Saturday was a trying and testing day on the DBSC racecourse, but a LOT of new things were learned.
Instead of the forecast 10-15 knots we had winds of 10-32 knots. Yes, lulls of 10 knots, puffs above 30. Plus the Seapoint course was throwing up some serious short steep chop.
Beastie (1917) – after completing its shakedown cruise last week – was all ready to go but it wasn’t a day for an inexperienced skipper to be out on the open water course. After a quick sail together in the harbour to check the conditions the Milky Bar Kid (2015) headed out for the racing alone and Beastie went ashore.
In Race 1 the OK struggled on the beats, with the boat occasionally pounding nearly to a halt in the seriously steep chop. The chop seemed to be just the right length to stop a short dinghy like the OK. The runs were stable enough, although it was hard to keep speed high in the lulls because the boat had to be kept ready for the next 30+knot puff sweeping down from the shore. The OK paced the Dublin Bay Mermaids around the course, holding well against the heavy 17 footers. It eased away from the IDRA14s, despite their trapeze.
It was very windy though, as proven by a Flying Fifteen losing its mast. Care had to be taken…particularly off the wind where the OKs and Mermaids behave very differently and sail different angles. Losing control of the OK and running into a Mermaid would see only one loser!
Upwind trim was interesting in the chop. Track all the way down, not too much cunningham (too much seemed to make the boat stagger), ease the sheet a little to open the leech and – above all – hike hard and keep it footing. Pretty controlled in general.
Some high speed runs between races gave the committee boat a chance to admire the OK’s style on a reach. An OK kicks up a nice wave at speed!
The main change in trim for Race 2 was for the skipper to sit much further back, nearly at the back of the cockpit much of the time. It felt odd but it worked. GPS tracking says that the upwind speed was an average 0.2-0.3 knots faster….plus it was a LOT drier in the boat. That’s a big difference.
You could feel and see the difference against other boats too, as they lined up to overtake the OK and were surprised to see it sailing faster, higher, and much more comfortable than in the first race. The second beat saw the OK get one set of windshifts really right, gain a tonne, and even get in phase for the next….only to go too far right for the next shift and overlay the mark. Not much consolation that the leading Mermaids and Fireballs all did the same. Oopsie.
The next step in trim and tune development is to get more adventurous on the runs. We were locked down for stability on Saturday, but you could feel that there was much more speed available to the brave. Sheet out more, accept more risk, go knots faster.
But, two good race wins on a day of serious sailing. We’ll take that.