Sunday, 20 June 2010

Inter-fleet championships

And another excellent day for the IFC. Enough sunshine that I got mild sunburn, enough wind to make it interesting, enough shiftiness that anything could happen; port biased lines became starboard biased, the wind went away for periods of up to 5 minutes and then came back again in a big lump, fortunes were won and lost on a roll of the dice.

And, as always, another chance to enjoy a great practical demonstration of all the reasons why you wouldn't ever want to buy a Laser Vago ever.

Here in the Fireball fleet we were a bit short of good sailors, partly because a lot of our 'team' had buggered off to the S. coast for the weekend and partly because we're always a bit short of good sailors. A rallying call brought in 8 team members by 11 am, giving team organiser Helen great cause for concern. This swelled to 13 by lunch. Overall 14 people (including Helen) took part (Paul Roe, John Tenney, Kris, Richard Botting, Mike Deane, Colin Snowdon, Richard Glen, Graham Gittings, Teresa Tonks, Alex Filmore, Graham Collett and Ian McWhinnie (on loan from the menagerie fleet).

IFC newbie Graham Gittins demonstrated some skill in everything he sailed and gets the 'unexpectedly great' award. We were also aided and abetted by crews Theresa and Kris, both of whom were new to the IFC and showed great skill at doing crew things at the front of dodgy boats while the bloke at the back got it wrong - invaluable for year round Fireballing.

Colin Snowdon gets the "Longest legs in a Pico" award.

The "How did they do that, and why?" award for the only capsize of the day goes to Richard Glen and crew Paul Roe in a Firefly - very 'tippy' was the verdict. Somewhat redeemed in the afternooon when Richard managed a second

Making good on our promise to put the heaviest sailors into the smallest boats, the best 'going sideways when trying to make the windward mark' award goes to Bob Morris and Ian McWhinnine in a Vago - checking numerous times to see if the centreboard was down (or even in the boat!)

Biggest losers award: Paul Roe (helm) and crew Graham Collett who dropped from 2nd place to 5th when tacking for the finish line. Blamed it on 'no wind behind the committee boat'.

But at the end of the day, we were all winners. Another excellent event, lots of tired children and parents and sailors. Really good, a credit to the club!

Many thanks to the huge pile of volunteers and organisers without whom it would not be possible.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

13 Jun 2010

So another day when you might have thought that the wind was too light and fluffy for anyone to have any fun, and again you'd have been wrong. I skipped the morning race to take part in a fun run and bicycle thing, so turned up at midday to find that the morning had been a bit rubbish. But the wind was filling in, so I bagsied Paul Roe, Jez went and commandeered Richard out of his Buzz, all boats now suitably crewed up and off we went. First beat was a bit so-so and heavily biased, and we all turned up at 'B' in a big lump. Round B, up with the kites, mine got stuck, rubbish hoist, ah well. Pootle down to 'M', go low to avoid the pack, reach goes all close, take kite down, squeeze round 'M', gybe, bung kite back up again. All Fireballs bar about 2 are now immediately in front or immediately behind, reach to 'P' very interesting, We sail over Colin, Mo luffs us up, somebody else sails over Mo, Badders goes low, Paul is in there somewhere and Jez, we go down the middle, end up about 3rd at 'P'. Sail past mark, then gybe late to avoid the pack - pack promptly get a bit of a puff and threaten to zoom past, then don't. Round 'S', stupid fetch to 'J', nothing interesting happens on this leg at all. Then short beat to 'OL', run down to 'T' and we start the next lap in 2nd place a bit behind Badders.

This beat really tricky, starts off as simple tacking on the shifts type of thing, we go left, get ahead of Badders, all going nicely. Then we spot Mo coming in from the LHS of the beat on port tack pointing high and going fast. Other boats on LHS also looking good, quick, go over there (on starboard), get headed, tack onto Port, Mo now 1,000,000 miles ahead but below us, Colin just about level and above us. Still lifting on Port, we can now lay 'B' easily. Mo gets headed, tacks across, now behind us again. We get headed, can't lay 'B', go on, tack, weirdly now in front of Colin and everyone else, how that happen ?

Round 'B', up with kite, halyard stuck between leeward spreader and mainsail, bugger about a bit, finally get it flying. Colin still behind us, albeit a bit upwind now, how that happen, scratch head, more wind, zoom off to 'M' with entire fleet breathing down our necks. Gybe onto port at 'M', Badders and Colin cary on down the shore on Starboard, no idea why it's completely the wrong direction, ah well. Mo chasing us hard now, the run upgrades itself to a beam reach, Colin has gybed and is down the toilet, Baddders went even further and is round the U bend as probably can't even lay 'P' from there with the kite up. Mo chases us round 'P' and fails to sit on our wind properly all the way to 'S'. One more fetch and tiny beat to go, still in the lead, hurrah!

Notice that Miracles are going up the beat pointing very high on starboard tack, so instruct crew to leave kite up for fetch to 'J' as it's clearly going to be a lot broader this time. Mo takes his kite down, reach promptly goes horribly close, we have to take kite down and end up tacking, try to put a lee-bow on Mo but he points too high for us and wriggles out of it. We end up downwind, sailing through the moored boats by the wall as Mo storms along further out. I have blown the race, tack onto Port, Mo can now call 'Starboard' and stuff me up but for some reason he tacks too and promptly has trouble getting around 'J'. By the time we get around 'J', I'm upwind and ahead and only have to get to OL, which I can lay from here. Mo tacks off for clear air, shall we tack to cover him, crew says 'yes', I say sod it, can lay OL anyway, why tack?

Wind promptly drops, heads us, Mo has tacked again inshore, loadsa wind, big lift, storms past upwind going faster and pointing higher, and again I have blown the race, this time too late to fix it. Mo wins by about 10 seconds, Badders almost creeps in too. All very close, I am an idiot, should have tacked to cover. But I still had a great race 

Sunday, 6 June 2010

6 Jun 2010

Another chapter in the sporadic text loosely titled 'Good times we had in Fireballs'...

The weather forecast suggested 8kts gusting 12, but my guess was light 'n' fluffy and I was right. Still we figured we'd give it a go anyway. Sadly I had left it a bit late getting rigged, and the gun went while we were still on our way to the start line, still it makes it a bit more interesting if you have to catch up with people  . So we got across the line just as the Freds were massing for their start and took off up the right hand side of the beat. It was a bit shifty and with hindsight the LHS was the place to be, so we hadn't really made much progress by the time we arrived at the top mark. Pete Wood had got clean away, but there followed about an hour of place changing, with us, Mo, Colin, Jez, Richard, Graham and Eugene all doing inspired and fantastic tactical stuff and then watching the opposition getting lucky and overtaking again. Towards the end of the race the wind was fading, and with it our chances of getting a decent result. We were back in about 7th place when we arrived at 'N', with only 'T', 'J' and 'OL' to go. N-T was apparently a close reach, and as I have observed before, these aren't generally very much fun if you were hoping to overtake anything (not that we were going fast enough to do that anyway). Everything ahead of us was treating it as a 2 sail reach, so on a whim we left the kite up and went low thinking we might get halfway there before having to bag it. But as luck would have it the wind shifted and made it that little bit broader, and we popped out at 'T' ahead of everyone except Mo. Much banter and jocularity at this point. Woohoo!

Gybe at 'T', kite leg to 'J'. Weirdly the wind shifted round locally and this leg got a lot closer than the expected run, Mo took his kite down, we kept ours up and it wasn't too close at all. 'Har har', I thought, we've got you now. But we hadn't - Mo took off with impressive speed and we managed to fall further behind if anything. Down with the kite, round 'J', quick tacking battle with Mo (we lost), and across the line in 3rd place, nearly pranging Fleet Captain Richard who was drifting around aimlessly in his Buzz-thingy. Excellent fun considering how little wind there was.

Crew departed at lunch time saying he couldn't take the excitement any more, so I leapt nimbly into Paul Anthony's boat for the 2nd race. This felt completely unlike my own, in fact it felt like a sack of potatoes. But as it turned out, it actually went pretty quickly. We started fairly badly, but with the wind picking up gradually clawed our way back to do battle with Eugene for a bit, before dropping them and getting onto Mo's transom again for the final reach down to 'K' and then 'OL'. By this time it was quite windy and we and Mo were zooming down the reach, but I fancied it was my turn to beat him now, so we paused briefly to bung the kite up. Only it wasn't so much 'briefly' as 'longly', and by the time we'd got it flying, Mo had pretty much escaped. Still we had an excellent 3 sail reach to 'K', went for the inshore end of the line and finished only a few yards behind Mo again. Very good !

Third race the wind had gone again and so had Paul Anthony, so I took the RS300, and the wind promptly got up, and it rained, and I parked up in front of Richard Glenn AGAIN when I dropped the mainsheet on a reach (sorry Richard). And eventually I capsized and then gave up knackered, although it had been kinda interesting up until then.

So I think the moral of this story is that you can have a lot of fun in your Fireball if there's any wind at all, whereas you shouldn't go out in the teeth of a thunderstorm in an RS300 unless you weigh a lot more than me.

Yeah, I think that about sums it up