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IOM Ranking at Woodspring

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

Below is the report I wrote for Y& Y and the MYA web site. Have a read of it to set the scene and then an analysis of how I did

IOM Ranking event at Woodspring (Portishead)

The forecast looked promising for this event with a strong breeze blowing straight down the lake. Alas never believe what you read in the forecast. Conditions for the weekend were light and there was more easterly in the wind which meant it had to come over a large hill, through a couple of housing estates and then through the trees at the upwind end of the lake. The result was a challenging breeze which flicked at random across the two days. I am sure this caused our Race Officer Tony Edwards a headache, but he did set courses which made the best use of the breeze and provided us with good racing.

Woodspring is an interesting location in a glorious setting on the edge of the Severn estuary. When you look out over it the water is brown on the ebb and blue on the rising tide. Over the weekend we saw a huge jack up ship pass and a large car transporter which were interesting distractions.

One of the curious but I guess essential activities I saw on the estuary, was a group of about 15 doing mud rescue training with two volunteers about 100 yards out in the mud sitting presumably waiting to be rescued by the victims/ volunteers. It’s a messy smelly business but I guess someone has to do it and we are grateful for them. Enough of that, on with the racing.

With 32 boats on Saturday and 37 on Sunday, racing was in two heats with 4 up and down on Saturday and six up and down on Sunday.

On Saturday no one could keep up with Rob Walsh whose worst results were two 5th. It was a true master class leaving Craig Richards and Peter Stollery in his wake. All bar Rob counted at least one bad race often caused by the collection of a leaf or a stick on the fin. Well done Rob.

After watching the Rugby on Saturday night accompanied perhaps by the occasional beverage, competitors returned to the water to be greeted by similar conditions to the Saturday. Sunday was Peter Stollery’s day, who dominated over Rob and Craig Richards but even Peter had one bad race which he was able to discard.

Tony managed to squeeze in 8 races and whilst conditions were tricky and at times frustrating for those in the pack, a good time was had by all and out thanks must go to the team of volunteers who made the weekend so enjoyable.

Event coordinator Bob Connor

Race officer Tony Edwards

Scorers Sue Conner

Min Edwards

Scoreboard Finish Alan Barnstable

Sarah Bush

Start/Fin/rescue Simon Evans

Observer/admin Steve Gill

Thank you, Woodspring. We look forward to coming back.

How did I do?

The answer is - not bad. 6th and a 4th should keep me in the top 5 of the ranking list. Overall summary of my sailing is I still need to sharpen up on starts and better judge where the wind is going to come from and respond to wind shifts sooner.

Wind condition were calm to 8 knots flicking in all directions.

The start as usual was the all important part of the race. Often the line was heavily port bias or you wanted to tack into more pressure on the right. Get off the line and tack onto port with speed would see you out in front with the freedom to tack. Start at the wrong end of the line and you risk getting becalmed or on the wrong side of the shift. I focussed on starting in the middle of the line which usually gave me freedom to tack and escape the calms that could hit the port end of the line. On Saturday it mostly paid to keep to the left side of the course from half way up the beat and strangely I was always drawn to the right. This was when I had my worst races. Go to the left and I was golden. Don't get me wrong there was a bit of a lottery out on the water, not only with the wind but picking up the odd leaf or stick on the fin or rudder. Having said that the same people won so it is all down to skill and reading the tea leaves in the lake.

Regarding boat set up, I set the sails slightly flatter than usual but with a lot of twist in both the jib and main to get the boat through the calm patches and always tried to sail with the sheets eased for max speed. Speed is your friend creating apparent wind and the more apparent wind, the higher you can point without sheeting in too much. Whilst it was a testing day it was superb practice and ever so slightly I can see myself improve on the water. The big test will be whether I can up my game enough to challenge for the lead next year and then maybe head to the worlds.

Good to see Craig Richards sailing an Alioth so well. At the moment you could probably give him a bucket to sail and he would be at the front of the fleet. 3d printing has come a long way as has the Alioth. 9th in the Europeans and 2nd and 3rd at the ranking this weekend. If you are interested in getting hold of one, talk to Paul Barton who is a licensed Alioth builder.

I look forward to see new successful designs through that medium. It will never beat the durability of glass epoxy but as the expression goes, never say never.

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