Vice Admiral's Cup, May 2013

Solent, England
44 boats (13 J109s, 15 Quarter Tonners and 16 SB20s) competed over 8 races on the Hillhead plateau and Bramble Bank of the Solent.  It was anticipated to have the last race of each day as 'round the cans' but conditions proved unfavourable for this with the exception of Friday.  So only one race was of this format with all other races as windward / leewards.

SolentXtra was represented by seven of its members - Robert LambTina ScottJane WindsorClare PittmanBob YoungSimon Pickess and Paul Jackson.

Bob Young had his first taste as a mark layer at this event as crew to Simon at the windward end of the course.  He enjoyed it so much that he has asked to go on a RYA Regional Mark Laying seminar!

Unusually, the start of the first race on each day was postponed: day 1 because of a massively shifting north-easterly that eventually settled at about 060 degrees, 10-12 knots; day 2 because of insufficient wind that became sailable at just before 11.30 am in a south westerly direction;  day 3 again with insufficient wind until just after 11.30, this time from the north.   It turned out to be a relatively light wind regatta with velocity not exceeding 12 lnots all weekend.  Days 1 and 3 were very testing for the race committee with very shifty winds but, with the exception of the very last race which was unacceptably one sided, the runs in general were good.

The J109s seemed to have lost discipline in that their class captain and Paul from J Boats called before the event to express concern over this and rules observance generally.  With no on-the-water judging the only way we could try to influence behaviour was by announcing concern over the VHF before race 1.  Mark layers would be extra vigilant in observation at marks!  

As it happened the J109s were relatively well behaved but their starting technique, or lack of it, made it difficult to assess the start line from the race officer's perspective.  Whilst the J109s rate the highest the light winds allowed for them to start last following the SB20s who started after the Quarter Tonners.  The standard of sailing in the latter fleet remains very high so we could judge the accuracy of the start line much better with them strting first.  With 1 to 2 minutes between the start of one class and the warning signal of the next, fleet separation in the lightish winds was achieved and we believe the sailors were happy.

For some time now VHF communication amongst the race management team has been free and full, using the same channel with which we communicate with competitors.  The rationale is that the sailors learn much quicker of any issues or difficulties we face.  When the sailors understand our problems they are much more forgiving of any delays etc.  They also learn what we are tryng to achieve.  For the first time ever, one of the quarter tonner sailors complained saying that he found it difficult to home in on the 'important' transmissions.  To be fair he is getting on a bit now but SolentXtra will review its procedures and try to improve this aspect of race management.

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© SolentXtra 2012