well this weekend has been a great one for heavy weather racing. Not quite a breezy as last weekend but not far off.
Saturday racing was good fun. Five boats raced and we had a a simple triangle course, two laps with a finish at the leeward mark. We repeated the course for the second race, the difference being the change in tide just after the start which changes the strategy and keeps the interest going.
In the first race, my arch nemisis, Steve (commodor of the club) was the pathfinder. This gave him the advantage of being able to tack last and gain the RHS of the beat, favoured because of the incoming tide. Thus he lead from start to finish. I did get very close to him but his covering made sure that I never got close enough with clear air. Again his all up crew wieght gave him the edge upwind and although I would catch him on the reaches he managed to stay ahead and even pull away.
I was the gate boat for second race (we do back to back races) This time there was little if any advangae in being able to get to the RHS of the course first because the tide was slack being almost high water.
Steve's up wind advantage meant he was first to the windward mark with me almost rubbing the varnish off his transom. Malcolm was with us for most of the first lap but on the second beat he struck out into the tide on port and lost out big time.
I tacked onto starboard as soon as I was around the mark and stuck close to the shore line to keep out of the tide and tacked only when the Windward mark was abeam. Steve covered me and when I tacked out into the tide he tacked upwind and although I tried to break away to leeward I could not break free and he rounded the windward mark ahead of me by about 1o-15 boat lengths (more than doubled his lead at the leeward mark). I chased him down the reach but he was too far ahead to catch. But a funny thing happened at the gybe mark; he sailed into the shore (the bouy is just off the club). I didn't know why he went in so I gybed and completed the course as did everyone else. It turned out he thought he would shorten the course because he didn't think positions would change and that 'we' often would finish at that mark to save us the beat back to the club.
However no one else agreed with him, everyone I spoke to said he was in the wrong so after much anguish of the soul I decided (as OOD for that race) that he was DNF. He seemed to accept it ok. It has established a president that we must be clear at the outset of the race what the course is and where we finish.
Sundays racing was in much the same conditions with maybe very slightly less wind coming from the west. The sea was very lumpy and confused probably because the tide was across the wind combined with the effect of the sandbanks on the waves. This time we had 7 boats racing and Malcolm was gate boat. The course was a triangle -sausage and finish on a beat.
I thought it would pay to start late because of the tide but the wind had a slight bend in it probably because close to the shore the wind tends to want to cross it at right angles. The result was that it paid to start early and go left but not too far or risk overlaying the mark because of the tide.
Steve went early and was first at the windward mark, I was second, william followed and Malcolm hit the mark and had to do a 360. Again I was chasing Steve around the course, this time going up wind I tried to keep my air clear by tacking away everytime Steve tacked to cover me. This worked up to a point but we gradually reached the port layline and then I was stuck in his dirty air, I had to then try and break through his lee natuarlly he reached the startboard layline first. The run was interesting and this is where William appeared on the scene.
The problem with doing so many tacks in waves is that it slows you up and the pack catches up with you . So here was William and he was close behind me and he is quick offwind but not quick enough. at the start of the last beat Steve was about 5 boat lengths ahead and William about 3 behind me.
This is me rounding the mark behind Steve and William close behind me.
This time I avoided the tacking duel as I knew it would let William get even closer and I struck out for the LHS of the beat and tacked once towards the mark. Steve won the race, I was close behind (4 boat lenghts) and William 3rd.
The next race I was gate boat and I changed the course. The beat was the same but I choose a wing mark that gave us a broad and a close reach, and we just sailed a trianglur course, passing all marks to starboard, 2 laps.
Picture show me as gate boat with Steve just started. (taken by my wife from the shore)
After the last boat had started I sailed on for a few minutes then tacked onto starboard to cover the fleet. Several boats passed under my quarter but Steve had to tack under my bows and I was sailing close to him for quite a while but was starting to feel the effects of his backwind. However I was close to the port lay line and so I hung on, luffing as much as I could so I could reach the port layline before tacking to the mark and so I managed to reach the windward mark first with Steve close behind me.
On the reach I managed to get myself below and ahead of him and by working the waves to get the boat surfing I was able to pull away by 5-6 boat lengths by the time we got to the gybe mark. The second reach was great fun as it was close enough to get the boat planning in the gusts and on the backs of the waves. By the time we got to the Leeward mark we had pulled away even further and William had manage to pass Steve. Because I had clear air I was able to get even further ahead by the end of the last beat and I increased my lead even further on the reaches and won the race by a nice margin of about 15-20 boat lengths. William came in second, Steve third. None of the boats were stragglers and all enjoyed close racing, all were on the last leg when I finished. I watched the last three boats finish with less than a boat length between each of them.
I could not sail on the bank holiday Monday (work committments) so I left the May points series in the outcome of the last race. If Steve won, he would win the series with 4 wins to count. If he didn't I would win with 3 wins and a second, wining on better discards.
As it urned out nobody raced because the wind was too strong and thus I am the winner of the May points series with 3 1sts, and 3 2nds (5 points with discards)to Steve's 3 1sts, a 2nd, a 3rd and an DNF (5 points with discards). Third place goes to Malcolm with 3 3rds, a 2nd a 4th and a 7th (11 points with discards).
Now if Steve had completed the course on the 4th race he would have won by 4 points to my 6.
Was it fair? I thinks so.