Saturday, April 30, 2005

Atlanta Yacht Club Open Regatta

A brief account of our experience sailing at the AYC Open regatta follows. Tarrant (17) skippered with Eleanor (11) and I crewing. The pictures are not great as they were taken from shore, but better than nothing!

The Thistle fleet getting ready for race one on Saturday. We were late by about 10 minutes, a dissapointing start but a lesson we will never forget.

Not a lot of breeze on Saturday, but enough for a race so we were happy.

The leeward mark was set near the trees and a reef marker making this a tough rounding. The wind was very shifty so the boats seemed to crowd together.

On Sunday, the weather improved and conditions were lovely. This downwind leg was nice, we actually got the spinnaker up at the windward mark without too much drama and it set quite well . A rare moment with a few boats behind us

The fleet of Thistles, Y Flyers and Snipes were a pretty sight.

We look like we are in the lead here with the red and white spinnaker, but you can't see the mass of boats off to the right! Still, we were going better than we usually do and pretty pleased with the boat speed.

The wind was starting to pick up sailing towards the gybe mark, so we got the spinnaker down before we got there. This also seemed to make sense as some other boats were not carrying the kite to the next mark. It was very crowded around the mark and we took a dunking as we gybed. Eleanor let out a blood curdling scream as we went over but she was smiling soon afterwards.

Bailing her out after the swamping. Not quite a capsize but very, very close! I think we need a bigger bailer...a bucket is clearly the way to go!

Most water bailed out and she is moving again, but too late to join the race!

Overall, it was a pretty poor showing by team Newnham but it was great fun and we learnt a lot. Key lessons:

1. Carefully read the notice of race (NOR) and stick it in your pocket for frequent reference. This way you will avoid being late for the start! (Follow Frank's lead)

2. Learn the start sequence and don't stray from the line too far, especially when the wind is light.

- 5 mins, Class (Thistle) flag up
- 4 mins, Blue and White (square) flag up
- 1 min, Blue and White flag down
- Start, Class flag down

Note: the flag overules the horn, so just go when the flag is dropped (thanks for the tip Art!)

3. When its windy consider bearing away and gybing before the mark to avoid a dunking (from Stuart Walker's book on racing small boats, and also how some others rounded near us)

4. Carry a big bucket as a bailer and make sure your automatic bailers are effective.


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