The weather is much warmer now but the water is still pretty cool. The wind was a nice gentle 20mph in the gusts dropping to a mere 10mph in the lulls. Yes it was windy, more than we expected.
Now I know that some folk would take this in thier stride but I don't and I'm sure Jo and I need to learn how to make better use of what weight we do have, combined with handling the boat better in this sort of wind, in order to feel more comfortable with this kind of breeze. So on the whole I prefer a little less wind.
There were only five Ents competing but at least two of teams are world class competitors, evident by the fact that they left the rest of us standing!
My race started poorly right in the backwash of the leading boat, I had the opportunity to tack away but I didn't. Instead I stuck it out until they tacked away. I think my main reason was that I was having enough trouble handling the boat in the strong winds and didn't want to tack until I had got the nack of it.
I rounded the 1st mark last but quickly caught up on the screeming reach to the gybe mark where I tacked round rather than risk the gybe and thus moved up to forth place, passing the first casulty of the strong winds at the gybe mark.
The run was hairy to say the least. Dispite the friction block on the centre plate, it kept riding up (slight adjustment needed there) The problem was that in the gusts the boat easily started the dreaded 'death role', with the plate half down it tends to stabilise the boat so it doesn't help if it keeps riding up.
When the gusts hit, the boat turned into some kind of demented beast hurtling across the water so fast, thumping into the back of wave, riding up and then accelerating like crazy. Any minute I felt like it was going to all go horribly wrong! I found that I couldn't, dare not!, hold my course dead downwind and had to tack round to reach over to the leward mark where I tacked round again, but we survived. however the guy who capsized caught up and overtook me by the time we reached the mark.
Then came the next beat. The problem with the beat was that the wind was so strong in the gusts and veered around so much that often a gust would knock us over, with the main flogging and being pushed over by the jib, the steering almost non exisitant. on the second beat I was able to anticpate the change in wind direction better and we made better progress, keeping the boat flatter and taking advantage of the lifts in the gusts, it also helped to ease the jib a fraction.
So the second beat was much better and, despite one really crap tack where we ended up in irons, we still managed to catch up and overtake the next boat but then lost it again on a header that I thought would lift me when I tacked to the mark but it didn't.
I also had to hove to briefly just before the windward mark, to put my rudder blade back down, the pin had come out and it had gradually worked up. I knew if I didn't get it right down we would end up with a broach and quite possibly a broken ruddder blade.
I caught a long sustained gust on the reach and caught right up with the two boats in front and was going so well I risked a gybe which went really well and catching another sustained gust drew level with the next two boats.
Then we managed to get the whisker pole flying the jib to windward and the stability was so much better than last time and I was able to head dead downwind, once again riding the express down to the leward mark.
One of the boats lost his whisker pole and went back to recover it, he then capsized and lost both his poles!
So we finished 4th close on the heals of the 3rd boat. Then we had beat back to the clubhouse on the windward shore.
We went out for the second race, as we sailed away from the shore the gust caught the boat and it turned into the demented beast again! We nearly death-roled again and decided we had enough and headed back to shore. Just as well as my tiller extension was about to part company with the tiller! A pop rivet holding it in place had popped out! So it was an accident waiting to happen.
Once on shore I managed to get a few photos at extreme range of the gybe mark, I have cropped the best of them. They are not the best pictures you will see but you get an idea of the conditions from the bow wave of the leader in the first picture.
How a gybe should be done!
The next time I take to the water, hopefully will be at Snett on the 8th April. So until then I guess I'll be doing a few repairs to Wild Goose and scrapping out the innerds of PoppyCock.
Visit: http://www.yachtsandyachting.com/news/?article=20807 , and see the Y&Y article on the event (We get a mention!)