This weekend Soph & I took part in our first 200 open of the season at Itchenor. 44 boats raced over the weekend including the top 3 from last years nationals. The forecasts showed light winds and lots of sun which made for some great racing.
On the Saturday racing started in a northerly which was always looking like it was just a matter of time before it faded with the sea breeze. In race 1 we managed to win the very biased pin end and arrived at the top mark in a close 3rd. On the next run the wind started to die however we managed to judge the lay lines and held onto 3rd behind the new leaders, and then move up to 2nd by the top mark again. However, the wind completely died in the next lap and we quickly found ourselves in the bottom half. The race came to a stand still and the race officer finished the race under Q-flag. Unfortunately frustration had got the better of us at this point and we gambled at the first windward mark of the next race and came cowboying in on the port lay line inevitably earnt ourselves a penalty and found ourselves down the pack again. I think it's fair to say at this point we were pretty down, using both of our discards in the first 2 races is not the best way to start a series. But we discussed it "rationally" and decided that we had had a bit of bad luck and didn't at all related to how we were sailing. I've always sailed on the theory that if you sail well the results will come.
In the next race the tide had turned making the starts a bit tricky and we eventually got underway with a black flag start, this gave us our opportunity as there was a lot of line sag and we managed to get away half a boat length earlier than the boats around us. We sailed all the way to the lay and tacked and rounded the mark 1st and never looked back taking the win comfortably. With our heads up again, we executed the same game plan again and understood the lay slightly after crossing the fleet however we managed to take 2nd, finishing the day on a high but with a lot of work to do.
On Sunday the Race Officer postponed to wait for the sea breeze to fill in and we finally got underway in a nice 8-10 knot southerly. We managed to pick up where we left off and won the middle of the line and called the lay line perfectly and led round the whole race, however we had a bit of work to do holding off Josh Metcalf & Ally Martin. However, the real competition was against Matt Mee & Emma Norris and Ian Martin & Nicky Macgregor and in the next race we found ourselves battling it out with Matt & Emma until unfortunately picking the wrong leeward gate mark and allowing them to get away, but another 2nd was helping us to put a decent series together. The next race was the game changer, we misjudged the lay line and this meant we rounded in the teens with Matt & Emma and Ian & Nicky both in the top 3. On each of the downwind legs we managed to pick off boats and finally working our way into 4th by the finish. In the last race we started at the starboard end and tacked out in to the ebbing tide and rounded the windward in the top 3 with the other top boats behind, and so we covered the fleet and held on to 3rd which gave us the overall win!
It was really encouraging for us to see how our training had paid off and it is always nice to get a win on home waters as well. Unfortunately not sailing for a while till the Eurocup in Lake Garda, Italy due to exams but it has been a great confidence boost going in the right direction. A video of us training over the spring bank hol is below: