Sailing Jan 29 2011

Race analysis

The Races 29 Jan 2011


Boreas, the Greek God of the North Wind was Master of Ceremonies for this day and entertaining it was too.  MSC weather toy showed a wind from the northeast (65-80 degrees) backing in the second race by 10 degrees of so.  This was noticeable between the two races. The scale of the graph exaggerates the wind movement from the usual picture, the shifts were really quite small for MSC, only about 15 degrees.  It felt steady to me most of the time.

Roger Ryder set a classic course F reverse with Martin Weatherstone establishing a fair start line. Same course for both races.


Team Watson and Nancy, familiar with Lilac and coming with valuable experience of sailing with Richard Dee, ventured forth.


The second race start provided some interest with Mike Colles positioning himself towards the starboard end ready for the gun and myself inconveniently, marginally astern.  There was the potential to try a ‘barge’ in the gap he had left to windward but I decided against this and went to leeward to gain boat speed but eventually tacked onto port towards what I thought to be the favoured side of the windward leg and supported by the first race experience.  The trees and houses on the north side of the reservoir were not going to be good for wind in this direction (or any?) so I decided to make most of the distance down the reservoir to #1 mark towards the south side. There was a bend in the wind so thinking about keeping on the inside of the wind bend suggested the best course was down the middle, using the wind shifts as appropriate.


Broad spinnaker reach down to #4 balancing the straight line direction with the wind tending to provide a run.  Merlins are not keen on running so there was the potential for a series of gybes instead but in the event not taken.  Smooth round #4, short track to the lovers wall, tack back towards the middle then picking up the lift on the wind curve to tack back towards #2.


Spinnaker reach down to #6, helm to give the crew time to hoist before pointing up; good potential for a three sail plane but not quite enough Boreas juice.  Gybe at #6 could be taxing as it was from reach to reach to avoid getting too close to the shore.  Good crew work needed here.


Round #5 and back onto the beat again for the next lap.


The end of the first race provided the best tactical racing of the day.  Rounding the #5 mark, the finish being set from #1, the Solos of Richard Adams and Mike Burke were out of possibility.  However, the GP14 team of Paul Leavers and Nigel Spurr had chosen to head towards the northern trees, poor wind, and there was every possibility that this would give me the opportunity to catch up.  However, this experienced team are no pushover, being recent winners of the Southport Midnight race and we could expect severe challenge.  Getting close might be hazardous as if things went wrong for them; we might have to avoid flying toys.  Beating Nancy with the buggy whip, we caught up and engaged the GP about 200 metres out from the #1 mark. Trafalgar was re-enacted! The #1 mark was a starboard hand rounding (clockwise) with tactical opportunities. A real ‘set piece’ and establishing position was critical.  Trying the ploy of port/starboard, the GP did not take the bait and ducked round my transom.  Had he tacked onto port, it would have been my game.  Predictably we met again closer to the mark, the other way round this time, me passing ahead on port, but close.  I think we were just outside the ‘zone’ (two boat lengths). Paul called for me to hold my course.  This was not out of any charity, chivalry or courtesy but a typically clever tactic.  I was committed anyway because a tack onto starboard would probably have resulted in me obstructing his path and a penalty against me.   So pass ahead, needing a good tack for the ‘slam dunk’.  There was about 10 seconds of sailing to reach the mark at best. Messing up my tack did not help but Paul squeezed up to windward after passing me to leeward to force me clear astern.  His troubles were not yet over, because if I was close enough to his transom he would not be able to tack round the mark, giving me a sneaky inside line.  No such achievement and Paul tacked round clear.  However, it seemed to me that he left enough room for half a Merlin to squeeze inside.  Another team, I might have taken a chance, but not with these two and we pursued them round in an orderly manner.  Last chance now, onto a port broad reach towards the finish at ‘B’.  Creep up behind, taking his wind and slowing down that GP inertia. Then there would be a choice, dodge round to windward, overtake, clear ahead, gybe then win. Or power away to leeward, straight for the line and win by a nose.  Paul was having none of that, timed well, he gybed onto starboard, gaining wind again and getting enough space to gybe again (I think) across the line as I attempted to squeeze in at the ‘B’ mark itself hitting it in the process. That would have changed the race outcome if my ploy had worked.


Superlative performance, Paul and Nigel! Thanks Nancy, good skills.


Nigel and I agreed it was a great days sailing in the bar later.