"Pocket-Rocket" Set Up Tricks: RS Aerocup
After unknowingly being given the nickname ‘Pocket-Rocket’, published on both the main event web page and in Yachts and Yachting, which I only found out about the day before the event, I now had to live up to the prestigious title and Malcesine, Garda was the perfect place to do so.The first day of racing was forecast for light winds with a 1300hr start, which was spot on. There was about 5-9knots on the race course from the south with about 20 degrees of heat – perfect! I went out, not sure what the day would bring, but was pretty relaxed either way as the back drop of the mountains was enough to make it a good day to be on the water. In no time at all, the first race was underway and I surprised myself with a 1st place with a considerable lead. Two more bullets in the next two races left me coming off the water in a good place. I think that reading Sam Whaley’s recent blog after the UK nationals on sailing in light winds helped my upwind speed considerably, where I applied the following:
- Minimal kicker. Only take up a bit of the slack when the main sheet is pulled in (end of boom in line with aft outer corner). As the wind slightly increased, the kicker can be tweaked an inch or two to compensate
- Cunningham and outhaul relatively loose
- Play the mainsheet as the main setting – let out in lighter patches, and pull in a bit in the gusts to promote an extra squeeze in height
- Point 5-10 degrees lower to increase VMG
Taking this into the second day, I fired out another 1st place in the first race. With the second race came more wind seeing gusts of approx 14/15knots, where I found myself having to considerably de-power, being the smallest in the fleet - "Pocket" sized.
With this increased wind, the last race was to go either way. Luckily the wind decreased and shifted back to the right on the first beat (as it did when the wind decreased on the previous day), where I spotted it early and sneakily tacked on the incoming shift, coming in to the windward mark with a considerable lead on the rest of the fleet, who over stood the layline. Throughout the rest of the race, I was able to extend my lead to finish over a leg ahead of the rest of the fleet. I had to live up to the ‘Pocket Rocket’ name somehow!
Going into the third day with all race wins, it was then a challenge (set in the bar) to try to finish the regatta with a straight set of wins, which I knew would be difficult in the stronger forecast morning winds. The first race was at 8.30am!! Once on the water, I was ready for a day of max hiking and max de-powering to maintain my position. The fight was definitely more difficult with much closer racing, only getting one race by half a boat length on the finish line, but I managed to achieve my goal – somehow!! Walking was a bit of a challenge when I came off the water! What made me quick for a lightweight was:
- Cunningham – pull on as hard as possible
- Kicker – pull on as hard as possible, this helps the sail to spill air out the top of the leach when the mainsheet is let out. It’s amazing how much effect pulling on the cunningham and kicker has on the top leach area of the sail if you look up
- Outhaul – still relatively loose to power through the waves. Because I had de-powered the sail so much everywhere else, I needed some shape to it in order to move.
- Play the mainsheet a lot to keep the boat flat/constant heel
- Hike until your quads feel like they might potentially tear!
So my first win in the Aero is complete in true Pocket Rocket form! Makes a difference to my usual style of losing it on the last day/race. Also, no OCS’s or black flags - another personal record!
The event was organised brilliantly at Fraglia Vela Malcesine, and Peter Barton, once again, didn’t fail to disappoint with his enthusiasm and hard work throughout the event. It also wouldn’t be the same without the great bunch of sailors both on and off the water. Got to thank my dad for driving all the way with my boat as well - cheers Dad!Looking forward to the next one!