Thursday, May 22, 2014

The mid-week weekend race!

Another wonderful evening of racing, food, friends and beer (Of course! what else do you expect at a sailing club?)
This evening my crew was Graham Sim. Graham and I met through my work with the Bromsgrove and Redditch Methodist Circuit. We discovered a common interest in sailing and we finally got our act together and got racing this evening. Graham used to sail at Midland SC many years ago and I thing he enjoyed the visit to his old club.
The racing was good. winds light and from the north coming from over the dam wall which made the top half of the reservoir a no go area for racing, the winds get far to random. Our Race Officer set a good course, although those with spinnakers complained that the reaches were too close and I noted there were no dead runs ( a relatively good point of sailing for Albacores). But all things considered he did a fine job.
Once again a pursuit race and we started at 11 minutes and quickly passed the RS200 and one of the Enterprises. Graham was quickly getting to grips with the flyaway jib pole and the constant need to adjust the settings, by the end of the race he was getting back into the swing of sailing although he said he has a nice bruise shaping up. Boats are so unforgiving! Anyway, we soon had only 5 boats ahead of us and by the start of the penultimate lap just the remarkably quick Europe was ahead of us.

We chased hard and finished a few minutes behind; she was just too quick. This evening no curry but a jacket spud with cheese, beans and salad washed down with Hoping Hare ale. Excellent.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Racing on Goose Poo Pond

Last weekend was Broadwater Sailing Club open meeting and my daughter Jo came down and together was trailed Acushla down to the meeting. A nice simple drive down the M40. It wasn't until we arrived we discovered that the number plate had dropped off the lightboard. Anyway forgetting all that we rigged the boat and along with all the others we waited for the wind because there was none. In fact there was very little wind all day long but the Race officer did sterling work in setting courses and running three races in very difficult conditions.

Things started well for us in the first race but the fluky winds saw us go from 3rd to 6th. The second race was no better and we finished 6th again. I could say that the wind was just so fluky that it was a lottery but the same guy was winning both races and  that suggests that there was definitely scope for skill to win through. I was fairly relaxed going into the last race, I didn't expect too much and to be sure I was on form on the first beat, rounding the mark in 5th place. The four boats ahead were only just in front and on rounding the mark the wind died off so everyone was very close together. It was at this point I made the best move of the day, as I rounded the mark I gybe towards the left hand side of the course, effectively sailing away from the direct line to the next course but I could see wind on the water out to the left. I got to it and sailed in a big curving arc following the wind on the water and arrived at the next mark with a substantial lead. I joked to the rest of the fleet "Don't worry, it won't last long" to which the reply came from the indomitable Andy Pierce: "Enjoy it while you can". So we did. All the way to the finish line. Yep we won the race. So that was cool but I thought with a 6th and a 1st place to count we would be perhaps in the top 5. We shared 7 points with two other but because we won the last race we were placed 3rd overall. Yep we were actually in the prizes. I didn't get to the prize giving. At the time I was in the shower. While I was drying myself off the changing room door briefly opened and I heard the announcement. I did think about rushing out with a towel around me but how do you shake hands and take a prize without letting go of the towel? The picture is probably one you don't want to dwell on. No don't do it. Too late? Well hopefully the image will fade in time. So Jo collected the prizes on our behalf and now we both have a nice engraved glass to enjoy a drop of port in.

Results are here:
(I noticed that they spelt Jo's name wrong but I rather like it, Mrs Snakey! :) )
Somebody was taking photos of the racing but there is no sign of them on club website just yet.

in the meantime here is one of Acushla waiting for the wind

Oh and the Blog title? It was inspired by the water quality of Broadwater sailing club. I'm sure its not always like it but I have never encountered as much floating goose poo before.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Racing, Curry, Beer and Conversation.

This Wednesday evening my new crew, Stuart Jones, and I participated in battle of seamanship skills, tactics and strategy in light winds among a fleet of various boats and competitors of varying levels of competency and managed a 5th place (very nearly a 4th). Considering it was our first race together and Stuart had never crewed in an Albacore, I think we did very well in very interesting and quite testing conditions. It was one of those races where you needed to keep an eye out for the gusts of wind and respond quickly in adjusting the sails to get the best boat speed. It was great fun. Afterwards we all enjoyed curry and beer and chatted about everything from why men are really never any older than 12, to racing and sailing experiences to even talking about religion and spirituality.
Below is a video of the race from the perspective of the end of my boom (and why not?) and you can get a flavour of the racing. Its quite long so just skip though it and catch bit of it - unless you're really bored. I'm afraid you really had to be there to enjoy the curry, beer and conversation; no video could do it justice.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Single handed Albacore racing

Bore yourself silly for an hour or so (or as long as you can stand it) with this tedious video of me racing my Albacore single handed at Midland Sailing club on the last Wednesday evening of April. Count the number of errors I make and list them for me. I can see quite a few. The remarkable thing is that in this pursuit race I finished second but apparently I get a 2 minute time penalty for being single handed in a two person boat (boo!) You can always skip bits but watch out for rather nice reaches where I manage to get her planing (lovely!!). (You might want to turn the volume down because the noise of the pole banging on the mast and the mainsheet slipping through the ratchet block are amplified by the boom on which the camera is mounted.)


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Wednesday evening racing

This Wednesday I went down to Midland Sailing Club with the hope that I could find  a crew for the midweek race. I was in luck. A chap called John was a willing crew, with no experience of sailing in Albacore's he had however some experience of sailing his Laser.
The club use a form of pursuit racing and our start is on the 11th minute. I thought I had started my countdown ok but it became obvious that I had made a mistake when I realised that the lasers who start a minute ahead of us were already half way to the first mark. Were were about two minutes late by the time we crossed the start line. Having started late we did well in finishing 5th. John's inexperience obviously slowed our speed a bit but not by much and he did begin to get the hang of it. I'm pleased to have had him crew as it is always more fun to sail with someone - its a good way to make friends. As usual the wind began to die away as the light began to fade towards the end of the race but it is somehow a very calming and relaxing way to finish the day, especially with a bit of chat over beers in the bar afterwards. Such an excellent way to spend an evening.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Maidenhead open meeting

First open meeting of the year, only the second sail of the season. Good weather with plenty of sunshine although we could have done with a bit more wind. It was good fun, sometimes frustrating when the wind died but the competition was so close.
We managed a very credible 5th place overall with gradually improving results through the day finishing with a 2nd place in the last race. The first race was a disaster, it was like being a yoyo, one minute we were at the back of the fleet then a massive wind shift and we were in the top few, then a hole in the wind and everyone sails past us- it was crazy. I have to say that I was spending too much time with my head in the boat pulling string to get more boat speed and it really didn't help. I started to really get into the groove on the last lap of the second race when we went from 11th to 5th place taking at least two places on the last mark rounding and 25 yard beat. I put it down to forgetting about the string and I just started to sail the boat and I made some good choices about where to go up the beat and made massive ground up. The last race was much the same with a really good choice at the start of the penultimate lap I picked up a good lift and even though we touched the plate on the shallows (my new centreplate!) we moved up in to second place and stuck to the transom of the leader for the rest of that race.

Results here:

Yachts and Yachting report 

Images added
Jo and I, mid tack

Trailing close astern of two quick boats.

Start of the second race I think. We were a bit buried beneath two quick boats (we are 3rd from the rhs) but it's where you finish that counts and we finished 5th

Looks like I should have eased the kicker a little more

Rounding the leeward mark of second race probably close to the finish. I tacked to get clear wind just after rounding and found I could lay the finish line and picked up a place or two in the process.

I'm not sure but I think this at the end of the penultimate lap of the last race. Coming in nice and wide to the mark rounding but I wonder, looking at the angle of the rudder, if I'm turning too tight.

Coming round the mark tight to the bouy onto the next leg. That hull is looking lovely - no sign of the repair!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Fitting out and the first race of the season

Last Saturday my daughter, Jo and I fitted out Acushla and took part in the last race of the day in quite blustery conditions. It took us 4 hours to fit the boat out, the hardest part was remembering where all the fittings go and I'm sure I've not got it quite right because I have a single block left over and I cannot for the life of me remember where it went but it certainly came off the boat! But the strange thing is that everything seems to work so maybe it doesn't matter. Our fitting out included a new centreplate made by JJBoats. Its a really nice piece of work. I decided to replace the old one because having taken it out of the boat for the winter it dished (warped) and despite my attempts to straighten it it is probably never going to be as good as it was. I had planned to get a new jib but I have a new centreplate instead. I might yet get a new jib but we shall see how the finances are later in the year.

The race started in really windy and blustery conditions with some big gusts and for the first sail of the season it was a little unnerving. We spent the first half of the race just keeping upright and heading in the right direction, well mostly. We got to where the windward mark was supposed to be and it had drifted, unsure as to what to do we headed for the next mark. Later we almost missed a mark and had to go back and had perhaps the fastest off wind reach of the day - well worth the diversion! By the time we got to the mid point of the race we were back in the groove and instead of just coping with the gusts we were tacking on the headers and looking for the wind shifts and gust to make strategic use of them. It was useful just to checkout the boat and see what needed to be adjusted or changed. The biggest issues is the adjustment range of the jib halyard tension across the range of mast rake settings. We had the mast raked right back and the jib luff was sagging too much but the halyard tension was already block to block. I have tightened it up but it needs a better system really.