HWS Race 5 and 6, 30th Oct 2011 – Report from Pavlova III
Another Sunday of excellent racing, with HRSC setting quality windward marks and leeward gates. Tides were going to be taxing, with us crossing two tidal streams and a change in flow around midday. The wind was gusting around 20 to 25 knots so we had that tricky choice of a pressing number one, or an under-powered number two genoa. We spent 30 minutes testing both sails and tracking everyone's sail choice, with bag shapes and fairleads positions.
I have just thought of a good idea. Tom and Ben: pack our number two into our long spare number one bag, so if anyone wants to check out our own sail choice on a marginal day, lay the long bag down the deck...and we may be able to trick someone into putting up their big number one...as we scoot off the start line with our number two flying !
In the first race, Pavlova III chose a mid-line conservative start and found space. Looking to leeward, I concluded that in a fleet of 12 one design Sigma 38's, it seems to me that a windward boat start at the favoured end is very high risk, and unless you execute with perfection, then you are left under dirty air or end up being pinched up by a pack of leeward boats. So, Pavlova III eased away in fresh clean air and easily re-gained the 20 meters needed from our start position, to hit the windward mark in second place.
We actually did hit the windward mark. Just prior to this utterly terrible helming error, we saw Persephone tack under us, as we both headed for the mark on starboard. We both confidently launched our poles and quickly slid to the east, across a strong tide, supported with a large wind shadow form the weather boats....a ridiculous mistake. Full marks to Rebecca in the pit for dumping the pole and clearing for an instant jibe-tack to re-round the mark, with Persephone (having practiced the same manoeuvre in Race 1) quickly re-rounding ahead of us. What a Disaster, we were even behind the floundering Mefisto and lying in 10th place, so lots of work to do. But, as Jamie Wilkinson says...."keep calm, as plenty will happen in the race" and other super-psycho-analytical things like "learn to love no wind and learn to love your mistakes!”
So, after 35 years of racing....another same lesson learnt: Never ignore the tide, Look for windward boats rounding the mark, who will take your wind away and think well ahead. It is not rocket science.
Team Pavlova III set to task and sailed an excellent recovery race. We rounded the final leeward mark in 6th place and chose to go left, spotting a fresher breeze and we knew there was fair tide around Hill Head. The result was stunning and we cruised passed Persephone to snatch the third place off Nigel and a very valuable point over Team Goodhew.
Well done to With Alacrity who took their third victory with a very healthy time margin, which helped to ease the pain of their DSQ and closed the gap at the top, along with The Diamonds on Rapscallion, who keep notching up more top three positions.
Race two was a similar affair and I can't recall much of the fleet action. Pavlova III opted for another fresh-air start and it paid again as we remain confident with our current settings and speed variables. It also seems a good idea to keep well away from the red flag wavers, as I know Persephone and With Alacrity would enjoy stringing up Pavlova III in a protest meeting !
Back to the race proper, and Zanzara played a perfect leg and rounded the first mark with Pavlova III and Persephone close behind....fighting amongst the usual fantastic close one-design racing. Pavlova III then took a slightly higher starboard angle, knowing that the tide would help slide us across when we jibed onto the mark approach. We rolled over Zanzara and rounded the leeward mark in first place, gradually extending our lead with a loose cover over the fleet. Pavlova III completed a stunning second victory to complete a successful set of results to ease slightly ahead in the overall league table.
Well done to Team Gallant, Team Gambit and Pandanova for beating Mefisto, the Cowes Week 2011 Champion, who still seems to be missing something in this series?