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Chichester Snowflake - could have ended in tears!
By Steve Cockerill
Another big turnout for Race 7 & 8 of the Chichester Snowflake series except for the wind who opted to stay at home for most of the day. Despite the very light conditions race 7 started almost on time, which left some still trying to make it to the start as the starting gun went. The current was taking us to the North East with a Northerly wind, so trying to get into the current was beneficial - giving you a lift on starboard once in the main stream (specially in the light wind) but as the wind strength increased, we would be headed (as the apparent wind would move towards the direction of the wind over the land - and have less influence from the tidal wind) giving us a better port tack. Even in these light winds Sarah was tacking facing backwards - it helps keep the weight forward; we were concentrating on sailing the boat to the head to wind position before we moved to windward to induce the roll.
Sarah was also standing up in the tack to give us the best heel to leeward on the exit of the tack. The hard part is then disappearing to leeward as there is little pressure in the sails to hold her in the middle of the boat.
Sarah also worked hard at keeping the slot open in the really light parts - by lifting the clew of the jib, then squeezing on the sheet when we had some pressure. Over sheeting the slot in light winds can be catastrophic.
Dicing between most current and least wind under the northern shore was always going to be interesting both going uphill and downhill. We had our share of luck in race 7 as William Warren, crewed by Sophie Mackley broke away a number of times in their Merlin from the main body of boats that we were fighting with, only to sail into a hole which let us catch up. Remarkably we finally finished in contention and took the race on handicap.
Race 8 was more exciting as the wind had gone more towards the North West - and at start time we were almost laying the first mark on port, despite the current starting to go South West. I was desperate to get separation from the fleet on a port biased line and break out to the right side of the course. When sailing amongst boats off a start line its always hard to get a boatspeed advantage over those with you, specially if you are the slowest boat in the fleet, but if you can break out from the line of boats on an opposite tack - you are clear and free to sail your own race. So we opted for the port tack weave approach which is made lots easier as the Scorpion is pretty narrow compared to say the Merlin. Take a look for yourself.
What proved even luckier was that shortly after the start we had a shift back to the right - which took us almost to the port layline where we met William and Sophie again on a massive port shift with pressure which took us nicely to the mark. This time William broke away, but we were able to stay in contention with the other Merlins to take second on the water. Boat handling B+ Ballsey move could have ended in tears!!