Sunday, June 22, 2014
Not my Day
When you capsize at the start line, you know it is not going to be a good race - and this proved true last weekend.
Nice wind - around 12 knots and a bit of incoming tide. Nothing unusual. During the thirty seconds before the start I was in a group of 3 or 4 boats approaching the start line on starboard. My leeward boat started to luff me a bit and I responded by turning up a bit and then, for some reason I still don't understand, I capsized to leeward onto my colleague. I have tried at length to understand what could have caused it, but the best I can come up with is bad karma or goblins.
Muttering to myself that this can't be happening, I righted the boat after first grabbing my hat that was threatening to float away and set myself to trying to catch some boats. I managed to pass a couple of newbies, but that was it.
I almost caught a couple of other boats but then I made a big tactical mistake (our top Kiwi sailor also made the same tactical mistake and lost his usual first place spot). Basically, I thought I was being clever by using my local knowledge and following the notion that "Tide trumps all" by going to the right side away from the channel - which is the "accepted" smart move on most days. But on this day, I too quickly used the accepted solution as a short cut and did not accurately assess the situation. We normally have an afternoon seabreeze that is slightly west of North and that means that a beat will be directly into incoming tide. Today however, the wind was 30+ degrees to the east of its normal direction and the leeward mark was further west than normal - which meant that after rounding the leeward mark one could fetch the upwind mark on a single starboard tack, with the incoming tide actually helping, by providing enough sideways push to bring the track directly to the mark. When I tacked away to port to get over to the shallower "safe" side, I was sailing almost directly away from the windward mark if one considered the tidal effect. Not a good way to win a race.
I spoke to the Kiwi afterward and we agreed we had each made a big (and not very glorious) mistake. So, lesson learned is to take nothing for granted and always think through tactics, especially if conditions are a bit different.