Laser Open at WSC

Yesterday was my birthday. 32 years old! I am getting older and wiser! I had invited dome friends in the afternoon for a BBQ that lasted until the evening and then we went to a Restaurant to meet some more friends. As a result, I didn’t go to bed until 02:30 in the morning.

I managed to wake up nice and early and I went to the club. People were arriving and since it was an Open Meeting day, all doors and gates were open. I started rigging a club Laser that had been decided in advance, and soon I ran into some problems. I couldn’t find a decent sail. Eventually I had to repair one. It had a tear at one of the batten pockets.

A batten is a piece of plastic that is supposed to be slightly longer than the pocket. This way it makes that part of sail tight and with a small curve.

Steve always has a “magic box”, something like Mary Poppins’ bag, with pits and pieces. He gave a sail patch. It’s a self adhesive piece of plastic/fabric that you can apply over a tear. Later on he lent me a clew strap too, he keeps a spare in his “magic box”.

Format was 3 races, 1 discard. This means we do three races but the two best results count. On the first race I started quite well, but soon I messed up. I almost missed a mark. Actually I would have missed it if someone wouldn’t tell me. I actually messed up his race. He was at the front of the pack and I was towards the bottom. As our courses crossed, I had right of way and will going around me he hit my boat. So he had to do a 720 degree turn penalty. Then he pointed out that I had actually missed a mark. So, if I was going towards the mark, I wouldn’t had been there and he wouldn’t have hit my boat, so he wouldn’t have to do a 720.

Anyway, by the time I went back and round the mark I was last. I continued racing and although at some point I was racing two other boats I finished last. We had a lunch break and went out again for the two remaining races which were back-to-back.

At the second race my start was not that great, but still OK. The wind had picked up a bit and at some point I capsized and was trailing behind. Towards the end I managed to overtake someone but he managed to pass me on the last beat. I realised that I cannot figure out, yet, how to approach the finish line without loosing time. I think that it should be done with 1-2 tacks less than I do it.

Laser_Open_WSC_25-06-06-002At the third race, my start was worse. I was planning to start from somewhere in the middle of the start line, but I found myself leeward to all those fighting for a position next to the committee boat and I had all the dirty wind. As a result I could hardly move forward. It took me some time to cross the line and after a couple of tacks I was chasing the bottom of the pack. By that time I was tired, there were more gusts and my sore thumb had started hurting, making things even more difficult for me. At some point I could hold the tiller extension tight enough, lost grip, got into an involuntary gybe while I was still sitting in the wrong side, I capsized. I pulled the boat upright, wet and tired I continued round the course and at some point I was told that I wouldn’t be able to finish with 20 minutes from the first finisher.

From that point onwards there was some serious lack of communication that resulted in nerves, anger, shouting and disappointment. From what I have managed to understand things happened like this:

  1. One of the safety boats approached me and I was told that the Race Officer says “You will not finish within 20 minutes, so you might as well quit.
  2. I said “OK, fine”. I was slightly disappointed because I would like to try to finish, but I was tired anyway and I don’t want people to be pissed off waiting for me in the committee boat for half an hour. I had said that I quit anyway.
  3. I was told, though, that if I want I can continue sailing.
  4. So I decided that I would continue cruising round the course. I also set my watch to stopwatch and I would aim to finish as close as possible to the 20 minute limit.
  5. As soon as I heard the first finisher’s gun, I started my stopwatch.
  6. At around 2 minutes 54 seconds from the first finisher’s gun the same safety boat came up to me and I was told “Turn back in, now”. No “please”, no “if you don’t mind”, no politeness whatsoever. With a the authority of a race official someone tells me to go in.
  7. I turn back to go in. By this time, I am thinking that since I am being treated like that I should had been given the chance to try to finish within the 20 minutes.
  8. I pull the boat off the water and I ask the Race Officer who’s decision was that I HAVE to quit.
  9. He said that I didn’t have to quit but they were polite to let me know that I won’t manage to finish in time and it would be polite if I wouldn’t keep the on the water pointlessly.
  10. I said that I had no such intension, I had quit and that I was cruising while I was trying to see how long it would take me to finish. I also appreciated the fact that they let me know.
  11. Then I was told that as I sailed past the committee boat I should had told them.

The whole thing was making any sense to me. Later on, after I had calmed down, I realised what had, most probably, happened. When I said “OK, fine” (see 2) the safety boat didn’t inform the race officer that I had accepted his suggestion. Most probably they didn’t even mention to him that I was cruising, or that I was given the choice to cruise. I on the other hand, assumed that the race officer had been informed that I accepted and I didn’t see any reason in telling him anything as I sailed past the committee boat. At that point most probably he got quite upset because he thought that I was expecting him to wait for me to finish. So, when I talked to him (see 8) he assumed that I was just being selfish.

Unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to talk to the race officer and explain that I had actually dropped out of the race and I assumed that he was told.

Anyway, I am sure that you have guessed that I didn’t finish the last race. As the format was 3 races, 1 discard, this is the result that was discarded in my case. Overall I finished 32nd from 32 boats. That’s last in my first Laser Open. Someone gave me a present, though, a burgee.

A burgee is a wind indicator. It looks like a little flag that you put on top of the mast. As the wind blows, the burgee turns accordingly.

So, on Wednesday I will have I burgee to put on the top of my mast and hopefully I will see today’s Race Officer and explain the whole situation, because I feel unhappy about it, I am sure he does too.h