Warsash Spring Series 6 Report from With Alacrity 25 April 2010
Another fantastic weekend of sailing, for a change we had a solid 15 knot breeze on both Saturday and Sunday which really helps with the grin factor and sunshine as well!
Saturday was the 4th Race training day we have attended and Jim Saltonstall was in fine form, even if you have been to a few training days there is still plenty to learn the video debrief is the highlight of the day and it is fascinating to see exactly how near (or far) you are from the start line in practice starts, see quite how dirty your bottom is (just 6 weeks in the water and we already have a generous coating of slime) and see quite how bad that old No 1 is that we thought was past its best but still competitive (did Jim really suggest it would be better used as a cover for his car??).
Sunday was the last race in the Spring Series with Sigma 38 numbers boosted to a healthy 13 boats as most people doing the race training were keen to put into practice what we had picked up on Saturday. The maths was simple, whoever came first between Light, Rapscallion & With Alacrity would win the Sigma 38 series if they finished in the top 2. Throughout the fleet there were similar tight points battles to be won or lost. On With Alacrity, after the stinging criticism of our older No 1 we swapped to the new one we have been keeping for special events in the hope this would make the difference.
Well, for us, this was a race of two halves a bad half and a good half. Once again, despite the practice on Saturday, we got a woefully bad start. With 2 minutes to go I realised I had overestimated how much current was pushing us up to the line and we were not going to even make the closest part of the line at the committee boat, let alone get down to the favoured end at the pin. I think this is 5 out of 5 crap starts in the Spring Series and starting at the back is never going to help win a race. Maybe on the plus side that is our quota of crap starts for the season and we have got them out of the way early! We had to tack and duck the last boat starting at the unfavoured committee boat end before getting clear air and by the time we had tacked back out towards the deep water the lead boats were crossing 10 or 20 lengths ahead. On the first spinnaker hoist we ripped the light spinnaker, though the foredeck team were quick to switch to the heavy kite the boat lengths slipped away from us. The next beat we had to do a few extra tacks to get clear air and all this meant we were close to quarter of a mile off the lead at the halfway stage of the race.
The second half of the race was much better for us, we found lanes of clear wind, got the boat in the groove, managed an emergency repair on the light spinnaker and started to reduce the boat handling errors. Leg by leg we started to grind down the deficit, approaching Prince Consort we hooked into a big left hand shift off Cowes and passed Light and then gained on the next 2 downwind legs and beat until we rounded the last leeward mark within 5 lengths of Rapscallion who were in turn 3 or 4 lengths behind Monet who were sailing a fine race. Rapscallion tacked off with Monet covering so we took the chance to split tacks and sail on. At the next cross we were within a few boat lengths of Rapscallion and again sailed on to gain some separation hoping for a lift in towards the finish. Sadly, it was a little too late and Monet took the win, their second from their two outings this season and Rapscallion finished second to secure the series on countback after finishing on equal points with Light. On Handicap in IRC 3, though Sigma 38s didnt manage to break into the top 5 places, the times were closer than in previous races with Monet just 66 seconds off the IRC 3 class leader and just 46 seconds separating the first 3 Sigma 38s proving we have the potential to do well on handicap if we sail well!
This has been a fascinating Spring Series where the difference has just been a few boat lengths in several races. On With Alacrity we were using this weekend as training for our Nationals crew and can take plenty of positives though we know we are going to have to up our game to do well at the Nationals which is just 5 weeks away now. It looks like it is going to be one of the most open Nationals for years just about any Sigma 38 is capable of getting to the front of the fleet at the moment and you could argue for any one of 6 or 7 boats to be favourites it should be a classic.