Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Worst Ever Race

With hindsight, racing a triple reefed Topper in force 2 winds wasn't such a good idea.

Let me explain. When having the race brief it was blowing 5 gusting 6. Wind surfers were hidden by their spray as the sprinted before being driven into an explosion of water. Dinghies were going about 100m and then capsizing. Looking at what seemed like survival conditions I quoted to my nephew "to finish first you first have to finish" and thought about tortoises and hares.

So when (as one of the first out) it came to rig the boat and it was strongly suggested that reefing would be a good idea, and remembering the previous day's crop of bruises (of which the death mark was just one of about twenty), it seemed sensible to go for the cautious ok lets do one more.

Initially it seemed a good idea. Sailing a Topper in those winds felt like driving a mini which had had its engine replaced by that in a Ferrari - screamingly fast, edgy, and noisy. I did a trial lap and all seemed ok.

Then there was the long long wait as the other boats made their way out, during which time the wind dropped, dropped again and changed direction. By the time of the start it was 3 gusting 4 and by the end at most 2.

So not only was I going slowly, but the reefing made the sail have the aerodynamic qualities of an office block: going to windward became a real challenge. The wind ward mark (which also had been moved since my practice lap) also seemed to be in a slight current, so once I drifted onto it and once drifted below it.

I saw one other similarly handicapped miss the mark and keep going - but the final achievable goal of the day was finish the course legally, so I doggedly did a 360 and tacked again respectively. I probably could have finished after two laps as the committee boat seemed to miss count and give me the thumbs up after once drifting back over the line forcing a 2nd crossing.

Moral of the story: well it could be read the wind right, but we always try to do that. A better one would be go out more in conditions don't feel comfortable to build confidence and avoid over cautious sail selection.

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