Saturday, 29 August 2015

Worlds - Friday

We knew it was going to be windy on Friday, you could hear it in the trees on the campsite. So we went out to the start line with only one item on the agenda: Getting round in one piece. To this end I pulled every bit of depowering string at my disposal, and it still wasn't enough. So although we were going pretty fast upwind, we weren't pointing high enough or indeed going fast enough to get a decent placing.

It perhaps didn't help that our first tack after the start revealed a certain deficiency in my garments. On starboard tack, the waves were crashing over me and being shrugged off by the 'December spec' kit I was wearing. On port tack, I noticed a certain chilliness when the first wave hit, and a massive dampness after the second. Could it be that I had not zipped up the lower part of the drysuit? Ah yes, it could. So we parked up and sorted that out while a few more boats went past. Then round the top mark and off down the run, where the pole once again refused to go out without a big fight, which is just what you need while surfing down the backs of waves while doing about 20 knots. We fixed it though, and had some epic moments, including gybing halfway down. Then another struggle up the next beat and onto the triangle bit, with the 3 sail reaches. Only we didn't fly the kite on the first leg as it was too close and too scary. Out at the gybe mark, the trick was to make sure you gybed while surfing down the back of a wave, whilst picking your way through the upturned boats and avoiding the bloke on starboard who was planning to gybe a bit later, ie maybe Tuesday when the wind had dropped. We declared a full 'code brown' for this bit, but remarkably we pulled it off. We then left the kite in the bag for the 2nd reach.
Then one last slow beat, one more run, and a final short leg across to the finish line. We crossed it, congratulated each other, and promptly capsized. It came up well enough, but we decided that enough was enough, so joined the little procession of boats that were heading for the shore. The 2015Worlds was over.

And finally, a great pic of me, occluded by Paul of course, but definitely there...

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Worlds - Thursday

The day off on Wednesday was pretty windy, but we spent it wandering around Port Merion, so it didn't matter. More importantly, the forecast for Thursday was also for fairly copious amounts of wind, so we did a bit of de-powering of the boat before we launched. Old jib, smaller kite, but I kept the new mainsail because it seems to like windy weather. I also bought a spanner along and tightened the centreboard bolt that had allowed the board to rise unexpectedly offwind yesterday. Out at the start-line, there wasn't anything like as much wind as I had expected, so I reversed some of the de-powering, and off we went.

This being a new and slightly weird mainsail, it generally takes me a little while to find the sweet-spot that gets the boat motoring upwind at a decent speed. This time it came good quite early on, and we rounded the windward mark somewhere in the top half of the fleet and took a lot of boats on the following run and next beat. Then came the reaches, which were great fun, although the centreboard started coming up again. Another beat and a final run ensued, and we then decided to drop the kite for the short leg to the finish. At this point we had a minor disaster, with the spinnaker sheet looping over the end of the pole, so we parked up at the bottom mark and sorted it out. This lost us 2 places, and we finished just ahead of Pete in 32nd place (I think).

The wind, which had been rising through the morning, was now getting a bit fruity. I dropped the rig tension off and dialled in a bit more pre-bend, and tied the centre-board down again. We then went on to make a great start at the pin end, whereupon the entire fleet just sailed away from us. It's generally quite hard to tell how you're doing on the first beat, but this time it was clear that we were almost totally down the toilet. The problem with this, apart from the obvious one, is that you are now sailing around with the more wobbly contingent, who tend to capsize in front of you and generally contrive to slow you down. This was all very painful. Anyway, on the 2nd lap, the spinnaker pole refused to go out and it became us who were slowing everybody else down, so we called it a day and retired. Badders, in contrast, was having a great time in the top 20 boats until another unfortunate spinnaker-pole / clothing incident occurred at the Gybe mark, so he retired too. This only left Colin and Karen to fly the Draycote flag, which they did with no incidents at all (that I know of).

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Worlds - Tuesday

Y and Y did a nice write-up of today's racing:…/Gul-Fireball-Worlds-at-P…

We had another day of mixed fortunes. We had a decent enough start in the first race, but it was a general recall. We then missed the re-start altogether and crossed the line (at the wrong end) about a minute behind the rest of the fleet. Luckily it was quite windy, so we overtook a lot of boats that were upside down and quite a few that weren't, and ended up just inside the top half. The centre-board had taken to sliding up on the fast 2 and 3 sail reaches, which is a massively bad idea when you're hurtling down the back of a wave whilst trying not to lose the crew on the lumpy bits. I tied a bit of string to it so it couldn't come all the way up after that.

For race 2, I sailed doggedly up and down the start-line so the buggers couldn't go without me, and wound up near the (favoured) pin end with about 90 seconds to go, so we parked up and watched the hotshots doing the clever stuff about 3 boat lengths ahead of us. There was no room to get in amongst them, so we hung back and followed them across the line. We were in dirty air but it was pretty windy by this time so there was plenty for everyone. We then charged off to the left hand side of the course, and upon tacking found that we were on the lay line for the windward mark. We must have gone round in the mid 20s, and although we lost a few places to passing hotshots, we also took a few back from people who were as surprised as us to be up there, and some who capsized in the (frankly mental) lumpy water on the reaches and runs.

We did a lot of excellent surfing down the backs of waves, buried the bow a few times, and Paul came back and sat in my seat on the runs, which made steering a bit tricky at times. The 2 sail reach was very hard work, with the crew unable to get low enough to gain traction without risking being knocked off the boat by the next lump of water. In the first race we spent ages chasing Badders (and never caught him). In this one we didn't see him at all, although he was apparently somewhere in the vicinity until he had an unfortunate spinnaker-pole / buoyancy-aid interface issue leading to some swimming and a massive fall down the results table. We were in a respectable 26th place, which I traded for a 27th rather than play silly buggers with the next place boat on the final leg. A great days sailing, and now a day off to recover.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Worlds - Arrival

Here we all are in sunny Wales, where it has rained solidly on me all throughout setting up the boat. Catching up on the news, Badders has changed his mast due to the old one being dodgy, and Nick & Karen won a prize. Miles Thomas is here, but not Richard B (back problems) or Pete S (too rainy). Tomorrow we're doing the first World Championships races. Yay!

Sunday, 16 August 2015


Worlds News - part 1. The advance party of Pete & Jez and Nick & Karen have (hopefully) landed in Wales and formed a beachhead. They'll be sussing out the terrain and demoralising the opposition for the rest of the week, until the reinforcements arrive in the shape of Richard & Andrew, Paul & Andy, and me & Paul. And Colin. We then execute our master-plan for world domination. Bwahahaha.