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Kit Guide

Round and Round in Essex

By Matt Smith 30th September 2020
Hi its Matt Smith. Wow, what a great week of sailing at both Brightlingsea Sailing Club and Dabchicks/West Mersea Yacht Club. Brightlingsea race week (Pyefleet Week) started on the 10th of August. This year was the first time theres been an RS Tera fleet there so naturally I was very excited. In the morning of the 10th we arrived as they hoisted N over A. No racing all day. Hurricane Bertha was right on top of the club so it was very windy with gusts of over force 6. A disappointing start but tomorrow promised less wind and hopefully some racing. Day 2: The Tera racing was in the afternoon, at Pyefleet Week because there are so many fleets half race in the morning and half in the afternoon, they swap every day so everyone has to sail on all states of the tide. Its one long race a day with average race times of around an hour and a half but with some pushing two. The morning racing was cancelled and there was a long wait to see whether we would race, but again there was too much wind. Day 3: The wind was still high but not as high as the first two days. So racing was on. It was very windy, perfect for me as I could keep the boat flatter than the other sailors in the fleet. This meant after a good start and lots of work up the beat I rounded the windward mark first. I had read Steve's blog about sailing in the short chop at Brightlingsea and It was good to try and use some of the techniques mentioned. I managed to maintain my lead and finished the race first catching the back of the laser fleet that started 3 minutes before us.
Reaching, ahead of Lasers on the first day of racing. Reaching, ahead of a few of the Lasers on the first day of racing.
Day 4: At Pyefleet Week on Wednesday, the fourth day, they have an all-in handicap race called Big Wednesday, which is always very good fun. But instead all the Teras decided to duck out for the day to the nearby West Mersea Yacht Club's Round the Island Race. This was great fun, there were five people sailing the Pro rig and 4 sailing the Sport rig. We started at 12:15 and went the long way (Left from the club) first. All the long side was downwind and I wasn't concentrating and twice gusts from behind caught me out and put me in. But as we rounded East Mersea Stone we moved onto a beat and I started to claw back the places. I started the beat last but by the time we reached The Strood (a road causeway that is submerged at spring tides) I was third. I had made sure I kept in the channel and I was swept in by the tide. After a quick crossing of The Strood I left about 10 seconds after the two in the lead, Josie Ruffles and Archie Hainsworth. I hacked off towards the side to get out of the tide and passed the other two who were still in the middle. All the Tera Pro's were beaten by the Sports (well done to Will Carron, first Sport and 4th overall) but I was 1st Pro and 9th overall, out of 99. So after capsizing twice downwind I was really pleased with my result. Day 5: Back to Brightlingsea. And before the Tera racing in the afternoon I got the chance to sail our RS 200 with my dad, we had an appalling start (Dad's fault!) but managed to gain back a bit to finish in 7th. It was very good fun and great practise sailing Asymmetrics for when I move into a Feva next year. The afternoon went well and I finished in first again. Day 6: We raced in the morning and it was a port end bias on the line, I watched the laser start before us and was the only Tera to notice one of them take a port end flyer and cross the fleet, so I imitated them and was first to the windward mark again. However downwind whilst trying to get out of the tide I went too far in and my dagger board hit the bottom and I death rolled , after a dryish capsize I was on the chase, following Max King who had overtaken me when I had gone in. I overtook him as he capsized on the next downwind leg. Something both of us obviously need to work on! However my lead on the water was not enough to get ahead of Issy Taylor-Jones who beat me on Handicap, by 1 second! Day 7: The final day was another blustery day and after the best start of the week I was once again first to the windward mark. I extended my lead and managed to finish in first again. This meant that I finished in first counting three firsts and discarding a second. Nearly a full house. Sadly I wasn't able to attend the prize giving but I got an amazing prize for first Tera and I also found out that evening that I had won the best under 18 'Cadet Shield' I was thrilled and really impressed by some of the names on the shield of previous winners who went on to be national and world champions. Its an understatement to say I was pleased. Thanks to everyone that made it such a great week of racing, I loved every second. I am looking forward to the Tera Nationals this weekend and the Sail Medic Tera Eastern's back at Brightlingsea the weekend after that. Happy sailing Matt

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