Yesterday I presented several pairs of VERY large ladies pants at the Juniors prize-giving as the “We need our Big Girl Pants” awards.
This morning it is gusting 24 knots and I am wondering whether I'm up for the challenge of RS300 sailing. I definitely need my Big Girl Pants today.
A short briefing and pep-talk at home then down to the club we go.
Rigged and changed. A few wry grins and shakes of the head from the assembled Scow sailors. They remember my first effort – today it is windier. Luke is ready. In case you've not met Luke he's a big bear of a man. My 6ft 2” frame – adorned with man boobs and bingo wings, is dwarfed by Luke. I fear that today I'm bringing a pencil sharpener to a knife fight.
Launched and waiting for Luke. We head down the harbour in tandem. It's gusty – very gusty. I remember how this went last time. Must not retire. Must beat the sneaky Laser sailor who didn't do the Interclub last week. 2 goals for the race.
Pre-start – no dramas – I even manage 2 gybes and a quick journey across to the wing mark and back (this is across the sandbank and I'd like to know whether my RS200 rudder blade will cope with the challenge). It's shallow but a slight dog-leg detour keeps me off the mud. I notice Luke doesn't sail over here, preferring instead to do the beat up to the first mark.
We huddle behind the start line. There's a nice but dim “I don't know the rules and don't care” monkey sailing a Buzz – this will make life interesting.
3,2,1 and we're off! I manage a good start and cross the line first. Luke is just astern with the Buzz resting on his windward side deck. He untangles himself and sets off in pursuit. The Buzz tacks onto port and neatly harpoons Ela's Splash.
Luke tacks away into clear air – I carry on. Tacking is one of my least favourite manouvres, along with gybing, bearing away and rounding up. Eventually I tack onto port and into a header. Luke crosses ahead and rounds the first mark about 20 seconds before me. A fast reach follows to the gybe mark. I've done 2 gybes already today but decide to refine my technique for this one. Climbing from the mast over the side of the boat onto the daggerboard was the major change to my gybing technique on this occasion. By the time I'm sailing again Luke is halfway down the reach but he hits the sandbank and slows. Seizing my opportunity I sail the dog-leg course in the deeper water but he still rounds comfortably ahead.
The second beat is more depressing than the first – I'm all over the place in the gusts and shifts and Luke is sailing away. We bear away onto the dreaded run and I decide to gybe early in the calmer water near the windward mark. This time the boat stays upright and the run is uneventful apart from the near-fatal bear away to avoid the Scow and Topper heading back up on starboard.
Unless Luke capsizes (twice) I'm not going to get back into this race. The second triangle passes without incident but I'm almost a minute behind. At least I'm still racing and a good distance in front of the collision monkey and the sneaky Laser. The second run almost leads to disaster when a big gust hits and I spin up to windward. Somehow the boat stays upright and I quickly bear away and manage to get down to the bottom mark.
I'm exhausted, by the way. Skin missing from finger and feeling pretty battered. I'm not giving Luke anything to worry about in these conditions and it's almost a relief to hear the two sound signals indicating a shortened course. 42 minutes after the start I drag myself across the finish line, 55 seconds behind Luke.
Looking back now I'm not sure I actually enjoyed myself. It just felt gruelling and frustrating in equal measure. The gusty wind didn't help because the boat never felt balanced. Going to spend time practising in the upper wind range until I find some speed and feel more comfortable.
Well done Luke – score now back to 2:2 and we did take 1st & 2nd places in this race.
What did I learn today?
RS200 rudder works just fine – sand down the bottom corner to fix the humming noise.
Some sailing gloves and a long tiller extension will help
Look at adjusting the toestraps and finding a decent hiking position.
Find a way to hold the rear toestraps up – almost impossible to locate them.