37 kts = No sailing today!
With the third day of racing here in Abersoch called off due to high winds, we have some time to provide an update on our event so far.
Day 1 dawned grey and wet, but by midday had brightened to provide a pleasant afternoon of sun and 12-15 kts. With the tide flowing upwind in race 1 we came early out of the gate and headed for deeper water on the left. This paid off and we approached the windward mark in 4th, followed by an early gybe to get out of the tide downwind while others stayed out on starboard. I had expected most other boats to approach from the left too leaving the starboard layline relatively clear, but this proved not to be the case and the wind shadow was very costly, dropping us to mid-20s in this very competitive and close fought fleet. Frustrated but focused sailing around the rest of the course we pulled back to finish 11th.
Race 2 began with the tide turning, so we made the decision to start early and attack the left again for more breeze offshore, before hitting the right on subsequent beats for less tide. Unfortunately the wind veered right on the first beat, and we were again in race recovery mode to bring a midfleet first rounding back to finish 17th.
Sailing fast in the wrong direction...
Not a perfect start, but we were encouraged by our boatspeed in the waves, which seems to have benefited from the rig tweaks before the event and allowed us to recover from some strategic errors to score two countable if not spectacular races. We're still not quite on the pace of the top five, but we're closer.
After a delayed start on Day 2 for the waves to calm enough to launch, the fleet were greeted by 20-25 kts, sunshine and brilliant surfing waves for possibly the best sailing conditions we've had this year. In these demanding conditions, the fleet quickly establishes a pecking order, with few places then gained or lost. Again we found ourselves snapping at the heels of the leading group, with plenty of fast boats just behind waiting to capitalise on any mistakes. After a slightly underwhelming 17th in race 3, we sailed well in race 4 to be in 10th at the final windward mark, only for a fountain of water to erupt from our centreboard casing - our slot gasket had blown! The final downwind was a case of damage limitation while we nursed the boat home, water shooting as high as the spreaders when we caught a wave. I hadn't realised how much suction is created when the gasket comes off, but it makes it very difficult to plane as the boat is dragged down onto the water - it's very slow!
We were disappointed to drop to 20th, but relieved that this didn't happen at the beginning of the first race and ruin the whole day for us. Back ashore, the fantastic Mike Saul was able to help us repair the boat in what were far from ideal workshop conditions. A lesson learned in pre-regatta preparation: if it can break, it will, and probably at the worst time.
A new slot gasket is applied on the beach - sand everywhere! Thanks to Mike Saul for the help
So after four races we now lie 14th - with six more races to go (we hope!) there is plenty to play for, and we still have the top 10 in our sights. A big day tomorrow, with three races and 25 kts forecast! Bring it on!