Saturday, December 8, 2012
Good and Bad
We had our Monthly Mug race yesterday and overall it was positive for me, but with a reminder of how easy it is to forget some basics.
I had a very good start. The wind was light and so I remembered not to stray far from the start line. More importantly, I made a point of studying the wind patches on the first beat, even standing up a couple of times to get a better view. About 5 minutes prior to the start, I saw a large hole below and slightly to the right of the windward mark. So, I decided to start at the pin end and to stay on starboard tack as long as the wind held up on the left side, completely avoiding the hole. But by about 2 minutes to go, I saw that the hole had shrunk drastically and the left side was not so clearly an advantage. I decided that neither side was particularly favoured although the remnants of the hole on the right could still be a factor. While some of the others were waiting further back - too far back - I was able to get a nice start almost at full speed at the pin end.
The wind on the left side remained fairly consistent and I also saw that the double handed class that had started 5 minutes before us was getting some nice pressure to the left of the windward mark, so I stayed left. It worked nicely and I was able to round the windward mark in first place. Then we went under a large highway bridge which we do not normally do, and rounded a another mark further to windward on the other side of the bridge. I was doing very well, paying close attention to the puffs, tacking to stay in the pressure. Coming back on a run under the bridge I ran into the evil troll living under the bridge and was stopped dead in his black hole with no wind, and strange eddies just downwind of the bridge. Several boats behind me saw my predicament and managed to jibe away, merrily sailing around me. I slipped into fifth place.
On the last beat I made a basic mistake - despite how many times I have observed (and even blogged) that tide trumps wind every time, I went left into better breeze but against the tide in the channel - which I thought was not yet strong enough to pay its due. Unfortunately the laws of nature did not change to accommodate my mistake and I paid the price. A boat that had been at least 50 meters behind had gone right to shallower water and when we crossed had caught up and looked as he would pip me at the finish line. However, at least I ended the day by doing something right. I was overlapped slightly to windward of him, both of us on starboard, pointing (and occasionally pinching) as high as we could to just make the finish line. I realized that the tide would push us both just below the finish line, so about 50 meters from the finish line I quickly tacked on to port for about 20 meters and then tacked quickly back. My colleague delayed too long and was pushed below the finish line and made a desperate tack onto port - only to find me coming across on starboard, informing him at high volume that I was doing so. He tried tacking to cross the line, but went into irons with the tide pushing him back below the line - and finished several minutes behind me.