Royal Tay Winter Sailing - Race Report by James Curley

posted 6 Nov 2019, 14:23 by Perth Sailing Club

I have been asked to write some updates on how I am getting on with my first Royal Tay winter sailing series which might help anyone who wants to do it next year but also it is not too late to come on down and have a go at the remaining races.

I had a little mishap on one of the last races at Perth where I broke my mast, so it was a bit of a rush to get my solo back up and running in time for the first race. The day arrived and I towed the boat over to Dundee.  Due to the mainline running between the dinghy park and the car park you have to take the boat further  down the shore where there is a bridge over the train track and you can either pull the boat down the pronominal or if you are lucky the sailing club will tow it down with their quad which is what they did for me.

The wind was really strong gusting around 30 knots which was a bit daunting for my first time in the sea but it was quite warm for this time of year and the sun was out though.  There are lots of friendly helpful sailors around to show you how it all works and a brilliant beach cafe.  You will need to fill out the registration form and hand it in to the race box team along with the entry fee which is £40 for the whole series or £4 per race or £6 for the day (two races).

As soon as the boat was launched the wind gusted up and everyone was holding on to their boats for dear life. The wind dropped slightly so I jumped in fixed the rudder down and shot off.  It was a real handful right from the start so I went for a sail about trying to get a feel for it.  The wind was still blowing about 17 knots but gusting around 30.  I did start to wonder what I had let myself in for a this point!  There are three separate races run at the same time but with a 3 min count down between them.  The three classes are Cats, Dinghy 1 and dinghy 2.  I am in dinghy 2 race with all the smaller boats. My race started 3 mins after the start of the dinghy 1 race.    Because I was concentrating more on not capsizing than the race I struggled to set my watch up properly so was a bit late to the start line.  They set a simple two buoy course going all to port and the start heading towards the Tay bridge.  I am not used to sailing in waves so that took a bit of getting the hang of.  I managed to get around twice without going for a swim but on the final downwind run a huge gust came in and things got very exciting; I have never felt such a strong force push the boat before and that combined with surfing down the waves it must have been the fastest I have ever gone in a dinghy.  All was going reasonably well but the bow of the boat did want to turn in to a submarine a few times and fill the boat with water but I still didn't go over at this point.  The transom flaps must have been working because the water seemed to disappear quite quickly.  I passed quite a few capsized boats along the way including a catamaran which had blown over and I remember thinking  lets hope I can avoid that...... I don't think I was going quite with the swell and the boat got caught up in a wave and twisted sideways and finally all was lost, I could not save it and so got my first dunking in the Tay estuary.  The safety boat was on hand very quickly to watch me get sorted.  It took a couple of tries but I got it back upright and sailed on.  The wind had dropped slightly now and I managed to cross the finish line in before the cut off time to complete the 3 laps.  I decided to go in to recoup and get my breath back and decided 1 race was enough in those conditions for one day.   All but the most hardy sailors had the same idea and the second race went off with just under half the amount the first race had.  My final position after handicap was 8th out of 13.  I’m hoping for a little less wind next time! Ill let you know how it goes.