Wednesday, 22 May 2019

FOSSC: drifting ahead

If Friday night was a late one, Saturday night wasn’t much of an improvement. A bit of a different theme: posh frocks and expensive tickets, it was the Gloucester Civic Charity Ball organised by the Mayor of Gloucester. Black tie, chains of office and even a town crier in full regalia as master of ceremonies. But after they’d eaten their supper and played their after-dinner games, they then danced the rest of the night away to the band. It was a good night; a lovely, appreciative crowd, raising good money for a good local cause, The James Hopkins Trust.

Sunday morning was still and bright. I blearily dragged myself out of bed late morning. It’s not just a lack of sleep from the late nights, but arms ache, back aches, fingers are sore, throat is hoarse. I do so suffer for my art. But, as my wife Nik will quickly point out, it’s entirely self-inflicted so I deserve no sympathy.

It would’ve been easy to have stayed at home and cut the grass. But I packed my sailing kit and headed down the Club regardless. Like I said, I suffer for my art. And like she said, still just as self-inflicted.

The Laser seems to be the perfect boat for the lake at Frampton. 

When I used to race my own Enterprise, I used to look forward to drifts like the one we were faced with on Sunday. A little bit more wind and the Lasers would begin to plane, leaving the heavier double-handed Enterprise behind. But in still air, you can ghost the Ent through the mirror smooth water; the two blue sails, if deftly handled, and the inertia inherent in a heavier hull, are just enough to give the advantage, I guess. The wide, flat, light hulls of the single-handed Lasers by comparison would just seem to stick to the water.

Now that I have a Laser myself however, I don’t seem to have that problem.

Possibly it’s a weight advantage. At just shy of 11 stone, I’m at the bottom end of the weight range for the boat, and in any kind of a blow suffer accordingly. I’m quickly overpowered, and brutally punished in the heavier winds by the slightest flaw in technique. Of which I have many.

I won both races on Sunday, a repeat performance of the light air racing of the weekend before. Again, I took the first race with a wide lead; a class race, I got lucky early and won through to clear air, leaving the other three Lasers in the fleet mired amongst the Solo and Handicap fleets, with no real chance of catching up. It could as easily have gone the other way.

The second race, a pursuit of nine boats of assorted classes, was much harder work. Three of us left the rest behind quickly enough, but I spent the second half of the race tangled up with Geoff and Sue in their Enterprise, trading between 2nd and 3rd place and unable to break clear whilst we both tried to catch Pete in his Comet up ahead.

On the last lap I finally fought free of Geoff and Sue and then caught up and crossed ahead of Pete on a beat to windward, leaving the Comet and the Ent to tussle amongst themselves behind me. It looked like it was going to go the Enterprise’s way, and then after Geoff got past, Pete caught him again on starboard closing in with a leeward mark. Geoff and Sue tried to tack in front, and the little Comet touched them mid-tack.

I heard the thump across the water. No damage was done, but the penalty turns owed let Pete get away and secure 2nd place for himself.

Unlucky for Geoff and Sue after all that hard work in trying to catch him, but very well played by Pete.

I’m now sat at the top of the table for both the Laser Class and Pursuit Spring series. There are three more races to go, one of which I might have to skip if the gig on the 9th of June gets confirmed. It’s very nice to be in the lead, but if the weather turns, and it’s surely past time that it should, then all this could quickly change over the next three weeks.

Maybe now’s the time to finally invest in a reduced radial rig for the Laser?

Probably, but of course I won't. Only having the one standard rig does make life easier in a way, by reducing the options. And anyway, I have other priorities for my cash; I’m away racing at the British Moth Sea Championships in Fowey this coming weekend. And that’s never a cheap party.      

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