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Kit Guide

Good Start to the Season

By Matt Smith 30th September 2020
Hi, Its Matt Smith. Its been a busy few weeks since my last blog post, I had the Start of Season championships a fortnight ago and the first of the Eastern Traveller series last weekend. Start of Seasons The Start of Seasons where at Northampton Sailing Club and there where 76 boats. On the saturday the breeze was quite shifty and fairly strong. The course was a trapezoid and the first race was a good start, I got a seventh. My aim for the weekend was to be consistent and finish in the top ten. In the second race I had a particularly poor start and first beat, finishing 15th. the next race was better and I finished with a 12th. However the next race was particularly eventful, I had a fantastic start. and was second to the windward mark. (I'm in 984) But on the run of the first lap, I wasn't looking behind me and an unexpected gust hit me and I death rolled, being passed by the whole fleet.
A learning Experience!
The next day brought less wind, more my kind of conditions. I finished the last two races with a 6th and an 8th. I finished the regatta in tenth position, achieving both aims and learning a huge amount. Bethan Matthew, from the Eastern Squad and Aldeburgh Yacht Club, won all of the races on Sunday with giant leads in every race. The event was fantastic fun and I left with lots of things I knew I needed to work on. It was great to catch up with some of my friends from other areas. Link to the full results here Dabchicks Race and Train. Last weekend was the first in the Eastern Travellers series. It was held at Dabchicks Sailing Club at West Mersea and there were seven boats in the Pro fleet. The first day of the event was race training and we started about 10:30 sailing out to the blackwater to practice using transits in the tide. After looking at the tide we started doing some leeward mark rounding practise, followed by ten practice races, of which I won five, my friend Archie won four and my friend Max won one.
Pre-Racing, Sunday
The next day we had racing, In very light winds. West Mersea at low tide is very shallow but has a channel running down the middle, our start was just to the right of the channel, with the channel near the pin end. Before the race I did a lap of the course then a buddy beat with Lucy Greenwood to compare the sides of the start, at that time it was flat water and biased to the committee boat end but before the start the tide began to come in so we both decide to start at the pin end, this meant we were in clearer air and didn't have the distraction of the other boats. At the start Lucy won the pin with me just behind, seeing that everyone else was on the other tack she tacked to windward cover them, but I decided to continue on to head into the channel and fully benefit from the tide. This paid off with me rounding the windward mark first, with a considerable lead, the windward mark was in the channel so the first aim was to get out of the tide for the downwind leg. I headed over toward the beach to get into the shallow water, and was followed by everyone else as they rounded the mark. I held onto my lead in the next lap and finished first beating both Archie and Lucy who had beaten me the week before. The next race began and I used the same strategy and was again first to the windward mark, however as we began the downwind leg a rib came tearing toward us to tell us the race had been abandoned due to no wind at the start area. We waited about half an hour for the sea breeze to kick in, meaning the race committee had to change the course to suit the new wind direction. The next race we were crossing the tide to get to our windward mark so judging the lay line was very important, I managed to get into clear air at the start and keep the boat moving, taking the lead again at the windward mark, I held the lead to the leeward mark and the race was shortened to one lap so I took another win. The final race was much the same, little wind and keeping the boat moving was the most important thing. I took the lead to the windward mark and down to the leeward mark as well. on the second lap upwind however a strong breeze kicked in and some big waves formed, this was the time to use the wave techniques I had been looking forward to trying. the breeze that came was a massive lift so I over stood the lay line by about 20 meters and had to bear away, this gave Lucy the opportunity to lead round the windward mark, which she unfortunately hit. In the time it took her to do her turn I took the lead again, on the downwind she began to edge closer again but was hit by a wave, which at this time were massive and death rolled. this gave me the chance to gain my third and final win of the day. After the final race we had a fun race in before getting changed and going to the prize giving. It was a fantastic weekend, thanks to Virtual Rigger for sponsoring it and Jude Pearce for organising it all. Thanks to Steve Greenwood for the brilliant photos I have used, the link to his flickr stream with photos from both weekends here Link to full results here Next week I have been invited to team race with the Eastern Squad against The Royal Hospital School and five other school teams from Suffolk and Norfolk. I am very excited. Happy Sailing!

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