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The Veterans Championship - Home builds can be competitive

What a brilliant weekend, well organised by the MYA and Lincoln Radio Sailing Club, with fabulous sailing in a well behaved fleet. So much fun.

After a stormy wet and windy night in the camper van the first morning dawned bright and clear with a pleasant NW wind. The forecast was for 13-25mph but we never had more than 10mph on Saturday. All boats went with the A Rig as there was no threat of being overpowered.

Sunday was played out in a building breeze with 25 knot squalls at the end of the day. Generally conditions were A rig apart from the last race when the wind really kicked in.

I have put up some pictures below to give a flavour of the event.

How would I sum up my performance. I had the potential for a top 10 finish but I was careless in the early races and unlucky in a couple.

Errors included

Trying to get inside boats just ahead of me at a leeward mark. Daft to try this when the boats are 100 yards away.

Misjudging starboard boat crosses when on port, only happened a couple of times but the resultant penalty turn is expensive. I had 5ish penalty turns overall during the weekend. Probably lost 5 boats a turn which adds up to a lot of points.

Seemed to be master of rounding first spreader mark in good position and then finding a private hole in the wind.

Things I could not avoid

Rammed by port tack boat on the starting gun in one race with bow pushed away from the wind, game over.

Leading one race and boat taken out by local squall with a couple of cartwheels and instant demotion to 5th or six place.

Very good at getting round windward mark in good position and watching boats sail around me as I find private hole on the run.

What went perfectly

Gave a master class in one race. Perfect start with the right track on first beat to benefit from a left hand shift up to windward mark and led all the way to the finish. It can be done.

Lessons learned

Playing the sheets in gusts proved to give me an edge on speed. Boat set up for high mode then sheets eased in gusts using the stick. If strong wind was permanent I would ease the sheet using the micro adjuster on the transmitter to set up a lower faster mode.

Britpops are still quick but not unbeatable.

Brian Summers, the winner makes his own beautiful sails and sits them on a Britpop. He sets his boat up with a lot of rig tension through prebend but sails with a straight mast. His tactics are good and the boat looks fabulous.

Learning to control the boat, sitting with sails flapping for a good start position is critical.

Always look up the lake for the next shift.

Avoid aggression and getting into tight spots. Thrice I rounded a leeward mark and sailed into the boat in front. For those who read the web site, one of my golden rules is stay out of trouble. When will I learn.

A 1600 Ma mp Life battery does a whole weekend of racing with plenty of power left over.

Rechargeable Bonai 2800 mAh batteries easily give a days use of a fli sky transmitter.

All the boat systems worked perfectly and zero gear failures.

To avoid nosediving downwind in a squall, run by the lee, the more the wind, the more by the lee you need to be. There are mechanics that show why this is effective but not for this blog.

Improvements to make

More practice

More prebend in mast. I sailed with a soft jib leech which may contribute to a lack of acceleration. It is very open upwind and downwind. Can be rectified with more prebend. Looking down the mast afterwards, I can only see less than 10mm prebend. There was more but the mast has change shape ever so slightly and needs a bit of work

I was faster in a breeze than light weather although that could be the softness in the jib leech which would not help acceleration.

Still taking on half a cup of water in each race. Did not seem to make and difference in performance but it is annoying not being able to find the leak. When I put the boat in the pond, it does not leak. I have also pressure tested the boat and gone round with soapy water. But when I sail it does.

In summary

My results should have been so much better with a more conservative approach. The five or so turns cost me 25 points, the T bone on the start another 12 or so points, 5 on the nose dive when I was leading. Thats a whopping 42 points overall. Take that off my final score and I am well inside the top 10.

So a home build boat can be competitive and take on the big boys. It might not have the design edge but by getting everything else right, you can be in the hunt

And on that positive note it is back to racing at Frensham tomorrow and Chipstead open in early July.

My thanks to MYA and Lincoln Sailing Club who organised this brilliant event.

Good sailing.

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