Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sweet!, oh so sweet!

Sunday morning 6am: Man is that time already? Got to get up, must get up.
6:30am: Not as much fog this morning but a fine rain. mmmm, not sure about this.
7:15am: Wot! No Enterprises? Am I the only one? Thank God it is a handicap race!
7:30am: Not much wind, patchy but it is there. The rain has gone away, the sun is breaking through and the wind looks like it might be filling in a bit. Yes I think it was worth while.

So the amarda of small and assorted boats makes its way out to the desigated start area, choosen by the beach committee (i.e. all those rigged and ready to race). The Course, choosen by the beach committee, was a simple triangle, 2 laps. Yours truly was the pathfinder gate boat. Everyone was to start thier watches as I started and record thier finish times. The results would be calculated later.

I knew that the conditions favoured the Enterprise so I decided to really get my head in gear and think strategically since I knew that it would be stratagy that would win the race.

The wind had shifted to a more southerly direction (SE) from yesterday and the forecast was for a further shift to the south. It was a very light 5mph kind of wind, a bit shifty but fairly stable, becoming less stable on the second lap as the wind started to shift around and increased in strength.

The tide was again ebbing but only just but it would increase in strength as the race progressed.

I started on port and stuck on it until I got close to the layline. My thinking was that the expected shift would favour those on the right hand side of the course, and it payed off as I was still ahead of the Laser 2000s and all but one of the Darts at the windward mark.

On the reach I sailed low to keep out in the ebb tide and away from the land to avoid the windshadow. This worked well as I had to come in on a fast close reach to reach the wing mark. A nice wide turn and in close to the mark and I was inside and upwind of the Laser 2000. I managed to keep him in my windshadow for quite a while but he did pull through and was soon ahead of me, but only just.

After rounding the leeward mark I found myself behind a slow moving Dart and sitting in his backwind. What to do? Do I try to pinch up to windward? Or break through to leeward? Or tack away? I should have sailed through his lee amd leebowed him but I tacked instead. To make things worse I had to sail beyond the Laser 2000 to avoid his backwind before I could tack back onto port.
By now the wind was shifting further to the south and this is when I realised I had done the wrong thing. If I had not tacked to clear my air I would have been ahead of the Laser 2000 again but at least he was only just ahead of me at the windward mark and I knew that if I could keep with him I would probably beat him on corrected time and might just win the race.

At the wing mark I again did a nice wide turn coming in close to the mark and this time sailed much higher in the relatively slacker tide to the last mark. By this time the wind had piped up a bit and we were sailing fairly quick. The Laser 2000 held his kite as long as he could but soon it was too close for him and he had to drop it, effectively losing his advantage and by then he was almost banging straight into the strongest current.
By sailing high initially in the slacker tide meant we kept a better angle as we approached the mark in the stronger current near the leeward mark(now the finish mark) and I think it helped us make better time.

We finished in 57minutes, only 42 seconds behind the Laser 200 and 8 minutes behind the Dart. On corrected time we had won, by about 35 seconds ahead of the Laser 2000.

The Dart who finished first acted as a time keeper and recorded the times of each boat as they reached the finish mark, which is a good job because a few had no watches and I couldn't stop mine! (finger problems!).
So it looks like I'll have another bit of silver to polish this winter! Cool!

Finally we joined in a scratch race with the Laser 2000s to a winward mark and a reach to the mark just off the beach and it was close and good fun in the freshening breeze. In fact it was so much fun we did another two laps just for fun and practice before we too headed for the beach.

What a great sail! The rest of the fleet don't realise what they missed out on!

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