Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: event, racing, sailing, sea, South Shields, Vareo
It was the second week of the Spring Splash. It was snowing. It was cold. I didn’t want to get out of bed. But I forced myself and having pontificated about, got my arse in gear and found myself launching my boat with the snow full in my face.
The wind was behind me so it was an easy get out this week, and I headed out for the start line! There was another Vareo waiting for me – along with a few familiar faces from last week. The wind was steady at around 12 knots – with huge swell coming in from between the piers. If only the snow would stop.
Miraculously – it did. And then the sun came out – and more importantly stayed out. South Shields obviously has magic weather.
I worked out where the start line was based on where everyone else was sailing (turns out I was nowhere near the only one who had no idea what the course was – it was set on the back of the power boat in letters, but I think most of the visitors were guestimating around the buoys the patrol boat had dropped) and I even got my watch sorted to do a race countdown. I had listened to my own advice this week and put on my SMALL sail. And I could already tell that it was making a huge difference to me on the boat – my handling was much better than last week and I was definitely feeling more confident in the boat. The whistle went and the countdown began!
Now – in a total aside – what is all this about a 5 minute countdown? All the club racing we do is three minutes. That is at all of the clubs who had people there (Kielder, Derwent and South Shields). But because it is an ‘open’ we move to a five minute start. I can understand this if there is a huge fleet which needs more time to get positioned etc, but this seems a little crazy otherwise – is it just me? I bet someone will go all RYA on me and tell me why I’m wrong……!
My aim for this race was to get round the course and get a finish – but I generally reckon that you can lose a race on your start. So I was underwhelmed when the whistle went and I had a Topper to Winward stopping me from pointing up – poor positioning on my part and I hadn’t been keeping a close enough eye on where everyone was – it was also a good reminder of why transits are a good idea – I was obviously a country mile off the line if there was room for a Topper between me and it!
So I tacked round the back and started to work my way up the course. The sun was shining, it was a beautiful day and me and DiagoNelly were getting along famously! After my first tentative lap I suddenly realised I was in front of the other Vareo – or rather had been as it smoothly overtook me on the winward beat. Now I had my little sail on and he had a big sail, but there is no difference in PY. My sail shape was horrible as my outhaul was too short – so I had no adjustment in this area at all. And I obviously wasn’t paying proper attention as I hadn’t even realised I was ahead.
I felt sick. With adrenalin and excitement in a good way. No way was I going to let that pass, and I made a little time back on the downwind leg. It was still close but on the last lap there were three of us at the mark – myself, the other Vareo and a Laser. To say I had a poor mark rounding would be an understatement and I mournfully watched them sail off into the distance as I untied the mainsheet from my toe straps.
I finished sixth. That’s actually out of a field of eight, so not too bad…. BUT BEHIND THE OTHER VAREO. In fact I had watched him over the line and worked out based on my finish I was about 9 and a bit seconds behind him per lap. That’s huge.
Second race they moved the course – I had of course only just got used to the first one, but this time I got a good start as one of the first over the line. I was however heading for the wrong buoy. I corrected but lost some of my early advantage. My mantra was keep it simple. Keep the boat flat, use your sail settings quickly and get tight to the marks. It seemed to be working as I got round the course, but I was fighting neck and neck with the other Vareo. He got the inside line on a mark at the beginning of the second lap and I found myself behind him for the rest of the race. Not by much. Shouting distance (we shouted! In a friendly way obviously!). And by the last beat up to the finish line I knew he was ahead. I took a different path up towards the finish line – and must have got an advantage – as we came up to the finish line neck and neck….. and he beat me by 2 seconds. 2 SECONDS!!!!!!!
There’s only one thing for it. This means war. In a nice way. Kind of.
You will notice there has been no mention here of our gennakers. This is because neither of us used them. I have wanted to focus on getting my elf back in my boat, sailing on the sea etc etc without worrying about this one too. But it has become obvious that the next round could be won by whoever gets up the nerve to do this first.
I am also getting my outhaul extended so that I can correctly set my sail, and replacing my main sheet, which is a bit ‘sticky’ – it seems to be too thick.
It all feels a bit OK Corral. And I’m liking it! It’s great to actually have another boat to class race against and I really enjoyed racing, for which I have to say my enthusiasm had waned – there’s only so long being last is appealing for.
Roll on next weekend – and watch out – I’m coming to get you!
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: event, sailing, sea, South Shields
So last time I posted it was with the disaster that my boat was missing vital equipment (something to steer it with). But I didn’t give you a full post – sorry – and I’m really impressed with the detective work (DEREK!). Turns out you can find out anything on the internet…..
So to get to the South Shields six week event, the Boatfixer had brought my boat back from Kielder. This had then been follower with the Mr helping me get the boat from Newcastle to our place and spending Saturday re-rigging to make sure everything was A-OK.
So Sunday came. It was a perfect sailing day – actually better than pretty much all the sailing from last year which had been cold wet and miserable. My boat was quickly rigged, and there were lots of other enthusiastic people about. The boat was ready – and so was everyone else’s – easily a dozen of mixed class… and there was another Vareo! Wow – someone to copy off learn from!
It was 14 degrees, the sun was shining and me and the winter cake layer had even ventured forth in my wetsuit! At the briefing we found out about things like shipping, tide, the channel, rocks on the entrance / exit to the club and big floaty things to mark the channel – which you could sail round as well. I had no idea what the course was, but that’s never a problem as I just follow everyone else anyway.
And we were off. Everyone dashed down the sand to get launched. Except me. Who was missing a tiller extension.
I don’t know how I had left it – I hadn’t put it on the boat the day before as it just flicks around and gets in the way when you are doing other stuff. I couldn’t believe it. Everyone else left. I sulked a bit.
There were some other people about the club so I asked about spare extensions (I know – any other ideas!?!?) – and we found a couple… but none with the right attachment.
It was about this time at the point of maximum peed off-ness that my brother arrived. He had come to watch. (or mock – I uncharitable thought at the time). And the next thing I knew he had jumped back in his car and sped off back to my garage to pick up the tiller extension!
I stopped huffing about now and instead felt guilty that I had doubted his motives. I also realised I was going to have to give him the £3.20 for the Tyne Tunnel toll.
So I spent the time taking a few photos and trying to identify the course (no joy).
By the time my brother got back the second race was well underway. But I didn’t care. I fixed my tiller and boldly marched my boat into the water. And after much to-ing and fro-ing got out of the club (I only ran into the underwater rocks once). I was sailing on the sea!!! In the sun!!!
I headed up to the area within the harbour that everyone was sailing in and sailed about a bit. I felt a bit like one of those baby lambs when they have just been born – I was wobbling a lot and totally overreacting to movement on the boat – who says sailing isn’t like the Hokey Cokey? There were what I originally was calling waves but apparently were swell and you could go whizzing along with them. There were birds sometimes coming and shouting at you and the views were amazing.
I was completely tentative and I wasn’t out long before everyone was heading for home. But had I enjoyed it? Totally. And my little bro even took a few pics to prove it.
So this was a very different experience to my previous sea sailing – and there are definite advantages in how ‘solid’ the wind is – Kielder is a myriad of shifts, puffs, shadows and gusts around a hilly and diverse landscape – whereas I really felt that once I had figured out the other stuff the level of consistency that you can get from this would be of real benefit.
I also need to remember to use my SMALL sail all the time – I am always tempted to put my BIG sail on for the POWER. The power is no doubt great, but far too much for me to handle. And no – I didn’t get the kite up!
So – only another 5 weeks to go. My goal for next week? Find out what the course is. Turn up with all the correct equipment. Start a race.
Oh, and pay my brother that £3.20.