Tuesday, August 7, 2018

2018 RS Aero World Championship - Day 2

Today was very long and I'm bushed, so this will be short.

Left dock at 10am in very light NWly, took the better part of an hour to get to the course, where the breeze bounced between W and SW and occasionally freshened to 15-17 knots. Since we were sailing trapezoid courses, the race committee waited for the breeze to settle down between races, which led to up to 1-hour gaps between races. That, and general recalls, kept us racing until 5:20pm, then a nearly 1-hour sail upwind/tight reaching home. Exhausting!

Race 3
Don't remember much about this one except that I was about 50 seconds ahead at the finish. ;)

Race 4
Got lucky here. First, had a bad start at the boat, did 2 quick tacks to clear as a booming 40 degree righty had everyone planing to the weather mark. We gybed around the mark for another fast reach to the leeward gate. The committee abandoned the race near this mark, much to my relief, as I was in about 6th at the time. It was unfortunate for my training partner Madhavan, who'd had a great start and was walking away from everybody in the breezy reaching conditions.

On the re-sail, had another terrible start at the boat and was shot out the back. Tacked over immediately and, with Chris Larr of the UK just to weather, couldn't tack until nearly on the starboard layline. Fortunately, we tacked onto a lift and crossed back to the middle of the course comfortably ahead of the fleet.

Had another fast run and extended a bit before rounding the leeward gate. The breeze was really pumping now, and the chop was nasty. I tried "Secret Upwind Mode" (SUM, to be revealed in a few days) but it was too bumpy and I slid a bit to leeward of George Cousins, a very fit Brit. He also played a few shifts well near the top, but I called the last one right to lead at the second top mark. Held my own on the reach, extended a bit on the run, and had about a 20-second lead at the finish.

Race 5
More luck. Had a good start, but my downhaul wouldn't tighten. I pulled and pulled on the line, but...nothing. It took about 30 seconds to realize the line wasn't secured in the leeward cleat and, because the system is a continuous loop, I could have kept pulling for hours and nothing would've happened. Eased sail, reached down to leeward, cleated the line then sheeted back in. Fortunately, we were in a big right-hand shift and I had been able to keep going upwind at about 80% efficiency while fiddling with lines, so hadn't lost much.

Peter Barton was to windward and ahead, Liam Willis to leeward and ahead. Once the boat was sorted I was able to move forward between the two Brits, with Peter tacking off my hip near the port tack layline. I waited until the breeze shifted a smidge more left and freshened before tacking and had a nice clear line to the windward mark.

Extended handily on the first run in the puffy Westerly and rounded comfortably ahead. Misjudged a few small shifts allowing the others to get closer, then put the boat into SUM and just pulled away. Did OK on the first reach even though I hit a light spot the boats behind didn't, then extended on the outer run to lead by about 25 seconds after the short final reach to the finish.

5 first-place finishes is tough to beat. :) George Cousins has worked up into 2nd with 3,2,2 finishes today to be 6 points behind, while Liam Willis and Peter Barton are tied for 3rd another 5 points back.

Upwind I'm fast, mostly due to good transitioning between stronger and lighter breeze. Also, because the Aero is so light, it accelerates like crazy when slightly cracked off. In the big shifts of today, I converted some lifts to cracked-off bursts of speed, and was also able to keep speed up while pointing high in headers. SUM helps in both these scenarios, especially in flatter water. Adjusting the downhaul in the puffs and lulls does also.

Running I'm fast. It helps to be first to the weather mark (smile), but also have been keeping track of which shift I'm rounding in, then playing others down to the mark. Often there have been enough current differences on opposite sides of the course to reward working one side over the other. Finally, sailing dead-down in puffs and saving by-the-lee and reaching for lulls and catching waves translates into big gains over the course of a leg.

Sorry, no pics today, except for this blurry one of the fleet heading out to the racecourse. Apparently, a waterproof bag is not a good thing to be taking a cell phone pic from...
Bad pic of 205 Aeros sailing to the racing area. Awesome sight!

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