Speed gains and losses

The NS14 Nationals are done and dusted finishing up on Tuesday 3 January. What an awesome week it was! Well done to Cronulla Sailing Club and the NSW NS14 committee for putting together a fantastic event and of course Zhik for their sponsorship of the event!
Finally in race 7 and 8 we felt  like the boat was actually reaching it’s potential. With the rake in the right spot and the diamonds wound on a bit we were able to get through the swells a lot better, and just as well, because they were so big that you could loose a boat on the same line as you. Our goal coming into the regatta was for top 10, so we were  determined to not  make any more errors. Chris and I enjoy the breeze, but the Canberra boy is still getting used to the waves (and doing an awesome job), so downwind we took it very easy. We took losses to keep our gains. We were quick and smart enough upwind to compensate. It was worth it, with a 5 and a 4 to put on the score card; where we should have been on day 1 with the right rake, and day 2 without the turns.
In race 9, which was the only race not run completely offshore, we had a very tight race with our best position in 4th, and our worst in 7th. 1st overall was down to the wire with Peter V and Tina taking the win from Hugh and Tara. Congratulations to both of these teams who stood out from the rest, and to the rest of the top ten for the excellent racing! We finished in 6th, with Bryce just making it across on port on the line, and Rohan and Sophie who came 4th overall ten seconds in front of Bryce and Amanda, who finished 3rd overall. Scott and Holly finished just in front of Fish to take 5th and 6th overall. If we had finished 7th in race 9, the Davos would have gotten us. We were pushed the whole way around the track, but stuck to our game plan of not going upside-down and sticking all of the mark roundings to make sure we didn’t loose places. It was enough to tie for points, and take 7th overall on a count-back. To see how tight it was check out the results.
We also won on handicap, and I have to say I have never been more excited to win a handicap prize. We won a new 2.4 jib! So now we have a full set of 6.9 gear, which is just awesome!
It was my first NS14 regatta, and I have to say that not only were the people welcoming, and super helpful, the racing was fantastic – not only because I was able to sail with Chris.
The racing was different. Having sailed the Tasar for 16 years, sailing the NS14, which is the most similar boat,  is mechanically the same – but as it is a development class, the racing is so different. The variations for a Tasar are miniscule as it is a strict one-design class. The NS14 hull shapes, sails, rigging and masts can differ immensely in comparison from boat to boat, so certain boats are faster in certain conditions. Our boat for instance loves windy weather… to achieve in the class you need to be able to make your boat competitive across a range of conditions to compete in the speed battle, before you can take on the tactics. The good guys are able to push their boats harder, for longer. We don’t have that level of understanding yet, so even though our boat handling is great and our tactics are good, we were only able to play with the front runners in our conditions. We learned so much from the Nationals about diamond and stay tension, sail shapes and mast-bend characteristics thanks to many questions being answered, and the sailors in front of you honestly wanting you to do better. There is much more to learn in terms of settings than the Tasar due to the speed focus and ability to change within the rules – whereas tactics and positioning are the focus in Tasars due to the restrictions on settings. This can be frustrating at times, because I am so used to what I know see is majorly tactics-based sailing, but it was and is a great challenge.
Speed in the light air was our biggest issue of the regatta; our two drops were both sailed in light air. We also had a number of other issues including gear failure and brain failures! We had a broken vang, a few dropped mainsheets at bottom marks (which when sheeting from the boom means a lot), a 720, a 360, a tiller stuck through a lifejacket, a torn batten pocket, and also managed to hit a shark (I have never seen so many sharks), and get my watch caught on a side stay spring… Chris would like to hear me say that the numerous tiller whacks to the face of the crew didn’t really hold us back. We may have to cut that tiller extension off a bit, and I am looking forward to having our mast reinforced so that we can run the same diamond tension as everyone else (we didn’t take the diamond tension up to other’s levels as we wanted to make it through the regatta). We can now also use the same size sails as everyone thanks to our prize (we have been using a 7m main, when most are using a 6.9 or 6.8) which when combined with diamond tension should aid our biggest issue; light-air speed.
The great things that came out of this regatta were our pace in the breeze (which in the end saved our score-card),  our patience, positivity and work to improve our speed, communication, tactics, and above all our training ethic, which included the best training partners, the Davidsons. All good things that we can use to improve for the next regatta, along with working on our above issues. The Davidsons ended up tying points with us, which is an indication of how close we are. We were very lucky that there were only two light-air races; we would have been lucky to make the top ten if there were any more. The Davidson’s have been battling with the opposite problem to us; they are quick in the light and working on getting their rig to bend in the heavy. Being on the pace was the major lesson of the regatta.
There was video footage available on the last day of sailing, and it was interesting to see how the skippers body movement decreased from the front boat to the back. This handling, combined with a greater range of speed is what puts the good guys in the NS class at a level above the rest. The spread in the NS14 class is larger than the Tasar class due to the greater speed differential between the first and last boat. Speed was our biggest advantage in the breeze, and our biggest issue in the light air. We are looking forward to learning some more speedy tricks from Rohan when he heads down to Canberra for a training weekend. Increasing the gains, and decreasing the losses!
A big thanks to the Davos, Bruce, and supercoach and weather man Rob D (Dad) for their help and company over the week and to Trev and Lea who came out to watch us twice! Thanks also to Chris for sharing the California Times with me!
I am not sure whether I will be able to do the NS14 States at this point because of the clash with the Tasar States at Easter. Hopefully all my bruises have healed by then! We will have to wait and see how Rob Douglass’s arm improves, and whether I want to skipper the Tasars if he isn’t or do the NS’s. Tough decisions, but ultimately my skippering needs to come first.
For now the focus is shifting to the Spiral Nationals which kick off in just two and a half weeks. Chris and I were back in the boats on Friday evening, and will do the CYC sprints today. Chris is lightening fast, so makes the best training partner, and I am good on the shifts and positioning, so hopefully this is good for him. Stay tuned for a video on our Spiral training – almost finished! I also have video on the way from the NS14 Nationals – it doesn’t do the waves any justice, but it gives you an idea! Certainly a good way to see the differences in speed. There are some photos and a video from our training in my multimedia in the meantime!
I hope everyone has enjoyed their first week of January! Congratulations to Krystal Weir for her 2nd at the Laser Radial Nationals, so close! And also to the members of the CYC HPS for their efforts – they are still racing up at RQ now in the Youths. If you haven’t seen the A-Class results, you really need to check out the names at least!
Have a great Sunday!

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