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Thought for the Day - The Eastbourne Open

After a 2 hour journey followed by coffee and a bacon and egg sandwich, I arrived to a beautiful November morning. There was a bit of a chill in the air but we could see the approaching blue sky driven by a light SE wind of 3-7ish knots. The Princes Park Lake (or Crumbles Pond depending on what map you look at) is fed with fresh water at one end from what is quaintly called the Crumbles sewer which is what they call drainage channels in Eastbourne and at the other end of the lake is a feed into the sea which at high water provides salt water back into the lake. There is a nice concrete apron to walk on and launch our boats although as our afternoon progressed, this got covered by the incoming high tide meaning we all got wet feet retrieving our boats the final time.

The lake is used to house injured swans allowing them to recuperate back to health although we saw one of them had come to an untimely end when it was onshore the previous night and was attacked by a predator.

The Eastbourne Model Yacht club put on a splendid show. Tea and coffee in the club house, good courses, lots of races and a very friendly welcome. This is my second visit and I will continue returning whilst I sail IOM's because it is always fun sailing here. My thanks to the team for a professionally run event.

My one random comment about Open meetings is we should find a way to have observers as the rules abeyance had something to be desired. Of course this would require additional volunteers which I know is difficult. There were an awful lot of contacts and only a few turns.

When I look at the results, I get a feeling of deja vu but I can say I am improving. Last year Dave Allinson beat me by 3 points. This year he only beat me by 1 point. Well done and well sailed Dave. The trend is not looking good for you next year.

Down to the sailing. It was a tricky with light and variable winds but there was one consistent theme on the beats. As Arthur Desmond once said, "Might is Right". Get on the right hand side and you were golden. The challenge was navigating after the start. If you got held on starboard by a boat to windward and went too far left, your race was done. The rough map below gives you an idea of the course. The red line at the bottom is the start and the red dots are the windward mark and spreader and the leeward gate. Two times round the windward mark and then a sprint to the finish.

First the bad news. In two of the races I was taken out through no fault of my own. On one start a boat came down from above and sat along side pulling its sails in. I could not escape and watched the fleet disappear. In another I approached the windward mark on starboard and at the mark a port tack boat came in, stopped me dead and pushed me onto port into the flurry of incoming starboard tackers. By the time I got going the fleet had gone.

Now the good news. Seven firsts was a good result but it was marred by some inconsistent or dare I say careless sailing in 3 other races. Two seventh and two sixes were destructive results but overall it was a good day. An improvement in any one of these would have won the day.

There was only one technical issue. I was struggling to get the jib to goose-wing in the light weather and I put this down to using too thick a line for the tack downhaul so I shall downsize slightly for next weekend.

So in summary a brilliant day. Lots to work on sailing wise and practice over the winter. Starts were good but need to work on better positioning in the fleet and getting to the right side of the course quicker to guarantee being at the front of the fleet rather than in the pack.

Next week is the final meeting of the Met and Southern district championships to be held at Chipstead. Light winds forecast but from a good direction for Chipstead, so another tricky day.

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