Showing posts from 2014

Last race of 2014

26 Oct 2014 The last race today. Four cruisers turned out for the final race of the Len Nolan Handicap series. I’ve been leading the series up till now - we’ve had lots of races cancelled due to weather and lack of turnout, only 2 races have been run up to today, and with my two 3rd place results I was in the lead. I knew the other guys weren’t going to let me get away with that though and sure enough they were there today! An 1100 start and wind forecast F4-5, Stuart and I debated putting a reef in to the mainsail but Stuart’s a laser sailor and  is always tweaking the mainsheet and we decided we’d go with full main and just let it go if we were over-pressed. Once outside the river we nearly changed our minds but settled on unrolling about 2/3rds of the genoa and leaving the main full. The swell was a little high and the wind was at the top end of F4. The gate start procedure has the lead boat drawing a line behind himself to a fixed mark for 2 minutes as we cross behind hi

The Owers Race

4 Oct 2014 The Owers Buoy is a south cardinal mark about 10nm south of Littlehampton, past Selsey Bill into the English Channel. The Owers race is an annual event, a long distance cruiser race, and unlike most races there is no defined start time. The trick is to get to Owers and back via Pagham as quick as you can, each skipper has to look at the tide and wind conditions and decide for himself when to set off. Usually you'd want to go round Owers just as the tidal current turns so you get the tide helping you both ways.Knowing your own boat speed and taking the weather into account you decide when to set off. I was with Tim and Debbie on their boat Johanna. I have mentioned her many times before as a race rival. She's about the same as Elsa on handicap but is 26' long and much heavier. One day I will take Elsa to the Owers but this was not the weekend to do that. The conditions were a bit challenging with winds F4-F6 and forecast to change direction in the middle

Becalmed off Littlehampton

27 Sept 2014 A cruiser pursuit race today and 5 boats turned up. I was pleased to have a couple of my younger friends, Turner and Georgia, with me. Expecting very light winds and with three of us aboard I'd set Elsa into her dayboat configuration - taking out all the woodwork around the cabin entrance and lifting the lower seats up to cockpit height.. We set off in plenty of time for our 1230 start. As a pursuit race we all had different start times though we were the same time as another boat, Johanna. The wind was very light and from the East and there was a knot or so of West-going tide so it was tricky on the approach to the start line, Johanna and ourselves both trying to get across without touching each other or the start mark. We ended up having to tack around behind her then we both set off towards the shore hoping to find less tidal current and make better progress toward the first mark to the East. We were pleased with our progress and got a good sail shape and b

Barts Bash

21 Sept 2014 Barts Bash  today was a national event with clubs all over the UK, and the world, taking part. Some were doing their normal Sunday races but Arun Yacht Club had joined with neighboring clubs AYAC and ODC to put a big fleet together. We'd pre-arranged separate start times 5 mins apart - the catamarans to be away first, then the dinghies, then the cruisers. All to sail the same course. My 17 year old friend Georgia was with me today and we set out just after 1015. The forecast was for NE winds about force 3. I shook out the reef I'd left in from last time and hoisted full mainsail as Georgia drove the boat into the wind up the river. Just got the sail up and set in time as we reached the bridge and climbed back to the tiller and turned round to put to sea. We were just about on high tide so there wasn't much river current to worry about but as we exited past the east wall the wind hit us. Nearly went sideways, Elsa rounded up, the engine roared as the boat he

No race today so we just went sailing

14 Sept 2014 James (my brother) was over from South Africa today and we turned up at AYC for lunch nd the expected cruiser race. I suspected beforehand that not many other crews would be around and it turned out we were the only ones! After lunch and with HW at 1550 we got ready and set out about 1530. The mainsail still had one reef rigged from last time so we left it like that. Bit of a brisk wind, F3 to F4, and from the East. We got the main up in the river then drove out through a fair bit of chop at the harbour entrance. Stopping engine and unrolling the genoa we headed south on port tack. Bit of swell but very few white horses so it can't have been much above F3 though it did feel a bit more than that. The tide was sweeping us west quite quickly so we tacked around, the wind was more SE so we were able to sail more or less parallel with the coast for a while in an easterly direction. We saw one or two other yachts out, exchanged polite conversation with a fisherman, and

Solo sail today

7 Sept 2014 A calm morning today with high tide around 1030, I haven’t been out for a few weeks now as we’ve been unlucky with the weather the last couple of race weekends. I knew there was a big ship due to come in on the high tide so I was up early and at the boat before 0900. Other people had the same idea and were getting ready to go out including my neighbour who set off about 0915. So I had the berth to myself. I got myself ready, mainsail cover off, lines untied, stepped aboard and did my usual reverse drive out of the berth and in to the river at 0930. There was a gentle breeze but directly from the north and blowing down the river and I couldn’t find a still enough spot to leave the helm and clamber around the mast to pull the main up. I got the fenders in then decided just to motor out to sea and see what things were like outside. Slightly misty but a very flat sea, sky bright but high cloud and little direct sunshine. I found about F2 of wind, unrolled the genoa and shut

A great pursuit race

2 August 2014 Smashing race today. Saturday afternoon, a bit of a brisk wind around F4 from the south, cloudy with a spot of rain at first but then bright sunshine. Four boats were there for the cruiser pursuit race - that's the one where we get different start times based on handicap, the race duration today was pre-set at 100 minutes, so at the end time you can look around and see where you've finished. Stuart came with me and we put the first reef in the mainsail before we set off knowing it was a bit blowy out at sea. The race officer had laid a start line between two marks and we all had our individual start times handed out at the pre-race briefing along with the course, we backed out of the berth about 1345 and pushed out to sea once we had the mainsail up. Free n Easy was the 'slowest' so first away at 1430, then Elsa (us) and Johanna with the same start time 1437, then the club president in his super-fast cruiser some time later at 1451. We were just a fe

Good race today

29 June 2014 Four boats turned up for the cruiser race today. Wind was from the north, which is unusual, but it meant we had a fairly flat sea. Sunny with some cloud, no rain despite the forecast. Stuart and I set off about 1215 for the 1300 start. After my last-place finish last time we wanted to do better - we'd thought about the genoa car position, sail trim, heeling angles and suchlike. We took a bit of time in the river to get the main set well - the halyard as tight as it would go, the kicking strap well hauled down, we felt we'd got the thing just right for the F2 - F3 conditions. Once outside the harbour we unrolled the genoa and assessed the scene. The race officer had set up two buoys to represent a start line and controlled the race, 5 minutes, 4, 1, Start, from his own boat as he was competing as well. The north wind meant a downwind start out to sea and we were over the line within 20 seconds of the start time and one of the first away. The two faster boats q

Came last today

31 May 2014 A cruiser pursuit race today - we did one of those last year, it's where each boat starts at a different time according to handicap and in theory we race to a photo-finish all close together. Alan came with me, his first time in a cruiser though he's done time in the Wayfarers and I convinced him that Elsa was really an enlarged Wayfarer with a roof. Six boats went to sea and we were third away with our start time of 1314. About F2 to F3 wind so at least we were't drifitng around in the tide like the last couple of times. We crossed the start line only about 40 seconds late and set off south out towards the Omar mark. A long beat out to sea and it was apparent we weren't pointing as high as the others and we fell behind. We did take turns to helm and eat sandwiches so maybe we weren't concentrating enough! We were a bit 'that'll do' on the sail shape and we could have spent more time tweaking the genoa cars or something. At Omar we bo

Cruiser charity race

18 May 2014 The club open day was yesterday and the idea was for new members to put some money into a pot then come out with an existing member on a cruiser race. Stuart and I turned up at 1200 and hung around looking to see if anyone was coming with us and just as we'd decided to go to sea anyway, and backed out of the berth, there was a shout and we were beckoned back to collect Helen. She was keen and ready to go though not much experience. Lovely sunny day today with wind forecast around F3 so conditions should have been perfect. Once we'd motored out against the strong incoming tide and then shut off the engine it was apparent that the wind was less than expected and there was quite a strong tidal current taking us in the wrong direction. A committee boat start sequence got going for 1330. Remembering previous races where we'd flapped about and been late off the start line, I re-started the motor and drove for the line until T - 5 minutes then shut it off again. H

Sailing with Stuart and Turner

4th May 2014 A couple of weeks ago the cruiser race was cancelled due to fairly unpleasant rainy weather that the crews seemed resistant to going out in. There was a cruiser race in the diary for today and I had crew lined up and ready - Stuart and Turner, who is 14 and seems to have several boats including a GP14 in the dinghy park and he's very keen. Lots of the boats are away this weekend on a cruise to Gosport or somewhere so we did wonder if any would show up for a race. Apart from us there was Nick in Free n Easy but nobody else. Today it was a smashing weather so we all said let's just go sailing anyway. At 1pm we backed out of the berth and Stuart hoisted the main while we were in the river and Turner helped get the fenders in. The engine has a new 'high thrust' prop and it did seem to push us against the tide a bit better, though we noticed the engine revs more slowly and at full power the helm is very stiff. Out at sea we found about F2 of southerly wind

First race of 2014

13 April 2014 The first cruiser race of the year today. Stuart, who crewed for me on my first race last year, came with me, the first real trip out to sea since the winter so we were a bit cautious in case of equipment failures. The forecast was for light and variable winds. We got off the berth about 0945 without problems, raised the main inside the harbour and motored out into the flat calm and sunny sea. The race officer today elected for a committee boat start, and because of the light winds he'd set out some dinghy marks for us to race around instead of the fixed cruiser marks we normally use further out to sea. The first leg was due west into the tide and the wind was so light and variable that it was hard to make progress towards the start line. Lots of us started engines (you can do that up to 4 mins before the start) to get within reach. Two of the faster boats took the idea even further by motoring right across the start line, stopping engine a few dozen metres beyond

Spring at last

8th March 2014 I often take a week off work at the beginning of March and happily that’s coincided this time with some nice weather, after weeks of storms. Spring sunshine and light winds. I got the engine off the boat last Saturday. What that actually means is that I walked the boat around by her mooring lines so she was stern-to the pontoon, unclamped the engine and lifted it off (lying it the correct side down), moved the boat back to her berth, then lugged the engine up the ramp and into the boot of the car. Quite heavy. I took it round to the servicing man nearby for a full annual service and re-test etc. I have spent the week on varnishing. Elsa is mostly plastic but there is a wooden rubbing strip all the way round and a pair of wooden holds on the roof. I have had the pot of varnish ready all winter but not enough dry days to get it done. The man in the berth next to mine has taken his boat up river for repairs so his berth was vacant – that one has pontoon fingers each s

January sunshine

19 Jan 2014 Lovely sunny day here today which makes a change after the recent storms and rain. In December I had a bloke build a new rudder blade for me at vast expense, to replace the one that snapped in half and got welded back together. Marine grade aluminium cut and shaped to the same size and thickness as the old one. I’d painted the old one with Trilux antifouling and it had gone brown very quickly but the man in the chandler said that Trilux was the only thing really suitable for aluminium. I decided perhaps the undercoat was the problem, as with the old one (once welded back together) I had just sprayed it with a can of primer from Halfords before applying the Trilux. So I have spent the first week of Jan in my garage painting my new rudder with several layers – a two-pack of epoxy primer, you have to mix a bit of each can into a container and stir it together and get it applied quick before it goes off, two coats each side of the blade. Horrible smelly stuff and Catherine