Good Performance and Beating Battles

The weather for today was supposed to be rainy without much wind. Fortunately the forecast was wrong. When I arrived at the club it was quite cold and everything was covered in frost. Even the deck of the boat under the cover had ice! It was sunny, though, and we hoped it would get warmer. Yesterday evening, me and Brent moved our boats to new concrete berths, so we don’t have to step into the mud to get to our boats.

Rob from the boat shop, didn’t bring a new top block for my kicker, but he new why it had happened and he had a solution to the problem. Basically the key that is on top of the block is held with a clevis pin and there is loads of space to the right and left of the key. So when the key goes onto one of the sides, the whole block goes slightly sideways and the forces are not vertical but diagonal and as a result it deforms. So this morning he came with some washers, a new key and a bolt with nut. We took the clevis pin off, and replaced it with the bolt and we put washers to the left and right of the key in order to keep it centred. I understand the theory behind it and it should work.

I rigged Bubble and went to get changed. Today the race officer was a bit slow which was quite good because it was getting warmer and warmer. The wind had picked up a bit and it was quite gusty. On the first race, I had a quite good start. I was battling with Pete for a while. He was trying to get away, but I was there constantly and made him look over his shoulder for most of the race. I finished 5th out of 10. That is not bad for my standards. We went in, I made some minor adjustments to my rigging and I also re-thread James’ kicker. He was in a club Laser, but the kicker was all twisted.

Before the second race, I poured hot water into my gloves, hoping that it would keep my hands warm. They got cold quickly, but my hands didn’t freeze. So overall, I am quite happy with them. My start on the second race was not that great and for some reason I couldn’t get any power into my sail. Everybody seemed to be slipping away. Brent was close but I couldn’t keep up with him. Anyway, I continued to the upwind mark, and on the reach things started looking better. I forgot about the “beating problem” and focused on sailing. For the first half of the race I was quite happy but I capsized on one of the reaches. I recovered very quickly, but Cullum caught up with me. We were battling for two laps. He was better upwind and I was better downwind. The downwind leg was more like a reach, so he couldn’t really get to the windward of me to blanket me. He was getting a bit of an overlap, but not enough to cover me completely. Eventually, on the last beat to the finish line, I was slightly behind, but I was catching up. After a few tacks I got two lengths in front of him and to leeward. For some reason I was faster than him and I thought that if I can point higher and get to windward, I would have him covered. If I would slow down too much he was “windward boat”, so he would have to tack away. I did manage to to get to windward, though, and stay ahead of him, so I had him covered. This way we headed to the finish line. I put the last tack towards the line and for some reason he seemed to slow down.

I was happy that I managed to beat him, but it felt like he gave up before the last tack. When I asked him later he said that after the last tack he couldn’t gain any speed for some reason, so there was nothing he could do. I have definitely improved. A few weeks ago I would have in front of me people like Jane and Tom and Pete and Brent were not even bothered about me, while now Jane and Tom are behind me and Pete and Brent watch me over their shoulder. I am quite glad with my performance. On the second race I finished 5th out of 8. I really enjoyed the battle with Cullum. He is not a club member, he was Pete’s guest, but I hope he joins the club. I have to admit that he seemed very easy-going so I didn’t feel intimidated at all when I was battling with him. I don’t think I could have done the same against someone like Roger but I think I have to work on it.

After racing, Colin, commented on my mark rounding. He saw me at some point and after I rounded the mark I had the sail flapping while I was pulling the kicker. He was adamant, that the sail has priority over any other control. You need power and then trim your rig. I understand his point, he is actually right. For some reason I am afraid that if I pull the sail in and I haven’t sorted out the other controls, I might get overpowered and capsize. It seems I need to find a routine for mark rounding. I guess I have to have a mental checklist where I set the centreboard, kicker, outhaul and cunningham before the mark, so after I tack or gybe, everything is set for the next leg. We’ll see.

Next weekend is my last sailing weekend before the Christmas Holidays. See you on Saturday then.