Racing an IOM - A Christmas fairy tale

You have just taken delivery of your new boat and you are keen to try it. Upgrading from an old to a new design is exciting and you have done all your homework, read this web site, applied all the learnings and tested the balance of the boat. It look fantastic and should be a deserved winner.


Delivery and looking at your boat is a reality. The fairytale is what happens next.


Before you launch your boat, a sprinkle of fairy dust drifts through the air and settles on your boat just before you launch it. You think it is dust but there is no time to blow it off which is just as well. With the boat on the water you test the accuracy of the rudder to see the boat move in a straight line with no deviation one way of the other. When sailing upwind you do not have to touch the rudder at all as the boat is perfectly balanced and sails itself. You look up the course and clearly see the pattern of the wind. Stronger and steadier on the right hand side of the beat but towards the windward mark under some trees there are signs of big port tack lifts. You test you boat out against a good competitor and find that you are higher in high mode and faster in fast mode.


You look at the line with heavy port bias but with the right side of the first half of the beat favoured, it will pay to start on the windward side of the fleet so you can make a quick escape to the favoured side and not get wrapped up in the big crowd at the port end in the 20 boat fleet.


As the fleet prepares for the start gun start you hang back at the windward end of the line to see how things shape up. The majority are fighting for the port end. With 5 seconds to go you sheet in and charge down the line to be the most windward boat. As the gun goes you harden up. The leeward boats are ahead but they cannot tack. After 10 second you tack, and ease the sheet 1 click on the sheet stick on the new tack. The boat flies and gets its nose ahead of the fleet in clear air and water. As you sail into the favoured breeze you gain a little extra and sneak ahead of the boats on the left as they were forced too far from the favoured side of the beat. You sheet back in and begin to climb. The boats behind you are headed as they move into the stronger breeze giving you the freedom to tack when you like knowing you will cross everyone. Two thirds up the beat you execute a slow tack, freeing the sheets slightly after to get massive acceleration and drive towards the heading breeze of the bank. As you draw level with the most left hand boats you tack back and pick up the port hand lift. Now is the time to sail high and get the most out of the shift. You arrive at the mark 4 boat lengths ahead of the next boat and round the buoy in a gust and charge off downwind. The breeze holds for you all the way down the run and you arrive at the leeward mark with a six boat length lead. On the second beat you loose cover the first few boats taking advantage of any shifts and using the knowledge of the first beat. Sailing fast and free enables you to gain a little as the boats behind are preoccupied with defending their positions. The last run is routine as your lead is up to 10 boatlenghts. The final beat is all about covering the boats behind and it does not take long to cross the line with a healthy lead.


Was it your skill that won the race or that sprinkle of fairy dust or was it a dream. You will find out when you next race.

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