Breeze on: indeed it was a tad intimidating at rigging time with streaks of foam on the water and lots of jib flapping: is there any sound quite so destructive of the morale on a windy day as the sound of the first jib flogging its surface finish to death when its hoisted? Always makes me feel nervous anyway… Still once we got out there it seemed to settle into a splendid Canoe sailing breeze: top F3/lower end of F4 at a guess. It was strange actually: there didn't feel to be quite the weight in the wind that you felt there ought to be in October. One thing that definitely felt like October was the spray: it was decidedly chilly as it came up and hit you. Strange: my reservoir is a similar depth and everything, only about 30 or 40 miles south, but it felt a good deal more chilly at Oxford than it did last week back at base…
Anyway, so turnout… Something that bemuses me is why we got a better turnout of new UK ICs at Travemunde than we did at Oxford... Come on boys, get those boats out, we all want to see them and compare them. New rules boats were 318 and 319. Colin Brown's 319 is, if I have my recollections sorted out properly, sporting a radical set of rags from Alexander Sails in Australia with a particularly large head, and is a modified Morrison1 so is a moderate fine stern boat basically similar to Scarlett O'Hara but with a less radical layout. John Ellis' 318 is a very radical missile indeed, very fine bowed and with the full "45 degree transom" treatment as per Chris Maas. She looks like a very serious piece of kit indeed to these eyes. The only other non one design was my much mistreated ex Nethercott 257, which also sports a variation of the transom 45 treatment and not quite enough weight lost from the boat to make up for the extra carried on the crew's waist…
Course: we sailed quadrilaterals all day with nice high speed (usually, depending on gusts and shifts) reaches and runs that whilst occasionally made one sided by shifts were almost never biased enough that you didn't need to gybe somewhere before the mark. Picking the shifts on the run was pretty important – there were often gains to be made by picking the right side of the course – or indeed picking the left side as I often felt there was more wind to the left. Picking the shifts on the beats was vital! Starts and finishes were just upwind of the leeward mark so there was a 50 yard one tack beat to the line.
Race one… the new boats weren't making quite the speed up the beats you might have expected: although they were well up there ACs led round the mark. For some reason the ACs seemed to be particularly quick upwind at this event – I wasn't as far up the pack at the windward as I'd normally like to think I am, so maybe something in the conditions favoured the supported topmasts… Colin Brown started as he was to go on in 319 by winning the race, followed by John Ellis. I fear they were rarely close enough to me that I could observe their doings, so won't feature in my notes as much as they deserve. Chris Tuckett in 193 was going damn well: the fact that he was fully powered up on reaches where the more horizontally challenged of us were struggling for power outside the gusts was doing no harm at all, but he was just sailing the boat beautifully: something Simon Hotchkin (RO and experienced Canoe Sailor) commented on after the race. He more or less led the one designs round the track in this one. 257 and 275 (Hugh deLongh) had what amounted to a match race all the way round with much place changing. Hugh had loads of speed on the first shy reach and the run, but I had speed upwind and was perhaps getting a bit luckier with the shifts too. Colin Newman was never out of contention either… and we eventually finished in that order followed by Jon Brooke with 235.
In Race two Chris was seen leaving as far as the other Nethercotts were concerned: indeed he was right up with the modern boats, and took second after Colin Brown, beating John Ellis into third place. Flying.
Hugh and I resumed our match race in fine style, carried on swapping places, and at the last mark he was just ahead… But this time the short leg to the finish was a game changer: I was able to stuff everything in with my flat rig and just climb up to windward of Hugh, aided, I think, by a nice/lucky [delete as applicable] shift. That left him unable to clear me to tack for the line so I took him up past the lay line for the committee boat. In spite of as scruffy and messy a final tack as you would ever wish not to see I somehow managed to keep 257 firmly planted between him and the line… Colin took 6th again, followed by Jon.
Race three – well a huge shift at around the one-minute gun left everyone struggling to get across the line on starboard. Had Chris Hampe been there he would doubtless have gone on the pin on port and been miles away. Curiously left early seemed to pay on the beat though: that may have been more wind strength rather than direction. This was Colin Newman's race amongst the Nethercotts and he took third. Equally it wasn't Chris' race and 257 just managed to hang on to 4th after some fairly outrageous shifts on the beats and a little trip off the end of the plank for Chris on the last reach. I still nearly blew it on the last short beat when I tacked into a header and went to the wrong end of what was suddenly a very biased finish line. Hugh took 6th and Jon 7th.
Race 4 was a bit of an anti climax. If we'd raced in that breeze all day I'm sure it would have felt fine but after three rip-roaring races the quieter one was a bit lack lustre. For me anyway! Colin B won, John E 2nd, Chris 3rd, Colin N 4th, Hugh 5th, 257 6th and Jon 7th.
I should add a bit on Jon Brooke's performance: his first Canoe event I believe, a pretty challenging breeze which caused several DNFs in the AC fleet, and although he didn't manage to beat any of the rest of us he was never out of touch. I think he should have arrived home feeling pleased with his performance. As for the rest of us, a cracking day's sailing I thought and some pretty hard fought racing. I don’t remember the last time I was overlapped with another boat in two finishes out of four races. Thanks to Bob Clements for organising and Simon Hotchkin and his team for efficient and unobtrusive race management: I think it was one of the most fun Canoe events I've done.
There was the option of joining the club racing on Sunday to extend the open meeting, but we didn't take it up. Good Call: I arrived at the club to pick my boat up at half-elevenish to be greeted by white horses everywhere, foam over the water surface and even sailboarders in two minds about going out. Apparently it was gusting 37knots...
Last edited by jimc on Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.