Saturday, January 24, 2015
Details add up
Yesterday, I actually won a race at our club. If I analyse things closely, I suspect that one factor may have been the fact that our two best sailors were not there. But nevertheless, it was nice.
Winds were quite light with an outgoing tide. So, I paid close attention to where I thought the tide would be either a positive or negative factor.
In the first race I had a very bad start because about a minute before the start it did a simple gybe and my sheet looped around the boom, which took about 30 seconds to undo which meant I was late to the start. But luck was with me - the outgoing tide was not properly calculated by most of the fleet and a good number were OCS, resulting in a general recall.
On the restart I had a good start midline with clear air. Top mark I was in top 3 and then 2 reaches and rounded the bottom mark in same position. Then I followed the leader to right, not having properly thought about the leg before rounding the bottom mark - the start line was to be a gate on the upwind leg but the Committee Boat had moved to the upwind mark and been replaced by a RIB. So apparently the leading boat forgot about the gate and went way right. I started following obliviously but then noticed the 3rd boat of our little pack heading back left and I suddenly realised my brain had not been in gear. So I went back and eventually finished second (the leader never went back and missed the gate entirely which was noted at great length over post-race beers).
The second race was a good start. In both races I did a transit of the line with a building on shore and parked near the line (back a bit to take account of the tide) and did a trigger pull about 12 seconds before the start after checking to leeward. It worked. Then, since the winds were light I paid a lot of attention to the things one is supposed to - sitting well forward in runs and broad reaches, minimising movements, slight leeward heel upwind when very light wind and, most importantly, really looking for puffs and pressure. And of course, keeping the boat perfectly flat when a bit of breeze developed. And, having plenty of time and no strong winds to contend with, doing all mark roundings deliberately and carefully. All of this paid off and I was pleased to have rolled more than one boat.
I had the impression that I sailed more intelligently than I usually do and I am sure that a major reason was the light wind. First, as a relatively lightweight sailor for a standard rig (77 kg) in higher winds, light winds are better for me. In addition, the light winds prevented distractions of dealing with higher wind. Just a week before I went out in winds 15-20 and practiced gybing around marks but I kept making the mistaking of gybing too close to the mark and coming up too quickly, resulting in the boom hitting the water and then a swim. I knew better but was, I think, trying to "improve" by being quicker around the mark. Of course I was doing just the opposite.