Monday, November 3, 2014

October 25th & 26th - Clinching the deal as the Autumn Series concludes

The end of October means craning out and the conclusion of the fabled Autumn series...

Saturday 25th October.
Everyone (including the estate agent who stores 6 Finn sails in the boatshed but sails 5 times a year – go figure) is racing. Luke, Ginge, Jez, Ela, Ray,'s like a “who's who” of Class 4.

The wind is light and the line is short.

People with boat handling skills and large kahunas will start well today. I start terribly. To say I was in the 2nd row would be insulting to the people in the 2nd row. I am following the race.
Trademark start by Chris :(

Luke is in lane-holding mode with the Finns. I tack away into the wilderness. I'm in duck-worrying mode as I head far right out of the tide into the nature reserve. Ela follows me (she's lost too) Jez, predictably, follows Ela.

Half way up the beat I'm out of the tide and gaining fast. I tack back onto starboard, ducking Luke who is on port. I'm ahead of the Finns and carry on into a stronger breeze before tacking back onto port to lay the windward mark. Luke tacks back but he's out of the breeze and now a good 30 metres back, amongst the Finns.

Poor Luke with a grumpy Finn fleet for company

A long broad reach down the harbour... I keep my head in the boat and wobble away from Steve who is being pursued by Ginge.

Later I learn that wobbling is considered borderline Rule 42 by the Finn fleet. Which is interesting since moving the end of the boom continuously in and out by about a foot is classed as "steering". Anyway, I'm too busy staying upright to pump, and wobbly sailing is a feature, not a technique..

Rather stupidly I've set a course consisting of beats and runs. RS300's don't enjoy beating and running and this is turning into a Finn benefit. I remain in front but Luke remains buried with the Finns. At the finish I'm a couple of minutes ahead which is a comfortable win over Luke but not enough to challenge the Finns.

Heading back upwind as the fleet approaches the leeward mark

All good though – Autumn Saturday series in the bag. No time for beer or bacon rolls – we have a road trip to Glastonbury to spend the afternoon hanging out with faeries, hippies and witches.

Late finish – tumble dry the gear, dine in hell – ready for Sunday.

Sunday 26th October

Sunday is windy. Scary windy – gusts above 20 knots. I hope the race officer won't turn up so I can do the decent thing and sit on the committee boat instead. He arrives. I'm screwed.

We launch. Lots of Finns, Luke, Ela, Solos, Lasers and, finally, me.

I have a good start and try lane-holding in the middle of the Finn fleet. Luke tacks away, taking the same route up the first beat I used yesterday. Today it works and he crosses ahead. I find myself buried in the chasing pack of Finns as we head downwind. Ginge is shouting Rule 42 based complaints at Simon in his Finn. Finally clearing the Finns and into second, I gamely try to hang onto Luke.

Not the most comfortable spot for a lonely RS300 sailor

I'm sailing OK but inexorably he pulls away. On my last reach down to number 8 I'm distracted by the upturned Jenny. No, that's rude - I mean Jenny's upturned Laser. She manages to wriggle back onboard and sets off just ahead of me. It's a worry – I'm about to lap her but she's nervously watching me. I know from bad experience that sailing with your head out of the boat means trouble – I'm willing her to not fall in ahead of me as I don't have the skills to change course quickly. We're OK – she rounds number 9 buoy ahead and I throw in an early tack to stay clear.
Doing my best but getting my butt kicked again...

Short beat back to the finish at number 5 and my race is done.Ela has sailed brilliantly today and stayed ahead of Luke's dad, John, in his Solo.

At the finish Luke is over 2 minutes ahead – probably the biggest defeat I've suffered against him so far. Our score is now 4:3 in his favour and I'm no closer to finding the heavy weather pace I need to challenge him. On the bright side I didn't capsize in winds exceeding 20 knots – so things are getting better. Luke congratulates me for finishing. I congratulate myself for being 50 and a bunch of other things I don't deserve credit for.

Luke's experience and power is going to take some overcoming. I'll have my work cut out in the months ahead.

The Autumn Sunday series is in the bag, the sailing gear is in the tumble dryer and I have a weekend off. Going to rest, relax and think about the Winter training.

See you soon, folks.

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