Rolling the Dice

On Saturday morning I wrote How to Slowly Sail Faster in which I tried to convince myself I might get better at RS Aero racing.  Then on Saturday afternoon I went frostbiting in Bristol and actually won a race. First time this season!

The winds were forecast to be light and getting lighter but, even so, seven RS Aeros hit the water – a new record for this season. Did I mention there were more Aeros than Lasers? Again! Sorry, Laser people.

In the first race in a patchy westerly I didn’t feel like I was sailing all that well, but I did manage to come 4th out of 7 boats.

The wind died but we could see new wind coming from the south. The race committee signaled the start for the next race. I was last boat to start because I had strayed too far from  the line and in the extremely light wind it took me over a minute to get back. (Another one for my Don’t Do Stupid Shit list.)  With the wind filling from the south the race turned out to be three reaches and I managed to finish fourth again, mainly by staying to the south of my competition on the second reach in the better wind.

In the third race the wind kind of disappeared again – at least wherever I was it did. Finished sixth. Ugh!

In race 4, with a fairly short start line I decided to start at the boat end of the line and tack immediately on to port. The tide was running pretty fast past the mooring buoy for the race committee shed so I figured I would head right towards the western shore to get some relief from the tide. The wind on the right seemed a little stronger than the middle of the harbor too, and as I glanced back at the other boats it did look like I was going faster than them. So I headed out to the right hand corner of the course and then a bit further to allow for the tide, tacked, managed to lay the windward mark without any more tacks and rounded in first place.

Tillerson was not far behind but we had a substantial lead on the rest of the fleet.  He managed to pass his old man at the end of the run by doing a better job at finding the fast angles to sail downwind. I followed him to the right for a while but when I saw more wind in the middle of the course I tacked first, and that was enough to enable me to regain my lead and cross the finish line in first place.

Tillerson was kind enough to point out that banging the corner is a strategy that is just as likely to result in finishing last as being first. He is right of course, but sometimes you just have to roll the dice and see what happens.

However I still don’t really know whether I won because of my attempt to get some tide relief, because there was better wind on the right side of the course on the first beat, because I sailed the whole of the first beat in clear air and only did one tack, or because Tillerson let me win (which he denies.)

I think I’ll take a nap now.


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