Monday, March 13, 2017

April 1 Race

Since 1 April is fast approaching, I thought it would be a public service to publish the Sailing Instructions for a race we held on 1 April last year.


As the fairy Puck so eloquently puts it in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “Lord, what fools these mortals be!  

So, fellow fools, let’s celebrate the one day a year dedicated to all of us and have some fun!

As Head Fool for the race scheduled on 1 April, I hereby decree we will race the following course.  To the extent this deviates from the Club's Official Sailing Instructions, deal with it. 

The course will have 4 marks with the start/finish line in the middle which is also the Gate (following diagram is non-contractual, not to scale and may be wildly different from the actual course):

The single start will be downwind and to complete the course you must round each mark, in any order and on either side, but you must pass through the gate, either way, between each mark rounding. 

After having rounded the 4th (or more if you wish) mark, the finish line must be crossed from the leeward side.

The Class flag for the Warning Signal will be a white background with a fish on it – ask your French friends why.

Bonus points awarded to those who correctly calculate the total number of different possible routes. 

Please note that RRS 18.1 provides that “Rule 18 applies between boats when they are required to leave a mark on the same side….”  Therefore, Rule 18 would not apply to mark roundings in this race and, as Head Fool, I hereby illegally (See RRS 86.1(b)) change Rule 18 to provide simply “At all marks, be careful.”

I trust this is all very clear.

The Committee of Fools on the Committee Boat will try to keep tabs on all and ensure that each boat complies with these rules. In the event the aforesaid Committee fails in its duty, we will rely on the integrity of each fool competing to faithfully and honestly complete the course (assuming he or she can figure it out).

Special prizes will be awarded in the Bar following the race.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Good While It Lasted

After several days of thick fog lasting until late morning - yes we get that in Abu Dhabi - it was a clear day on Friday, with winds predicted at close to 20 knots. They didn't get quite that high, but it was a good breeze.  A nice day for the first race of the New Year.

The race started well - I had a good spot midline and relatively clear air. I worked hard the first couple of minutes and found an opportunity to tack away.  Then, I realized our top Kiwi sailor was not ahead of me - how was that possible?  After the race he said he thought he was OCS and so had gone back.  Oh well, during the race, I was happy to indulge in the fantasy I was just sailing well.  I was first around the windward mark and had lengthened my lead to at least 5 or 6 boat-lengths at the gybe mark.

Then my luck ran out.  Concentrating on a smooth rounding with a gybe, I did a great job until my boom gently kissed the mark.  I thought I still had time to do a quick 360 before the others rounded the mark. I tacked and the others were just at the mark, I started to gybe when the first one was rounding the mark and I realized I would have to complete the gybe very quickly or I would be interfering with him. Haste then quickly made waste - or, more accurately, a swim.

And that was it - I capsized to windward, so that meant a second capsize to leeward (no California roll).  A good part of the fleet passed me and I managed to catch several boats but it was all over.  Just spent the rest of the race practicing.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Strange Beasts

I came across some fascinating art by Dutch artist Theo Jansen.  

His creations look and act very alive and are propelled by the wind - quite remarkable.  

Here is one video of his beach creatures.

He explains a bit more in a TED talk.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

An Embarassment of Embarrassment

Yesterday's race was in higher wind than we typically experience - close to 20 knots.  So, I wondered if I might get my sails washed.

The afternoon started well - sailing out to the race area I practiced gybing several times and everything went fine.  I practiced beating and tacking with the kicker pulled on hard and everything went fine.  I was keeping the boat more or less flat and congratulating myself.

Then the race started and things stopped going so fine.  At the start another boat capsized right in front of me and I almost slammed into it, but managed to somehow go around - making me a bit late for the start.  Never mind - I ended up at the committee boat end of the line with good clean air.   I was about 30 meters behind our top Kiwi sailor who was hiking like crazy keeping his boat flat - until he flipped over the side when his hiking strap broke.  So, he fell behind most of the fleet until he finally jury-rigged a repair to his hiking strap with the end of his main sheet - and proceeded to beat everyone by a long way.  We really have to discover where he hides the motor in his Laser.

I was doing well - in 3rd place with no major mistakes.  Then I got to the windward mark on the 3rd lap where the Committee Boat was parked to observe and be the eventual finish line.  And I proceeded to provide it with an eyeful to observe.

First, I misjudged the mark a bit and was pinching trying to get around it - but the tide laughed at that maneuver and pushed me into the mark.  Well, with the Committee Boat only a short distance away I had no choice but to do my penalty turn (not that I would dream of cheating if the Committee Boat had been far away).  So, I tacked and then gybed and then capsized.  Oh well, still not a disaster (yet).  So I righted the boat but the tide had already pushed me past the mark so I had to bear away and then tack to go around the mark.  No sweat - just a little tack.  But it was a tack with no speed, right into a wave. Smack. Stop. Scramble, praying for something positive to happen. Capsize.  This was starting to get a bit silly.

Dear readers - I am chagrined to report that before finally rounding the mark there followed two (or was it three?) more capsizes for no remotely good reason that I can honestly identify. Can I blame it on fatigue ? There was certainly that as my aching muscles abundantly attest this morning.  Can I blame it on slow tacking with insufficient speed? There was plenty of that as I was desperately trying to do everything as quickly as I could to be clear of what I was sure was an abundance of gleeful smirking on the Committee Boat.  Could I blame it on poor housekeeping resulting in the main sheet not running free and being too tight following a tack?  That happened - or at least it seemed to me to be happen - although at this point I was ready to blame anything other than a lack of skill/attention/care.

After finally rounding the mark I did not capsize again, but needless to say, I did not finish the race near the lead.  The leaders had almost lapped me, but I hasten to add that I was not last.  In fact, my good friend and arch rival who had managed to build a good lead on me after my adventures at the top mark, capsized coming into the leeward mark and the knot at the end of his main sheet came undone and when he righted the boat he discovered that his main sheet was completely undone.  He had to recapsize the boat and struggle a long time to get it operational again. I beat him - or more accurately, he lost to me.

The good news - we all had a lot of laughs in the bar afterwards.  And in retelling our adventures, I noticed that the wind speed increased dramatically with the number of beers. Maybe that was the reason for my capsizes.

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