Now for something completely different! Over the weekend we had a Laser Masters regatta at South Lake Macquarie Yacht Club with the crew of Passion X both organizing and participating in the event. Over the course of two days racing we learnt both from results and local anecdote that the south side of the Wangi shore is favoured and a good line of breeze comes over the low point in the peninsular. Some of the shifts could be seen coming across the course and the yachts ahead were a reasonable indication of what was coming our way. When the line was not biased to the pin end too much I opted for the safe start behind the boat end fleet with the option to tack away for clear air. When I could tack away I went back onto starboard and worked as hard as possible to get down to the pin end starters who were knocking into a big shift ready to tack to port for big gains. In several races I was lucky enough to get enough right hand shifts to work back to the left of the course. In the second race on the Saturday I took one long board to the port tack lay line and reached in when the late lift from the left arrived. My mistake after the downwind leg was to take the port gate mark and lose four or five places immediately. In the last race I opted for a start just above the pin and went hard left. The good starters were giving me dirty air but I persevered going as far left as the lay line. I was fortunate that most of the yachts ahead tacked as soon as the breeze headed and did not go far enough into the new breeze. For the second race of the weekend I was in the top few at the first mark and with clear air to sail my race. The good younger skippers behind made life difficult and I was forced away from my route into the favored shore line but I did manage to get back in the next two shifts but not far enough. I was a little too low to get the benefit of the big lift into the top mark but did manage to hold onto fifth place for the second mark rounding and finish with a sixth and a cube for the weekend’s effort.

What was good about the weekend was to see clearly the results of decisions both good and bad. In two races I tacked early to the finish line and was run over by yachts that came in more free and faster on starboard. In both races the line was so heavily biased to the finish boat that it could not be crossed on starboard. After one such incident I should have know better than to repeat the  mistake. The other mistake was taking the left gate mark because it was less congested rather than join the queue on the right mark and work to the left of the course.  The worst result and the discard was when I was trapped mid fleet below a long line of boat end starters and could not get over to clear air. The good decisions were the ones where I kept looking up the course for the next shift and planning when to go left or right. What was particularly pleasing was when competitors tacked away too early or hung on too long. That gave me the encouragement to work harder and today I can feel the effects of that hard work.

In my age division I finished behind two super human yachtsmen, both club mates from Middle Harbour Amateurs. Our newest Great Grand Master competitor won five of the six races and our past World Champion came from behind on the last day for a convincing second place in our age group. The Middle Harbour Radial fleet had an impressive string of victories.

This week it will be back to Greenwich Flying Squadron where the wind in Humbug is unpredictable, the shifts difficult to see and unlike the weekend on the Laser, leaning harder does not have the same result.

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