Friday was more of the same wind and waves, although a bit less of each than previous days.
And everyone is relatively tired since our rest day was cancelled and we had been slogging it out for 4 days straight.
But, at least I can say that in race 1 I finished just behind Mark Bethwaite! What did I do to improve so much overnight? Absolutely nothing. I continued to sail my usual level of sailing and poor Mark, who was, of course, leading, went to the wrong downwind mark (and was followed by at least one other). I was so far behind that I wasn’t tempted to do so. Then, as I was about to round the top mark into the reach I saw a boat coming up behind me and couldn’t figure out who it was. Then, I made a bad tack right into a wave that stopped me and put me into irons and then a dry capsize. As the other boat started nearing me – I was amazed to see it was Mark and as he drew near, he tacked and said to me cheerily “Thanks for waiting for me”. He almost caught up with me on the reach and then passed me on the downwind run. But at least I had a great time going downwind, watching him carve S’s all over the place – far wider and quicker than I normally dare to do - and adjusting the vang constantly. I tried copying his S’s and it seemed to work to help catching waves – and doing the bigger ones is not a big deal. The vang and all other controls were too much for me to think about.
Beyond that, it was another learning day. Aside from the bad tack, I had no real mistakes. In the second race, I did a good job on the run, fetching the mark even though I was sailing by the lee and just on the edge of gybing – but I managed to hold it all together and round the mark.
Saturday was light airs and although I made no big mistakes, it was pretty much the same order as before. Mark went to the correct marks and, of course, won both races. I came in last place but with nothing to be ashamed of. The real highlight of the day was a lovely dinner with five of the GGM Standard fleet – further proof of how welcoming and open these Masters events are. They were all trading stories of the Olympic campaigns and races they had participated in. I mainly listened.
Then Mark revealed to all the secret of his success. He said that whenever anyone asked him how he does so well, he always replies “The first sixty years are the hardest.” Hard to argue with that.