Monday, 5 September 2016

Hero to zero

Date: 4th September 2016
Wind: W - NW, F2-3

The Fevas had got some sort of an event this weekend, so my Sunday didn't start very well at all.  Arriving at the club to find that all the car-parking spaces were taken, after some fruitless searching I abandoned the car in the Severn Trent bit and hoped for the best.  The changing rooms were similarly challenging, and out on the water the open meeting was using the bit of the water between H and P, which wasted Toft bay completely and apparently left only the bit from Y up to B for the club racing. (In point of fact the Fevas were doing W/L racing, so there was all the nearer side of the lake to be had too, only it didn't appear we'd be using that bit for some reason). Grumble.

Race 1: 8 boats. Start at Y, Orange Thing (up near B), N, A, Y.

Well we came in from the LHS in the last minute with no watch, and tacked onto starboard under the bow of Colin & Karen. Paul yelled 'Let's go', so (assuming he'd heard a hoot) we luffed up and shot across the line in fine style taking C&K with us, only to hear the gun go about 5 seconds later. So we gybed round the pin and heard another 2 hoots - that's a general recall then. But after a 10 second dawdle I observed the flag was 'X' and the fleet were still going, so we took off in hot pursuit.

Beat up to Orange Thing, arrive in about 4th place, run down to N, one-sided beat up to A and decent reach to Y, arriving moments after the FH fleet went off, now got lots of traffic to contend with too. Massive grumble.

Well it took a while, but eventually Nick & Richard got a beat wrong, and it was just us and Colin & Karen, whom we eventually passed on the run to N - it having proved impossible to do it on the beat. First place for us and not altogether a bad experience - score 15 points for tactical runs in moderate airs and another 20 for the 3-sail reach to Y, which was quite tasty.  Then lose 20 points for the hooked finish, tiny beat and longer fetchy beat, and another seven million for all the club boats packed into a a quarter of the lake all getting in my way.


Race 2: 7 boats. Start near K, B, C, Y, Orange Thing, K, Gate

Now this was a bit better!   More wind and a decent length beat up to B, where we managed to be notionally in the lead and yet still had to cross behind almost everybody at one point or another.  Very close at the top and we arrived just in front, and I'll forgive the starboard rounding and the close 2-sail reach to C under the wall. Then a decent run down to Y and a very tasty 3-sail reach to the Orange Thing, which was parked upwind of K and so close to the shore that you practically had to walk round it. Gybe there, and sort the kite out PDQ as we get it down at K and start the next lap.

Nick & Richard, closely followed by Colin & Karen and JT & Quentin

Colin & Karen

Paul & Clive


Jane & Pat, somewhat delayed by capsizing, sailing round with the Freds
So back up the beat, now under pressure from - well - almost everyone.  We observed a bit of a port-starboard thing near the top which slowed down both parties and presumably prompted a 720 from Nick & Richard, so we were still in the lead and in some decent breeze on the leg across to C. Which went summat like this:

Me: "Pressure coming..."

Paul: (does impression of a heavy thing)

Wind: "Hellooo Baby!"

Paul: (adjusts trapeze height downwards)

Trapeze line: "Twang!"

Paul: "Splash!"

Boat: (capsizes)

Paul generally goes a bit catatonic when sufficiently diluted, and rather than trying to beat Adam Peaty's time for the 100m breastroke, just mooches laconically in your general direction at a speed slightly slower than a drifting capsized Fireball.  So it was up to me to bound onto the centreboard and haul the boat upright, then sail it back over to him and drag him into the boat. I achieved this just as the last Fireball (exc. Jane & Pat who had capsized earlier for no obvious reason) went past...

Now I was feeling pretty hyped what with all the winning and the exercise and the near dunking, and I do like a challenge, so I suggested to Paul that the game was not over yet.  We just had to get it round C with no trapeze, and the rest of the lap was all on starboard for which we still had a trapeze.  So we did just that, and by the time we got to the orange buoy we were back in the lead again by virtue of a close call for water. Then a short 3-sail reach to K (no trapeze, but worked OK), round the mark, across the line, and no finish gun as we've got another lap to do...

Tacking through the gate at the start of the last lap. My bald spot is intact, but you can see the remains of the port-side trapeze line hanging around above Paul's right hand.

Hmmm, that's quite a long beat in a F2-3 with no port hand trapeze.  Still, we manned up, tried to do the windy bits on starboard, and ended up hanging Nick & Richard out to the LHS before tacking for the mark and getting there still in the lead.  A last bit of legwork to C, and then onto the run to Y.

Well of course they all converged on us on the run, JT & Quentin trying to sneak past to leeward, Nick & Richard and Colin & Karen trying to go over the top.  But we hung on (ie, got lucky), and the wind kicked in for an excellent 3-sail reach to the Orange Thing which gave us a decent lead, maybe 10 seconds, and that's all we needed. So we gybed the kite at OT, got it set, just need to get to K about 30 yards away and we're home and dry, with a display of excellence in the teeth of adversity that would go down in the annals of history. Yay!

But as the kite set, I realised that, given the lack of a trapeze line, the extra breeze was not our friend here.  Paul started to get the kite down, at which point one of his arms became cramped up and it took a bit longer than usual. And if I'd let the kicker off, I might have kept the boom out of the water...

But it was not to be.

So I clambered over the side and stood on the centreboard again, but I didn't rush this time as it was quite clear that there was no way back from this one.  The fleet was pretty tightly packed, so they all came past fairly quickly, and then waved nicely to us as they came back from the finish line and headed for home. And I stood there a bit longer thinking deep thoughts, before pulling the boat up, retrieving the crew from the water and then plodding off that way ourselves.

(Long Sigh)

But was it good?  Well, yes, it was.  In spite of the gear failure and capsizes, or maybe partly because of them, it was one of the closest races I've been involved in for a while.  Unlike most weeks however, it wasn't just one boat giving us a hard time, it was nearly all of them. That minor detail brings a lot to the party.  And the lack of space - claustrophobic in the 1st race, but barely noticeable in the more spread out 2nd. We would have needed a lot more if it had been windier of course.

Back next week then for more of the same, just got to fix the damn trap line now.


With thanks to the OD team for a great day's sailing in tricky conditions, and to Bryan on the committee boat for the pics and these little vids:
https://www.facebook.com/bryan.underdown/videos/10210484183202227/
https://www.facebook.com/bryan.underdown/videos/10210484253563986/

Monday, 1 August 2016

Going left


A bit of a changeable F2-3 wind yesterday and the improv comedy Fireball fleet was out in force, albeit lacking a few of the regulars. The OD gave us one of the best courses I've seen in months, complete with 2 beats and a variety of different reaches. Ho for the start line then, hit the middle of the line and mooch towards the pin hoping to arrive when the gun went. Well the wind promptly dropped and Mo & Holly and Paul & Clive shot out ahead on port tack flyers, bickering loudly over the availability of water at the pin (hint: you can't have any). So we plodded off left followed by Bob & Paul, the rest of the fleet went right, and when we arrived at the top mark (near Y) you can guess who were 2nd last and last respectively. Then our kite wouldn't go up and we were in last place, and Bob mentioned in passing that he wouldn't be following us up any more beats any time soon.

Soooo, run down to K, fleet bunched up a bit, broad reach to T, and we were just behind Helen & Paul, now 2nd last. Again the whole fleet were heading right for the beat to X whereas the wind looked better on the left. We went left and popped out kinda mid-fleet at the top. Yay! Reach to J arriving still just ahead of Mo & Holly, then up through the gate to start the next lap.

Well, once again it looked good on the left, and once again everyone else went right, only this time we ended up in first place, just ahead of Pete & Richard. After that, the dice fell in our favour on pretty much every leg, including an excellent 3-sail reach to T on the last lap, when the wind kicked in and the sun came out. That was great, and we came home with a massive lead at the end too.
Race 2 then, again we hit the middle of the line with 20 secs to go, but this time the wind dropped away to nothing, and we and all the other starboard tack boats just sat there for a bit. Meanwhile, 30ft away at the pin, 3 boats were enjoying a very stiff F3. Two of them bounded across the line in good order and proceeded up the beat, while the 3rd (Bob & Paul), hooned across into the dead air that afflicted the rest of us and promptly capsized to windward. Well I don't mind getting a crap start if someone is going to lay on entertainment like that for me, and we were laughing so much we could barely sail a straight line when the wind finally arrived. To add insult to injury, somebody (who shall remain nameless) called starboard on Bob & Paul on the basis that they were sitting in the water on port tack and the mast was still hovering a few feet above the water, and prevailed on them to do turns. For the record, if the crew are in the water and the rudder isn't, they can generally claim to be not under control (therefore an obstruction) and argue exemption from that kind of thing.

Anyway, after that fabulous start the rest of the race was a bit pedestrian, Mo & Holly eventually overhauled both Jane & Pat and Paul & Clive and came home in first place. We clawed our way back to 2nd place, were overtaken at the end of the last beat by Pete & Richard, then rolled them on the 3-sail reach to J in a very satisfying manner, leaving them to pick up 3rd place. Helen & Paul had one of those going-up-the-beat-in-the-same-direction-but-on-opposite-tacks moments, followed by one of those 90-degree-headers and then one of those sitting-in-the-water-moments, which at least gave Bob a chance to catch up a bit. Everyone then headed for the bar for a well earned drinkie. Lovely!

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Extreme Pursuit Racing

May Day pursuit race: F4-6, Course OL, S, N, C, F
So that was pretty epic. It probably shouldn't have been, the course was nothing to write home about - an olympic triangle in disguise with a wing mark that was way upwind of where it should have been. And the start was a joke - well mine was anyway - about 2 minutes behind Martyn & Richard, who were themselves at least a minute late. So you can see that it didn't bode well, and we were a tad downhearted as we crossed the line some time after the Darts had gone with the board showing "next start 33.5".
Anyway, we trekked up to the first mark - OL, and we already knew that the dead run back to S was too dead for comfort, so we gybed immediately and headed out to T before gybing back. We were promptly rewarded with a very tasty broad reach, and arrived at S with less of a massive deficit than we started with. The next beat was up to N, where we gained a bit more ground on M & R, and when we arrived it was just in time to see them performing a 360 for touching the mark. Well it was kinda windy by now, and when they gybed they ended up doing the other sort of 360 - the one where the mast goes under the boat. So we trotted off down the hideous close reach to C, overtaking a Dart somewhere along the way.

We're going high here - didn't dare bear away yet!
Quick gybe at C, up with the kite, and of course the leg to F is too broad to be exciting - not far off a run really. So we went low towards the shore and then came back up for a bit of speed towards the end, and that was the end of the first lap.
We then did the whole thing all over again, and it started to get properly windy around the end of the 2nd lap. Coming up the beat from F to OL I dropped the jib bars right out - we were already on 22'4" rake and some extra pre-bend - and somewhere along the way we overtook the other Dart which gives you some idea how fast we were going at that point. M & R were coming back at us though, you're never safe when they're around, particularly when the wind gets up.

Beating angles pretty poor, but wow that was fast!
Back down the run, back up to N, and we were halfway along that leg to C (now both unpleasant and enormously hard work) when I deduced from the penetrating cold wet feeling that I had forgotten to do the drysuit right up. Doh!
So we fixed that after the gybe at C, went low again, and shortly after that I wished we hadn't as the wind went properly mental, resulting in a barely-under-control hyperspace reach with the bear-aways giving us some (frankly unwanted) views of the shrubbery on the shore. Thankfully we avoided ending up the bushes and pulled out a better lead on the Dart, plus for an added bonus M & R had disappeared from my rear-view mirror by virtue of being upside down near C. I assumed the hideous reach plus mental wind had claimed them, but apparently they'd run out of the good stuff and gone in to windward.
One more epic high-wind beat, and then it started to calm down again. Jib-bars back in, Fevas all overtaken, just the Fred to go. But this was a quality Fred and we'd given it the best part of 8 minutes headstart, so I wasn't too surprised when the finish boats loomed into view before we got anywhere near it.
So that was more a battle against the elements than a proper race, but it was pretty awesome nonetheless, and a salutary reminder that the Fireball is the best boat you can be in when it gets properly windy.

Martyn & Richard
With thanks as always to Malcolm Lewin for the pics.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Comedy racing

Race 1: Triangular thing (right next to N), H, S, T, P, Gate
Turnout: 9 boats

The race started early, or so I'm told.  I didn't have a watch, so all I know is that we were able to launch from the shore, sail to and then across the start-line, gybe and then start about 5 seconds later - which counts as about right in my book. No idea what the course was, and we had to tack off pdq as our start wasn't exactly optimal.  So we went right, found a header, tacked onto starboard and were lifted to the mark, arriving there ahead of almost everybody else (apart from the headstart brigade). Woohoo!  There was a certain amount of close-quarters sailing as we went around the mark along with about 4 other boats - Peter & Dave denied us an overlap but gave room to Helen & Paul, Colin & Karen arrived at speed on starboard and found P&D in the way, but generously didn't T-bone them. Helen came out of the melee first, with us 2nd. We then got past Helen & Paul and the early mob on the next few legs and created a huge and unassailable lead, which we then promptly lost on the 2nd last lap. No amount of going the wrong way up the remaining beats helped the situation, and we ended up 2nd to Peter & Dave.  I think Colin & Karen were 3rd, but I could be wrong. Pete & Richard had been in 3rd but did some swimming, Gordon & Bryan were doing OK when they lassoed the tiller with mainsheet at the gybe mark and also capsized, and a good time was had by all.


Race 2: Triangular thing (still near N), H, E, X, P, Gate
Turnout: 7 boats

This was something of a comedy of errors.  We went right on the first beat again, but this time the windshift favoured the lefties and we rounded roughly 2nd last, with only Pete & Richard worse off than us, having gone right even sooner and further than we did.  Oh, and Bob & Paul, who were upside down.  Y'see, when the windshift arrived it came with a nice big lump of wind, and we tacked to take advantage and found ourselves sitting very nearly on B&P's wind.  That went OK for about 10 secs, until we accelerated into the exactly-on-their-wind position, at which point they capsized to windward.  Sorry boys.

OK, so hoon off down the (rather attractive) 3-sail reach to H, gybe, and another decent-ish 3-sailer to E, where we got stuck behind Paul & Clive. Grumble. Titchy beat to X, titchy reach to P, and off we go again for lap 2.  At this point we'd got past P&C and were closing on Colin & Karen, and even leaders Peter & Dave didn't look too far away. Then disaster struck, initially in the form of a pole that refused to go out due to an errant bobble on the pole downhaul. It took us half of the leg to identify the problem, and then when it was fixed, Paul was taken aback by the lack of resistance to the pole and basically chucked it round the forestay.  Those of you who have done this will know that it's a bit of a sod to retrieve, so we lost the rest of the leg doing that while Colin & Karen did a runner and Paul & Clive overtook us again. Trot down to E behind P&C again. Grumble moan.

Best part of a lap later, once more ahead of Paul & Clive and closing on C&K, we enjoyed a trouble free hoon down to H, gybed, took up the slack in the spinnaker sheet and observed that it was no longer attached to the spinnaker. So we gybed again, hoping to catch the kite unawares, but it wandered off and hid behind the jib, so no alternative other than to gybe back, pull kite down, manoeuvre sheet round the forestay, tie it back on again.  Colin & Karen disappeared over the horizon, and Pete & Richard promptly hove into view and nipped past. Moan, grumble, moan. So we got back past them on the 3-sailer to P, were forced high, had to get kite down, gybe, hurtle back shouting for water, nipped round just ahead. Phew.

We then had to fight them off for the next beat, nipped round the windward mark just ahead (I think) and hoisted the kite, whereupon the eagle-eyed crew observed that the spinnaker guy rope was no longer connected in any way to the twinner, courtesy of the re-stringing job he'd done previously. Some conversation ensued, and we resolved the problem by wrapping the guy around the chain-plate and holding on to the end.  This got us going again, just in time to see Pete & Richard zooming past to windward. Gaaah!

However, adjustment of the guy was now a bit tricky, so when a big lump of wind arrived and the leg became a close reach, it rapidly became apparent that we couldn't lay H with the kite up.  So we ditched it, hardened up (now on a very close reach), and neatly overtook P&R who had belatedly come to the same conclusion about the viability of the kite and were still getting it down. We then did about mach 5 towards a couple of Lasers approaching the mark, and after a brief discussion with them over the potential for having water (they thought not), went round on the inside anyway.

Off to E, then the short beat up to X, whereupon some sort of a windshift occurred and we were overtaken by Pete & Richard AND Paul & Clive. Noooooh!  Then round X, up with kite, roll P&R but couldn't catch P&C, so ended up still behind them at the next mark (P) and across the line for 3rd place at the finish (Peter & Dave having won the thing some time previously).

Excellent race!

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Optimistic

A very decent blast round was had by 6 Fireballs on Sunday, with another boat's-worth of our boys on the committee boat.

Race 1: F3, course F, P, J, OL
This was a great 4-boat battle for the lead which lasted for at least 2 full laps before Mo & Holly broke away to eventually win the thing, There were places to be won and lost up each beat, and some real damage was done on the runs too, mostly to me. Peter & David pinched 2nd place at the end from Colin & Karen, leaving me and Paul to claim 4th place. Further back were Helen & Richard who had misjudged the start time massively, and Jane & Pat who had a tendency to reach up the beats but otherwise looked good (and fast) in the new blue boat. Memorable points were the Optimist training session which dictated your route up the beats, and the 2-sail reach to J which occasionally looked to be kiteable, whilst generally turning out not to be just after you put the thing up.
Having enjoyed ourselves in the morning and braved the totally crowded wetbar at lunch, we all turned out for the PM race too. 

Race 2: F3-4, course G, F, X, P, E, J, OL
This one was a real blast, although less competitive as the wind dictated the results quite early on. Beating up from OL to G, it was all to play for as we approached the far shore on starboard tack. I decided that going on up under the shore would be a stupid idea, so tacked off and headed towards Toft Bay. Peter & Dave carried on to a point close to the shore before tacking, whereupon a dark line of wind appeared on the water parallel to the shore like a motorway leading directly to G. P&D promptly scorched off along this path, going faster and pointing higher than anyone else, and were never seen again. Mo & Holly pulled a crash tack in front of me when the wind shifted about 45 degrees, and we both trekked off to G together in the freshening breeze. Round G, kite up, over to F, then a dead run down to X. We did these alongside Mo & Holly and Jane & Pat, then broke away somewhat on the fast 2-sail reach to P. At this point it was really quite chuffin' windy, and respect is due to everyone who didn't capsize (ie, everyone). But the windy stuff takes its toll on the lighter crews and the wobblier boats, and the race became a bit processional after that. Still, after beating up to E we had the consolation prize of a cool 3-sail reach right across the lake to J, and the opportunity to sail through the Optimist training session which was neatly parked en-route.
After a couple of laps of this, the wind was dropping again, the finish line loomed, and having had the kite up from E to J to OL, Paul and I decided to leave it up for the little bit of a fetch to the finish line. In the event, it turned out you couldn't lay the line with the kite up, so we Aussie-dropped it (and briefly the crew too) for the last few yards, much to the amusement of Bob & Paul on the committee boat. Mo & Holly were next, then Colin & Karen, then Helen & Richard, then Jane & Pat.
Good racing in a sensible amount of breeze, and although the temperatures were around 5-6 degrees, I was occasionally too hot and had to remove my woolly hat at one point. That's what happens when you have to work hard at your sailing!

Friday, 26 February 2016

More capsizing!

My time on the water seems to be reducing every week at present. Last week I only got one race, this week not even that much...

There were 13 Fireball sailors on-site today, so enough to put 6.5 boats on the water. However, one person didn't arrive until midday, two were on the committee boat, and another 4 decided it was too cold and stayed in the wet-bar. That left a meagre 3 boats doing the race.

Wind: onshore and chilly F4 ish
Course: H, X, J, A, P, C, K, Gate


Off the line we were immediately blown into the long grass by Peter & Dave, pointing higher and going at least as fast as us upwind.  Note the lack of leech tension on my boat (778) compared to the others, maybe it was down to that.

Paul & Paul made a decent fist of the first bit of the beat, but then went off even lower than us and ended up way back at the top mark. Peter & Dave had a bit of a lead on us by then, but we clawed a bit back on the run down to X. We then bagged our kite before gybing, whereas they left it up and promptly capsized even before they had a chance to find out that the next leg was too close for it. So I did my little 'Happy day oh happy day' song again and hared off to J, quick gybe, and up with the kite again.

The next leg was a pretty good 3-sail reach to A, kite up, zoom past clubhouse and committee boat, where's Malcolm and his camera when you need him. Then a beat up to P, another nice 3-sail reach to C, and a 2-sail reach back to K that I can only describe as a bit tricky. 


Armed with a decent lead, we started the next lap and were still well in front at H and X. However, the wind dropped for us on the way to J, and Peter & Dave rapidly arrived with their own personal gust to sit just behind us at the gybe mark. OK, up with the kite for another blast down to A, and this time it was even windier, so a whole lot of fun. We were photogenic as hell, straight past the clubhouse, surely Malcolm would snap us this time and win prizes for awesome pics...


Anyway, round A and P&D were too close for comfort, but there's probably only 3 legs left, just got to keep it together for another 20 mins or so. P&D tacked, we tacked to cover them, Paul left the jib cleated and we promptly capsized. He then fell in the water and left yours truly to do the centreboard thing, then climbed back in and said he was too cold to carry on. Apparently he'd been in the Bahamas for the last 2 weeks, 30 degrees in the shade etc, and didn't much like the 3 or so degrees stuff that had just poured into his wetsuit. So we wobbled off back to the shore and packed up. Peter & Dave carried on round to win, and Paul & Paul had 'a bit of trouble' on the 2-sail reach, but ended up a well deserved 2nd place.


For the record, I was wearing a drysuit and 2 thermal layers plus winter gloves and a balaclava and a wooly hat on top of that, and I was absolutely toasty the whole time I was out there. It wasn't even all that windy, well nothing like last week anyway. Just wear everything you own and get out there, days like this are few and far between and too good to miss.

Bring a hardy perennial crew with you though.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Last minute stuff

"Don't try any last minute...stuff", said the assassin Mr Teatime to the figure of Death, while waving around something dangerous and pointy.

"I am last minute stuff", replied Death.

After which it all ended rather badly for Mr Teatime, if memory serves correctly.  You want more?  go read the book - The Hogfather by T. Pratchett, he wrote some sublime prose, whereas this is just a second rate sailing blog.

Out on the lake, nobody died, it was more a case of wounded pride and some bruises to the crew, but it was undeniably a bit last-minutey at the end, and every bit as exciting.

Race 1 (and only)
Course:  Ridiculous Triangle Thing (near N), T, E, G, Gate
Wind: 15-20mph from the SW
Lake: Divided into 2 by the Laser event at the top end

Five boats pulled their sails up for this one, although only one had to rethread the main halyard first, a result of Poorly Paul's exuberant efforts immediately before going on holiday 2 weeks earlier.  Another Fireball was present in spirit in the form of Bob and Paul on the committee boat, and Jane and Pat were fettling their boat on the bank having just had it back from the menders. Iain was kindly standing in for PP this week at the front of my boat.

Out at the start we rapidly discovered that it was not a 22'6" sort of a day as we had supposed, definitely more in the 22'4" region - ah well, too late now.  To compensate, I moved the strut forwards an inch, wanged on the cunningham and let the jib bars go up and out a bit.

Once again, the gun went before we'd got the course, so we went and read it off the board before setting off in pursuit of the rest of the pack.  We could have opted to just follow everyone else, but you know how that turned out last time.  Unusually though, there were no Lasers at all and only a couple of Freds in the vicinity of the committee boat, which made a nice change.

Zoom up the beat then, more reaching than beating, but it was good enough that we overtook JT & Quentin pretty rapidly. Round RTT and a short broad reach to T which we could have kited, but nobody else did so we didn't bother either. We ducked inside Colin and Karen for the gybe at T, which would have been a dubious call for water if I'd actually made it, but they generously allowed us through anyway. Next up was a 2-sail reach to E, which was bloody hard work but we did at least overtake Paul & Paul (to leeward) on that one. A quick gybe at E, and there in the near distance were Peter & Dave capsizing while launching the kite. Oh happy day, oh happy day etc.

I should mention at this point that the leg from E to G was kite-able, but E is in a little bay and if you bunged the kite up straight after the gybe, you would have got it set just in time to accelerate into the bushes on the bank.  So we all hooned out from the shore on 2-sails before putting kites up, and that worked well all round (except for the aforementioned Peter & Dave).  On lap 1 we took the lead there, and still had it on lap 2.  Both times the kite took an age to set and was a bit 'meh' when it was up, although probably better than not having it at all. On lap 3 it all came together very nicely and the boat achieved hyperspace speeds for about 60 seconds, before we had to drop it again.  This is where you miss having a decent sized leg, B to G would have been the dog's bollocks, but E to G, reduced by a bit of 2-sailing out from the shore, was just not enough. Still, you takes it where you can, and that bit was bloody excellent while it lasted.

Behind us we'd had Colin & Karen and Paul & Paul for the entire race, and we didn't seem to get much of a lead on either of them.  Now Peter & Dave turned up again, and simply demolished us upwind, pointing way higher and going at least as fast.  They just beat us round RTT and were still just ahead at T.  After a decent gybe, we were able to sail over the top of them, but they stayed firmly on our transom as both boats charged across the lake on the 2-sail reach to E.  That leg was always a bit epic, and we had good value for money out of it this time too.  You ride the gusts, dumping the main, bearing away wildly, then coming back up as the boat settles in, and the thing is doing about mach 5 and you glance back to see the other boat is still there, going just as unfeasibly fast as you, and still unaccountably upright too.  Yeah, epic.  Round E, and we came out from the shore but it was kinda windy, so we didn't get the kite up. Further on, we should have done, but we didn't and they didn't, and we figured maybe we could sit on them for the last little bit of beat up to the Gate.

Round G, adopt beating position, but now with centreboard further down and jib bars further in. We tacked onto port in unison, and I guess they thought we'd drop down onto them and be screwed, but we held a course almost as high as theirs, with the result that they just pulled gradually ahead but we stayed to windward and they couldn't tack.  So we hit the lay-line, then went past it a bit, then tacked in unison again onto starboard, but we could lay the committee boat now and they were higher but slightly behind. All we had to do at this point was stay upright for 30 seconds and cross the line, whilst going as fast as possible...

What actually happened was that we came level with the transom of the committee boat, a big gust arrived, the jib wouldn't uncleat, and we capsized.  And this left just enough room for Peter & Dave to charge through the gap and win the race.  Iain fell onto the forestay, the boat went turtle, and then Colin & Karen zoomed past as well. Well we got it up again, with some sterling swimming from Iain to get the bow round while I cowered on the centreboard. Then we plodded over the line for 3rd place and limped home with one trapeze line trailing in the water.

You might think that this was all a bit disappointing, but in fact I enjoyed it enormously.  I have always said that I'd rather lose an exciting race than win a dull one, so I could hardly complain about this one, could I?

Many thanks to Iain for doing the bounding about and swimming, not to mention the rethreading of the halyard.  Next Sunday I will be screwing the jib downhaul block back onto the foredeck after it came loose when Iain hit it, but how hard can that be?

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Changeable

Not a bad day's sailing. Considering we had 3 boats out of action due to them being elsewhere, and another 4 boats out of action due to their owners being elsewhere, I guess a turnout of 5 boats was pretty good. Great to have Mo & Holly back too.

The AM race was OK, albeit all the reaches were a bit broad due to the wind being less than expected.  We got ourselves a bit of a lead and prepared to repel any advances from Mo & Holly or Nick & Karen, but they spent most of their time scrapping with each other and never really got close.  Bob & Paul fought it out further back with Helen & Paul in the fleet boat, the latter eventually retiring with a broken tiller extension.

During the PM race the wind built up to something genuinely interesting. Our start was a good one, in that we arrived at the committee boat, got the kite down, gybed round it and then sailed across the line as the gun went, but it didn't leave much time for getting the course. So Nick and Karen were leading at P, with us just behind so we wouldn't go off the wrong way. Then they had an unexpected kite in the water and under the boat issue and had to park up to fix it. We zoomed off towards H at high speed, thinking to take in the committee boat en-route and get the course from that, but the wind was too strong so we gave up on that idea and just winged it from there (round H and back through the gate), and it seemed to turn out OK. Then a lap later the wind dropped to zero and we retired at OL, leaving Mo and Bob & Paul to limp over to an impromptu finish line and take the honours.

Good fun, but it highlights the difference between having enough boats out there and not having enough boats out there.  With a turnout of 6+, it always seems pretty good, but get down to 3 or 4 and it gets far less interesting.  Hopefully the missing boats and owners will all return refreshed from the menders & mountains respectively, and we can get back to business as usual.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Turned out mental again

So, this was a bit of a blast. Forecast to be a non-mental amount of wind for non-mental people, it did nevertheless get a bit out of hand later on in the day.

Race 1: Force 3-4, Red buoy, OL, P, T, H, S, Gate

Well the red buoy was at the far end of the start line, so we left it to port as instructed when we crossed the line, and then went straight to OL, which we also left to port like the course-board said. This was nasty and hooky, but what can you do? We were first round the mark, but 2nd were Bob &Paul with the Edge Mainsail - was it my imagination or were they going faster than usual? As it turned out, yes they were, and promptly proved it by overtaking us on the way to P. We then spent some time trying to get past them, but it wasn't until halfway through lap 2 that we finally managed it on the run down to H. Peter & David, who had been queuing up patiently followed us through, and then overtook us. Boo!
We then chased them round whilst the rest of the fleet fought it out for 3rd place. The wind picked up a bit towards the end, and when we came ashore we discovered that the red buoy card on the course had meant 'orange triangle', which would have provided a better beat and a non-hooky OL rounding. Having devoted some time to showing my kids that the circular thing wouldn't go into the triangular hole in their activity centre at age 18mths, I remain convinced that red buoys are not the same as orange triangles. Ho hum.

Race 2:  Force 3+, Orange triangle, OL, D, E, P, S, Gate

The orange triangle course card having been duly displayed, nobody had any problem with the course.  Once again Bob was near the front, but this time Peter & Dave were ahead, so we set off in pursuit of them.  The wind was down a bit, so we were still on 22'7", but a big bank of cloud was heading our way.  We didn't make a lot of headway against P&D for the first 25 mins, although they helped us occasionally by losing the guy rope out of the pole end on the reach to D. On lap 2 we got near their transom approaching D, when an almighty chunk of wind hit the boat, which nearly tipped us in. 
Surprisingly still vaguely upright, we managed a slicker gybe than P&D and overtook them en-route to E.  We then sat on their wind up to P and got a bit more lead on the way to S.  Back up the beat, and they were still behind us when we hoisted our kite inside the jib on the titchy leg to OL.  Getting it out wasted the entire leg, so it was a quick gybe and settle down for a showdown on the 3-sail reach from OL back to D.  Well, their gybe was a bit slower than ours and involved going low in the freshening breeze, so we took off like a scalded Mr Fluffy and were going great guns when the wind made a bit of a comeback in the middle of the lake.  Jeez, that was fast, but regrettably not really in the right direction.  We gave up on the kite at around 2/3 distance and had a bash at 2-sailing the rest, whereupon it all went properly mental.  By this stage I already had the cunningham on and the kicker right off, so there was nothing immediately available to de-power with.  The boat rocketed across the lake, boom up, with only the steering keeping the whole thing vaguely vertical.  We passed Nick on the way, and thankfully didn't have to go around him as frankly I doubt we'd have done it and stayed upright. 
Then past D, bear off, add kicker, gybe fast and hoist kite for the leg to E.  Kite had other ideas, liked it better being in the bag, kept trying to come back down.  I put my foot on the halyard cleat and we flew it at half-mast until we got there.  Thankfully P&D were now well back, so we just had the little beat to P, which we did mainly on the jib alone, and a reach to S where we let the kite sleep in the bag, and then across the line to finish.  P&M came in 2nd, Pete & Richard 3rd.  There was apparently much overtaking and fun further back too, with Gordon & Bryan losing out to Bob & Paul on the last leg, and Colin & Karen retiring from a good position following a little swim at OL.  Great fun, and the fabulous course with the excellent 3-sail reaches really made my day.