First Club Series Win!
Now that the 2016 season is underway, with evening and weekend sailing in full swing, it is time to reflect on progress made this year.
After some local frostbite sailing in my Laser, I wasn't sure what weekend sailing I wanted to do. I had two open meetings at my home club lined up, both in the National 12, and knew I'd repeat the learning-to-sail experience for my girlfriend in the 12 during the club's Wednesday evening series. After a windy, although quite successful open short sharp series at the club, in the 12, which counted as the first race for the 9-race spring series, we both decided that actually, it would be great to complete a series and see how well we were getting on.
As the club runs two fleets on a Sunday, Lasers and then Handicap, it would be exciting - if sometimes frustrating to race 'against the clock' rather than other National 12s.
The first Sunday was perfect for the National 12 with about 10 knots of wind, which enabled us to sail upwind with ease and also meant we had enough speed and distance to keep ahead of the Wayfarers downwind. In both races we were 3rd on the water and on corrected time. I think this initial weekend fueled our excitement in the knowledge that actually we had learnt a lot about sailing the 12 - and we were doing some things right!
We missed one weekend due to strong winds and very cold temperatures, although I decided to join the Laser fleet for the day and see how much I'd learnt from the extensive 12 helming I was now doing. I've always favored heavy winds in the Laser but didn't expect to come first, in both races. The other benefit was being able to use my Aquafleece Neck Gaiter - up until now Lucy had stolen it to keep her neck warm! It is a fantastic piece of kit and kept my face and neck so warm, against both the wind and waves.
The following weekend was light and unfortunately we were not able to get far enough ahead of one of the Wayfarers on the water to finish in the top 3, although afterwards we found out that on corrected time we had beaten the leading RS400, which was unexpected. We realized how crucial it was to get good wind early from the line - although we kept battling a Finn and RS400 in the 2nd race, so frustratingly we found it difficult to get going.
After five races, we had finished fourth in two races and third in three. It was all down to the last weekend, when at least six boats had the potential to finish first overall. There was a breeze of over 20kts, conditions which we hadn't really experienced that much together, although the upside was the sun was out this time! We also knew that we had discarded a 4th, so if we didn't do so well in one race then we would still have a chance. Just after the one minute gun, Lucy fell forward during a tack and hurt her knee, so unfortunately our start was late. However, we managed to catch up with the fleet by the windward mark and attempt to make some significant gains on the reaching leg. For some reason we were not as fast as we'd hoped, but we were happy to finish 3rd on the water when we'd been last to start by a fair distance. The second race started well and we were leading to the first mark. We decided to power up on the reach by letting the leeward shroud fully off - we flew along, although the whole rig was quite wobbly, being held on by the windward shroud only (forestay was loose to enable the mast to bend upwind). Afterwards speaking to some 12 experts they confirmed this is the norm.....which we were glad to hear!
We finished 2nd on the water, but were beaten on corrected time by 4 seconds to a Wayfarer and 15 seconds to a Solo. We'd had some wobbly tacks and slower moments, so it was really great to see how much we'd improved just by doing the series from last year, when Solos were beating us over the water! I knew with the results we'd obtained we were likely to be in the top three, but was delighted when the series results came out to see we'd actually won by just one point. It was my first big series win and was great to share with Lucy who has only been crewing 'full-time' since April!
Now it is onto the next series, where we will look to improve further and continue our preparation for the Nationals in August!