On Saturday 6th February the second RS 200 Northern youth squad weekend of 2016 was held at Ripon Sailing Club where we found the forecast high winds were nowhere to be seen, but lots of rain clouds were. So we really tried to squeeze as much in on the day before Sunday’s 40 mph forecast.
The focus for this weekend was upwind tactics and strategy as well as positioning on the fleet, so during our briefing with squad coaches Adam Savage and Martin Penty we were sent to study the water and report back with how we would attack the race course. Martin then explained his thoughts on how the geographical area would affect the wind with some points we’d all missed.
Adam had prepared a strategy flow chart and wind diamond for us to try and use on the water.
In the morning we went out to see which side of the course up the beat was most beneficial and to see if our analysis of the water was true.
Then we did the first exercise which was a‘’goose and duck” exercise where Rachel and Emma Grayson were chosen to be the goose, the rest of us were ducks and had to always be on the opposite tack to the girls after the startline. The Grayson’s plan was to play the shifts, however as good a plan as this sounded it had one flaw, we were at Ripon. A very shifty small spanner shaped lake which meant some of the fleet sneaked past in the end.
Before lunch we paired up as one goose and one duck, so one-on-one racing meant the boats stuck together making it very difficult to get past. I found this helpful and found the technique of letting the crew release the jib a tad, putting the bow down, squeezing in front and then tacking onto starboard a useful skill to use in the future rather than trying to out- tack the opposition.
We recapped at lunch and hit the water again in the afternoon where the coaches had placed three windward marks on a windward leeward course. During the start sequence at one minute the whistle would be blown once, twice or three times depending on which mark they wanted us to go to, this was to try and make us adapt our planned upwind strategy.
To finalise the day we did some fleet races to cement our learning points and embed them in practice, the results were me and George 1st with the Grayson girls 2nd and Will and Tom 3rd. Next Race Ollie and Ester 1st, Grayson Girls 2nd and Emma and Faye third.As always we did one crew race and Esther continued her form with a win.
Takeaway fish n chips or curry were enjoyed by the team and their parents, followed by card games that evening.
On Sunday we awoke to a brighter day with a good strong wind. We started the day with a briefing, during which we watched a video by Mark Rushall on ‘rules of positioning’ which was all very clear and useful(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsdVz8SC3bg&list=PL1H-oNgSb217u7-fKpkC50iY9mv1HIUFa&index=8). The plan was to use these rules to win match races.
Adam had planned for us to do a day’s match racing to start our development of positioning on the fleet. Adam devised a fair knock out system where we were split into two groups and the top three of each group would then be put into quarter finals and so on. A quick repetition with 2 minute gaps between the races.
However many races were won by who won the start, with forceful tactics being the way to go, some better than others at this (I soon realised I prefer fleet racing!). By lunch we’d just about made it to the knock out stages. However the afternoon brought some high winds, maximum of 25-30 knots at its worst, making it not brilliant conditions for match racing on a very shifty small lake. One second you would be hard hiking and the next you’d have a huge lull in the wind with a 20-30 degree shift making helm and crew trying not to pull the boat over on top of yourselves! Luckily George and I didn’t capsize as we were cold enough already.
When the big winds came through, the races were put on standby as rescue were busy, this upset the match racing a little and we gathered back on land to see who was willing to carry on.
The knock-out stages continued with some not taking place, some luck/bad luck/capsizes/missed starts mixing up the results, but overall the day saw some patches of genius.
Ollie/Esther first, Alistair/Charlotte second, Sam/George third, Emma/Faye fourth.
I think the squad has come on really far from the first weekend where there was much more swimming in conditions not as difficult as this weekend. Adam’s stars of the weekend were Izzy and Ed along with Sophie and Nuala who got the most from the training. Personally, my stars, from what I saw on the racecourse, were Anna and Eleanor, who had great pace upwind! Apparently all competitors had their own brill moments and enjoyed the weekend!
A big thanks to the galley staff and the squad coaches, Erica and the parents for taking us all, and Mike Saul who spent his weekend helping set up boats and tinker.
See you all at Derwent!
P.S Fellow 200 sailors hopefully see you at Yorkshire Dales where the youth squad shall take part in the open meeting for some quality racing on the 26-27thth of March!
Report: Sam Waller
Images: Helen Grayson