Monday, 29 October 2012

Guest Contribution : Claire Coussens muses on HH4

Another in the series of guest contributions, from stalwart of the 4.7 fleet Claire Coussens.  Claire muses on the light wind H&H4 race, the only obvious inaccuracies in her report relating to the motivations of the Dinghy Sec.

"A chilly Sunday saw the fourth race in the Hare and Hounds series. I arrived at the club to find Mike and Dean on the quay gazing forlornly at the still water of the harbour. ‘Don’t worry’ I said cheerily,  ‘it’s bound to fill in in a bit’(as always inaccurately over- optimistic about the weather). Mike looked unconvinced and started muttering darkly about his heavy crew. 

Many of the usual suspects were already in the dinghy park, with a few exceptions. Some of the fitter/more energetic members were doing the Great South Run instead. And Mark R had decided 9.45 was far too early a start for a Sunday so had opted for a lie-in with the Sunday papers and a croissant. After exhausting Guy last Sunday John Excel was onto his third crew (Jamie P-J) in as many races.

Amid positive reports of a F4 on Chimet we all started rigging up, apart from Mike who was still muttering and looking glum. Still no wind at 9.15 but we launched anyway, and floated out to the start. Mike and Dean, not wanting to be left behind, decided they would sail after all and hitched a tow from David Rea’s patrol boat out to the start. 

The race officers wisely opted for the shortest lap race possible. The chaos experienced on the first leg last weekend was a distant memory as we all drifted over the start and up to Echo at about 0.1 knots (and that was tide). Not a single cry of ‘starboard’ or ‘up’ was heard (or maybe that was just because Mark wasn’t there, hee hee).
After a leisurely meander around the buoy we settled in for the down’wind’ leg to Ems. I spent the leg trying to work out the best way to have my weight as forward as possible in the laser, whilst heeling it a little to get the sail to fill and also being able to see my tell tales ( in case they might start twitching).  Unfortunately, as I have all the smooth and graceful movement of an elephant, every move I made shook what little wind there was out of my sail. Note to self – keep still next time. Many of the other boats were similarly struggling for wind and speed, though the faster assymetrics seemed to be faring a little better. 

After a good while we got to Ems and – hurrah! –a little wind (about 2 knots) made the passage down to Little Deep and then to Fowley less painful. But after Fowley it completely died, not even a breath of air.  From Fowley to the finish line stretched a line of boats just sitting there, or sometimes going backwards as the tide had long since turned. And so it stayed for a good 10 minutes or so. The patrol boats offered us tows home, but having been out there so long we really wanted to finish. The sound of the hooter kept our spirits up – some boats were finishing. Eventually a tiny bit of wind came and we started going forward.  And then 50 metres from the line some proper wind arrived at last, and Jez, Guy and I zoomed over the line.  One hour and 45 minutes for the lap – probably my slowest sail ever but strangely rather enjoyable and relaxing.

Top awards for patience and hardiness must go to the patrol boat crews, and also to Andy in his Topper who was stuck at Little Deep when the wind disappeared, declined several offers of a tow, and eventually came home in 9th – a great result. Many thanks to the race officers and patrol boat crews."

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Two halves to the same weekend

So Andy Gould called on Friday - Vicky has looked at the forecast and isn't overly keen on sailing.  Arriving at the club on Saturday morning I could see why she opted for the staying-in-bed option.  Force 7-8 on Chimet and Cambermet, with 4C air temperature.  Not a day for racing, cancelled.

Sunday was almost the exact opposite.  Whilst Chimet was showing a F3/4, it certainly wasn't close to that at the club.  The fleet was hanging back on the beach until A&V led them out, pumping all the way to the start line.  I wasn't sailing today, but note some good results :

- Andy Marshall places 9th of 26 boats in his Topper, and scores points for Slipper.  Excellent result.
- Matt Townsend and Bridgette Juniper win the race in their 400 by a healthy 5 minutes, thats a margin of 10% over the other boats.
- Mike Austen claims that the lighter conditions don't generally suite the magnificent frame that embodies his immensely masculine physicality.  Not so today, when he places 2nd with helm Paul Mothersele in their 400.
- Tom Tredray comes in first Laser, but with the up-and-coming Sean 'Joan' Curtis hot on his heels, only 20 secs behind on a race of 1.5 hours.  Good racing.

Watch this space for a guest report from Dinghy-Secretary-In-Waiting Claire Coussens, coming soon!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Guest Contribution : Dave Cooper

 Slipper Musings welcomes guest contributions from sailors in the ESSC/ESC/TISC fleet.  Here, Dave Cooper gives the view from his ISO in H&H2 ........
"H&H2 was a good example of our role in the ISO fleet, which is to demonstrate that the handicap is reasonable and Mike and Emma and Andy and Vicki are just good sailors.  With a variable NE F4, it was inevitable that it would be a North Start to Echo and with 40 boats on the start line, it was always going to be exciting.  We had a good spot aiming to be just East of the 'conveniently' moored fishing boat and for once we were on the start line at the right time, just ahead of Andy and Vicki and headed in the right direction.  Everything was going to plan until a RS 400 decided to conveniently forget the starboard rule and forced us to tack to avoid a collision.  The early tack led to a further two tacks, one to avoid the honourable Dinghy Secretary (a very wise move)before Echo.  Meanwhile Mike and Emma had an absolute flyer to Echo and were flying the spinnaker before we half way there.  The run to Little Deep allowed us to establish a little clean air and begin the nip and tuck racing with the RS 400s and 300's that form the basis of most of our racing.  We were still probably 3 minutes down on Mike and Emma at this point; just to emphasise the importance of a good start and clean air.  We certainly had a good tussle with Dave Acres in his 300 just managing to pip him to Tye but losing out on the way back up to Shepherd.  Shepherd to Walsh was great fun with the ISO planing most of the way.  The reach back down to Northney was tricky though as we struggled to keep the boat flat with the ISO's large kite flying and lost ground to a couple of 400's including Alex Thorsby and Tom Kennedy.  The beat back to the line was hard work and tactical against the two 400s with a number of significant wind shifts (might have to have a word with Father Christmas about a compass).  Not our best race ever, coming in exactly half way down the fleet but still good to be out on the water with so many other boats and engaged in genuine racing whilst staying upright in gusty weather.  Many thanks to the race officers and patrol boat crews and of course to my crew, Ed Parker Jervis for an enjoyable event."

Monday, 22 October 2012

The Hare and Hounds series starts

This weekend the H&H series started at Slipper.  Its a series that includes sailors from three clubs in the harbour - Slipper, ESC and TISC.

Racing started on Saturday with very light winds, a fickle F1 ENE.  The race officer wisely chose a lap course, to keep everyone relatively close to the clubs in case of the wind completely dying.  The one downside of the course was a southerly start with (i) a strong bias to the pin end, (ii) options to start on port or starboard at the pin end, (iii) 20 boats determined to start at the pin end (iv) 15 boats determined to somehow start on port.  It was carnage, and very difficult to make a controlled start.  After two general recalls, the RO flourished the black flag, and the rowdy fleet became more disciplined.  Andy and Vicky in their ISO won the pin end, and Matt and Gael made a good conservative mid-line start.

The race itself was somewhat processional, with only a beat to Little Deep to split tacks.  Fortunately the RO limited racing to a single lap, allowing all boats to finish in a reasonable time.

Some highlights of the race:

- Andy&Vicky and Matt&Gael separated from the fleet at the start and never looked back.  Good Slipper points.
- Great to see Paul Fisk and temporary crew Jo heading the RS200 fleet, great boat speed and an excellent 6th place result.
- Tom Tredray (closely followed by Dave Valentine) showed that Lasers can compete in these very light airs.  A creditable 7th place.
- Dave Acres shows that its not all about RS300 sailing, and places 3rd with Russell Payne crewing.

Sunday was quite different, F2-5 NE, very variable in strength and direction.  A Northerly start this time, with the first mark Echo some 100m upwind.  Again, an interesting and somewhat chaotic start for the 40 boats on the water.  The wind was shifting all over the place just before the start, which made for a relatively unbiased line (thankfully), but a combination of (i) 40 boats, (ii) a floating jetty, (iii) multiple moored boats, and (iv) a starboard rounding of Echo and (v) some interesting rule interpretations,  made for an interesting first beat.  I have never seen so many minor collisions on a 50yd beat. 

The rest of the race was less fraught, and good racing, with a mix of upwind/downwind and reaching legs.

Some highlights of the race:
- Mike Lillywhite and Emma Pethybridge were seen performing a wind dance on the millpond wall, the resulting increase in wind gave a significant hike in result - 1st place, and one smiley Emma.
- As I rounded Fowley, I could see a distant speck on the horizon with a black and white kite.  That was Tim Weedon giving the ISOs a run for their money downwind in his RS100, 5th place. 
- Great to see Jemima Lawson and Lilly Summers in their 420, placing 6th out of 40 boats.  Fantastic result, and shows that conventional spinnakered boat can mix it up with the asymmetrics.
- Dave Acres had an excellent start and placed 3rd in his 300.  Fresh back from a 2nd in the Nationals (on same points as 1st place), its going to take some sort of divine intervention for other 300s to take a race from him!
- Several geostationary satellites reported seeing a bright flash of light emanating from the Emsworth foreshore at about 16:00 BST.  That was Bryan Smith's radiant smile as he finished first standard Laser, great result.  

The starts have been a source of concern, given the volume of boats.  We are going to discuss splitting across fleets for the next races, so please watch the Slipper website for changes to standard SIs for this series.  No firm plans are in place,  but change is likely. 

I will post some fleet based results soon.

300 Race Log - 21st October

Date: 20th October

Venue : ESSC
Race : Handicap race, 45 minutes
Conditions: NE f1, very patchy and shifty
Tide : 30 minutes after start
Result :  9th overall of 28 boats

- Reasonable start.  Started being covered by an OCS boat, but clean air after 30 seconds or so (by which time 10 boats were ahead)
- Somewhat paradoxically, boat speed felt OK but was very slow compared to the other boats in the fleet (especially the 200s, 400s and Lasers).  Not too concerned - the focus next year is going to be 300 sailing (ie opens), and no racing unless the wind is > 4 knots.
- Did OK relative to the other 300 in the fleet

Points for reflection:
- Somewhat paradoxically, boat speed felt OK but was very slow compared to the other boats in the fleet (especially the 200s, 400s and Lasers).  Not too concerned - the focus next year is going to be 300 sailing (ie opens), and no racing unless the wind is > 4 knots.
- Boat handling was OK, but not great.  I put this down to a lack of experience/practice of sailing in very light winds, usually I wouldn't have launched in that wind strength.
- A start 1/3rd down the line would have been a more conservative strategy for a series.  At the pin end Matt and Gael did well in the first start, but were buried in the second (pointing the wrong way as I recall).  Andy and Vicky were buried in the second start but had the best start on the third.  I had a great start in the second recall, but not so good in the third.  The point is that with that set up of start/course, only one or two people will win at the pin end, maybe speed and a midish line start would have been better.

Date: 21st October

Venue : ESSC
Race : Handicap race,1 hour
Conditions: NE f2-51, very patchy and shifty
Tide : 30 minutes after start

Result :  7th overall of 40 boats. 2.51 behind Dave in the leading 300.

- Boat felt controlled for the whole race.  No dodgy moments.  Was actually looking for decent gusts downwind with a view to maximising VMG.  Nice to feel that I was racing rather than fighting the boat for control!.
- Reasonable boatspeed, especially downwind.  Dave had a much better start and was well in the lead by Little Deep, but I felt I was definitely taking ground back downwind.
- Good reaching speed
- 7th of 40 is not too bad, especially with the asymmetrics planing downwind.

Points for reflection:
- Atrocious start.  Early for the line, ended up having to dip and on windward quarter of John and Guy in their Stratos.  Took ages to break out (roughly Little Deep!!).  All went wrong when I failed to defend a really nice gap to leeward on the start, Matt and Gael tacked to lee bow and we both ended up slightly early.  Again a more conservative approach would have paid - a mid line start with space would have been better.  I wonder whether a late port approach into a gap would pay dividends, keeping space with that many boats on a short line is hard.
- Start line to Echo was poor, largely due to the start - didn't break out and found myself at close quarters with loads of boats, moorings, the floating jetties.  Ended up tacking 5 or 6 times on a 50m beat.  Apparently rammed by Andy and Vicky, although my recollection is hazy! 
- Remember the compass next time!!   Would have been very useful going upwind in the offshore NE wind.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Richard Kennedy skives to carve gybe

Whilst walking the dog this lunchtime I chance across Richard Kennedy taking time out of his busy LDC day to practice carve gybing on his windsurfer.  It is this approach to the working week that is inflating the cost of a new carbon 300 boom to £550, outrageous!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

More of the same, albeit a little colder

So the forecasts this week followed the pattern of the previous couple of weeks - at the start of the week it looked as if we would have a good f5-6, by the end of the week we were back to the usual f2-3.  The Hare and Hounds starts next weekend, lets hope some wind comes in to welcome the fleet.

Saturday saw the final race in the Browning series, with slightly reduced numbers for three reasons (i) Patrick Bapty's wedding, (ii) the night of drinking that preceded Patrick Bapty's wedding, and (iii) the cruiser lift-out that meant that we had to launch out of ESC.  When we arrived at the club, there was virtually no wind, but it slowly filled in to a f2, but remained variable for the duration of the race.

A southerly start in a WSW wind had the fleet spread along the start line, the majority favouring the club end.  I presume the intention was to sail a slightly freer course.  Andy and Vicky and I started more towards the pin end, and ended up nosing out in front.  That point of sail - a tight close reach - is a fantastic point of sail for the 300, and I was fortunate to be able to pull out a lead from the ISOs by Wickor.  We then had a couple of upwind/downwind loops, culminating in a long beam reach back to the club.  The ISOs showed good boatspeed and pulled away from the fleet with spinnakers pulling all the way from Shepherd to the club line.  Andy and Vicky won by 2 seconds from me in the 300 (thats one failed mark rounding or tack!), Mike and Emma were third Slipper boat.  Dave Cooper and Ed PJ were in the mix with the ISOs for much of the race, and finished a creditable 7th.  Not a good day for the Lasers, not the conditions to favour the slower boats.

Sunday started much the same as Saturday, but with a splendid hangover for the RS300 representative (thanks to Chris and Michelle Hodkinson).  Anyway, the wind filled to a variable N F2-3 for the Clayton Pursuit race.  I really enjoy pursuit races, as you get to say hello to all areas of the fleet (excepting the faster boats, you don't want to be saying hello to them).

The Laser radials of Helen and Roger Weeks, and Sarah PJ started with an interesting variation on the course - unfortunately ESC had left the 'F' course from Saturday on the club balcony, whereas the pursuit race was set for course 'B' with a Northerly start.  Anyway, despite a little confusion on the start line the Lasers led the fleet to Echo in the incredibly shifty offshore winds at the top of the harbour.  We all followed, dealing with the 40 degree shifts.  Fortunately the wind settled as we made out way to Little Deep, slightly filling from behind as we sailed downwind to Tye.

A quick note to the Lasers - all of you guys seem to have a very tight leech for the light winds, I thought the boat needed some vang and a light mainsheet to keep the sail open, may be a thought for next time.  Ben Tang's book on Lasers is great for default sail settings (I used this book to learn about the unstayed 300 rig, lots of similarities, its out of print now but you are welcome to borrow my copy).

Anyway, once we made it downwind to Tye it was back upwind to Walsh.  The first half of the beat (to Shepherd) was very shifty, and a compass was essential to make best use of the variations in wind.  Tide was relatively even across the course, those playing shifts took loads out of those that weren't - I noticed the RS200 sailing an excellent leg, clearly in tune with shifts.  Took a long time to break through the 200, they can point really well and clearly weren't going to let me through without a fight!  I find the only way to deal with trying to break through a close cover from a slower boat is to dive to leeward (no messing about, close reach for 20 seconds to get into clear wind) and then work the boat back to windward, concentrating on pointing. Anyway, it took the majority of the leg from Shepherd to Walsh, but I sneaked past the 200 to head the fleet.

After Walsh, it was single tacks for the rest of the race which made staying in front relatively straightforward.  So the 300 ended up in first, Andy and Vicky in second, and Mike and Emma were third Slipper boat. Excellent racing, many thanks to ESC for running the race and providing the patrol boat cover!

300 Race Log - 14/10/2012

Date: 13th October

Venue : ESC
Race : Handicap race, 1 hour
Conditions: WSW, F1-3, very patchy and shifty
Tide : 45 Mins after start
Result :  2nd overall

- Good start,  lots of  space on the line, was able to climb up to the main fleet and nudge in front whilst climbing over Andy and Vicky.
- Good boat speed upwind, reasonable boatspeed downwind.
- Enjoyed the race.

Point for reflection :
- Ditto on broad reaching speed from previous two races (getting rather tedious, but improved on Sunday!)
- Pointing.  A&V pointing significantly higher in their ISO.  That said, I was more interested in speed than pointing (trying to train myself to have two modes of footing/pointing, as the natural inclination is to point).
Date: 14th October

Venue : ESC
Race : Pursuit race, 1 hour
Conditions: N F1-4, very patchy and shifty
Tide : 15 Mins after start, 4.9m, made for an interesting race as the usual tidal rules didn't apply
Result : 1st of 13 boats

- Good boat speed on all points of sail.  Had a bit of an epiphany moment with broad reaching speed when I accidentally kept outhaul on after a windward rounding.  The flatter sail seemed quicker, despite the received wisdom on a looser foot offwind.  I wonder whether a very full sail encourages separation.  The logical extension of this is more vang aswell.  So definitely a move in the right direction, I can see a way forward with a bunch of tuning on outhaul/vang.
- Reasonable start.  Focused a bit too much on starting ahead of the Merlin, ended up starting 3-4 seconds after the gun but at full speed.
- Really good upwind compass work.  Rounded Tye with the Merlin close behind, playing shifts gave me a lead of 40-60m by Shepherd.  Put it all down to compass work.
- Pleased with boat handling.
- Very relaxed.  Had another epiphany moment after racing yesterday, where I realised that all handicap racing should just be considered as fun sailing (unless there are other 300s involved of course).
- Shook a shocking hangover.

Points for reflection:
- Being relaxed makes you faster I think.
- Upwind from Northney to the club was fully powered.  It was interesting to note that tweaking on a little more vang resulted in better speed and less hiking - must be something to do with reducing drag of the rig.
- Could use a hour of mark roundings, not as sharp as they were a few months back.

Things to work on:
- Need to get out and confirm the outhaul findings for a broad reach.
- Need to replace outhaul controls, rope is on its last legs.

Starting to get more consistent in these winds, need to get out in stronger winds - can't wait!

Monday, 8 October 2012

What a contrast to last weekend ....

So high pressure graced the waters of Chichester Harbour over the weekend, and we had two days of light wind racing.  Good turnout from both clubs, with 20 boats on the water despite the dinghy park being cleared.

Some highlights from Saturdays race:
- First Northerly start for quite some time, good practice for the H&H in a few weeks.  The wind was N-NE f2-3, and coming off the land was very shifty.  5 mins before the start the wind was from the right, and most of the fleet set up at the pin end as a result.  At 2 minutes the wind shifted 30 degrees to the left, and so the club end of the line was favoured (better tide at that end too).  A couple of boats - RS300, ISO and I think one or two Lasers) spotted this and reached down the line, then able to cross the fleet at the gun on port. 
- Andy and Vicky Gould had an excellent start and were well placed to tack onto the first shift to cross the fleet.  Unfortunately this put them into a tight spot with a moored cruiser, and a crash tack was the only avoidance possible - the trouble was that Vicky was still hooked on as the boat came onto the new tack.  Good work to keep the boat upright, and they still cruised into the windward mark in a close 3rd.
- More grief for Andy and Vicky when they ran aground off Fowley, damaging their rudder assembly.  The light winds meant that they could keep sailing, but Andy seemed to be spending a lot of time nursing the rudder round the course.
- Good result from Martin and Tom Price in their RS400 in 7th, a good margin of 3 minutes over the next 400.
- A difficult day for slower boats.  Despite the relatively neapy tide, in lighter winds the slower boats spend more time fighting the tide, and hence are less competitive.  But thats handicap racing, different courses and conditions favour different boats.  Better to focus on positioning relative to the similar boats in the fleet, than overall position.

Sundays race was held in a E/SE F1-2, very fickle and changeable winds with big holes.

- The start was southerly on the ESC line, this time there was no doubt that the pin end was favoured.  It was interesting to see the differing approaches from the fleet.  The Lasers were all very keen at the pin end - they have an advantage over the faster boats as they can hold position without slipping to leeward.  The ISOs and 400 find it difficult to hold station without the foils stalling and the
boats slipping sideways into other Lasers!  So we ended up with 5 or so Lasers at the pin end, I was 5 boat lengths down, Andy and Vicky was just below me in their ISO and Mike and Emma opted for a more conservative mid line approach.  The leading Laser was over by about two boat lengths, but continued up the course (I was spitting feathers in his dirty wind!). 
- The first leg to Wickor was just off close hauled - the favorite point of sail for the 300!
- Very shallow on the way to Wickor, lots of boats found the mud banks.
- The rest of the race was essentially windward/leeward until the final leg.  Lots of short tacking up the bank to keep out of the tide (the current always runs from Sweare Deep to Walsh, irrespective of the state of tide).
- No results published yet, but the stand out performance will be Ben Davis in his Finn, that boat was super charged in the light breezes.  He held a 400 for most of the course, and I'm sure he was catching me as we sailed back to the club.  My prediction is that he wins the race by 4 minutes on corrected time!

Next weekend we have the final race in the Browning Series (its wide open) and the Clayton pursuit race, its a busy sailing calender in October.

300 Race Log - 08/10/2012

Date: 6th October
Venue : ESC
Race : Handicap race, 1 hour
Conditions: NE F1-3, very patchy and shifty
Tide : 45 Mins start, 4.2m tide to not too much flow
Result : 1st overall of 19 boats

- Good start.  Made a decision to wait midline and monitor the wind until 2 mins.  Noticed the fleet setting up on the pin end, but I fancied the club end.  Tacked under the fleet, cruised down the line and made a good start, crossing all but an ISO (and maybe I should have been a bit more confident and crossed).  First round the windward mark.
- Good upwind speed, especially when the wind picked up a few knots.  Vast improvements in keeping the boat flat and steering upwind without the rudder.
- Good speed dead downwind.
- Tactically a straightforward race, no great mistakes, but no real decision making required.
- Pleased with boat handling for majority of the race.

Points for reflection:
- Off the boom sheeting.  This is the latest trend in the 300s, with many at the top of the fleet choosing to sheet off the boom, new class rules allow you to mount the racket on the boom.  I tried this technique for about half the race - it works fine offwind, and allows for much easier adjustment.  Upwind, I found the mainsheet tension far more difficult to gauge, perhaps this is something that needs practice and tuning.  For the moment its a relatively low priority, I'll stick to sheeting OTB downwind and from the floor upwind.
- Boat speed on a broad reach in light winds.  The ISOs and 400s are leaving me for dead on a broad reach.  This may be simply a question of physics - they have so much sail area compared to the 300 that it is maybe an unfair comparison.  Needs a two boat session with another 300 to tune for this point of sail.
- Mental approach.  The trouble with this wind strength is that I feel I'm almost expected to win, and anything other than 1st is a bit of a let down.  Not sure this is a positive state of mind!  And winning the race is more of a 'thank goodness for that' rather than a 'that was good sailing and a deserved result'. I've started reading the "Inner Game of Tennis" as a vehicle to address some of this stuff.

Points to work on:
- Boat speed on a broad reach in light airs
- Tennis skills.

Date: 7th October

Venue : ESC
Race : Handicap race, 1.25 hour
Conditions: E-SE, F1-3, very patchy and shifty
Tide : 45 Mins start, 4.0m tide not not too much flow
Result : (distant) 2nd overall of 14 boats

- Decided on a starboard approach to start, coming from OCS and tacking onto port in a gap.  Found a good gap but slightly early, but had enough space to manage speed. Good start, clear wind once those OCS had returned, all fast boats in my dirty wind, first to Wickor.
- Really pleased with boat handling.  The beats from Walsh/Church involved tacking up the bank out of the tide, with a tack every 30-50 seconds.  All the practice in roll tacking really paid dividends here, they were confident and fast, and seemed to give me a couple of boat lengths on every tack..  Mark rounding also good, managed to keep a lane whilst rounding immediately behind the ISOs.
- Again a race without a great deal of strategy, the fastest route around the course was pre-determined by tide.
- Managed to keep with the ISOs for most of the race which made it tactically interesting, made me realise that I want to do more class racing next year.
- Enjoyed the race, even though being pasted by the Finn.

Points for reflection:
- Ditto broad reaching speed from yesterday, I'm sure the Finn was catching me.  After the race we wondered whether the wind was filling from behind, I'm pretty sure it was just the Finn being very well sailed!
- Could have been more in tune with wind direction, didn't keep an eye on numbers for much of the time.  Would have been useful from NEH to Shepherd/Wickor.
- Missed Sweare Deep and Northney, and had to return to both (much to the amusement of the ISOs).  Need to focus on the next mark!

Points to work on:
- Boat speed on a broad reach in light airs
- Being less clueless about the course!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Autumn weather arrives at Slipper

The winds over the summer were the usual mix of F1-4's, this weekend saw the first set of races in a decent breeze for some time.  I say decent breeze, but it was very variable and patchy.  Saturday was W f3-5, Sunday was SW f5-6, but racing in the Sweare Deep area of the harbour maybe takes few knots off the Cambermet readings.

Highlights from Saturdays 3 race series:

1.  Mike and Emma showed a clean set of heels to the fleet, winning every race.  The Rooster sails looked really good in the puffs, blading off nicely.  The course set was pretty much upwind/downwind for all three races, with trapezable wind downhill, good conditions for the assymetrics.

2.  Result of the weekend goes to  ...... Lauren and Ethan Miles in their Feva XL, placing 8th overall on the 3 race series, and coming 2nd in the final race.  A fantastic result, and goes to show that slower boats can be competitive.

3.  Good to see Rick and Tom Kennedy on the water in their 800, finishing 9th in the 3 race series.  The breeze around the course was variable, not the easiest conditions for twin trapezing, and the legs of the course were too short for the 8 to really stretch its legs.  Also very difficult for the 800 to start in a handicap fleet, as they need to foot off to get planing - all of the boats around them are pinching for a lane, so very difficult for the guys to break out.  Anyway, a good showing, especially given the need to sail the boat round from Thorney.

4.  Patrick, Wendy and Claire placing 1st, 2nd and 3rd Lasers.  There were 10 Laser variants in the series, which constitutes a fleet in its own right. The Slipper Lasers sailed very consistent races to finish at the head of the fleet.  Good news for the H&H, those are Slipper points!

Highlights from Sundays race :

1.  Good conditions again for the ISOs, trapezing round the full course, upwind and down.  Mike and Emma just held Andy and Vicky, with a few lead changes during the race.  The ISOs finished a couple of minutes ahead of the rest of the fleet, a good margin given the relatively short race. (I thought I was in touch with you guys at the final rounding of Tye, but as soon as I saw you flat out planing all the way to the club I knew it was over!).

2. The Wayfarer from ESC again shows that slower boats can place well in challenging conditions.  Those guys were romping upwind, finishing ahead of all the Lasers.

3.  Johnny and Barbara were again very consistent in their Merlin.  The Merlin handicap is very similar to the 300 (1002 .vs. 1000), so we spend a lot of time sailing in close proximity.  It must look a bizarre sight as we sail downwind, the Merlin looking well behaved and balanced, alongside a 300 with all the directional control of Brownian motion.

Anyhow, good racing in testing conditions.  The weather looks decidedly mixed for next weekend, lets hope we get the same fleet sizes on the water.

300 Race Log - 01/10/.2012

So I keep a record of all the races I do in the 300.  Writing down and reflecting on performance gives a 'to-do list' for training, and gives focus on what is important.  I would say that I'm about 30%-40% up the learning curve for 300, but not yet at a point where training is yielding diminishing return.  I can understand that the content of these logs will be of limited interest to many, so ignore if you find it boring!

Date: 29th September
Venue : ESSC
Race : 3 race series, each race approx 30 minutes.
Conditions: F3-5 W, very patchy, lots of big shifts
Tide : 1 hour after first start, lots of tide on the line, which together with the variable wind made for interesting starts (the first of which needed fenders)
Result : 3rd overall of 24 boats

- Three good starts, found a lane off the line and kept it despite being surrounded by faster boats.
- Reasonable (but not exceptional) upwind speed, continual tuning of the rig and it seemed to work.
- Reasonable (but not exceptional) downwind speed.  The Borland tips on vang and boom angle have certainly helped with stability.
- Tactically pretty good races, although the route to the windward mark was determined by tide.
- Gybing practice has really helped.  Never felt close to dumping on a gybe, all very controlled and straightforward.

Points for reflection:
- 2x capsizes over the day.
Capsize #1: Sandwiched between two starboard boats on port - Dave and Ed in the ISO, Johnny and Barbara in their Merlin.  Left it too late to sail over Dave's transom and boom touched water capsizing to leeward.  Next time: take action earlier, I knew it was going to be a problem when the ISO was 100m away.
Capsize #2: Rounding the windward mark with the Merlin and a 400 just inside, my thought was to sail over both whilst they were sorting their kites.  Decided that full power was needed, and tried to bear away whilst simultaneously dumping vang - big mistake, loaded up the rig and capsized to leeward.  Very greedy.  Next time: separate rig from the maneuver (interestingly the Finn sailors all seemed to do just that at the Olympics, they would round the mark, set direction and then tweak for a few seconds).
- Hiking fitness
In the first race, I was able to really work the boat through chop upwind, and it helps.  By race 3 I was done in.  Maybe time to start running again!
- Mental approach
Not the best frame of mind on the way to the start line.  Why?  Even now, I don't feel good about those races despite coming 3rd (and weighing 70kg in a hiking boat with 10m2 of sail!).  Specifically the problem relates to downwind sailing, so some work to be done.  Feels very similar to learning to sail a windsurfer in f6+.   But I got there and will deal with this at some point!  The trick is to try and move from an emotional response to one of objectivity and a plan to fix.

Points to work on:
- More time thinking outside the boat with earlier decision making.
- Trying not to be greedy on places!
- I wonder whether a revitalised fitness campaign is required.  Trouble is I'll probably lose a couple of kgs, and thats no good!
- Get more strong wind practice in, maybe at the expense of racing.
Date: 30th September
Venue : ESSC
Race : Browning 2, handicap race of 50 minutes

Conditions: F5-6 SW, very patchy at the top of the channel.
Tide : 45 hour after start
Result : 6th of 20 boats


- Good speed upwind.  First time I have truly cranked on the downhaul to the max (I'm talking windsurf type downhaul tensions), the top of the sail fell to leeward and the power was concentrated well down.  Sail looked more like a windsurfing sail than a dinghy.  Was concerned about stalling on tacks, but didn't seem to be a problem (water was flatish, maybe that was it).  Either way, speed was comparable to the 400s upwind, very pleasing.
- Pointing was good, despite a positive decision not to point!  The flatter sail seems to prefer not being sheeted too hard, I thought this would impact pointing, but it didn't.
- Nailed the gybes, two of which in 20+ knot puffs.
- On the way from Tye to the line, tried much bigger angles sailing downwind - either broad reaching (being able to sit on the sidedeck), or completely by the lee.  Felt much more stable.  Be interested to see if VMG is maintained, probably needs a bit of two boat work with Dave.
- Learnt a bit more about tuning for a reach.  I wonder whether extreme downhaul could be useful on the reach as well as upwind, getting the centre of effort lower seems to calm everything down but keep speed.
- Felt generally more positive about the race, despite the worse position! How does that work?

Points for reflection:
- 2x capsizes, but both very short (30 seconds, I'm well practiced by now).  Both seemed to be on a point of sail between a broad reach and a dead run, despite sailing with slightly more kicker and a closer sheeting angle.  My theory is that there is a 15 degree window that is an inherently unstable point of sail, and I'm better off avoiding it with wider angles.  Maybe time to canvass the 300 yahoo group.
- The toestraps need another revisit - it makes a huge difference on tacking, and offwind.
- After the leg from Walsh to Shepherd I was truly exhausted, largely due to the amount of sheeting to keep the boat on its feet.  No dicey moments, but a lot of work.

Points to work on:
- Speak with Dave and sort out some 'downwind in a blow' sessions.  Very interested to see if the use of big angles sacrifices VMG.
- Sort toestraps, they need to stand up.
- More tuning for reaches, esp on the downhaul in breeze.