Having had my first ever experience of racing at the end of May in the J-Cup, I was really looking forward to the June instalment of Royal Southern Regatta Summer Series. I was hoping for some strong winds, big swells, and a chance to really use my strength in the pit and flying the spinnaker. What I got was quite the opposite: a real lesson in sailing in really light conditions.
There were many experiences which were completely new, and my learning curve was just as steep as the first time that I raced. I'd never before seen weight on the low side of the boat to actually get it to heel, nor laid flat on the deck to lessen our wind resistance. I'd never before appreciated the importance of moving around the boat slowly and as little as possible (Leopards in Slippers, Mills). The absolute best thing though was beating in to the wind with the spinnaker up. I had never seen that before and it really was quite something to behold. I now can't wait to see' 'the code' get used for the first time!
It was great to see us continue to improve as a crew. At the J-Cup whilst I was a racing novice, the crew were newly assembled too. This time out things that we did well was our tacking - it is starting to feel quite slick and is becoming really familiar. We put in some nice jibes too; they weren't all perfect but they were better than last time. I also thought that our starts were really good, and the skipper's helming at times was superb - especially rounding the marks. (At least one other skipper demonstrated how not to round a mark...)
There is plenty for us to still improve: spinnaker hoists without it hour-glassing, spinnaker drops without it getting wet, and the crew (myself included) listening to manoeuvre discussions that the skipper is having on the helm in order to better anticipate what will happen next.
Overall it felt like we were better than in the J-Cup, and the feeling when we had an issue with the spinnaker whilst well placed in the last race of the regatta was one of quite acute disappointment, which shows that our expectations are growing which is no bad thing.
It was a great weekend. Many lessons were learned, much improved, with much more still to do. We moved forward as a team though, and that's what's really exciting.
Next race: Round The Island!