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Queen Mary Sailing Club Spring Series Week 7

by Orlando Gledhill 22 Apr 02:24 PDT 21 April 2024

Nineteen ILCAs braved an unseasonable 9 degrees for Races 13 and 14 of the Queen Mary Spring Series. The wind was northerly, 10 to 18 knots for the first race and slightly less for the second.

The Race Team gave the fleet two great four-lap, 45-minute races with minimal waiting time and accurate repositioning of marks to respond to windshifts (mainly to the right) during the morning.

Race 1: The pin end was favoured, becoming less so during the minute before the start. Guy Noble started well at the pin; Orlando Gledhill had a good lane ¼ up the line. Neil Peters, aka Stick Daring, managed to capsize at the start, neatly taking both himself and Tony Woods out of contention for the first laps. Tony was heard to ask after the race how Stick could manage to sail singlehanded round Britain but capsize in flat water and 15 knots, a question to which not even Stick had a convincing answer—a new tiller extension was mentioned.

Orlando tacked shortly after the start, determined to stay in phase with the oscillating shifts and not get to the Port lay line too soon in a slightly Port skewed beat. He played the lower right of the first beat and managed to get across to the Port lay line ahead of the fleet which had mainly played the left side. Orlando had what seemed to be a good lead after a lap. He began to think this would be easy, as he tacked on the first right shift shortly after the leeward mark, sailing (so he thought) towards the inevitable next left shift. The fleet behind, led by Guy Noble, dug into the right shift, which proved to be large and more-or-less permanent. By the next windward mark Guy had taken the lead and he led down the top reach until Orlando managed to get over him to windward in a gust in the last third.

The second beat was the last time Orlando took anything for granted. He kept a tight cover on Guy up the next two beats. By the final lap, Tony Woods had closed significantly and he kept closing on the last two reaches. It finished Orlando, Guy, Tony, all within about 4 lengths.

Race 2: The Race Team re-set the windward mark and start line between races. Race 2 was Starboard end favoured until about 30 seconds before the start. The wind at start time was patchy and very unstable, which caught out those at the Starboard end. A big left shift benefited the boats on the left side, led by James Baxter, who would have led at the first mark except for overlaying. As it was, Tony led, with Michael Pryer second. Orlando eventually managed to extricate himself from the right side of the beat and rounded third. After the bottom mark, it was Tony with a good lead and Orlando in second, a length ahead of Michael. With three laps to go and gusty, shifty conditions there seemed to be plenty of time to catch Tony. Tony, however, had other ideas, sailing flawlessly and neither he nor the wind provided any passing opportunity in an increasingly right-dominated race. Race 2 race ended Tony, Orlando, Michael.

Notable performance from Michael Pryer with a steady 5, 3 for third overall on the day.

Learning points: As ever, upwind key to be looking at the yellow flag on the windward mark for the next major shift. On the run, key to watch carefully behind for the gusts coming down on the run. Important to change sail settings to be ready for the bigger gusts and lulls. Most of us are better at pulling on controls in anticipation of/response to a big gust, than easing them again in a lull. In the cold, important to be deliberate on grip on lines and tiller. Important to be tracking the windshifts in the last minute even while managing the final approach to the start line - do I need to slide down the line a little if possible? Will I need to tack as soon as I can, or hold on for as long as I can? Does a left/right shift mean it will take longer/shorter to cross the start line from a length back?

Results can be found here.

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