Sunday, May 21, 2006

What a difference a little knowledge can make!

Saturday: Coaching day.
We started at 9:30 in the morning. Our Coach, Jon Woodward, had travelled 3 hours across country to be with us. I was hoping for a good turnout inspite of the appalling weather. I need not have worried, in the end we had about 10 boat crews (20 people) and it was a good day, we learnt a lot and we never even took to the water.
Our aim for the day was to come up with three things to take a way and implement and I think there were a number of excellent things that came through.
No1 for most of us is flying the whisker pole to leeward on a reach with the jib sheeted in tight. You wouldn't think it would work but it does and the difference is significant.
N02: Two boat lengths is more than I thought (it sounds silly but it is easy to under estimate)and when approaching a mark the question of 'room at the mark' and wether or not an overlap exists is best sorted with a discussion about the overlap when 5 boat lengths from the mark and then sorting out the two boat lengths boundary as and when it happens.
No3 is going high or low on a reach to get away from the slowing influence of other boats (a group of sails close together slows the wind down in thier vicinity. This is something I knew but somehow the significance hadn't registered in my brain).

Also stressed was the utmost importance of clear air, especially when on the beat. I knew this but sometimes you know something but you don't pay enough attention to it.

It was also good to go over the rig setup and the sail trim stuff again. I found that I was having problems with the kicker setting especially, I think I have a better grasp of it now and when we raced on Sunday I was able to make the boat really go well upwind inspite of being overpowered alot of the time.

All in all it was a good day and I got very positive feedback from just about everyone in the fleet. So as fleet captain I feel that I have managed to do something that has really benifited the fleet, improving the standard of competition and the enjoyment of our racing.

This was the scene at the end of the day as the last of the rain moved through. For a while we had sunshine and then as evening came on the next front moved through us and it clouded over again.

Sunday: The May points racing (first races! man the weather has been rubbish!).
The wind had moderated from Saturday but it was still a strong breeze. 5 Ents took to the water and we sailed two races, back to back.
Steve was pathfinder for the first race which gave him the opportunity to make the most of the favoured side of the beat and he lead from start to finish (I found out later that he had offered to be gate boat for this very reason!). I think it helped that he was able to carry more power due to their all up wieght advantage. Off the wind we had the advantage and closed the gap and it was great fun too. Poling the jib out to leward really increased boat speed and combined with the strong gusts we were sailing really quick.
I was worried about the gybe mark but we gybed every time and not once did we even come close to a capsize. We had a nasty broach on the last reach of the first race and we nearly went in then. I think we didn't have our weight back far enough so when a gust hit we healed and burried the bows in the back of a wave which skewed her round and we were scrambling to keep her upright which thankfully we did manage. We finished 2nd in the first race 30 yds behind Steve.
The second race we were pathfinder and now were down to just 3 Ents, the other two went in as it they could not handle the wind strength.
The tide had now turned and this changed the beat stratagy but not by much. The southerly wind was being bent by the shore giving an advantage to the LHS at the end of the beat but it favoured the RHS in the early part of the beat. The wind had dropped a little and I found that if I put on more Kicker I depowered the rig enough to make her go like a train and keep her upright. So we were able to stay ahead of Steve on the 1st beat and once around the windward mark we pulled even further away. I also found that if I could heal the boat very slightly to windward on the reaches, when a gust hit, instead of ploughing into a wave back, she lifted and jumped onto the wave and acclerated quickly. So we lead the race from start to finish, a very satisfying feeling!
I must give a special mention to my crew, my daughter, Jo. Her crewing was really good, she was feeding info on what was going on, tacking well, coping and adapting with the wisker pole out to leeward (something we have never really tried before), she hiked well and was much quicker in helping trim the boat - moving with more confidence and agility. All round a sterling performance.

The only downer on the day was that my compass appears to be partly broken. It still works after a fashion but not in the orientation that it is fitted. So I am going to move it, where it is a problem anyway because the jib sheet get wrapped around it, which is a pain! I'm just not sure where to reposition it to.

Oh and I forgot to bring my boots. Thanks to William for lending me an old pair of sandals that did the trick.


Ant said...

LUcky you guys getting Jon Woodward.. those that follow Soulsailor will know that Jon features regularly.. he's a damned good yachter and (to my regular annoyance) he's pretty consitant be it inland on a pond, a large reservoir or on the sea... glad you and your fellow yachters got a lot from it!

Tim said...

Well we were indeed very fortunate and Jon is a very enthusiastic coach with a wealth of experiance and knowledge in racing dinghies.

We are hoping that he will come to the Area Champs at Snettisham Beach SC on the 17/18 June.
Maybe you would come too, Ant?