2021 Sailing in Pictures

2021 was still a COVID year and things didn’t get going till May. It was impressive how racing events were run within the safety guidelines, and how things like briefings were moved async and online over video and, comms was enhanced with channels like WhatsApp.

I’d like to say a big thank you to all the clubs who put on events, including my own in Swanage, and the RS Aero class for being so friendly and welcoming. It’s a great fun boat and a great class.

First Home Race of the Year April

This was a special one. We’d been ‘locked down’ in the months before and I think everyone just wanted to get out and start feeling that things were normal again.

Lymington RS Open May

My second ever open and with some pretty windy weather and big chop in the solent, it was a blast. Seeing the front of the boat submerge and nearly pitchpole at one point was memorable.

Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy Aero Two Day Open – May

It was really exciting to race at the sailing location of the 2012 Olympics. A two day event and the best bit was getting out of the harbour. We had great weather and I loved the summer feeling. Definitely a benchmark venue.

Lee on Solent Aero Open – June

A light wind day.

Swanage Regatta – August (home waters)

A home mixed handicap two day regatta with some fruity conditions, F5 gusting 7 on one day.

August Windsurfing

I had a mast problem (top piece jammed hard onto the base of brand new 5 stub) for some weeks in August, and so switched to windsurfing. We got the family doing a bit too. It was fantastic and I’m definitely going to be getting some faster kit and doing it more in 2022.

Junior Training April – July

I was the lead instructor for the Bronzes this year and thanks to a terrific team we got 22 kids started with sailing.

Ringwood Aero Open Sept

First sail on a lake and brilliant fun.

Paignton Single Hander Two Day Open November

Another two-day event, challenging light winds conditions. I do like Paignton’s waters.

Swanage Bay – Regular Sailing December

If the weather allows it, I get out at least once a week at all times of the year.

Photo Gill Richards

Another 2021 highlight

A real highlight of 2021 was watching the sailing at the Tokyo Olympics and enjoying seeing Team GB in action. I was on vacation at the time, got up early and soaked it all up.

Plans for 2022

I have a ton of things to improve with my sailing and fitness/strength and can’t wait for the weather to allow me out again to start training. Next year I want to do more racing, a few more events and improve my results and consistency at home and away.

The main event will probably be the RS Aero nationals or the RS Games. Multi-day events are really hard work and I’ll need to work up to them.

And… do as much sailing, SUPing, kayaking, swimming and windsurfing with the family as possible. Sounds like a plan. 🙂

12th June Sail

I had a play in the bay yesterday afternoon, there was sun and a bit of breeze. I used the Garmin Virb action cam and remembering to turn on GPS, got some data. Not seen here but I’m using it for some self coaching, trying out different things to see how speed is affected.

At last, sailing again post COVID-19 lockdown

In line with government and RYA guidelines, our local sailing club is allowing a responsible return to sailing again. We’re all mindful not to put ourselves at risk in a way which might require an RNLI / coastguard call out, but it’s just a joy to get out again.

I’m a frequent solo sailor already and consider myself experienced and careful, so this doesn’t change too much for me but I am even more mindful of the conditions now. My favourite forecast remains the Met Office wind forecast because it’s so accurate and has a good gust forecast.

The picture above was taken after a long sail in late May 2020 in windy and gusty conditions where in the interest of risk reduction I used the storm sail. The storm sail has a 7m2 sail area vs 8.8m2 so produces much less power but the boat is much easier to control.

Normally I avoid the storm sail as it feels so underpowered but on this occasion it turned into a surprisingly good experience. I did lots of windward / leeward practice; the beat was easily manageable with board fully down, with boat moving just fine, and off wind with kite up the boat moved nicely too. Nothing crazy but satisfactory with a few grinning moments.

Reaching was a bit of a drag, though that might also have been the messy wind but the storm sail had me focusing hard on boat speed more rather than relying purely on raw wind power. This was good experience, and something I’ll happily do again. Getting more out of a smaller sail seems a good exercise in any case.

August 2019 Regatta

SSC ran a regatta again this summer which I took part in. Thirty three boats, five races over two days, each course different with good wind, building up on day two to quite frisky conditions. On the last race the daggerboard was humming in new tones I’d never heard before, it was that fast (grin!). Mine is 239.

There were two other Vareos which made for a bit of sub-fleet racing which was great fun.

Thanks Doug and team for running a fantastic regatta. Thanks Adrian for the fantastic pictures.

January 2019 frostbiting

So this was a first, taking the boat cover off with actual frost on it and going for a sail.

Observations; fingers were cold and I need better gloves, particularly in light conditions where I’m not working hard and warming up. I switched to skiing gloves half way through which were good, though of course they would be useless if wet. I kept them dry.

I’ve added some more instrumentation to the boat in the form of extra tell tales and added leech tell tales where they’d worn out.

Looking at tell tales is nothing new to me, but having these extra ones really helps see airflow over the sail better.

New Year Sailing 2019

I’ve made a good start to the year so far with sails in my RS Vareo on New Year’s day and January 6th.

Since I go out on my own I’ve become more safety conscious and am taking out more gear, some items are on the UK’s dinghy cruising association page and it’s good common sense stuff. My boat isn’t designed for cruising but it’s certainly roomy enough to take out some safety gear and luxuries (coffee) including:

  • Handheld VHF radio + backup phone in a waterproof pouch.
  • Dry bag with different lengths of string, rope and shock chord, carbohydrate snacks, tape.
  • Water and coffee
  • Telescopic emergency paddle
  • Safety knife and whistle

I’ve experimented paddling a single handed and it works fine centering the rudder with a piece of shock chord tied to the toe straps. The knife is tied to the pocket of my buoyancy aid, the paddle further tied to the boat with a length of string. The other bits of string and rope should enable recovery from a few breakage scenarios I’ve imagined.

Correct clothing is an essential part and I have the choice of a drysuit and wet suit layers. The drysuit plus over trousers is less fiddly to put on and dries quickly but I prefer the wetsuit set up which is very comfy on the boat. If you have cold feet, I can recommend Rooster’s polypro and thermaflex socks.

Another obvious safety aspect is to choose the right conditions, so I’m choosing wind and tides which reduce risk and avoid overly gusty conditions to reduce breakage risk. I also avoid crazy actions in the chop, so take care to sail up and down waves rather than let the boat slam down. If more of us go out it’s fun to go out in stronger conditions, and generally if I had a newer boat I’d push it much more 🙂

We’re super lucky in Swanage to have a National Coastwatch station looking over us and I’m very grateful to have them there. There’s an RNLI station next door also overlooking the bay, but obviously no sailor wants to cause a call out.

My two hour session yesterday looked like this:

this was my first GPS tracking test, winds were light and I covered about nine miles.

It’s curious how shallow the downwind angles are and it looks like I might be beating better on starboard than port, it gives me more ideas for things to work on. I need to get better at working with wind shifts and choosing the right angles downwind. And I’ve started in earnest with off water fitness.

All in all, a good start to my sailing year.

December 2018

Frostbite sailing continues and I’m choosing windows between the storms to get out. It’s interesting to see how different the bay is at this time of year, days of persistent wind lead to curious wave patterns, some good for surfing, others not. It reminds me of school physics lessons exploring wave interference but now actually sailing through it.

I’m paying most attention to downwind sailing now and trying to make the most of waves. Upwind seems to have a good routine now.

I’m now much preferring the wetsuit gear over a drysuit. It is surprisingly warm and comfy on the boat.