats who had a really good race. So it pays to be in the camp that can have fun while not winning if possible. And I think that the really good racing was going on further back for at least some of the fleet - Eugene and Helen were battling it out so intensely up the last beat that they nearly collided and Helen capsized. OK, that may have put a dampener on it for them, but you get the picture.

If you want an account of a genuinely really good race (from my point of view), you'll have to wait for my write-up on race 4 in the fleet championships. We didn't win that one, but we did have a hell of a good time coming second. Ask me in a years time which one I remember best, I reckon it'll be the latter.

Monday, 30 November 2009

30 Nov 2009

By way of a bit of feedback, I invested in a small roll of mylar sail-repair tape (£8.50 from Max) and used it to effect a repair on the sail. Because the leech tape was broken, I ran a good length of the sail-repair stuff down the leech on both sides, then put another strip along the length of the actual tear. I then put some stitches down the leech to dissuade the tape from slipping across the sail when the kicker goes on and the leech is tensioned.

Batten pocket in grey, rip in red, sail repair tape in blue

When rigging yesterday, we found out that we would be up against a couple of visiting hotshots plus Martyn, and they had spent Saturday doing boat-on-boat tuning to sort out the best settings for their new Alto masts.
Jez dropped by and commented that it would be interesting to see how my old Cumulus mast stood up to the challenge of the new kit. He then fell about laughing when I pointed out that it would be equally interesting to see if we managed to get round the course without the sail ripping in half.

Anyway, we had a couple of great races. There was about 10-12mph wind, so the crew spent most of his time out on the wire (which creates the most call for leech tension). The end result was that the sail was fine, the repair was still in as-new state at the end of the day, and we even won a race with it. Wooohooo !

And a good turnout too, for a change. Possibly it was a bit too good at times - there were a couple of 'incidents' and a bit of swimming involved 

Sunday, 22 November 2009

22 Nov 2009

And another rubbish turnout, honestly I don't know what the fleet is coming to, there can't have been more than about 7 boats out today. Just because a few trees blow down overnight, it doesn't make it OK to stay at home. When the weather forecast says 'severe weather warning', they just mean it's going to be a bit wet, cold and breezy. This is the UK, that's just how it is, alright !

Anyway, we had good reason to sail today as Martyn was away saving civilisation somewhere, so there were two first places with somebody's name on them. Foolishly, I thought it might be mine.

So, race 1, wait until the last minute and then pootle off shore, backwards this time as launching with no rudder doesn't work if you try to go off forwards with an offshore wind, you just sail back up the beach. So I got the rudder on and wham, big gust, crew gives me nervous look. A bit further out and we're zooming along, no kite, still on a run. Crew says something about it not being as 'calm' as I had suggested. Haha, too late now !

So we got to the region of the start line, down by D, but it was pretty clear that you would have to walk round the back of the committee boat if you wanted to cross the start line, so we hung about a while with sails flapping. Committee boat wandered about a bit, then shot off to 'S'. So we followed, then came back to show a bit of solidarity with Paul Anthony who was upside down at this point. Various other Fireballs were also being helped off the course in various states of disarray. Ten minutes later, we went and commandeered the RIB that was helping Colin Newman in his Canoe, and sent it down to help Paul. We then sat about and watched Colin in case anything interesting was going to happen. I have to say that you couldn't pay me enough to sail a narrow, fully-battened boat with 2 sails and a slidey seat thing in a F5-6. It's got no form-stability and more sails than you have spare hands to control. Anyway, all credit to Colin, he got it up, tacked it and got it home without dropping it in more than about 6 times, and that's better than I could have done.

So we sailed up towards the shore, then sailed back down to the committee boat, then sailed around a bit more, and up went the yellow flag. We went over to get the course. As we did so, a member of the OD team pointed up at our sail. Which I looked at. Which turned out to be ripped about halfway up the leech. So I did some swearing and we then sailed back to the shore very slowly and took the boat to bits. In a nutshell, it would appear that you *can* damage your sail by letting it flog for 35 minutes in 30 knots of wind.

The wind then promptly dropped, and the 2 boats remaining had what looked like a dull and uneventful race with rather too many runs for my liking, which was won by Jez (I think).

Because I was all wet and grumpy, I turned down a couple of kind offers of alternative mainsails and put the boat away. Right on cue the wind went back to being sensible (yet interesting) and the sun came out 

So we watched the 2nd race, where Iain & Simon were over the line at the start, went back, then overtook Eugene & Graham on the first offwind leg (another run) to 'N'. In the bar we speculated that might be partly because the latter boat had managed to put their kite sheet over the end of the boom, certainly this would explain some of the odd changes of direction before the gybe. Then a 2-sail hoon across to 'C' and a gybe where Jez & Dave kindly stopped and waited with their sail in the water for 30 seconds or so. A 3-sail reach across to 'D' and a beat up to 'B' followed by a reach to 'T', gybe and back to 'E' to start another lap. Somewhere on the beat, Iain & Simon overtook Jez & Dave by the simple expedient of going a lot faster than them. Eugene & Graham capsized just after successfully gybing at 'T', and the finish saw Iain at the front, followed by Jez & Dave and Eugene & Graham.

While sitting in the lounge, Pete was telling us about the whizzy stuff on his new boat, which I will share with you. First, the crane for the spinnaker halyard. Class rules permit a crane of up to 10cm, the idea being that it holds the head of the kite away from the front of the mast. In a Fireball, where the pole is too short, if you can get the kite further away from the mast (and the mainsail), you are on to a good thing.

Then we discussed the new mast, the Alto. This is thicker than a Cumulus and not as bendy, either fore-aft or side-side. The side-side stiffness sounds like a good thing, but we wondered if the fore-aft stiffness would prove to be a bit dodgy in a blow. Doubtless Pete will tell us as soon as he gets the thing on the water.

And it has barber-haulers, which give you a better jib slot when the jib is not tight in. The jury is still out on these, but if Pete blasts past you on a 2 sail reach, then it may be these that did it. Or it may just be that you weren't sailing very well. Hmmm. OK, if Pete blasts past me on a 2 sail reach then we'll know for sure.

Anyway, off to Edge Sails in Cov tomorrow to have the mainsail fixed. Thus endeth the report.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

FireBowl 2011 - day 1

And what a great day's sailing that was. Nice F3-4, brilliant sunshine, plenty of boats to race against. It doesn't get much better than that.

We got off to a bit of a late start due to OD failure - many thanks to Tom Vian for stepping into the breach there and rescuing the day for the rest of us.

Then we had a bit of a timing failure with the start, although I *think* that everyone got off more or less on target. But how nice that nobody marched up at lunchtime and threatened to protest the results - you guys know how to keep this stuff in perspective.

I'm not sure how many boats we had taking part, must have been 12 or so, and this was without Badders, Martyn, Dangerous Dave and a few others.

AM race, well I'll need somebody who had sight of the lead to tell me what went on at the front. I was resolutely last for quite a long time before overtaking anyone...Iain with 'rookie' (foiling Moth sailor) crew Tom, Mo and Holly when they binned it on the tight leg to 'C', Mike and Adam when their main halyard broke. Pat and Jane were still going strong when we overtook them at 'F' - they'd sailed the entire race without capsizing which was pretty neat considering the conditions. We ended up in a little gaggle of boats all fighting it out up the last beat to 'J', including Bob, Helen, JT, Paul Anthony and possibly another boat too. I thought we'd done a decent job of nailing most of 'em, but caught a header at 'J', hit the mark, and lost a place to JT while doing my 360 on the way to OL. Gordon was already on the shore by this stage, having demolished the rest of us, with Colin and Karen picking up 2nd. Paul Anthony, Peter Wood and JT shared the next few places, but I'm not sure in which order - results will doubtless be posted shortly.

Then a nice relaxed lunch, followed by race 2. Now I'm pretty sure I explained to the fleet that y'all weren't to go through the start line when you rounded 'P' on the first lap, so some of you will be getting a detention just as soon as I find out who exactly it was in the little group who sailed through the Solos' start line on port tack. And from there, well it was just another fabulous race in a good breeze and strong sunshine. We went left up the first beat to 'M' and caught up with loads of boats who took the long way round, but we had kite problems for a lap after that so spent a lot of time fighting it out with Pete and Serena while flying the kite at half-mast or not flying it at all. Again it was pretty close at the finish, this time Mo and Holly got almost to 'J' before having their little swim - and I'm pretty sure a few others had done the same thing previously.

Most of us called it a day at that point, but three boats went out for guaranteed good results in the last race and two of them had a let's-see-who-can-capsize-the-best competition. I think Paul and Nick won that, but I'm guessing that Pete and Serena will have ended up with first place when the numbers are worked out.

All in all, an excellent day's racing. See y'all on day 2 on May 22nd, 2 weeks time.