In summary this was a challenging weekend with shifty A rig conditions. I struggled a little bit at the beginning to get to the front of B fleet and then bounced from B to A and back again. Why I could sail so well in B and not in A? The good news is I was very consistent. The worst result was 28, the best was 18.
This morning I realised that this was the end of my first year of competitive IOM racing and first sailboat racing of any kind in 30 years so perhaps I am expecting a bit much
Let me start with the a brief summary of the results - full results below down to 57 place:
Race 1 Seeding - Qualified in C fleet
Race 2 Immediately promoted to B fleet and then finished 3 off promotion to A
Race 3 Mid B fleet
Race 4 1 place off promotion to A
Race 5 Promoted to A fleet and finished 3 from back so back to B
Race 6 Mid B fleet
Race 7 1 place off promotion to A
Race 8 Promoted to A fleet and then finished last so back to B
Race 9 Mid B fleet
Race 10 Promoted to A fleet and finished last
Race 11 Promoted to A fleet and finished 2nd last
Whilst the A fleet results were disappointing, it was heartening to be regularly getting promotion out of B fleet. Its only a matter of time before I become ensconced in the A fleet.
So here is the report card:
The logistics and boat preparation were perfect. There were no boat faults and everything worked as expected. I took loads of spares but none were needed. A lot of the practice delivered results in performance but there is a lot more to do.
Mastered the art of holding station especially in a chop and creating a gap to leeward to drive into on the gun. The stationary training this year paid off.
Need to work the ends of the line more when there is heavy line bias.
More work to do accelerating off the line and getting in a position to tack for the first shift.
Acceleration out of the tack was fast relative to the boats behind
Could have done better playing the shifts in the early races but as my confidence gained I was able to seek out some brilliant shifts by executing my own race plan. I guess the more I sail, the natural knowledge of the wind will come back to me.
Avoided hitting anyone at the start and stayed out of trouble in all the races. If someone was threatening I just sailed away from them or let them drift away from me. Boat control rocks.
In most of the races I struggled to play the shifts to be a front runner at the first mark. On Saturday it was not possible to have a race plan. You just had to watch the shifts and wind bands like a hawk.
Interestingly in the A fleet, I was able to consistently arrive at the first mark in mid fleet or better. In the last race I arrived in the top 6 but on the starboard approach to the mark, a boat bore away into my stern and pushed me head to wind. The boat stopped in the chop and drifted the wrong side of the mark before I could regain control. The offending boat didn't even do his turn.
Windward mark rounding
In the main I handled this really well. If I came in on port I was able to find a gap or ducked until there was one.
Spreader mark rounding
I have some difficulty here choosing which side to go on the run and getting immediately clear. I need to practice being more positive and aggressive to get the side I want and commit to it.
I have work to do to focus on setting the boat at the right angle on the run. Running by the lee is slow and to be avoided at all costs. It s easy to tell because the jib does not fill effectively. Better to do a gybe and keep the speed up.
A lot worked well but my brain was not wired up for A fleet racing. How can you perform at the top of B fleet and then make stupid moves in the A fleet to finish at the back. In 1 race I round the leeward mark in 8th place and set off from the leeward gate on port. A boat rounded behind me and just sailed around me to windward and disappeared. By the time I got to the windward mark I was 30 yards behind the last boat. I am hoping it was weed. I had the feeling that it was my destiny to finish at the back of the A fleet every time. Combine that with what happened in the last race. Oh boy this is a tough game.
So what next
We have a couple of open meetings at Chipstead and lee valley and then the vets weekend near Bristol. There is more racing at Gosport and Emsworth and then maybe some sneaky practice when the wind is in the right direction. There is a strong southern team developing at Emsworth and Gosport where we all finished 20, 24, 27, 29 so regular racing will be good.
Lastly a big shout out to the race team at Castle Semple for putting on a great show in the most difficult of conditions. Thank you all.
One last observation. How good is Brian Summers to turn with his own design, home build with his own sails and ended up 7th. It was the coolest boat at the champs but not as pretty as the Scottish woodies. An also delighted to see Andrea Roberts in the top ten. She is a great character and gave the observers some serious stick in the last race when they made an unclear call about a boat contact. A great competitor.