The North East Clubs winter series continued in early 2006 from February through to April 2006 with monthly events being held at Buchanness, Aberdeen and Brechin.
This year the programme was slipped one month in an attempt to avoid the severe conditions in January. In fact the weather forecast for each event was “cold, windy with snow flurries and clear spells” and that’s what we got !
Turnouts were unfortunately down on the previous series but the sailing was excellent especially in the clear spells. 14 boats participated in the series with a fleet of 6 at each event compared to an average fleet size of 10 that participated in the 2005 early series.
It was good to see new members coming along to gain the experience of traveling to other clubs.
It was also noted that Clubs had made an effort to improve the standard of racing and event organization. Some lessons learnt were:
• The RYGG handicapping was successful. However, OOD`s should use the option to alter individual handicaps after 3 races to suit the conditions on the day. At one event the handicaps were doubled because of fluky winds and a long course.
• Any participant should be able to call a Time out on finishing to make repairs or adjustments. OODs should give the requesting skipper up to 3 minutes “ boat in hand”. If no time out is called then racing should proceed with the usual “3 and a break”sequence.
• Time should be taken between races to go over any outstanding differences between skippers or to discuss rule infringements. Often by taking it slowly during a break time to clarify who had rights and who didn`t is a good learning experience for all and should lead to a better overall understanding of the racing rules.
• Improvements in laying courses – having alternative windward marks in place to cope with changes in wind direction and setting the finish line at the upwind mark were the most obvious.
• Using club members as OOD that have not previously done OOD duties. With assistance when required from the more experienced skippers, this proved successful giving the new OOD`s a better appreciation of regatta organization.
The racing was good at each event with close finishes often sailed in conditions at the top end of the number 1 rig. Consistency and reliability of equipment played a big part in the outcome. Good winter clothing was also essential to face the cold weather conditions.
Overall Results for the 2006 Early Series:
Report by Ian Dundas
The first event in the Scottish IOM Travellers attracted a record entry of 16 boats well up on the average of 10 boats seen in the 2005 series.
This event would trial the use of skipper handicaps intended to encourage new members to take part in the Scottish Series. The handicap system gives skippers 30 secs, 20 secs or 10 secs start ahead of the experienced “scratch” sailors. If a handicap skipper gets 3 wins then he moves to the next level. The OOD has the right if necessary to adjust handicaps after the initial races to better suit the conditions on the day or length of the course.
Racing commenced at 10h30 on a triangle / sausage course under the control of the Race Team of Ian Dundas and Alistair Struthers assisted by various nominated observers.
The south westerly wind was ideal in strength but tricky in direction giving the fleet several options on the beat. Dane Ashby got off to a great start winning the first race with his TS2 off 20 secs. So convincing was this performance that his handicap was immediately adjusted to 10 secs.
Only 5 races were run before an early lunch was called to allow the race team to reconfigure the course to cope with a big wind shift to Southerly. Races 2 & 3 were won by Shaky and Colin McGinnis off 10secs whilst races 4and 5 were won by the scratch sailors Ali Law and Colin Brown, this showing that the handicapping system was working fairly well. Unfortunately Jimmy Rodgers had a winch failure and Boyd Baird suffered from damp electrics. The Aberdeen Club TS2 was rigged to allow them to continue.
Afternoon racing continued through to 16h00 allowing a total of 16 races to be run. Stronger gusts made some skippers move down to their no2 rig and it was interesting to see that race wins were split between those on no2 and those on no1 rigs. Standards improved as the day went on with less contacts in the congestion at marks and less experienced skippers finding the right way up the beat.
It was clear from the start of the afternoon that the fight for the front position looked to be between Ali Law from Buchanness and John Taylor. John was a welcome visitor from Fleetwood Club but now being shore based in Scotland he affiliated to a Scottish Club to enter this year’s series. Ali and John didn’t get it easy especially with the gusty conditions favouring the no2 rigs. In fact in the afternoon they only won one race each. Other bullets in the afternoon went to Dane Ashby (3), Brian Robertson (2), Colin Brown, Richard Ennos, Shakey, and Steve Taylor. Notably Dane having moved on to 10 secs found himself on scratch when he reached 3 wins. He then surprised himself with a further win off scratch. Steve Taylor’s win was also worthy of mention as he was sailing in his first large event with a wooden Swallow design he had built. As a result of this and some very respectable finishes as the day progressed Steve was awarded the “Most Improved Skipper.”
Ali Law came out just in front of John Taylor who suffered winch problems going into the last race.
Top placings were:
|6.||R Ennos||Levenhall||Lagom||78 (on count back)|
Overall the trial of using handicap proved popular and hopefully will encourage others to attend future events in the 2006 series.
The trend of smaller turnouts continued at the Brechin event with 6 boats entered. School holidays, offshore rotas and the last blasts of winter weather were cited as reasons. The good news was that 2 new participants joined the fleet to partake in their first traveler event – Will Davies from Levenhall sailing a well prepared Italiko and Peter Lowe from Aberdeen sailing the Club TS2. They joined the regular travelers Ali Law and Ian Dundas with Murray Hackney and Jimmy Rogers entered from the local club. It was good to see Jimmy back on the water again with a newly built and nice looking Triple Crown.
Mel Percival officiated as OOD and with the unfortunate north easterly wind direction he had to set a zig-zag upwind leg in order to get a decent beat. Brechin had made up new marks for the event using a design recommended by MYA – the new marks sported flags to help with visibility.
Racing using the handicap start system commenced on No 1 rigs and produced a number of very close finishes between the boats. An increase in wind strength after race 9 caused skippers to change down to No 2 rigs only to see the wind strength come back down. Unfortunately Peter had to retire due to water flooding of his electrics and Murray had battery problems but the others fought on to complete 15 races.
This was an amazingly close event, with the first three positions either decided on discards or tie breakers. Going into the last race Will was just ahead on 21 points and 6 wins, Ali and Ian were tied on 23 points each with Ali having 3 wins and Ian having 5 wins. Unfortunately Will had a sticking jib pushing him to the back and Ali won the race which gave him the regatta by a single point. Will took second on countback, an excellent result for his first away event.
Final positions were:
|4||J Rogers||Brechin||Triple Crown||51|
Two visitors from the Brechin Club, Ralph Knowles and Mel Percival, made the journey to Aberdeen to join three local skippers and Shaky Bill from Buchanness for the second event in the early 2006 winter series. Participation was down on the previous year with many regulars caught by other commitments and the recent severe weather keeping many boats “in the shed”.
It was good to see new member John Owens tackle the event with the club TS2. This was John`s first race and he completed the course on a fast learning curve. Jimmy Bisset had rebuilt his boat after damage at the last event. His new mast seemed to work well. Shakey had solved his elusive leak and Mel had dusted down his Italiko for the event.
There was a slight breeze from the north east which meant the normal race area at Inchgarth was in a wind shadow. As the water level was up to maximum it was decided to move the marks to the west to give a good triangle /sausage course. This gave a risk of weed, but over the day there was very little impact from weed in the race area. However any excursion into the south west corner of the reservoir was dramatic as John Owens found.
Alistair Struthers officiated as Race Officer and ran 13 races through to the 3pm finish.
Inchgarth played to its reputation of being tricky. There were big windshifts and varying wind strength across the course which meant there was no fixed way to go up the beat. This lead to several place changes and a difficulty to defend against boats taking fliers. It was good racing with the wins spread amongst the skippers. Mel (1), Ralph (2), Jimmy (2), Shakey (3) and Ian (5). The overall results showed Ian to have the edge but there was very little in it between the next 4. John had a few 4th place finishes which is encouraging for his first regatta
With the prevailing tricky wind conditions it was decided to double the RYGG handicaps for the day ie Red went to 60 secs. This proved to be a good experiment as it helped redress gaps at the finishing line. Revision of handicaps is worth considering by Race Officers after say 3 races. After all the spirit of the RYGG Handicapping is to give an equal chance to all participants.
Another good experience on the day was take time during a coffee break to review the circumstances of an on the water rule infringement which had caused “emotion” at the time between two skippers. By going through the details in slow motion it helped all to better understand who had the rights and more important what to do to avoid getting into the problem. T he exercise also allowed through discussion to clarify other issues that had arisen on the race course such as giving handicap boats room on their start.
Final positions were: