Monday, 30 April 2018

Laser: 118426

Dad and I drove up to Budworth Sailing Club in Warrington, Cheshire, on Saturday to look at a dinghy I'd found for sale on the Internet. An old 1985 Laser 1, her white hull looked to be in very good nick for her age, and she'd been updated with the XD kit (which, for the benefit of the uninitiated, are modernised, much more efficient and accessible vang, outhaul and cunningham sail controls).

And she included a combi trailer and launching trolley.

We arrived early, a couple of hours before we'd arranged to meet the seller. It turns out Budworth Sailing Club is a very friendly, active place, reminded me a lot of Frampton. Dad and I settled ourselves on a bench on the the veranda of the clubhouse to wait, but within twenty minutes, one of the members had invited me out on the safety boat with him to help start the afternoon's racing, so the couple of hours of waiting passed quite quickly.

We got back to Frampton, new boat in tow, for about 1900 Saturday night.

The following day the wind was a F4 gusting 5 from the northeast. An atypical but nasty direction for Frampton, it gets very disrupted by buildings, trees and the simple geography of the lake and so is exceptionally blustery and shifty by the time it hits the water and splits almost 90 degrees in direction at each end of the lake.

I got to the Club as early as I could to give myself time to work out how to rig the boat for the first time. Aside from attaching the clew of the main to the end of the boom, it was pretty straight forward.

Three races followed.

photo: ken elsey
I'd forgotten how nippy and nimble a singlehander could be. I got good starts in all three races, but outdid myself on the third, beating the pack around the windward mark with lots of room to spare, and leading the fleet for the next lap and a half before Phil in his much faster Aero finally overhauled me.

It was exceptionally good fun. She points exceptionally well upwind and is very quick to plane on the slightest gust, at least compared to my old Enterprise. The boat only came with a standard rig, so lacking the option of the smaller radial sail that the other Lasers racing that day had gone for, I just had to tough out the rough bits and found myself overpowered for a lot of the time. The reaches were a bit of a giggle though; the GPS on my watch recorded a high of 11.4 knots through the water in the third race. We've only ever had that sort of speed out of Calstar when hung behind a 1700hp RNLI Trent Class Lifeboat ......

photo: ken elsey
I squandered the fine start of my third race by screwing up a mark rounding and taking penalty turns and then getting knocked flat by an unanticipated gust on the beat; a simple case of not getting the sail out in time to spill the wind before the heeling of the boat trapped the boom against the water, preventing me from depowering the main any further and giving us nowhere else to go but over.

Already fully hiked out, it was an easy matter to roll over the top and onto the daggerboard, so the boat was back up and racing again very quickly, but the accumulation of mistakes eventually knocked me back to fifth place in the end, out of a fleet of thirteen.

It's clearly going to take a bit of practice to get good at this. And I'm probably going to have to bite the bullet and buy a radial sail at some point if I want to carry on playing in the big winds we occasionally get blasting through.

So three hours of hard racing on Sunday preceded by a good forty minutes of trial sail the day before on Budworth Mere, and I could only find one fault in my lovely new boat.

Her name.

Which the owner before the last had lovingly written on her transom: "Passing Wind"

No comments: