Five reasons to do a 300 open meeting
The 300 fleet had an Open Meeting at Bough Beech this weekend, its my first weekend open in the boat, and it was fantastic. I thought I'd write up a summary of why every 300 sailor should come to at least one open meeting in the 2013 calendar. Since getting a boat, I had convinced myself that my time was best invested in learning to sail it (there is a bit of a learning curve) and so my focus hasn't been on fleet racing other 300s. Having now been to an open event I wish I'd started fleet racing much earlier. Here is why:
1. 300 sailors are Very Nice People, and especially welcoming to new members of the fleet
No aggression on the water, shouts of encouragement to other members of the fleet, and a very social bunch. Even at crowded mark roundings, there was a timely and reasoned discussion about who was entitled to what, and then we would all execute as agreed. No unnecessary shouting. Nice social as well, we had a very pleasant meal on Saturday evening at a local pub in good and amusing company.
2. The racing is close and exciting
We had 11 boats at Bough Beech, a relatively small fleet. But the courses had lots of short legs with an emphasis on boat handling and boat-on-boat tactics, and places were there to gain and lose until the finish gun. Mark roundings with 6 boats involved were commonplace, and made even more interesting by the local club fleet (btw, never try to out point a Solo, it doesn't work). The racing was intense but fun.
3. Boat speed across the fleet is similar, despite a variety in size and stature
I think I was the lightest in the fleet at 68kg, I'm not sure of the exact range of weight through the fleet but I would guess 68-90kgs. Boat speed across a f2-4 wind range was remarkably similar, tactics and boat handling seemed to be the biggest differentiators. So if you don't think you are at the ideal weight or fitness, don't let it put you off.
4. Old boats seem to go as fast as new boats
The winner of the open has a nearly new boat, 2nd place was a boat from the first batch of 300s built in 1998. So no need to be concerned about the age of boat, it doesn't seem to be a factor in performance. I did notice that the winning boat had a new sail, so that's going into the household budgeting plans.
5. Sailing an open meeting helps you improve general sailing
I thought I had a reasonable understanding of what I needed to do to improve my sailing. Not the case, just this one weekend has shown me that there are areas that I hadn't considered.
I came 4th, and I'm pleased with the result. All I need to do is stop making mistakes, of which there were many this weekend! But overall the whole event was very enjoyable. If you have a 300 and are thinking about getting involved in the circuit, give it a go - you won't regret it!