Busy weekend, strong westerly winds gave us the opportunity to start the Myth of Malham race from the north end of the RYS line and with a strong ebbing tide we were spot on for the start and led IRC Class 3 away. However as the owner was unable to join the boat until Friday evening we had already decided to retire from the 230 nm thrash to Eddystone and back (but still gaining 10 series points). As lead boat we were dropping foul air onto the boats to leeward so eased all sheets and let the fleet sail past. We continued west under #3 and single reef in 22 kts with gusts in the high 20's and headed for the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy where we joined up with the J109 National Championship for day 2 and 3 of the event. In the end many boats had damage due to gusts of +30 kts recorded on the yacht instruments and we saw a number of mainsails disintegrate, a small number of boat on boat collisions. As a result Saturnday afternoon saw many owners and cres carrying out boat maintenance. Due to the conditions the organisers only managed to get in 4 races. It was evident that whilst we are strong on the offshore events where the yachts maintenance has ensured she is well prepard for whatever is thrown at us, our crew reaction on the other hand inshore on short windward / leeward races needs improvement. Having said that the boat was on the pace after retuning the Sparcraft rig on Saturday evening and 3 out of the 4 starts we were in the top 2-3 boats... just need to get the finishes to match now!
The yacht preparation is paying off so far this season for Jarhead - little to do before this weekends race - a great warm up for the Fastnet. Main issue is electronics, we now have the excellent Seatrack software to aid our tactical development but have to carry out some hard wiring with the Garmin instruments. Whilst on it, I know Garmin are not always highly rated in the sailing fraternity, however I must applaude the UK service centre on great customer service in recent weeks!
Back in early yesterday from the second RORC offshore race on the J109, a succesful race with 50% of the crew being new. Now standing 3rd overall in class. Great thing is despite both races being fairly breezy at times, and a return delivery leg in heavy seas a fortnight ago the yacht maintenance and race preparation is paying off... only breakages being a small tear in the main due to the known feeder problem nicely fixed by North, a broken block on the Harken spinnaker which took a fair amount of snatch loading... oh and the skippers mug handle! Back over today to do some cleaning and valeting.
Now that a few weeks of hard yacht maintenance & boat prep graft is behind me, I'm off to the Hamble today to do the final boat preparations to Jarhead, a J109. I'm looking after the yacht management and race campaign for this yacht for the RORC season and we're well on the way to being shipshape for the Fastnet.
After the great improvement of 8th out of 32 on corrected a fortnight ago (last season 3rd last was her best result!) we have De Guinguard Bowl this weekend, forecast looking fresh W - NW.
See you on the water!
Richard Nicolson - Sailing West to East across the North West Passage in aid of the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.
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