Messing about in boats

I had my last sail prior to the “Dash for Cash” today, seems like the season has only just got started and already the Nationals is upon us.

As my poor abused 10.c is with Dave Bosnia at Dynamic Sails for some tender loving care I was using the afternoon for messing around with the Silly Sail and some different mast combinations. I’m persisting with it as it’s blindingly quick in certain conditions but unwieldy when the wind gets up, something I’m starting to get my head around with a stiffer mast and some planned mods to the luff curve. Still, nothing ventured and all that…

Alan was out for a pre-nationals blast around and to test his boat out after it blew over his car while rigged the other week! Luckily it escaped with only a broken gantry that was easily fixed. Leo also popped down to pick up his boat. It’s looking like the full complement of the Bristol Moth Squadron will be heading down to Stokes Bay next week and with the entry list approaching 50 boats it’s going to be one hell of an event…

My 2011 Nationals form guide

It’s that time of year again and here’s my take on the runners and riders. I’m not going to pick anyone as a winner, so as not to jinx the poor soul…
Top Tier: Those that may actually win the event…
I think you’d have to be pretty silly to write off the HISC M2 fleet. Master Payne and Mr Lennon have been a regular feature at the top of the UK circuit for a while now and the fact that they sail together frequently means they’re able to push themselves and keep on top of their game.
Jason Belben and Chris Rashley have been doing the same thing down at Stokes Bay, which gives them a good home advantage. Chris has worked exceptionally hard at getting up to speed this year and it’s shown with two open wins (in some pretty wild conditions) to boot. They’ve been there or thereabouts when the Hayling lot have come out to play and either would be a good bet.
Second tier: Those that might take a race here and there.
Ben Paton recorded the best non-M2 race position at the worlds, sailing on the original Ninja foils. He’s now got his new 2011 foils and will be a force to be reckoned with. Lack of a medium setting means he may crash and burn while lit up to 11.
Richie Lovering has been starting to mix things up with the front runners this season and should be well up there when the breeze is on.
Ricki Tagg practically invented crash and burn sailing and may suffer a similar fate to Paton, but when he’s upright there is no denying he’s very fast.
Jason Russell is another one who’s been slowly creeping his way up the results. He’s very fit and works hard on the racecourse.
And then there is me. I’ve pretty much written off this season after promising myself so much. Nowhere near the right amount of time on the water, combined with a tiny bit of bad luck, has meant my season has been a bit of a non starter. A couple of race wins here and there show a glimmer of hope – the boat is obviously fast and I’m fitter than I’ve been in a while… Fingers crossed!
The great thing about an event like this is that it’s actually nothing to do with the racing for me. A chance to spend time with a bunch of friendly, like-minded individuals isn’t one to be missed and I hope loads of you join me!

Spoke too soon!

I was just saying in my last post about the Moth not beating me up like it used to and then I went to Thorpe Bay. We were greeted by a pretty solid breeze which did it’s best to give us all a good beating. When we rounded the windward mark we found the waves were suitably large that no-one could go downwind in any semblance of control. This resulted in a bunch of Moths sitting around, occasionally burning off for a few hundred yards before launching into a big ball of spray.
Top marks go to Ben Paton who’s admirable workrate saw him furthest upwind and the most attempts at downwind. Chris Rashley was the only one who managed a lap of the course and therefore won the race. He was also the only one still on the water when the 45+knot squall blew through with lightning and hail and all. Apparently he was wary of holding onto the boat in the water while that went on…
I tried all sorts to get downwind and at one point was heeled and bore off so far by the lee that the boat started to gybe itself while I was still hiking! The resulting capsize went fully inverted in the not so deep waters of Southend and the combination of the sea bed, tide and big waves was too much for my poor mast. I’ve now got two massive bruises on my legs and a damaged ego which will take some healing I feel! It was quite interesting as you couldn’t go slow enough to go down the waves without running into a steep dead end. You also couldn’t stay on the wave peaks going across it as you just had to bear off at some point and you were then doing 24 knots into a trough!
Saturday night saw the obligatory Essex dodgy disco and Jason Russell demonstrating his sketching skills…

It was with some reluctance that the fleet assembled on Sunday. Chris was mega keen and went out for the first one and to show us that we were silly, before being joined by a small following for the next races. I’d already packed up by then and had a missing trailer wheel bearing to sort out so decided to nurse my wounds and contemplate how to survive that in the future…

The minor things

The Moth is a tricky beast sometimes. It’s a complicated package that relies on every single part doing its job. Once one part fails there is no redundancy to pick up the slack.

Hayling open was a write off for me for exactly this reason. A buckled pushrod at the top of the daggerboard caused all control to vanish a lap into the first race. With a long semi out of control sail back in there was no way it was getting fixed for that day. Unfortunately I made such a hash of replacing it that I damaged my flap hinge which I only noticed when I went to rig up on Sunday. A pretty epic weekend of fail really. Thankfully Jason was on hand to keep the HISC boys honest.

I’ve not been able to get much Mothing in lately as the conditions haven’t been kind at BCYC. I’ve taken the opportunity to go windsurfing instead which has been doing my fitness levels the world of good as, being quite bad at it, get the kind of beatings I used to get when I started foiling (Garda anyone?).

So on to Thorpe Bay. I grew up in Burnham and used to sail at TBSC quite a bit but dont think I’ve visited since my teens. It’s an excellent club and the waters should give a fairly good simulation of Stokes Bay. That reminds me – almost form guide time…