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Thought for the day - First racing of the Marblehead

It was worth putting all the time and effort into making sure the rigs and rigging were robust last week as the wind blew at Chipstead with gusts of 30 plus knots. We sailed the morning with C2 rigs and went up to C1 in the afternoon.

It took me a while to find a balanced set up but once there, the boat was quick upwind.

There is a story behind the results. The first 5 races all went to plan. Good starts, the right positioning on the beats and sailed clean downwind without any broaching. Tacking was quite challenging in the light chop but the trick was to avoid excessive use of the rudder. You want the boat to tack quick but if you slammed the rudder hard over it would stop head to wind. It took a while to develop the right mindset and get the tacking right and of course if the boat was set up with weather helm, you were unlikely to escape going head to wind when tacking in the gusts because the boat would not put the bow down. With the right balance all you had to do was get the boat through head to wind, and it would accelerate and sail off on its own.

I experienced some poor sailing in the next 5 races, some my own fault and some by others errant sailing.

In race 6, I was taken out by a port boat at the weather mark and dropped from second to the back of the fleet. Not a lot I could do about that one. In the next race I was chasing Peter Stollery in an easy second position and misjudged a leeward mark, put the boat head to wind and watched the fleet sail by. In race 8 I led the fleet on the first beat round a headland, went to tack onto port and promptly ran aground. In race 10 I approached the windward mark in third just behind but overlapped to windward of another boat when he suddenly luffed head to wind and stopped forcing my bow up. At the same time a boat came in from behind and hit my stern pushing it round so I tacked onto port. By the time we sorted ourselves out the leaders had gone.

In race 13, on the first run I lost the winch but still had steerage at the spreader mark. I thought the winch had broken but all that happened was the battery was drained to 3.2v enough to power the rudder servo but not the winch. I know from my IOM racing that 13 races is the limit for the 1000mA Life battery so I should have changed it. Unfortunately I had not counted the races in the inclement conditions. Thankfully I was able to sail the boat back to the jetty and replace the battery for the last race.

Had I sailed cleanly and changed the battery the score could have been a lot better in four of the races but others had their if only stories too.

CJ Vice had a Grunge with a well tuned rig and it was noticeable when he had the lead at the first mark, he opened out a huge lead so had all gone well with him, I suspect he would have won the day.

Peter Stollery shared rigs with his son and was trying to run two boats during the day. Thats a lot of distraction.

All in all the day was fantastic fun. These are glorious boats to sail in a breeze and the usual rules apply to get round the course faster than others. Good position at the start, sail fast, tack as little as possible and watch the gust like a hawk. I learnt lots about this boats and look forward to the next outing. It will be interesting to see how competitive it is in less wind

I guess you would not be surprised to hear that the only breakage was of the cord I had not replaced ie the cunningham on the C1 rig. There was another failure which happened while I fixed the cord over lunch and that was the metal clip that connected the endless sheeting mechanism together, broke but I replaced that easily with a spare.

It was a good first outing in heavy winds and as Dave Creed said to me, put the long fin on, drive the boat hard and it will go fast.

Next stop is IOM sailing at Lincoln which will be very competitive. Hoping for a good weather forecast.

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