Its Hyères - the Masters World Championships with 499 entries racing. First attempted start and my deck kit starts to lift off. My toe strap starts to pull out. Ah - no problems, I'll tie the outcall at the deck block and not use the Cunningham. Race postponed - phew.
So call in the cavalry - Ian Jones armed with drill and raw plugs.
As the second (most secure) original hole was drilled out to take the second plaster board raw plug, the wet wood was evidence that screws don't hold in old wet wood.
What a professional Job. I understand that you can use these raw plugs on grab rails too. They are a repair of last resort, but what a great secure job! Time to stock these at Rooster....
Just as test, we set out for the first attempted race again at 16:30 - with a start system that let the first fleet go 30 mins before the rest, we waited patiently - all of us wondering what the logic was to leave 4 fleets waiting while the first fleet does an inner loop course in dying breeze and with the sun racing towards the horizon!?!?!?!?!
However, as the third start - the radial masters fleet of 74 boats from 14 different nations, attempted the first start. A general recall. The wind was so light that amongst the boats - I would be sitting on the grab rail with little steerage or power to punch through the chop. I was quickly second rank off the start line and looking like this was not my condition - after all I am now nearer 78 Kg than 77Kg after 5 days of French Bread.
The conditions were hot ashore - too hot to sit in the sun - but armed with my Thermaflex® Longjohn
and Thermaflex® Top I was always comfy on the water - whatever the changeable conditions. I am also using Race Armour Shorts
with my pads locked inside them with their powerful velcro.
So with a cool head (sorry for the pun) I kept my mind on the job in hand. Taking regular wind readings - just heading up to check the starboard tack angle. (My compass of choice is the 73r
- I just love the simplicity) Despite the first starts' starboard bias - I wanted to re check the pin bias. After my starboard tack angle was 11 at 2 mins to go, the pin was bearing 10.5 on my middle lubber line. Hay - despite the right shift - the RO had moved the pin up more! I set off for the pin. As I raced to get to the pin the wind continued to clock left. I managed to make it just behind the pin boat with 25 seconds to go, a short starboard sail to take out another five seconds and I was tacking round to check the line and any line sag with 18 seconds to go. The opportunity was opening up for a clear port tack start. The fleet had been a little late in discovering this big left shift; they were still perhaps 15 boat lengths from the pin. It was not hard to trigger pull the start and take a commanding lead almost at the gun. The wind clocked more to the left for the next minute of sailing - 2 was my biggest left - and this was with some nice pressure too. At this point I could hardly believe my luck. Those who sailed on starboard out of the start were still on the starboard tack for at least a minute of the worst shift and I was still crossing boats from the right hand side of the course by almost 100m. Concentrating on being light - keeping my bum inboard as much as possible and using my shoulders to feel the boat of the waves - with plenty of rudder movement to keep the bow lifting, I actually felt fast for the first time in these conditions. Perhaps I can still remember how to sail these lasers?
Despite all good intensions of the Race Management - I now rounded the outer loop windward mark with John Emmett in his apprentice fleet. I wondered how I would pace downwind compared to this fleet. Fair to OK was my conclusion, although I thought they were pushing rule 42 more than me - as I was fairly comfortable with a nice 100m lead.
I rounded the left hand mark with the Apprentice fleet - they were taking the last reach to the leeward mark. Normally you would take the side you round and keep out of the running boats - but not with a 100m lead. I took a tack back to the centre - despite the poor wind conditions. Just to cover the possibility that the other gate turned out to the the best one. I noticed the Australian Mark Kennedy taking this left hand gate and charging though the fleet to take second at the top mark.
Its a strange feeling wining the first race by such a large distance. I am sure its no reflection on the speed and ability of those behind me; time will tell. The forecast for the rest of the week is for much more wind from the East - so the best conditions for Hèyers for waves.