It was a day of champagne sailing on St. Margaret's Bay. A nice 8-12 knot breeze and chop on top of larger rollers greeted us after another long sail out to the racecourse.
I was a little scattered again this morning, not reading the weather forecast, thinking I'd forgotten a few things when they were actually with me, etc... Got to the course a smidge late, but early enough to do one split with regatta leader Scott Ferguson and Mark Bear, both from Rhode Island. After 4 minutes of sailing right, Mark and I came out ahead of Scott by about 5 boatlengths. Then we sailed downwind, and I dialed into the waves nicely to lead back to the starting line.
So I had meaty information to work with. Right was fast upwind. It would have been wise to protect that side. But instead of coming up with a game plan for the race based on that info, I just kinda milled around before the start. I ended up starting at the very LEFT end of the line (it was favored by a handsome 10 degrees). My centerboard and rudder both hit the committee boat's anchor line, but I managed to clear without touching the boat and booked off to the left side with a fast Aussie just upwind of me. The wind stayed and stayed at the same heading, not justifying a tack. Unfortunately, the boats to our right were sailing closer to the mark and moving ahead--obviously, they were in more breeze.
I just couldn't bring myself to bite the bullet and get over there, and got ping-ponged coming out of the left side, doing about 8 too many tacks before Class President, 200 lb Tracy "Reach-around-the-Course" Usher motored over the top of me on a crucial port tack shift, causing me to tack away and get out of phase. It was UGGGLY at the first mark, with maybe 10 boats behind.
Must say: I sailed a brilliant run, gaining about 30 boatlengths on the next leg and surfing within striking distance of a big clump of boats. But I was so amped up working the boat off the wind that I didn't process the lesson learned from the prior upwind leg and again went LEFT! Again it sucked and I lost a ton of boats and boatlengths. Gained some on the first reach, again had superb speed on the run but CAPSIZED, then had a really fast last reach that netted about 5 boats before the final upwind leg to the finish.
This time I stayed to the right, not so much because I had learned anything from the race but because there were good waves to work over there and I was really concerned about minimizing tacks in the lumpy conditions. Managed to catch a boat or two right at the finish but was still only 22nd.
Now, the second race. This time the line was a bit right favored, and I had a SUPERB start right at the boat and motored out at the head of the fleet. A number of boats tacked and crossed behind, but I stubbornly hung on, thinking I was doing great on the boats to the left of me and not seeing any huge shift to tack in.
So, ended up out left AGAIN, lost a number of boats and got ping-ponged AGAIN, then, on another critical port tack had Mr. "Reach-Around-The-Course" force me back left AGAIN and lost oodles. Was fast again on the run, went left yet AGAIN after seeing local hotshot Andy Roy going that way, and figuring it HAD to work this time but not having any real justification for that hope. Of course it stank, I lost tons and rounded deep at the second top mark.
Had a fair reach, another fast run (pulled out nearly 20 lengths on a guy I rounded right with!), held my own on the reach, then had a terrific rounding and caught a guy before tacking a smidge too soon but still catching a few boats at the finish. Another 22nd.
I can't really complain; all the bad "luck" that befell me was my own doing. I failed to recognize that conditions were different from other days. I failed to take the information I had before the start and formulate a game plan. And I got myself into similar situations with the same boats and reaped the same results.
They say the definition of "insanity" is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Today I was insane. lol
So, I totally know what I did wrong. I also know I have my downwind mojo back in a BIG way, and that I can start and sail fast at the very front of the fleet. Now it's time to just get the boat pointing in the right direction and letting things happen!