Sun 17 Feb
At last the day has arrived that I have anticipated for so long. Day 1 of the Laser Masters Worlds in Australia.
There are seven fleets split into two groups, three Radial fleets and four Full Rig fleets. (As usual we are broken down by age and sex. No check that. This year we are just broken down by age.)
The plan for the first day is for the Radials to launch first with their first fleet having a start time of noon. Then the Full Rigs will launch as the Radials are finishing their first race. By the time we get out to the course the Radials should be well into their second race and we will have our two races after them. Then every other day we swap round and we launch first and the Radials race after us.
At least that was the plan. Things didn't go quite according to plan even on Day 1.
Tillerwoman and I arrive at the rugby field where the boats are stored around 11 am. The Radials are launching. There is no wind. It is raining. Hmmm. Maybe I was right about the possibility that Terrigal will disappoint us?
We hang out at the rugby club. I eat a hearty lunch of chunky vegetable soup and a sausage roll. There are two heavy rain showers while we wait. Around 1 pm we walk up the hill to watch the Radials bobbing about on the ocean. They still haven't started a race. Too many shifts and lulls as the showers go through. We go back to the club. I find a computer there and send an email to my sons, subject: Welcome to Sunny Australia.
At 2:40 pm the postponement flag for our group is lowered. The word is that the Full Rigs will start racing in an hour. Hmmm. I guess the plan has changed and they are just doing one race for each group.
We launch and head out to the course.
At 3:40 pm the race committee starts the sequence for the first Full Rig fleet, the kids under 45. We are in the fourth fleet and are racing soon after 4 pm.
I hover near the committee boat aiming to steal into the gap there at the last minute and make a perfect squirrel start. Unfortunately one of the other USA sailors has the same idea and steals my hole on the line. Cheek of the man!
It takes a while to find an opportunity to tack on to port and clear my air after the start. It seems I am surrounded by sailors with AUS on their sails and they are all trying to cover me and blanket me. Is the USA hated that much or am I getting paranoid?
Eventually I tack on to port and can see from my heading against the land that there has been a big righty shift. Hmmm. I think Stuart Walker would say that the high near-surface lapse rate has replenished the upper-level outflow with an offshore gradient flow and the elimination of the inversion in the restricting effects of an adiabatic change in density.
So that's why I hang right. And the fact that with all the weird shifts that have been happening all day this as just as likely to be a persistent shift as not.
The boats ahead of me and further right tack and cross me. Ha. Don't they know that Stuart Walker would say that insolation has created an inward pressure gradient with an abortive outward flow of marine air in the horizontal convective rolls of the secondary sea breeze? Apparently not.
I let them cross and after sailing about a third of the way up the beat, I tack and am not far from the starboard tack layline. After the tack I see almost all the fleet through my sail window, way, way, way to leeward. Ha.
Feeling smug I continue on starboard tack until, about three quarters of the way up the beat, I sail into a bit of a hole in the wind. And then the wind goes left just as Stuart Walker would have predicted. Clearly a velocity veer of the gradient flow isolated above a subsidence inversion has amalgamated with the divergent advected air in the high near-surface lapse rate.
Other boats are going further right but with the confidence of a man who owns all of Stuart Walker's books and has even attempted to read some of them, I hang left. When I tack back on to port I am laying the mark and everyone who went right is struggling back to the mark in light wind and a huge header. Ha again!
Having just nailed two shifts perfectly I round the windward mark in the leading pack along with a bunch of former Masters world champions. Thank you Doctor Walker.
I'm even passing the tail-enders from the fleet that started before us. That means I've gained six minutes on sailors ten years younger than me. Ha, a third time!
Just while I'm feeling that I've finally made a real breakthrough and that I'm a sailing genius, the race committee signal the abandonment of this race and we head back for the beach. Clearly the RC haven't read Doctor Walker's books and think that the extreme shifts were just matters of chance that have created an unfair race. Oh well!
I later learn that some of the Radial sailors got seasick while waiting for hours out on the ocean to start their race. A couple came in early because they felt so unwell, and at least a couple were actually vomiting out on the course. Yikes.
Let's hope the conditions are better tomorrow.
So back to the beach, pack up the boat, have a shower. Then off the Hog's Breath Cafe with Tillerwoman for a cheeseburger and sticky date pudding washed down with a bottle of Aussie Shiraz. Life is good.