Monday, 18 March 2013

Snow joke

Well the forecast was pretty clear that we could expect some decent sailing weather today. A variety of forecast sites agreed that it would start off a bit fluffy, but we'd get 9 or 10mph winds by 1pm, maybe a bit of rain, not too cold etc. So most of the winter-sailing bit of the fleet turned up all keen and ready to go, and some of them were even changed and rigged...

And then it started snowing

And the wind dropped to nothing

And we stood in the wetbar for hours hoping it might just snap out of it, but it just carried on snowing

So we all went home.

And, predictably, by the time I was at home eating my lunch at about the time the afternoon race normally starts, it had stopped snowing, there was a little bit of wind and the sun came out.

So basically, it had snowed at precisely the right moment and for just long enough to screw up my day's sailing, and then stopped.


I found out later that one pair of blokes had stayed and gone sailing, and Nick was one of them:

Me and Paul wish a few more people had stuck it out as the sailing this afternoon was alright in the end - we've certainly raced in less wind and it wasn't too cold out there. There were times when I couldn't see the luff of the kite for the blinding sunshine!

So four solos and one lonely Fireball went out to play. The committee had clearly listened to feedback from last week and sensibly set just five marks for the course - X, N, T, J and OL. We had a cracking start, full speed across the line, slightly after the gun went but we were in first place. Good power up the beat, I was even sitting up on the side tank but not quite clipped in. First at X we bore away and set the kite. It was a reasonably fast reach to N where we gybed again. Couldn't keep the kite flying as it was pretty tight to T so down it came. Gybed at T and set the kite again but it was a slow run next to the dam wall down  to J. Some Fireballers might have headed up to sail higher and faster and possibly overtake but as we were the only ones out there we just went straight to the mark.

Heading up round J we kept the kite flying and with Paul on the leeward side now was my only chance to trapeze. Kite down and close hauled round OL back to X. Second lap the pressure had dropped and I was on the other side of the boat now, nowhere near the windward side. Our new jib tell tale on the trailing edge was keeping Paul happy - our slot looked to be working even though the pressure was light. As the sun came out we were hoping for some thermal effects but they never quite switched on.

Lap two was a repeat of lap one except we dropped the kite before going round N. Some more experienced Fireballers may have been able to fly their kites on the tight reach from N to T but as we were the only ones out there we'll never know.

Lap three it was getting almost tropical with the sun but the thermal wind never materialised. The wind must have shifted though as on (what turned out to be) the last lap, having dropped the kite again at N, Paul reckoned we could fly it to T. Up went the kite and as long as I pinned it in it flew. Not too sure we were going much faster though. Kept the kite up as we gybed around T and ran it straight down to J where we didn't need to head up too much as the hooter from the race box told it was finish next. As we came in, sensibly dropping the main before approaching the slipway under jib alone we were puzzled to see the Solos all get finish guns and continue sailing for another lap. Boat put away and as we signed off the race committee told us that the Solos were making the most of the abandoned race from this morning by getting in as much sailing as they could.

After showers and walking down back to the cars we were surprised to see that the Solos were still out. Yes it's not long before the clocks change and we start doing two races in the afternoon......

Monday, 11 March 2013

Double Hat Day!

I looked out of the window and the bushes were dancing about amongst the snow flurries, so when Poorly Paul rang to tell me how cold it was, I didn't put up too much of a struggle and we chickened out of the day's racing. Still, got to go up to the club to help Clive and Rod to rig the fleet boat - they've never sailed a Fireball before and have chosen today to have their first go.

Remarkably, they were still keen to go out when we met in the boatpark in the teeth of an Arctic F3 blowing in from the NE, even with the promise of a lot more windyness to come later on. But in deference to the conditions, we decided that I would chaperone them (one at a time) in the boat on the offchance that this might help a bit.

Now the fleet boat is built like a brick outhouse but is not set up for strong winds or any sort of technical trickery, so it came to pass that Rod and I went out with it set on 22'8" and nothing more than a few armfuls of kicker available to de-power it. Still, Rod demonstrated himself to be a bit of a star player considering he'd never set foot in a Fireball before. So having made short work of going upwind and arriving up near F entirely intact, we turned it round and chucked the kite up. Geezers who are used to asymmetric kites are generally confused by the symmetric job on the Fireball, but it's only a matter of pulling the right strings, and we carried off a couple of gybes with some aplomb, followed by a tasty 3-sail reach through the Laser fleet's start line, and even got it down without issue.

Then back in to swap Rod for Clive, and for yours-truly to put the dreaded trapeze harness on, then off for some more splashing about. The wind was getting a bit fruity by this time, but what the hell. Clive normally helms a Vago, but took to the Fireball like a duck to a sandwich, while I tried not to be too crap up the front end. We managed to lay the boat flat a couple of times (largely due to me not letting the jib go) but I managed to save it by unhooking from the trapeze when I attained the vertical, and then holding onto the trapeze loop and leaning back - from which point you can save just about anything. Then we did a bit of kite flying with Clive crewing, which was pretty good, and then Clive took us back ashore again. All safe and sound, we took the mainsail down and were standing in the water sorting out the trolley when Paul and Nick attempted to mow us down as they came ashore. Welcome the the fleet, boys!

Clive and Rod said they enjoyed the Fireball, which (they said) was a lot roomier than the Vago as well as being faster, a lot less twitchy on the helm and more stable. Fingers crossed, you might be seeing a lot more of these guys.

Meanwhile the first race had already taken place, and Pete Slack was your man on the water:

With a forecast of -1 degrees and 17knts NE feels like Siberia it was always going to be a “Double Hat Day”. As per form the the Fireball Fleet sailed forth to look expectantly at the course board on the back of the committee boat. A trial beat confirmed the forecast of up to 25 knt gusts so we put the pins in and raked to 22' 6”. [Tech note 1 for the technically minded put the pins in whilst onshore, easier to pull then out if the wind drops rather than fight to put them with frozen fingers in the rising breeze].

As we hadn't sailed for a while we did the honourable thing and let the rest of the fleet get off to a flying start, giving Paul and Nick the opportunity to lead at the windward mark. Casual fine reach with occasional gusts to have a look at the trees by E, inside Capt'n Bob, up with Big Blue and under Paul and Nick and off on a cracking 3 sailer on the waves to K with Capt'B in hot pursuit, beat K to J and then a kite up and off to D. But not quite, picked up a collection of humongous snow covered gusts mid lake and took the warmest decision got all the boat out the water and planed to C......beat back to D, look back to see we've fooled Capt'n Bob into doing the same and capsizing :)

Helen and Paul scoot past, run on to C gybe early and sneak on the inside of Helen and Paul, set up for the 3 sailer to B, Rachel wires and sheets in, bang! twinner lets go [tech note 2, use D12 for twinners, standard dynema rope polyester cover wears or breaks on the knot by the stainless ring], kite down-wind heads so probably a good idea. And back to the full length lake 1.5mile beat to S, glad we're not in a laser!!

After a tentative first lap confidence recovers and we blow away the cob webs in the breeze and waves, though some also enjoy it so much they take a longer route round N and P as well....

A special note to the two guys who took the Fleet boat out, looked to be going quite well.

In for a warm and pleasant lunch and tea with the spectating old dears...............temperature drops even further so CBA sets in so off to the bar.


[Tech note 3 for a committee somewhere, there's a certain challenge writing down a whole line of race marks in feels like -5, the search for a second line may well be a lower in the priorities with the prospect of full immersion in a gusty F4/5].