Rainy, Shifty and Gusty

Today has been a hot day and in the morning there was not much wind. I was quite worried that we won’t have any wind. At some point in the afternoon the wind picked up a bit and I thought that we might be OK. So, I arrived at the club, had a little chat with Steve and Pero (new member) and we decided to go and rig our Lasers. I had to show to Pero where we keep the sails & foils and Steve said that the “Laserman” suits me. Sounds like an action hero name but when people give you a nickname, there is nothing you can do about it. Well, you can punch a nose or two but they will still call you whatever they want behind your back. Not that I mind being called Laserman. I just hope that people don’t think I started calling myself like that.

Anyway, I counted ten rigged Lasers which is quite good for a Wednesday evening. Later on, one more lady arrived who had only ten minutes to rig her Laser. Someone tried to lure her into an RS200. After we had gone out, I saw her coming in her Laser, so it seems that his attempts didn’t bear fruits. That is 11 Lasers on a Wednesday evening race! I was sailing towards the start line when it started raining. When I arrived there I asked Steve how much time we had to our gun. He told me that the sequence hadn’t started yet. So we had quite some time to sail around, in the rain. I were soaked.

The rain eased and they started the sequence. That’s three hoots which means 6 minutes to the first class’ start (Merlin Rocket). Three minutes later, one hoot, which is 3 minutes to the first class’ start and 6 minutes to the second class’ start (Laser). Three minutes later, one hoot, which is the first class’ start gun, 3 minutes to the second class’ start and 6 minutes to the third class’ start (RS200) and so on. So the classes start in 3 minutes intervals with the following sequence: Merlin Rocket, Laser, RS200, GP14, Firefly.

By the time our race started, the rain had stopped and we had a light wind that had shifted considerably. We had to start on port tack and the port end was actually better. Since I don’t have much experience in port tack starts, actually I don’t have much experience-period, I didn’t things correctly. I was going towards the line on port tack while everybody else was coming on starboard. So I had to tack and I lost some time. Anyway, my start was not that great but I wasn’t last either. There were other boats around me and I was trying to keep moving in the light wind.

On the first downind leg the wind picked up. I quickly realised that there were strong gusts and I decided to choose safety rather than speed. The plan worked and I didn’t capsize. I played a lot with the kicker and the outhaul and I was quite glad because most of the time the result was what I expected. So by closing and opening the leach when running you can choose speed or stability. By changing the outhaul (curvey or straight foot of the sail) on a beat or reach you choose speed or less heel to leeward. The only control I haven’t used yet, is the cunningham.

Most of the time I was racing two other boats. We were neck and neck. On the second lap, we started the upwind leg, we were on port tack and I was one boat-length ahead and to windward but quite close to them. As soon as I tacked, they had to tack too, because now I was on starboard. I warned them before tacking so they had time to tack too. Now we are all on starboard but I get dirty wind and I cannot point higher. I am looking at the water surface for ripples, sign of wind, and when I identified a “channel of wind” I tacked quickly and I left them to sort out their right of way whichever way they wanted. Halfway through the upwind leg we had to round two marks.

So we had to reach and then beat again to the top of the lake. At that point I had gained some more distance. I continued like that and on the last lap, I missed a mark! I realised it quite quickly and I minimised the damage somehow. I lost only one place and if I had half a lap more maybe I would gain it back. Doesn’t matter though, it’s part of the game. I am quite happy with my performance. I remained dry, I stayed ahead, most of the time, of one of the sailors that
usually finish ahead of me and I really enjoyed the evening.