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Thought for the Day - A weekend of promise....

So much happened over this weekend at the Two Island (Furzton Lake, Milton Keynes) Ranking event.

I had put in plenty of practice for this weekend but probably not enough. There was plenty of upper A rig training which was perfect for this event. The boat was well prepared and the rig set up looked good. I was in good shape although perhaps a little tired with Golf on Monday, sailing Tuesday, golf Wednesday, Sailing Thursday and a golf match on Friday. Did I not say to prepare yourself on the web site. Maybe I should follow my own advice.

My plan was to travel to Milton Keynes at around 7pm on Friday but the orbital motorway round London was blocked with a serious accident. I delayed the start until 9pm in the hope that the road would be clear but alas it was not so. My satnav said the arrival time was 23.58 which meant an hour and a half in a traffic jam. I was going to take the back route which would be tortuous but much quicker than the motorway. However to my delight, just before I pulled off the motorway for the detour, the satnav updated the arrival time to 22.36pm . Phew.

On arrival at Milton Keynes which if you have not been there is a land of roundabouts. Originally designed as a new model town in the 60’s, the roundabouts were peppered with concrete cows on the roadside which looked amazing. The challenge however was that was road users got distracted by the cows and they caused many accidents. Sadly the cows were removed, but I digress.

Furzton lake, the location for our sailing had two car parks on its South East side. On the first night I chose the wrong car park for my camper van. Sleeping in the van is a bit like sleeping in a tent where you can hear everything outside. Apart from the background noise of heavily used roads in the distance, the car park was quite close to the lake and a huge flock of Canada Geese residing nearby. They were very active when I tried to go to sleep and continued to be active for a couple of hours. You have no idea how much noise they can make. When they eventually quietened down a car turned up in the car park, turned on music with a heavy beat and a couple discussed all the events of the previous week. Oh Joy. Eventually they moved on. A few minutes later another car turned up, the doors opened and footsteps paced back and forth across the car park. After ten minutes the doors slammed and the car was gone. Finally I could get some sleep for a few hours. When the alarm went off I did not want to move.

Breakfast cooked, I headed bleary eyed to the sailing venue. Not the perfect start for a ranking weekend. The boat was rigged tested and tuned and ready for the seeding race. I started well with a 7th but picked up weed in the second race and finished last. There followed a period in the doldrums stuck in B fleet for 3 races. I was struggling to get my brain in gear and could make no sense of the shifts and then if by magic I hit the A fleet with a 12, 10 and 8 but the damage had been done and I ended up mid fleet overall.

The day was fun however as there were plenty of people to talk to about hull designs, boat setup, and sailing in other parts of the country. I have learned that one has to forget about the previous result, relax between races, hydrate and get ready for the next one.

Once the day was done it was off to the the other car park on the far side of the lake for dinner, talk to the family and get some well deserved sleep. If anyone is going to MK in a campervan, the sports pavilion car park is quiet. That night I was off to sleep at 10 and only had one visiting car but they played nice music so I could image what was going on inside. I am grateful to them as the music sent me nicely off to sleep until the alarm went off.

The following morning I was fired up and ready to go. Top end of A rig, gusty, shifty, great fun. I was on fire with a 6,2, 17 and a 5 in the morning. They told me I was 6th overall at that point so I was excited for the afternoon. In the first afternoon race there was a huge squall before the start and my port shroud snapped just where the wire exited the mast. I had no spare so having retired from the race, set the B rig up for the next B fleet race but the wind eased, and being one of two B rig boats, we finished last and second to last. I decided an early bath was in order, thanked all the volunteers and headed home, somewhat disappointed. I ended up 23rd missing the last 4 races.

In conclusion whilst it was an opportunity missed, I have learned so much and have improved my tools set and skills which will take me forward are responsible for your performance and boat. This was a weekend which did not go well for me but I can now see my potential and with a bit more practice and experience .......... nicely........

One final comment. The weekend was superbly run by the Volunteers from 2 Island radio sailing club and the MYA. Its a long day for them and I so appreciate their hard work and dedication to make our day so much fun. Thank you to all of them

What did I take away from the weekend.

The boat is fast and well set up.

My starting is much improved but I need a lot more on the water practice to improve boat handling.

When I have my head in gear I am a regular top ten finisher and can punch my way to the front of the fleet

This is only my third ranking event and I can see my potential emerging

I will review my gear and spares to ensure I can fix issues like a broken stay or mast, or a torn sail at the venue. Originally I was looking for elegant solutions but realise the need to change gear fast if it gets damaged.

Need to find a partner to do some serious 2 boat tuning over the winter to work on speed and boat setup.

The elastic band topping lift tensioners work perfectly and I now have full control on the jib leech.

In conclusion whilst it was an opportunity missed, I have learned so much and have improved my tools set and skills which will take me forward.

We have two events at Chipstead and one at Eastbourne to come this year so lots to look forward to and prepare for.

Onwards and upwards. Time for a bit of rest and recuperation, oh and fix the rig.

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