Archive for March, 2009
On Saturday the 28th I wasn’t sailing as there were some cars driving around the lake.
It was a very early start, with me needing to get down to Torquay by 7:00AM. I left home just after 5:00AM, and had a pretty good run, arriving 15 minutes early.
At the start I was caught in bunches of slower riders, and took nearly an hour to get to the first stop 25 km into the race. After that I made sure I hooked up with groups of faster rides and my average speed rose quiet nicely. The descents were fantastic with broad sweeping corners and no cars.
After Lorne the course ‘levelled’ out undulating all the way back to Toquay. I was a fantastic day for a ride and the 25 degrees and no wind made it a joy. The other great thing was that there very few incidents on the day and most people were reasonably experienced, or they weren’t in front of me.
This is the first strong northerly we have had at the lake for some time, and it is the second time I have had a good long sail in the boat in decent breeze. In essence it was a good shakedown of the boat. First up a few things structurally need work:
1) The bolts on the rudder need lock nuts and tightening.
2) The traveller cleat let go part way through a gybe, breaking the end of the traveller.
3) The trailers dodgy welding (mine) came apart.
4) I broke my sailing watch (well it was already sort of broken).
Before the beginning of the race one of the new toe straps came undone sending me out the boat backwards. Luckily I was able to retie the toe strap and continue on. It was definitely a day when you needed both toe straps.
The race started near the narrows, which had been blocked off by the footbridge for the Grand Prix. I got a good start, partly by starting a boat length in front of the impulse fleet. I know from times on the start boat that the majority of the impulse fleet nearly always starts a boat length behind the line. One day they will be on the line and catch me out.
The first beat was tricky with many shifts along the course. I played a conservative card going through the middle of the lake and then towards the road before heading towards the mark. A lift was often found between the island and the mark which was worth having a shot at, but during the first lap this didn’t play out. At the top mark I rounded in second place behind Paul.
The next issue was the second mark of the trapezoid course. I completely forgot about it, and if you look at the GPS track at about 2.5km I had to sail back a short distance to the mark. This cost me a couple of places in the race. At the moment I am concentrating in what is going on in the boat that my attention to what is going on outside of the boat is on auto pilot. If Paul hadn’t said anything I probably would have sailed in to the footbridge thinking I had to go down to St Kilda.
The rest of the race saw me slowly slip backwards in the fleet. Tacking in heavy winds is still hit and miss with the boat often stalling as I push the boat around to quickly. At the end of the race Silke and Don were getting close to me, but a stronger breeze saw both of them slip behind again.
Due to the F1 GP there is no sailing at the lake. I will be able to take my time in the next two weeks and work on getting all the bits and pieces sorted out for the boat and the trolley.
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A very wild day with the wind. We started with a north easterly breeze. For the first 45 minutes we were sailing in extremely light, flukey winds everything less than 5 knots. After that a number of storm clouds rolled in, shifting the breeze to the west and bringing an average 10 knot breeze with a gusty breeze right as the change came through.
The start of the race saw me falling back through the fleet on the first beat. Again bad tacking and spending to much time concentrating on the boat instead of what was going on around me lost many places and saw me falling into the second half of the fleet as the regular gusts caused the fleet to split in two. The wind was very unpredictable, and people got lucky on some of the edges of the course.
The downwind leg saw a number of us bunched together, trading places as the light breeze blew. By this stage the gap between ourselves and the leading group was quite considerable. By the time we were just leaving the narrows the lead boats were already nearing the rounding mark in front of the rowing clubs. Dark clouds were rolling in and the committee boat had warned that 30 knot breezes were predicted with the start of the front.
As the wind rolled in I was leading the back of boats that had been split from the lead pack. As the front rolled in the breeze was switching from an easterly to a westerly breeze, but was extremely unsettled. The frequent shifts were an advantage to anyone paying close attention to their wind indicator. I picked the shift going around, and picked when to tack onto port, giving me a 10+ boat length gap. As the front hit it was a matter of trying to get as much out of the boat as possible, but the difference between gusts and lulls was extreme.
The back group was lucky that the front runners were disadvantaged that they had to tack to the mark in front of the rowing sheds. Being further back we could stay closer to the shore and reach all the way to the mark. The front group was made up of a number of lighter sailors who were now struggling in the heavier breeze.
The breeze steadied after the front, and was now pretty much a soldiers course around the marks. The one place that a tactical advantage could be made was behind the island.
In the picture I have shown to strategies for getting around the wind shadow at the back of the island. The blue ‘straight through’ line is the most direct line but you are in the danger of getting caught out by the lack of wind directly behind the island. The green line skirts the main window shadow at the island and allows you to take a little bit more speed as you approach the island. The disadvantage of the green course is that you have to sail higher to the mark and risk having to tack as well. The blue line also has the advantage of getting an extra ‘power squirt’ from the wind that has been compressed by the island (black lines). There is a small distinct band of wind just as you come out from behind the island. To take advantage of this you must be ready to hike quickly and keep the boat flat, but it can pay off if you get it right.
So what is the right way, green or blue?? Of course ‘it depends’ is the answer. The stronger the wind, the deeper the wind shadow, and the more depth there is to the ‘black band’ of wind as you leave the shadow of the island. As a basic rule, in the stronger winds it pays off to go close to the wall near the road, and in lighter breeze it is possible to cut the corner and go closer to the island. During the race I made and loss ground going behind the island, personally I prefer to keep moving and go a little bit lower than most.
Boat setup on the Impulse is going well. Probably the only thing left to do is replace the hiking straps. Will look at ordering Zhik straps in the next couple of weeks.
Area that needs the greatest work is my tacking. It is interfering with my upwind boat tactics. The focus on the technical aspects of the impulse is distracting me from my usual race tactics. In the next couple of week I hope to get more settled in the boat.