Runners Revel

Racing Saturday 20th October 12

Runners Revel

Sunday 21st is a Half Marathon in Birmingham; The Race Officer seemed have picked this up and set courses for runners on Saturday.

The MSC weather toy records a wind strength of 5 knots gusting a bit more from a 240 degree backing wind direction.  That’s pretty well South West except on my SatNav.

The smallest of start lines focused the minds of the racers, about 20 boats, as they wrestled with the new start times inflicted upon them.  Chasing the early pack were the Merlins, with the noticeable absence today of the leading Solo sailors.

So a first leg up to mark 4 was straightforward enough, a starboard rounding showing off the now clearer green race boards to good effect.  A tight handbreak near 300 degree turn created conflict as boats on different legs vied with each other for the same piece of water.   And then the run fun starts with a leg down to mark 7. Port tack seemed to prevail but the smart ones would come into the mark on starboard to claim the tactical high ground and the inside port hand rounding.  Then another beat up to mark 5, tempting the racers to seek out the best wind.  The best racers found it; it was certainly one side or the other of the rhumb line from the church spire to the clubhouse; I’m still looking for it.  Then a reach down to Mark 3, testing some spinnaker skills, a gybe then another runny leg down to the beginning at mark 1.  A course that favoured those single handers with a Big Sail that as one helm was heard to say at the break ‘what we want is more tight reaches’.  It took a premier league national sailor to catch this favoured boat by the end of the race! Victory to Dee/Gould with Holland flat.  The incredibly sexy Gudgeon convincing demolished the other Merlins to grab a podium!

The Race Officer listened to the Big Sail and a change of course, of course, caused a coarse adjustment to the tactics.  An even smaller start line created opportunity for clashes and there were a few Merlin prematures.  First leg up to mark 3 was so obviously not a starboard advantage so Dee/Gould went that way and reached the mark first!  Never saw them again as, in my opinion,  they  proceeded to choose all the wrong tactics, misread the wind, go on the wrong tacks, can’t use the sails for toffee and by sheer luck eventually win the race.  Some people have all the luck. But no; there are others who found that luck too as we shall see.

The second leg down to mark 7 was still runny again with a tricky rounding and a beat up to mark 5.  Another handbreak and a run down to mark 6, rounding up onto a tight reach towards mark 2 where spinnaker or no spinnaker was a major decision.  Height or speed?  Unless you are that Big Sail when a pint for the RO later was a simple decision.   Nice gybe at mark 2 and another run down to mark 1.  Out towards the wind in the middle on port, gybe and starboard approach to the mark, gybe and onto a port tack beat or a straight steer down to the mark on port closer to the less wind by the dam wall?

Last lap, wind dying, tip and tuck between Hyams and Watson, Yasmin clearly pushing the young helm beyond endurance.  Great opportunity at starboard rounding  mark 5; Watson from astern  to get a windward inside overlap and win the rounding; overlap gained outside the zone; yeah!!; oh no Hyams' got lucky!! Oh no overlap broken; Hyams a centimetre clear ahead at zone entry; Oh no, a windshift puts us into head to wind; Oh no, he’s got away with it. 

Big Sail didn’t this time.  A quietly superior team of Dick Hannaford with Douglas Bridger in Dick’s new GP14 prevailed and a praiseworthy second place was noted.  Jan does well too with a third place and second podium of the day. Well done Dick! Well done Jan! Wish I had been watching; I might have learnt something.