Stupid windy sailing, days like today are for windsurfing. The forecast for the whole week showed very pleasant conditions with the exception of a day of wind starting at 09:30 on Sunday morning, and for once the forecasts were correct. SSE F4-6ish, start time of 1000, and a little consternation in the assembled fleet on the shore.
A race of two halves for me today. I missed the start (thought the 1 minute gun was actually the 5 minute gun, managed to synchronise my watch exactly on the start hurrah) and had to settle into Dave Acre's dirty wind for the first 200m or so. Gradually made a little ground to windward, and seemed to be clawing back Dave. The first beat was maybe 1.5 miles or so, and I was pleased to keep up with Dave. We then had a beam/broad reach for a mile or so to Stocker, during which waves started to build and made life interesting. Andy/Simon decided to wear round the Stocker channel marker in their ISO, closely followed by more wearing round by Matt/Claire in their 400. Andy was especially keen that I point out how scared he was of gybing in the moderately challenging conditions. I wasn't too far behind Dave and noticed that he was having problems in the waves, it transpired that his rudder downhaul had broken and he couldn't keep the blade down, so he retired (I thought he was struggling to cope with the waves having taken an upwind line, not the case!!).
At this point I was leading the 300s, and not a million miles off the ISO/400 - that concluded the good half of the race.
The next leg was a beamish reach to Rockhill. Hugh and I started together on this leg, and he took miles out of me, he looked really comfortable all the way down the reach. I was having to sheet in and out loads all the way down to keep the boat on its feet. No dramas, but didn't feel at all fast, to be honest I think a bit of weight in the boat is useful for the reaches, and I'm lacking in that. A short close reach to Sandhead and then we started downhill to the finish line
Given all the practice I've been doing recently, you would have thought it would translate into a more controlled experience downwind. Not so! A couple of capsizes, and I didn't really feel controlled down the full leg. I noted that both Hugh and Mark were sheeted well in and looked very stable. The bizarre thing is that the chop/wind was no more difficult than recent practice sessions, but time on the water hasn't translated into race performance, which is a disappointment.
All in all, pleased to get round the course in challenging conditions, didn't feel tired at the end of the race, but very hacked off with downwind performance and the race as a whole. One to forget.
We are off to Brazil for a holiday now, so no musings for a couple of weeks. Regular readers need not worry, I've not given up on the 300 quite yet, but am looking forward to a break.