Monday, 25 November 2013

Hare and Hounds 6 - Carnage on the start line and windward leg

Very different conditions for racing on Sunday, a northerly offshore wind which was very gusty and shifty.  But that didn't put off the 44 boats from taking to the water for the latest in the series.

The start of the race was interesting.  A combination of a short biased line, a short windward leg, 44 boats and a floating jetty, led to some very close quarter action for the first leg of the race.  It transpires that the start was caught on camera, just too many boats in too small a space.  We need to have a think about whether this is working for the fleet.

Anyway, some observations from the racing and results:

- Dave Acres showed a clean set of heels to the rest of the fleet, winning in his RS300 by a good margin.  Never looked in doubt after a cleanish start and good first leg, nice sailing.

- Paul and Caroline Fisk again showed continued consistency in their RS200, taking second place.  Great boat speed.  Paul and Caroline and now tied in first place with Dave for the Saturday series.

- The Commodore compounds his no-show last week with an OCS this week.  Not to mention giving his crew a trip round the forestay on the trapeze wire, as they hit a bank at 15 knots. Twice.

- Great to see three Lasers in the top ten, headed by Max Jones in 4th place.  I've always thought that the Laser has relatively harsh handicap for our sailing area (not that I'd ever publicly declare it), its pleasing to see the guys bang in some good results.

- Alex Thorsby and Tom Kennedy team up to try and work out how to rig a kite on a 400.  But once on the water their racecraft would have had them in the top 5 if they weren't OCS.  Just alongside Tim and Mel in their 400, also OCS.   And Jim and Simon in their Lasers, pushing the line a little hard guys.

I had a race to forget:

1. Terrible start.  Stuck with the new philosophy of starting at the busiest end and cocked it up massively.  Philosophy about to change I think.
2. Poor rig set up.  The wind at the top of the course was light, down towards Tye there were some meaty gusts coming through.  I neglected to increase vang as I went down the 1.5 mile run, and as a consequence capsized to windward, nearly spearing Mark and Mike in their 400 (who seemed to find the whole thing hilarious, I was bricking it).
3. Generally felt slow offwind and upwind.
4. Tried to foot through Hugh at the start of the final leg.  Big mistake.  Footing through a crew that is 15-20 kg heavier in a force 4-5 is never going to work.
5.  Ended up 5th of 44, which sounds alright, but didn't feel like a good race at all.  Result made respectable by all the OCSing of others I think.  

All of this is the fault of Claire, who made me go to a Chi Harbour Federation meeting on Friday, and forced me to drink all the free wine.  So the lesson from this race is (i) don't go out with Claire, and (ii) don't expect to do well on a hangover!


  1. It was certainly interesting watching from the rescue boat!

    I thought that there was plenty of room on the start line, but too much bunching at the port end compounded by the tide pushing people over early. The carnage looked like it was due to the early starters trying to come back getting in the way of the clean starters. I expected a general recall.

    The creative interpretations of Rule 42 at the windward mark were quite interesting too!

    It was great to see so many Lasers on the water - Sam was ill but should be back next week.

    There seemed to be a lot of Lasers in the middle of the fleet going for a swim down the run, all with the same cause. By letting the main out beyond 90 degrees, whenever a gust hit the top of the sail would twist forward and drive the top of the mast to windward and inevitably end up with the boat capsized on top of the sailor who was then left with a tricky recovery.

    It is well worth letting your sail out on the shore before launching and making sure the knot is in the right place to stop this happening. Sam also puts a mark on his mast at deck level, and another on the deck so he know how far out his boom is without having to think!

    I also noticed that the mid to back of fleet Lasers are using much less kicker upwind than the guys at the front. This meant that whenever they tried to ease their sail when they were over powered, the boom would rise and the sail would get fuller and more powerful, making it even harder to control. On a breezy day, loads of kicker upwind is essential to keep the sail flat. Sam or I would be happy to talk about this if anyone wants to.

  2. Letting your sail out beyond 90 degrees on a Laser downwind is a recipe for disaster in strong gusty winds. In fact you really don't want the top of the sail going much forward of 90 degrees in those conditions which means the boom shouldn't even be as far as 90. Some of us put a mark on our mainsheet to help us judge this.

    Here was some advice on the matter from Mike Johnson of Seattle that was posted on the Laser Forum some years ago...

    "I have a tape mark on the main sheet 26 ft 6 inches from the stop knot on the boom becket block. When this mark is aligned with the fwd boom block (in moderate conditions) the middle batten is square to the boat centerline. During the runs with 25 knot puffs the sheet is trimmed in so the mark is about half way between the ratchet block and the fwd boom block. "

  3. Thats a good tip from Gareth about a knot in the mainsheet. Will try that next time - it is easy for the boom to sneak out more than you intended when your mind is on avoiding other boats or the next mark.
    NB - I cannot take the blame for Marks hangover blighted race. He needed no encouragement from me to guzzle lots of beer and multiple bottles of wine at the Federation's expense. Expect a hefty rise in harbour dues next year to compensate.....

  4. So what were the creative rule 42 interpretations Gareth? Do we need to stick an umpire at Echo ?

    Nice to hear from your Tillerman, hope all is well stateside.

  5. No names mentioned, as it was quite widespread.........

    the wind had gone very light around Echo. Both approaching and exiting there were a number of instances of boats heeling to leeward, as if to initiate a turn or tack, then being rolled flat again without actually changing direction but a significant increase in speed. Some subtle, some less so.

    The sort of thing you see in every club race in the country and no-one ever complains!

  6. I give the benefit of the doubt, it was very gusty round there. Any tiny increase in the wind and the 300 immediately tips to leeward, quicker to see it coming and keep flat but difficult to read the water round there.

  7. Having driven jurors at a number of events, I agree that most would also give the benefit of the doubt in that situation. Rigs moving differently to the rest of the fleet would attract their attention, then they would look to see if the sailor was initiating the change e.g. standing up and putting your weight to leeward then rolling flat would get a yellow flag, sitting still while the wind heeled the boat then rolling flat might not.

    Impossible (and undesirable?) to manage strictly at club level, and peer pressure should be enough if anyone is blatantly taking the p**s. My mentioning it was tongue in cheek and no finger pointing was intended.