With one weekend to train before our final event (Inland Championships) we headed to Lymington to brush up on our skills. The funny thing about sailing from Lymington (on the south coast, west of Southampton) is that the conditions onshore are never what’s happening on the water. Ok, maybe not funny, but you get what I mean. It was blowing a maximum of 18 knots which, for anyone who doesn’t know 49ers, is very over powered and windy, but sailable by most teams. We max out at around 25 knots, so we had no issues with going out.
However, we began to realise something was wrong after sailing round the headland. Spring tides meant the water was ripping out of the solent. Against the 18 knots of wind. Huge waves slammed into our bow as we sailed out of the river, whipped up into peaks due to the tide. With waves breaking over the bow, we tracked back and wired from the back of the wings. With this setup, the boat took off each on each wave, getting huge airtime as we flew off the peaks and dropped into the troughs below. The problem with sailing the 49er in these conditions is that it is just too fast. It’s like driving a Ferrari flat out over a bumpy road, except the only issue is, we can’t slow down. The boat simply flies off each wave, and you can only steer for half the time, the other half we have to simply hold on and try to to get thrown off the back.
After five minutes of rough sailing, we tacked in a flat patch and set up for the big carve turn to go downwind. This turn, called the bear away, is the hardest part of heavy wind sailing. Pulling it at the wrong time can lead the boat to slam into a wave, causing it to nosedive and flip end over end. After practising bear aways constantly, we pulled the stick and spun the boat off the top of a wave. however, the waves were simply too big, and we had no chance of getting the kite up. Back to the Ferrari analogy. when driving over huge bumps and turns, the last thing you do is hit the NoS button. Having made the call not to kill ourselves, we decided to call it a day and ran for the safety of Lymington.
Sunday greeted us with 30 knots of breeze, so no sailing. Someone sponsor us so we can train in Palma. Thanks.
Roll on the Inland Championships. See you next week.