I’m not a superstitious person and, contrary to expectations, I don’t have any stupid routines that I have to follow to avoid the world from ending. I’ll happily sail around in a green boat in a green wetsuit, safe in the knowledge that bad luck is the least of my concerns (looking like Kermit the frog/Tin-Tin hybrid would be my primary concern…). However, just prior to launching for the first race at the Lymington RS800 event, I admit to a quick mental doubl- take when we were handed tally number 13. No, not in a “OH MY GOD WE’RE GOING TO DIE” way, but more in a “wouldn’t it be ironic if we have some sort of bad luck this weekend?” thought. I walked away and dismissed the thought, safe in the knowledge that 13 is just a number.
Anyway, I won’t get into a full race report for this post, I’ll save that for my next one, but I’ll just give a quick summary of our event.
28 boats hit the water on Saturday morning and sailed out into 12 knots of South South Westerly breeze and strong flooding tide. With bright sunshine, it was a day for sunglasses and sun screen, a good tidal understanding of the western Solent, and a couple of solid transits for the startline. We got off to a good start, rounded the top mark second, but dropped one place in the last 50 meters of the last lap to finish 3rd, thanks to an inspired move by Spod and Guy. In the second race we had a superb first beat, but with the wind dying down the run, we were caught by the boats chasing us and dropped 3 or 4 places, finishing 6th. Ok so far, not a bad start. Everyone seemed to have an inconsistent few races, so we knew we were well in the running, joint second and one point off the lead. We wanted to finish the day with another top 3, but with the wind almost completely dying we guessed that there were going to be a lot of points taken home for a few teams, so we had to make sure it wasn’t us.
I’ll write about the 3rd race in the next post. We started well, put our nose in front of the fleet and were in contention for a top two rounding. However, by the top mark we were in 12th spot thanks to a combination of forces that I’ll go into later. However, we salvaged a 7th, and went home joint 3rd with two other boats.
On Sunday, we got off to another good solid start in 15 to 18 knots of breeze, finishing with a 3rd. A big mainsheet wrap at the final top mark dropped us from an easy 2nd down to 6th, but we pulled back three spots on the last run to scramble a third place finish.
With two more races to sail, we decided to aim for another solid result before going all out for the race win in the final race. After the first race we guessed we were in third, so another above average score would hopefully solidify that position, and if not, would give us a chance to fight for it in the last race. However, and this is where the luck comes in, as we hoisted for the second lap in freshening breeze, our kite snagged on the jib somehow, tearing a panel out. Within seconds the whole sail had given way, and we were forced to abandon the race. With another two laps left to race, we thought we may have a chance to change kites and get back out, so we rushed back to the slipway, rigged the new kite, and headed back to the startline. Yet, as we rounded the headland, we saw the other boats lining up for the final race start. We were 6 minutes late for the start, so had to sail back home counting two DNFs in the last two races.
I don’t for a second think the tally number had anything to do with the kite ripping, but I think it’s ironic that bad luck strikes when we have a supposedly unlucky tally number. Still, the key learnings from this event are more obvious: We decided to sail with our training kite which was getting pretty old, trying to avoid damaging or ageing our new kite before Carnac. We didn’t mind the loss of pace downwind, although it was fairly evident when we were in the pack, but our focus at the moment is on Carnac and the Nationals so everything else is just preparation. Still, with a decent kite I’m sure we would not have snagged it on that hoist, and it would have been nice to finish strongly. However, we learned a hell of a lot this weekend, made some sharp tactical calls upwind, were fast in a straight line and in maneuvers and made some big tactical gains downwind, so the end result was good enough for me.