So the Nationals didn’t go according to plan. I’ll start from the top and try to wrap it up in as few words as possible (that’s a new concept for me..)
So firstly, we broke down on the drive to Weymouth on Saturday morning. Luckily we had left so much time spare so still arrived, although very rushed, before the start of the first race. not sure what was wrong with the van, something to do with the engine/sparkplugs/fuel pump/wheels/general everything connected to everything else.. I’m no mechanic, so the phone call the direct line went something like this:
“Yeah, Hi. We’ve stopped working…”
“My van thingy!”
“Ok, what’s wrong with it?”
“It won’t go! It’s stopped!”
Anyway, after an hours wait, the car fixing guys came out and fixed us up. All sorted, no problems. So we managed to get to Weymouth in time for the first race so no complaints there.
So, into the racing. This was our first event since kiel, where we broke our new mast and had to cobble together an old bottom section onto the surviving top section. Since then, we’ve trained on the new rig but not raced. Although we were winning the startlines in our area all weekend, we seemed to lack a yard of pace in all but the breeziest conditions, and even then we weren’t as fast as we were on our new mast. In Kiel, we had good pace, keeping up with the top guys sailing over the mid fleeters. In Weymouth on our fixed mast we were struggling to stick with the slower boats out there, having to work so hard and rely on pure boat handling and tactics to just stay around or outside the top 10.
So, the racing would generally take this format: We’d get a great start and hit the line at pace, most of the time rolling the guy to leeward. After about 30 seconds of sailing out left (left seemed to pay all weekend, and you needed boat speed to get there first) we would be under huge pressure from the windward boat, and would tend to have to tack off (The one time we managed to hold our lane for more than 5 minutes and get out left, we rounded the windward mark 3rd). So anyway, we’d get rolled and have to tack off and start ducking boats heading out right, then tack back in a lane and get crossed by half the fleet coming back from the favoured left hand side.
The only real positive can be taken from Monday. We had two races in pretty extreme (20-25+ knots) conditions. Although we didn’t have our usual pace, we sailed solidly and avoided any capsizes or dodgy moments, even though half of the fleet went swimming multiple times. Although we aren’t the biggest team in the World, we seem to have boat handling in the big breezes down pretty well so don’t really worry about messing up on the big days, which is a nice situation to be in. Unfortunately, the Race Committee decided to give out two discards (for a 9 race series) so all of the guys who messed up on Monday could discard both races. This kept us down a few spots overall, but it’s not really a problem as we feel that finishing outside of the top ten was a weak result for us anyway.
So we now need to think whether we can afford to get a whole new mast for the Sail for Gold and Winter series, or save the money for the new rig coming out in September/October (but can’t be raced until 2009). The current mast we are using is definately slow, but there isn’t much we can do about it until the new setup comes out. Answers on a postcard please.
Oh yeah, the drive home took us 6 hours as we broke down AGAIN. This time, we had to get towed, but to really rub it in the tow truck had to make a diversion to get its lights fixed… idiots.