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Thought for the day - Chelmsford RSC Open

What a fabulous day out at Chelmsford. An easy journey round the M25 to arrive in sunshine and a decent breeze. The location is good with ample parking, easy access to the bank and the water and a squarish pond with brackish water. What more could you want?

Well what I want is sharper sailing skills. Whether it is age or not having sailed for 30 years, I seem to be nanoseconds behind the top skippers and the one today was Colin Goodman, who not only is a multiple world and european dinghy champion but also a skilled radio sailor with a solid track record at the top. Vernon Appleton did warn me about him at West Kirby and said he would be impossible to beat.

I had not sailed much in the last few week as I close out my Seniors Captains year at the local golf club and have had good success in that sport getting a few recent top ten finishes and a 6th out of 110 players in the club championships.

Anyway back to the racing. Graham Bantock did a great job of setting a course in shifting mid A rig breeze although the first race with a W course confused several competitors and did me out of a second place as I was so focused on fending of advancing boats whilst second, I failed to notice a tail-ender on a different leg sail straight into me dropping me to fifth. As the morning went on it was clear that Colin was the man to beat. Perfect starts at the right end of the line and going fast. By lunch Colin was leading and I was second and would have finished the morning with two firsts when leading the race before lunch all the way to 50 yards from the end when the jib decided to part company with the boat. The tack line was relatively new. Oops.

After lunch the story was about being over the line twice and being a bit conservative, however I remember one race where I was dead and buried in about 5th place, when all the boats in front decided to hit each other, sail the wrong course and other such unexplainable behaviour which allowed me to sail over them on the leg from the windward mark to the wing mark and thus won the race.

So to sum up, Colin sailed beautifully to win and I had a safe passage to second but I should be closer had I been more on the ball. I will post the results when I get access to them.

My thanks to Brian Southgate for organising and his team of volunteers and Graham Bantock for taking time out of his busy life to be our race officer for the day.

Observations on the day. I was really struggling to get rid of creases coming out front of the luff ties on the main. When I got home and investigated, I think the cotton must have shrunk as some of the ties held the sail tight to the mast whilst other were loose and I struggled to get a scalpel under the tie to release it. I replace all the ties with my favourite cord which neither stretches nor shrinks and now the sail is smooth under load.

The other detail that always astounds me is the impact of the mast ram on holding the mainsail leach up. A mm of ram can make such a difference to performance. Of course it needs to be balanced with all the other settings.

Next stop is Emsworth tomorrow but I suspect we will have an interesting wind direction to test the race officer

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