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Marblehead ranking weekend at Datchet

Despite the forecast, the weekend turned into an absolute blast with top end swing rig/B rig on Saturday and 20 to 30 mph on Sunday.

The reports are posted on MYA and Y&Y web site so I will not dwell on who won. For me, I had 3 issues. One getting off the start line in the first four races on Saturday and then having a complete inability to tack the boat with the swing rig and then struggling to tack the boat on Sunday with the C3 rig.

Racing at Datchet leaves one a bit exposed. We do not sail the boats agressively for several weeks and then we are plunged into a ranking event with wind and waves.

On Saturday we sailed with mostly swing rigs and then a couple of races with B rig. My boat speed was OK. In nearly every race once I got myself organised, I had a good start in the first row, however the killer was my inability to tack with the swing rig. On every tack the boat would not drive out of the tack but head up into wind. I lost 20 yards or more per tack and on the first tack after the start, I could go from front row to back of the fleet. To say that was frustrating was an understatement. The following day I had exactly the same issue with the C3 rig tacking in big waves so I went to confer with the good Dr Tony Edwards. There was not much we could do with the swing rig issue other than assume there was too much rake and I was trying to tack too quickly. What I had not done when setting the boat up at home was measure the rake when the rig was under load with the GIZMO on. I have not checked this yet.

Tony was able to help me with tacking the C3 rig in waves, telling me to be as gentle as possible taking the boat through the wind but also to increase the throw of the rudder which was easily down adjusting the end points. I guess like most people my brain thinks that you need to tack quickly before the boat gets pushed to a standstill by the waves. How wrong could I be as the M is a long thin boat and takes time to turn. To much rudder just puts the brakes on and causes a stalled tack. With a bit of practice before the next race I was tacking with the best of them but we could not nail down why I was slightly off the pace with boat speed. I will check through all the setting again.

This is my second competitive outing and I have much to learn. Plenty of opportunity to develop my skills over the winter at Datchet.

Plusses and minuses


Good at starting

Brilliant recovery from my early starting issues. In one race I went from last to second.

Good control on the boat in heavy weather.


Inability to tack - Problem solved for C3

Poor boat speed with C3 - Work to do

Need to check all the settings again so see if anything was amiss.

Still a bit wild steering downwind. I am reluctant to use the exponential on steering preferring to develop my thumb skills.

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