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Warsash Spring Series - A skippers report

Blog written by Mason King, race skipper and coach:

This weekend saw Rocket Dog II and her crew racing in the third Warsash Spring Series weekend, with a day’s training on Saturday followed by the real thing on Sunday.

Conditions were perfect for training with a steady 12 - 15 knots of wind, enough to make it interesting and testing at times, without being scary, and with enough wind to really nail the boat handling techniques. More and more we all learn how our boat handling and manoeuvres are just as (or sometimes more) important than pure boat speed. It was also gloriously sunny, which always helps bring out the smiles.

The crew, as usual, were enthusiastic, good humoured, tolerant and actually quite good at getting it right! We had the benefit of doing some starting practice, boat speed tuning and racing practice with "Merlin" our sister boat, on the Saturday, which was a massive help. Great fun too as a tribe building exercise! Merlin was chartered from Sailing Logic by Barclays Sailing Club for a weekend of racing, so it made sense to work together during the second half of our training day.

On return to Port Hamble, we had a look at some Go Pro video of the days training in the classroom, where we were able to pick up on the details of each manoeuvre. A great way to consolidate the day's learning. Every time you go sailing with a new skipper, crew or first mate, you learn something new...it's amazing how many ways there are to get things right...or wrong!

Now, nav and tactics are of course a large part of racing well. Where is the curry house and how do we wash, change and get there in time!? Actually, getting the start time correct is also key, so sorry to those who got there half an hour early and had to drink extra alcohol as a result...

The game of getting an After Eight mint from your forehead to your mouth without help from your hands finished off the evening with a laugh...Names omitted to protect the guilty!...I have a video of that too!

On the dock at 8am on Sunday, getting the boat sorted for racing and a last minute motivational speech got the crew fired up...most of them anyway. We would be racing against some very good boats sailed by some very good, experienced and knowledgeable crews. Sailing RD II to its full potential in light winds is sometimes an art form but the crew were absolutely great and had obviously been paying lots of attention on the Saturday. Our main rivals from previous weekends were Puma, Playing Around and Assassin. All well sailed boats. Our aim was to beat them on the water if not on handicap...

We got a great start and, with a lot of help from super 1st mate Jim Bennett, the walking talking tidal atlas for the Solent, we got the boat moving fast and smoothly, and most of the time in the right direction.

Upwind is one thing, but we all know that with less experienced crews, getting the kite up and drawing quickly is key to keeping ahead and is sometimes the difference between winning and loosing. We were 2nd round the windward mark...impressive...all smiles.

The smiles continued as we managed to hold off Playing Around, with their big overlapping jib, in less than 12 knots throughout the whole race, up and down wind, tacking, hoisting, gybing, dropping, float dropping, it all came together very well. 2nd place on the water, being beaten by Puma sailed extremely well by James Wilkie, but keeping ahead of Playing Around all the way to the finish. We knew they had us on handicap but it was great to stay ahead of them on the water. Assassin and most of the test of the fleet well behind.

Lunch was served by way of pasties, a new and well received recipe for Sailing Logic lunches. A debrief on the way in with other crew members helming, as we picked out the learning for the day....the more conscientious crew members taking and making notes to help them with the next race...impressive. The whole race was video'd, so crews can study their own part in a successful day, in their own time later on.

Another debrief was obviously needed in Banana Wharf....we went through the race in a bit more detail explaining the rationale for some of the tactical decisions that we made during the race.  The verdict was that the whole crew did a fantastic job on getting us to a fourth place on handicap.These things do not happen by accident!

A very happy skipper along with JB as 1st mate and Steve Jefferson as 2nd mate, along with his dry wit and optimism?? ...thanks to both of you for making life easy and enjoyable for me!....long may it continue.

Mostly though, thanks to my crew...you were sick, wicked, and all the other strange things I would say if I were a teenager!

MK

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