Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Hare and Hounds 4 - light winds, but good racing

So much to reflect on after the most recent in the Hare and Hounds series. 

Typical for Autumn weather, its either all or nothing.  Last weekend one of the races was cancelled due to 40 knots gusts (some still wanted to race), this Saturday was cancelled due to 0 knots of wind (predictably some still wanted to race).  But on Sunday there was a light offshore breeze, and after consultation with the fleet the Race Officer decided to send us out.  By the start of racing, we had a relatively consistent force 1-2, plenty to race, the whole exercise was about staying in bands and patches of wind, and staying free of other competitors.

Some observations from the race and results:

- Excellent start and result for Jonny and Barbara in their RS200, 3rd overall.  The wind was flicking about at the start, and changed the bias on the line with a minute or so to go.  Jonny and Barbara spotted this and crossed the fleet on port, leading the way to the windward mark.  Great racing.

- Great to see youth representation in the fleet with Freya and Amber finishing 15th of 27 in their Feva.  We had a relatively short triangular lap course, and could hear animated conversation and laughing from the Feva from start to finish!

- Andy Gould rocks out in his new 300.  Very difficult conditions for the 300, its unstable and unforgiving  in light winds and a continual balancing act.  Not the best result that Andy has ever had, but that will soon change.  Clearly he needs time to adjust to sailing a boat with a proper handicap.   And needs to stop all this nonsense talk of a Musto Skiff.

- Hugh Kennedy has been working on fitness and weight over the past few months, and it certainly showed in boat speed today.  Offwind speed in his 300 was bordering on offensive, the first time in a while that someone has pulled 50 yards out of me offwind in a F1-2.

- The Hare and Hounds is an inter-club competition, and it is great when all areas of the fleet pull together to represent Slipper.  So a little disappointing to see the Commodore of the club (and his sailing First Lady Emma) attempting to influence the RO to cancel, and then for a full English instead of sailing!  More commitment needed I think, and perhaps a point that I shall be raising at the AGM next month.

- Matt and training-partner-Claire take the race by over a minute on handicap, the 400 flies in the lighter breezes, and they were sailing the boat well.  But this particular boat does need to get to grips with rule 20, and the definition of an obstruction. (and the rest of the 2013 rulebook for that matter, quoting rules from the 80s is getting quite tiresome!). 

My race was interesting.  At the RS End of Season Championships earlier this month, I decided that my starts need some work, they weren't horrendous but they weren't consistently good either.  One way to deal with this is to try new things in club racing, and I've resolved to start at most crowded end of the line irrespective of which part of the line I think is favoured - I just want to practice winning the start in a melee of boats.  The start of this race was interesting, as the pin end buoy was a boat length behind the line, I was able to tack in from port in front of the fleet 5 seconds before the gun and start a boat length in front.  Matt was just so pleased for me in his 400, congratulating the fine start for the first 100 yards of the beat.  I thought I was most likely OCS, but turns out I wasn't.  I've set a target of being OCS in a couple of races, just to give myself the incentive to push the line.  Anyway, the start was good.

In terms of the rest of the race, it was all about keeping clear air, keeping in tide, and finding the patches and bands of wind.  Not the most tactical of races, but pleased with boat handling and being able to keep my head out the boat.  And what better way to spend a Sunday morning.

Next race is on Saturday, and its not going to be a F1-2, winter weather is approaching.

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