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!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

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.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Time to get back on the horse

So it is Hare and Hounds time again at the club, given that this blog started with the H&H last year I thought I'd maybe revive it for the racing this year.  But first a summary of the last 4 months.  Since my last post, I have:

1.  Been beaten into submission by the water state (and better sailors) at Stokes Bay for the 300 nationals.  Nearly sold the boat.  Dave Acres sailed an excellent series to win the nationals, great for our local fleet.
2.  Been beaten into submission by the shifty lake conditions (and better sailors) at the RS End Of Season championships.
3.  Been beaten into submission by Vicky Gould for considering a Streaker as a second boat (something I might still do).
4.  Taken up mountain biking, great sport, but there are too many here that are too good at the downhill.
5.  Been windsurfing a lot.  It has been properly windy over the past couple of months.

But on the whole an excellent summer and a good start to the autumn.  3rd race in the H&H series on Saturday, I might post a runners and riders post before that.

Finally, is that Andy Gould I spy in a new 300?  A welcome addition to the fleet.  Book your seats on the millpond wall for the first f5/6 SW.