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Post match analysis

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

I had high hopes for blogging/facebooking while out in Italy, but had some connectivity issues at the Univela. Probably a good thing as it probably prevented grumpy old Mike outbursts from reaching the internet!

I had planned on this worlds being a bit of a last swansong for the Ninja. I’ve got a list of things as long as my arm that basically mean a wholesale re-evalution of the boat, so I really wanted me and Shredder to go out with a bang, rather than a whimper!

I had good pace the whole time, but really struggled to understand the venue, as the tactics really seemed to shift around while the breeze was establishing. My lack of practice really showed on the big Wednesday and when Friday came around with more of the same, I decided to call it a day and let Ole Frey (Shredders’ new keeper) take her away without me launching myself into various parts for the morning.

When things went right I could get in the top 10 and stay there (2nd in the practice race and another in the Q series) but I couldn’t get myself there often enough. Fitness wasn’t an issue for me for the first time in a while, but if I’m to compete at this level I’m going to need to focus my sailing a bit more and find someone to train with. Bit of a problem when your only local competition is contemplating sailing something else (shame on you Offer!) and you can cross your local lake in a couple of minutes at 20 knots!

The rest of team Ninja did me proud though and scored some pretty tidy results in a fleet dominated by full time sailors.

The next month or so is tooling time. I’ve been taking on feedback from the Ninja Co-Operative and think I can improve most bits on the boat in some way to improve reliability and repeatability of settings. I’ve also got a couple of very experienced aero/hydro folk looking at foil sections and planforms and will have some prototype foils on the water with my new boat. The plan is for the bells and whistles versions to roll out in the spring.

The ‘Rocket’ is preparing for launch.

Getting ready to roll

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

My plan a few months ago was to wind down work in the lead up to the worlds so I could make sure I was at the top of my game and everything was groovy. A combination of supplier problems, fiery compressors and general faffing around means the final fittings were screwed onto the final Ninja yesterday and my only sailing since the nationals was at Weston!

I took the opportunity to take Leigh’s shiny blue beast for a shakedown cruise before handing it over for him to start getting some time on the water then dragging Shredder out for a final pre-Garda sail. We were joined on the water by James Phare and a sneaky Ninja training camp occurred at 3pm on a Tuesday afternoon.

So my boat is now in pieces and I’m starting to pack the giant trailer with anything I can find in the workshop that might be useful/hard to find in Italy. Also trying to decide which sails to take – I’ve got a stash of crazy shaped sails which might be put to good use in the lighter afternoon breezes at Campione, my MSL10 has seen better days and my new Hyde had the battens poke through the cam ends after 2 sails so what should be a no brainer is harder than you might think! I’m sure everyone else had their equipment sorted months ago and have just been training with it, but where’s the fun in that?!

Weston Weekend

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Yet again, I’ve failed in my task of writing stuff for the blog. I’m starting to think I ought to rename the blog to reflect the complete lack of anything Bristol related going onto it! Ideas on a postcard…

Weston was a great weekend in the end. The forecast was looking a bit ropey halfway through the week and we arrived to no wind. The race team were confident we’d start on time and we thought they were having a laugh. This meant that quite a lot of the fleet were still ashore during the first race when the sea breeze had kicked in right on time!

Due to a lack of sailing, I was trying a load of new stuff on the boat, including a custom variant of the 2012 Hyde which I’d originally ordered for myself and due to some interesting lead times had ended up on Rich Westburys ‘Stop the Pidgeon’. The replacement for this had just arrived on my doorstep and I was keen to try it. Certainly looks how I wanted it and with some tweaks like tapered battens and replacing the top two cams with some that fit I think it’ll probably be my worlds sail.
I was also mucking around with my wand bias a little but ended up back where I started for day two as everything felt a little bouncy and slow.

I generally felt my boatspeed was actually pretty good over the weekend. I wasn’t losing out to the front runners when I was on top of things, but my first beats and starting was leaving me with ground to make up and that’s not something I’m going to be able to afford in a 100 boat fleet! 9 Days till hitching up!

Been following the olympic circus online in my tea breaks at work. Cheering on the Mothies in the 49er fleet – normally you end up cheering on your countrymen! It’s nice validation when you know that the top of your game is at the top of the world game!

Post Nationals

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Sorry for the lack of blogging, been crazy busy getting the last couple of Ninjas built to allow for my pre worlds last minute training!

I had a lot of fun at the Nationals this year. There was a laid back vibe to proceedings and while the weather gods were up to their usual tricks meaning we lost two days we had a varied series with a bit of light and a bit of breeze. Stone SC did an excellent job for us, with some excellent food, busy bar and the race team coped well with what was thrown their way.

I ended up in 5th overall after a disappointing day on the big Sunday when the tide caught out a lot of boats, including myself – lining up at the boat end and barely making the pin a minute after the gun has gone really doesn’t make for an easy ride and I deserved to drop from 3rd after the first day! The schedule of races also caught me out with big plans for up to 4 races on the Saturday meant I paced myself a bit more than I should have and after 2 races I really hadn’t given it my all. There is some phrase about ‘leave it all on the track’ and I’m not sure I had!

Chris deserved his win and the results really showed who has been putting the hours in this year. Gareth Davies got a well earned 4th amid rumours from his Stone SC buddies that he’d been out practicing an awful lot! Si and Chris had their usual fight at the top, but it was the fleet following them that was the most interesting – more boats than ever and fighting it out. It good to see so many overseas entries, with welcome boats from France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland and the Irish contingent. Apparently the fleet is picking up over there and they are trying to get some dates together for an event around Dublin which could be great!

So, just Weston lies between now and the worlds. My get fit by cycling plan is coming along nicely and I’m planning to spend a bit of time getting my boat handling back up to scratch and test a couple of sails (should they actually arrive on my doorstep before then!). Entries now at 60 boats and rising – should be a good one!

Mothies Assemble!

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

For the first time in a long time we had the entire Bristol Moth squadron out on the water 2 Saturdays ago. We had a great day with sunshine and a fruity 10-20 knot breeze.
Tom made for the water straight away to make the most of the forecast bigger wind in the morning but had to retire early after pulling a muscle.
I took to the water shortly afterwards for a good blast around the lake before stacking it hard at 28 knots and the resultant crash headfirst into the water knocked the stuffing out of me and gave my eye a bruise I can still feel now! This was the first time I’ve been out on my reduced span foils in flat water and any breeze and easily came close to my previous best so I’ve no doubt that with the right conditions I can top it.
Leo, Darren and Alan were all out over the course of the afternoon. Darren was testing out his shoulder after a skiing incident earlier in the year and was finding Mothing wasn’t too easy going so is going to have to give the Nationals a miss.
I took some time over the afternoon to have a look over new Bristol Mothie Ben’s boat. He’s picked up a bargain converted Hungry Tiger which needs some good fettling and a new wand but he’s starting to get the hang of it already so it’ll be good to get some more time on the water with him.

Nationals T-minus 36 hours. Current preparation 0% complete. Fitness regime ended 2 weeks ago when work took over evenings. More sleep required also…

Back on the wagon – again!

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

I’ve finally been out at Cheddar, sneaking in a good few hour sail yesterday in sunshine and 12 knots with Alan. It was a good opportunity to just sail, start throwing in some tacks and gibes here and there and generally just find some polish to my skills.

I started the year with the best intentions – was going to take it all very seriously, get fit, do some training with Tom and generally make the most of a worlds year in Europe. While I’ve been doing OK at the getting fit part I can still count the number of days sailing this year in single digits and I’m yet to meet Tom anywhere other than an open meeting. Despite all this I feel I’ve got good boatspeed and my maneuvers are there or there abouts with foiling tacks more often than not.

Ullswater was a write off for me really. Had a minor meltdown on the final day while in joint first and didn’t do the final races. I can honestly say I’ve never sailed in anything like it conditions wise with massive shifts and very localised gusts. If I didn’t know better I’d say I’d never go back, but I’ve now had one of my favorite days sailing along with one of my least favorite days sailing there!
Emma, James and Me took advantage of the dubious forecasts on the Sunday to go off mountain biking while everyone sat around seeing if the wind was going to come or not. I can understand the mentality of it being the Inlands and everything and wanting to ram races in but if it’s not going to happen (or be totally rubbish) it’s a shame to waste an opportunity while in a location like this.

And so the Nationals is rolling ever closer. I’m not taking myself quite so seriously any more and am looking forward to having fun with my mates and doing some nice sailing while I’m at it…

Parkstone Moth Mayhem

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Having missed out on Queen Mary, Parkstone last weekend was my first ‘proper’ Moth event of the year. By proper, I mean not having to dodge other boats on the racecourse and I think it delivered on all counts.

Rodders was back in charge, organising plenty of racing, a bit of video coverage, an excellent meal out and putting up half the fleet in his house and all the above is a recipe for a good event. We had 25 boats out in total, with a few new faces and plenty of old ones.

Saturday saw a mixed bag of conditions, building over the course of the day to a solid 15 to 20 at times and shifty light airs at others. I had a good start to the day, mixing it up with Jason B for 3rd but hooked some weed on the last run eventually finishing 7th. Karma came good in the middle race with a second place after going over the top of Rashley down the final run. Unfortunately it came back to get me in the final race, after I messed up the start and then proceeded to scrub myself off the side of the boat at 20+ knots using the leeward mark as a trampoline! I called it a day after that incident to try and save myself a bit for the second day.

Sunday turned into an epic of epic epicness building to a 30 knot gusty mission by the final race. I started well with another second, never really got motoring in the middle race and turned in 5th and then duked it out with Doug Pybus for a third in the last one with Doug taking a well earned second place, motoring upwind faster than I was motoring downwind making for a great duel. I’ve was trialling a new mast over the weekend and have got some ideas as to how to grab a bit more upwind pace to try and hang with the bigger boys. I think the sail in after the final race will live on in Mothie lore for many years to come. Reaching through a line a moorings at 25 knots trying to make a gybe through the gaps in the moorings for an even smaller gap in the harbour wall – kinda reminding me of the trench run in Star Wars only with Vader replaced by black clouds and 30 knot bullets!

It was great to see the Queen Mary Ninja team starting to get on the pace, with both Doug and James getting top places along with Alex Koukourakis starting to get in the game with some solid results in the big breeze. DJ Edwards was flying in Donatello – very fast out the gates and rocketing upwind despite weighing less than a small toddler! Unfortunately for everyone, no-one could get near the consistency of grandmaster Payne and he took a comfortable win from Jason Belben.

I was quite pleased to find I could still walk on Monday morning – usually after a beating like that I’m feeling it well into the week and I think my current mountain biking fixation is doing me some good. I’ve got some things to play with to improve my upwind pace and I’m toying with a sail choice decision for the rest of the season. Coming up is Ullswater in the lake district. Looks a lot like Lake Garda, only with cream teas and more unpredicatable winds.

Results are up here
Flickr gallery here

An Eye on Spain

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Well, it’s not really Moth or Brizzle related, but I’ve been keeping a bit of an eye on the ISAF trials for the womens skiff in Santander. There’s quite a selection of boats out there, including two of my E6 Cherubs disguised as Arup skiffs.

I think it will be interesting to see the outcome, but rest assured the choice will probably not be down to the best actual boat, more whatever happens to fulfill some outrageous criteria someone has dreamt up! Such fun. I’d go for the mini 49er personally. Makes the most sense from a pre-installed supply point of view – means some people might actually be able to afford to give it a shot in the first place rather than ponying up for a new boat right off the bat.

Place your bets please…

Evening all

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Well, it’s been a while.

I was promising myself that I wasn’t going to be one of those people that let the blogging slip, but unfortunately the simple fact is that I haven’t been Moth sailing! I was thinking about boring you all with the 9 tons of topsoil Em and I had to move to level the back garden or the foundations for my shed so I can finally empty the workshop of my toy boats/junk – I just don’t think that would cut it on the Bristol Moth Blog.

So whats been going on? Well, Alan and Leo have both been spotted out at the club, along with our new Bristol Mothie Ben who has just picked up a Hungry Tiger conversion to learn the ropes on. Darren had a ‘slight skiing incident’ which has precluded sailing while Martin got his eyes lazered a month or so ago and is only just at the ‘water safe’ stage. I’ve tried to get out to the club a couple of times but have been foiled (ha, love a good pun) by a lack of breeze.

I was promising myself in the autumn last year that I’d sail all winter and stick to my fitness regime and be on top of my game when the season came around. That went out the window with the house move and while I’m probably fitter than I have been at the start of a season I’ve only sailed three times this year and already managed to miss the first open!

Anyway, my more productive Moth related event was the dinghy show. Shredder was on display along with Master Payne’s Abarth Mach 2 and an endless loop of fun Moth videos to keep the public entertained. Interest was high and thankfully fewer than normal asking about the ‘funny bit on the bow’
I’d like to thank my partner in crime for the weekend James Phare for putting me up and jollying around Chinatown and trying to find the Lark party. Si Payne for lending his boat and spending most of the show on the stand with me and James. Others to thank are Jason Russell, Neil Baker, Jo Wellard, Adam May, Katherine Knight, Mike Lennon and anyone I’ve forgotten for lending their time. We actually had a good laugh on the stand and I really enjoyed it.

Next up is Parkstone. I’m really hoping to have been sailing by then and will hopefully tell you all about it!

Moths at the Dinghy Show

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

This year the UK International Moth Class Association stand at the RYA Dinghy show looks set to be as busy as ever with an exciting 2012 racing season fast approaching. As usual there will be an enthusiastic group of ‘mothies’ manning the stand ready to answer any questions you might have about the boat. These could range from questions about getting started in the class to more technical questions on setup, technique & construction – there will be a cross section of sailors more than happy to help.

This year there will be two leading designs on display in the form of the National & European Championship winning Ninja by Aardvark Technologies in Bristol and the World Championship winning Mach 2 design from Australia. As ever throughout the winter innovation has continued and some of the latest enhancements such as the latest iteration KA & fibrepath Hyde Sails will also be on display.

Mike will be at the show both Days to answer questions about the Ninja – you’ll probably find him on the Moth or Cherub stand or looking for good tea… Bring cake!