Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Nationals pt. 2

Day 4 - Wednesday
Awoken in the night by the sound of rain, the noise of the wind, and the cat on my pillow. Decided then that I was officially not looking forward to the forthcoming day's sailing, but what can you do but man up and get on with it.

Down to the boat park, where crew has rigged the boat, got changed, and is standing to attention awaiting orders. Wind down here is not nearly as scary as on the campsite, so we pulled the pins and went from 22'4" to 22'6".  It was onshore too, so a bit tricky getting off the beach with the fixed rudder and I held off tying it on until I was sure we were clear of the beach.

Out at the start line, where there was noticeably less weed floating about than there had been on previous days (when I spent half my time trying to avoid big lumps of it, and the other half trying to remove it from the rudder without falling overboard). Also observed that there wasn't even enough sunshine to make the Tack-Tick digital compass work

So the gun goes, and we're off, and the first thing I noticed as I sheeted in hard was that the mainsheet outer was coming apart at the point where it goes through the cleat. Spent the rest of the first beat trying not to damage it further, but it inevitably came apart and then started to bunch up. So it came to pass that we rounded the windward mark and stuck the kite up, and the fluffy end of the mainsheet outer refused to go through the hole in the boom resulting in my being unable to let the mainsail out. This is not good. I was just pondering what might be done about it when there was a clonking noise from the back of the boat and the steering went light. On closer inspection, this was because the rudder had just popped off and was taking no further part in the whole steering business. With great presence of mind, I alerted the crew to this state of affairs by shouting "oh bollocks!" marginally before the boat bore away madly and capsized on top of us.

It went upside down fairly smartly, and we were left swimming round it with me clutching the rudder. I experimented briefly with putting it back on the boat whilst I was in the water, decided this was a stupid idea, and climbed onto the upturned hull to do it from there. So I hauled myself onto the hull and strolled off to the transom, whereupon the movement of the boat caused me to fall off into the water again. Once again I clambered onto the upturned hull, stood up, and was promptly pitched off head first into the water.

At this point I gave up on the whole rudder thing and lashed it to the boat using the spinnaker sheet. I then hung around in the water until Iain pulled the boat up, and we got the kite down, put the rudder on, and re-rigged the mainsheet so that it ran outside the boom and could therefore function normally. But by this time we were in danger of being lapped, so opted to go back to the shore for a bit of mainsheet repair and a rest.

On the way, we passed Pete & Steve who were pootling homeward even more slowly than we were. It transpired that the tendons in Steve's arm were unequal to the task of crewing, so game over. 

Getting a new split-tail mainsheet in Looe in under an hour was clearly not an option, so we got the needles and whipping twine out and did a stitch and whipping job on both the fluffy ends, resulting in something that would let me hold onto the normal thickness of rope but cleating it on the inner core only. Then back out to the start line for race 2.

As usual we made a bit of a crap start, but tacked off, played a few shifts and hunches, and were doing ok at the top of the beat in spite of the mainsheet now being a bit unreliable in the jammer. Up with the kite, whereupon we found that we had really quite decent speed on the reaches, with several places taken and not many lost. There is a bit of a knack to 3-sail reaching in waves, basically you bear away down the wave-front for a bit of surfing, and then luff up when you get to the trough. Or maybe you don't, but that's what I did and it seemed to work ok.

Going up the beat we were being out-pointed, and I could see no way of avoiding it. But the compass had found enough photons to enable it to work again, and a bit more considered tacking on the shifts managed to put us ahead of the nearest boats regardless of their better pointing abilities. Going down the run, the boats we had just overtaken were doing it as 2 broad reaches where we were more-or-less dead running, and it was interesting to see what the net result would be. In the end I think we lost a little ground to the reaching boats, but it was only a very little given the length of the run, and we overtook them again on the next beat anyway. Still, worth bearing in mind for next time.

I have no idea where we came in that one, but I know we were ahead of Jez, so presumably we didn't do too badly. I then emptied my wallet (again) to purchase a new mainsheet from the local branch of P&B, handily located in Dave Wade's kitchen, so we should be ok for tomorrow. Hell, even I can put a mainsheet on a boat without screwing it up. Usually.

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