Soph & I travelled over to Chew Valley Sailing Club for the Inlands this weekend. We had a really good fleet of 65 boats, however the lake was not playing ball. When we arrived it was half empty and in order to get the racing in, the race committee decided it would be best to flight the fleets.
With the lack of water making the race course a bit like a 'river bank' exercise that you are made to do by your coaches, the racing kicked off on quite a long, thin course, which with a shifting breeze made it very interesting racing!
Race 1 started with quite a bit of pin end bias and we started safely about a 3rd of the way up the line. We tracked it out to the left hand shore got the first header and tacked across the fleet. Up the rest of the beat we managed to get away with the clear air which was nice, allowed us to sail our own race, to lead by a decent distance at the top mark. However, we have recently taken on a new boat from RS and it is fair to say we have had a few small issues. The most recent turned out to be not having a friction pad on the centerboard. Planing down wind into the first gybe and the board popped up and we rolled in to windward. Not ideal on a chilly autumn morning but luckily we were both wearing the Rooster SuperTherm
and Aquafleece Pro
so didn't feel the cold for long at all. The lack of water meant we spent a bit of time getting the mast out the mud, which continued to drop on to us all day, and finally got going but only managed to recover to 13th.
Rule number 1: check the boat over, if it can go wrong it will go wrong! (most likely when you are doing well)
Race 2 and I was a bit apprehensive having already recorded our discard for the week and I bailed out of what was a good position on the start to try and make the most of the pin bias. However, due to the bias it was already rather packed and we didn't pull the trigger on time and were pinned on the wrong side of the first couple of shifts. After rounding a fair way back we finished around 10th. We felt that we could have done better than this but we did not stay calm, a few choice words were exchanged around the race course and we just didn't find out rhythm with the shifts.
Rule number 2: don't let your frustrations get the better of you, win together, lose together!
After a quick cool off, a bit of food and some drink we set up for race 3 going to another mid line start. With about a 1 min 30s to go a big squall came through the fleet and at the gun we shot off midline with the jib cracked and main fully depowered. We managed to pull away from the pack we were with and once we tacked crossed everyone but out Itchenor team mates Andy & Pippa. However, the wind started to clock right and as we tacked onto starboard again we could lay the mark. We rounded the top mark in 1st and had quick discussion on the spreader about how we needed an early gybe. By this point the wind was howling and as we set off downwind you could tell the gybe was going to be make or break. We made it through the gybe and headed off and full chat down the run, holding on for grim death. Most of it was a blur to me, Soph says I was there hooting and hollering like a mad American down some fresh powder snow, but when it came time to drop, we couldn't see anyone else. We hadn't seen the flight in front of us either so assumed they must have shortened the course and as we went through the finish line we got a hoot and started heading in, only to realise the rest of the fleet had rounded the leeward and headed back up wind. Quickly we re set up and carried on racing and managed to hold on to the win.
Rule number 3: if there are no flags up, you are still racing!
On Sunday, there was a nice 12-15 knts and full of confidence from the day before we set off again. Race 4 out the middle of the line, took the first header and tacked and crossed the fleet. Around the top mark we were in 2nd with a big gap between the top 3 and the rest. At the bottom mark the three of us were still very close until Dicken who was leading lost his main halyard and handed us the lead. We held on battling it our with Chris Catt & Ally Martin till the bottom of the last run where coming into the mark we had a scrappy gybe and got a twist in the kite, which let Chris & Ally through. In hind sight we could have defended better by coming in on the starboard lay line, another lesson learnt.
Rule 4: don't panic! (& reiterate rule 2)
Race 5 we had another good start a 1/3rd of the way up the line from the pin. Up the beat we battled it out with the top few boats from the regatta so far and rounded the top mark in 1st again, however we just got out hoisted and rolled and forced to gybe off. At the bottom mark we were just behind the top 3 when Matt & Emmas goose neck broke which gifted us 3rd which we happily held till the finish. By now we were starting to flag and it was becoming quite apparent who had been doing their cardio!
Rule 5: Control the controlables ie. get fitter.
Race 6 and the last race, same start again, mid line and fast, played the shifts well rounded just ahead of the pack in 2nd. However the bouys had been moved and we suddenly found ourselves stopped dead caught in a load of weed with a group of other boats, but we had a slight issue. Due to our board issues the day before we had tied the board down with rope and now Sophie was frantically trying to undo the knots as people sailed around us. By the time we finally got clear we had dropped nearly to the back of the fleet, but remembering from yesterday and desperate to try and salvage something we dug in and after a few good runs and better beats we finally finished 7th.
Rule 6: If it has gone wrong before, it will do again. (probably when you are doing well)
Overall a disappointing end finishing 7th but we can take away a lot of positives from it. The next aim for the 200 is Hayling Island nationals next August so until then everything is just a progression game. More importantly, team racing is about to start up again! And with Itchenor looking to be boasting definately 2 maybe 3 teams it should be a good winter!