Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lighter winds and a change of fortunes..

If the first attempt at sailing the 300 was a bruising affair it was the well-intentioned feedback from friends and family that had the most impact.

Instead of the expected mockery I was treated like a small child trying to ride a bike without stabilisers for the first time. “It was gusty” “You're a brave little soldier” “You did well, considering your age”. My brother would say “Hahahahaha you're crap!”. He's away, thank goodness.

I was hoping for less breeze than Saturday – not much less but enough to give me a fighting chance. When you climb back on the horse you're secretly hoping the horse feels bad about throwing you off. I wanted to show the boat I wasn't an idiot – less than 15 knots would help my cause.

The daggerboard now fits. Richard was enthusiastic with the fairing compound – it was a simple matter to sand it back. The front toestraps were loosened and I spent a few minutes looking at rig setup in the dinghy park before launching. Everything the guys say about the kicker is true. The rig flattens down just fine but you need to use the controls.

Waiting for the spectators to disperse (The RS300 attracts a lot of attention at our club. More so if everyone expects you to spear it through the middle of the Commodore's yacht moored across the river) I pushed off and turned downwind.

In lighter winds (today was less than 10 knots) I had time to find out more about the boat. Firstly, standing behind the mainsheet going downwind you're aware of the sound of water from the stern. Move forward and it goes quiet. I guess we're trimming bow-down in light winds. It's more comfortable than an OK up front but wobblier.

I tried more tacks today. What is noticeable is how easy it is to bring the boat to a complete standstill during a tack. Using too much rudder, moving aft - sticking the transom, and clumsy transition to the new side – I'm guilty of all of this at the moment. Some tacks worked better than others. It takes several steps to change sides on an RS300. It's more like a brisk walk actually. Up a very steep slope. I trip up and sometimes get out of breath.

With kicker pulled much tighter (roller on the 2nd or 3rd white line from the bottom) the rig looks and feels much better upwind. I'm not light by any means but in less than 10 knots I feel powered up in flat water. Trying to steer with fingertips and hold the boat very flat or heeled to windward - it feels good but I wonder how I'd be pointing with other boats around me. One for another day.

I invited Ela to try the boat. She floundered aboard while I dragged myself into her Splash. Disappointed that she didn't immediately capsize I spend the next 10 minutes following her around the harbour in the hope she might also find the RS300 difficult to sail. She doesn't.

We swap back and head for home in a dying breeze. There were no capsizes and actually this is how I remember sailing Luke's boat a few years ago. Unlike the Finn – which carries so much momentum that a good push off the slipway will still propel you around the race track 45 minutes later, the RS300 is all about accelerating and stopping. Need to learn to prevent myself from stopping her.

The breeze will return and I'm sure the beatings will resume. But today, at least, the relationship with my new boat seemed to be on level terms.

Things to address:

Need a shorter rudder - can't play in the main channel all season.

Tighten the rudder fittings

Stop parking the boat each time I tack.

Get fitter.

Find a permanent home for the mast collar.

Good points:

Ela thought she looked cool

I still make Luke Ridout look very good but he won't lap me in less than 5 knots.

I didn't have to wash mud off the sail today.

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