Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Laser: selfie cleats

Lasers have a cleat on the port and starboard gunwales respectively, intended for cleating the mainsheet. The received wisdom is you don't use them. Ever. To be fair, in anything above a whisper of wind I'm too busy playing the mainsheet to keep the boat flat to be able to use them anyway.

In any case, their position is actually such that unless you're sailing in waves, they simply serve to reassure you that you're far enough forward when you're hiking out on the beat; because the cleat is under you and digging uncomfortably into the back of your thigh. 

It makes for some really interestingly shaped bruises on a really windy day.

On Sunday I discovered another use for them. You can cleat off the mainsheet whist you're hiking and take a selfie.

I really need a haircut. Which isn't the only reason I rarely take selfies, but it is sufficient a reason of itself. This one was too much fun to resist though. Especially as the wind was inconsistent, and threatening to drop me back into the water with a lull at any moment. Besides, I really like how my boat looks reflected in my sunglasses.

Sunday was, on balance, a good day's sailing. Wind was light in the morning, but built up towards lunchtime, before falling back off again into the afternoon. Sunshine was frequent enough for it not to feel cold. We are, of course, allowed back out on the water to sail again, but racing is still not on. 

However, we're allowed informal group sessions, which I guess include training and practice starts, as long as we observe the national restrictions regarding social distancing. This mean you can gather outside with up to six other people not from your household, as long as you all maintain the mandatory two meters distance from each other.

On land, that six souls rule is apparently because it's deemed the most people you can have in a single cohesive group and communicate with each other whilst also maintaining the two meter separation rule. On the water, the number feels completely arbitrary. The only communication between single-handed boats is either implicit, non-verbal and mutually understood, or yelled at each other.

In practice it meant that our single lap sessions had to be split into fleets of no more than six boats per start. Which is fine if you're in a fleet with five other boats, but if you turn up late and find yourself in a fleet of two or three, the whole thing starts to feel a bit hollow.

Which left me wondering if there was any point, as for the first, third and subsequent sessions, because I'd turned up a little late, I was in just such a group. The experience was a little deflating, to be honest.

However, for the second race, the third fleet was non existent, so I started with the second. This coincided with a lull in the wind, turning the whole lap into something of a drift. My Laser does well in a drift, and I passed all of the second fleet then caught up and passed all but one of the half-dozen solos in the first before the lap finished.

My only "win" of the day, but it was fun.

After they all packed in and went ashore, I stayed out for another hour to enjoy the best of the wind before it finally dropped right off and the rain started to come in. It was during this hour or so that I worked out that the mainsheet cleats were really just a handy third hand for anybody wanting to take a selfie.

Or a pretty picture of their own boat.

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