It seems like forever since I last sailed the boat (only 2 weeks ago) and it was a joy to be at Hampton Court in the grounds of the Palace surrounded by a lot of Dear.
Hampton Court Model Yacht Club is on a fabulous lake with one of the nicest clubhouses I have seen. It is full of wonderful boats, from 10 raters old and new, vane boats, marblehead, IOM's and of course the ever increasingly popular DF classes.
The day dawned dull, cold and overcast but with a decent breeze and stayed that way all day. It was annoying getting family pictures of glorious sunshine from only 30 miles away. The sun never got to us.
We had enough boats to run two heats with 4 getting promoted and demoted. The wind gave us a long beat and run up and down the lake on a standard windward leeward course which was perfect for IOM's. I must say a huge thank you to the organisers who did a great job especially those in waders who rescued the unfortunate who strayed too close to the bank.
There was some good competition out there with Darin Ballington, Peter and Oliver Stollery, Tonny Guerrier and a strong group for Emsworth, to name a few. Starting was as ever a premium with all boats bang on the line at the gun and it was critical to be in phase with the shifts ever present across the course
Boat speed was essential but what is becoming ever clearer to me is the way the boat has to be handled to maintain maximum speed. After the first race Darin Ballington very kindly gave me a debrief on my first race when he was an umpire. He pointed out that I tacked too quickly and was trying to compete on pointing with different designed boats rather than let the boat speed do the work. He was kind in avoiding the fact I got out of phase with the shifts on the second beat which was torture.
In a couple of races I rounded the first mark first but fell back seeming to be off the pace upwind. This was cured by easing the mainsheet sheet hook one notch. Astonishing how a 2.5mm movement on the mainsheet could make such a difference to boat speed.
So to summarise the days performance.
The boat setup is perfect and I started at the mid point measurement although I was too tight on the mainsheet as referred to above. The boom was inside the 10mm measurement. Operator error
The good stuff
The starts were nearly all good and I was often able to punch off the line with a nose in front of the fleet.
Boat speed was excellent once the mainsheet was sorted
I was nearly always in phase with the shifts on the 1st beat
I stayed in the A fleet for the whole day with no hiccups
I was in touch and often ahead of Darin B and Peter S
There is nothing to do on the boat any more other than a bit of maintenance from time to time
It was good to note that even Peter Stollery sometimes loses sight of his boat on the start line
Things to work on
I need to be smoother on handling the boat. It is so easy to throw the boat into a tack but the loss in speed is penal. It was noticeable that both Darin B and Peter S were very smooth and always sailing fast and able to quickly move through the fleet. Bearing in mind there is still time before the nationals I should be able to iron this out with practice.
My second beats were often out of phase with the shifts. It would start with a rather aggressive turn around the leeward mark where I would luff the boat too much and nearly stop and all would go wrong from there.
In summary, it's all about being a better sailor and practice being smooth. No excuses.
It was impressive to watch young Stollery who at only 12 has a very good tactical brain even at this early age and showed he is perfectly capable of winning races.
Full results will go up on the Hampton Court web site and should be found on there web site when posted
Darin took the win, was fast and tactically excellent in nearly all the races. He is one of the top sailors and I note, won this event in 2019.
Peter took second but was distracted by electronic issues on his sons boat.
I took third which I viewed as a good result with my worst fault getting out of phase on the second beat. It is clear what to work on so just need to make best use of time before the nationals. I was in the mix mostly and there are just fractions of time to make up on the leaders. Race 5 and 7 were the bad ones that brought me down but I am in touch with the leaders.
One thing that did work on the new rig, was the ability to bend the top of the mast in line with the sail luff curve to blade out the top of the sail in a breeze. This eliminates any backwinding and definitely increases speed.
Sailing at Frensham tomorrow as we have a North Easterly with rain and its my birthday so I will be off for a late lunch.
Hope you are all having some great sailing.
A view to the lake from the Barrow van