Saturday, November 26, 2016
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.