Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Bank Holiday Monday Pursuit race

So as it turned out, I didn't sail on Sunday this week due to the wind looking better on the Bank Holiday Monday.

On the plus side, the pursuit race on the Monday was pretty good, not as windy as the bushes promised but still quite interesting. JR had set a course which didn't suit Fireballs or assyms, but which probably worked well for Lasers and Solos. And we were faced with trying to keep up with Martyn and Richard in Pete's boat (fat chance) and Peter and Mike (who are also pretty damn fast).

Off the start line then, having been slightly frightened by ex-fleet-captain Richard in the moments before the gun, and it was pretty clear that Martyn and Richard were going upwind about 15 degrees higher and just as fast as us, while Peter & Mike were going about the same direction and speed. Up at the top mark 'Y' we were 3rd, Martyn dropped the mainsheet and the crew at that point but still got around in front of everyone and we all set off down to 'X' with kites up, in spite of it being a bit too close.

Now I *think* it was that first lap where we overtook Peter & Mike, and a Fred and an RS300 at 'X', I know we then spent the rest of the race getting in Peter & Mike's way so I guess it was there that we got started. So a beat up to 'OL', where Martyn got away a bit, then a close reach to 'B' where we flew our kites to good effect, then a long reach to 'S', also with kites and much mucking about and luffing up of the opposition. Then a beat to 'T' offering unrivalled opportunities to sit on Peter & Mike's wind, and a decent reach back to 'D' where we luffed them up a lot before starting the next lap.

We repeated this process for another couple of laps, occasionally changing positions and overtaking other stuff as we went, until we eventually dropped Peter & Mike out the back by virtue of a lucky gust, and could finally start racing for maximum speed rather than maximum disruption. By this time I was knackered from all the luffing, covering and close manoeuvres, and was also expecting to find that we'd wasted so much time defeating Peter that we wouldn't get a sniff of the chocolates. But no, the race carried on, and we eventually overtook the leading gaggle of Lasers and Laser 2000, and set our sights on Steve Irish & Phil Walker in the RS200. They go quite fast on those shy reaches where the Fireball struggles to carry the kite, but we left ours in the bag for a windy leg to 'B' and got past them on the way, then hoisted ours and set off to 'S' with the RS200 and Peter and Mike in hot pursuit.

It is a measure of the speed of a well sailed RS200 that it stayed with us all the way to 'S', chased us up the beat to 'T', and was still not massively further behind when we were finished halfway to 'D'.

Final score, Martyn & Richard 1st, Me & Paul 2nd, Steve & Phil 3rd, Peter & Mike 4th. Ex-fleet-captain Richard apparently had a few swims, and wasn't in the chocolates at all. Overall verdict, a nice chunk of Fireball fleet racing, with a bit of pursuit race thrown in at the end :-)

Next Sunday I'm back in the fleet boat, which will hopefully be finished and fully working by the end of it.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

What I did in my Holidays

Just back from a week in Saundersfoot with the Laser, trying to teach the kids to sail. The Laser is a bit overpowered for that sort of thing, but otherwise pretty much perfect. And as soon as you put it on the beach, you realise that it's in the right place. Simple, flat-bottomed, fairly immune to sand and salt, and ideal for just parking on the beach while you wander off to find the trolley. Which (this being Saundersfoot) is now about a million miles away as the beach is so flat and the waterline moves around pretty fast with the tide. So a fab holiday and pretty much the only sunny week of the summer, thus far.

Anyhoo, back to Draycote where the tide is measured in months rather than hours, the shore is rocks rather than sand, and the weapon of choice is the Fireball. And it being the end of July and warm/sunny, I finally took the drysuit out of the sail-bag and hung it up by the boiler for the summer before I left the house.

A bit of a poor turnout, werl not surprising, it's the holiday season, plus one of our blokes was on OD duty. Even then, we had 3 Fireball helms wandering around and failing to hook up with each other to take another boat out - our loss was the Laser fleet's gain in this case.

So only 7 'balls took to the water for the 1st race. We chose the starboard end of the line for the start and were treated to a view of Mo & Holly performing a perfect port tack flyer. But the beat was a tricky one and they went too far inshore further up, allowing us to sneak through and take the lead at the top mark, A. Then a dead run to M, followed by a nice 3-sail reach to D, gybe there and it's another (slightly broader) 3-sail reach to J, gybe again, reach to T and start the next lap. By this stage the fleet had formed into 3 chunks, with us and Pete/JR vying for the chocolates, Mo/Holly and Colin/Karen fighting it out for 3rd, and Bob/Paul  winning out over Richard/Kris, largely due to Richard dropping the main-sheet multiple times and his hat just the once.

The wind started to build, and I needed my hat due to the strong sunshine, and that reach from M to D just kept getting better. In these marginal-planing conditions it really helps if the reach is close enough to get the boat fully powered up, and this one was damn-near perfect. Pete/JR gave us a hard time up one of the beats - we'd followed the Solos inshore thinking that they knew what they were doing but all that happened was that Pete came with us and nearly overtook us, and Mo stayed out and gained loads. Still, we led the fleet round for a couple more laps, and the wind kept building, until eventually we couldn't quite carry the kite to D, although we had a lot of fun trying. But Pete/JR managed it, which meant they were hot on our heels when our twinning line broke all of a sudden on the following leg to J. Kite promptly flies off behind the mainsail, aaaargh, quick, get it down, pausing to unhook the spinny sheet from the end of the boom. Then effect quick repair - ie re-tie fluffy end of twinning line to the ring after first passing it over and under a number of other things. Then re-hoist kite, Pete has made good his escape but Mo/Holly and Colin/Karen are still just behind us. Zoom down to J, gybe, and observe the interesting cats-cradle effect that now passes for the leeward twinner - ah well, just got to get to T and across the line to finish. Which we do, meanwhile Colin has crashed into T just behind us, pauses to finish bagging the kite, does a 360 penalty and loses the place to Mo/Holly. So all very exciting, and a cracking race over-all!

Race 2 then, and the sun has gone in, it's raining, my wetsuit is wet and I'm distinctly chilly. Hat now vital for keeping the rain off my face, and where's the damn drysuit ?  At home, that's where. Ah well.

The start line was a clear port bias, right up until 2 mins to go, whereupon it became a starboard bias. Guessing the fleet hadn't noticed, we hung about for a committee boat end start, only for the wind to go back in the last 30 secs, and everyone else made a better start than us. And this time I think it was Bob/Paul who made the port tack flyer. Doh!

Still, we recovered nicely and were in the lead again by the end of the first lap. This time it was a beat to B, reach to M, broad-reach to E, run to F, beat to P, reach to T and start again. This was all fine and dandy except for the broad reach to E, which was way too deep and very very dull. However, the wind later went round (when the rain kicked in again) to be more SW, so the beat become a bit one-sided and the dull reach became a tactical run. Whereupon we experimented with doing different angles, gybing across, picking the wind patches etc, and it was GOOD. A short way behind us the race was shaping up nicely, Richard/Kris were well up at the front of the fleet at the beginning but faded gradually throughout the race, partly as a result of running into the back of Pete. Bob/Paul spent a lot of time in front of Pete/JR, and Mo/Holly and Colin/Karen were all mixing it all the way round. This time however there were no exploding twinning lines, so we won the race by a few seconds from Pete/JR, who had come round T behind Bob/Paul but somehow wiggled their way across the line before them. Another excellent race, and the sun even made an appearance when we were putting the boat away, so the 3rd race contestants had another warm race and maybe dried off a bit in the sunshine.

For me it was off home to continue building the shed, although I think maybe the last race would have been more fun.