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Medway RC Laser Winter Series event 12 at Barton Point Country Park Lake

by Tim Townsend 17 Mar 08:39 GMT 15 March 2020

To my mind everyone should have a go at sailing radio controlled model yachts; not just in the pond at the RYA Dinghy Show, but on a lake when there is a 20mph breeze blowing into your face and the windward mark is 50 metres away.

This is the perfect opportunity to practise your knowledge of the Racing Rules of Sailing but with a new dimension. During the course of a morning's racing we practise a dozen starts, a dozen windward mark roundings and countless opportunities to apply the rules of Part Two, When Boats Meet.

Even if your knowledge of the rules is perfect, being able to apply them when two boats are approaching a mark of the course on opposite tacks 50 metres or more away from where you are standing, when it's difficult to judge whether boats are on a collision course or above or below the lay line to a rounding mark, adds an additional challenge to the day's proceedings.

Week 12 of the RC Laser Winter Series saw a reduced number of competitors as the forecast consigned the fleet to yet another Sunday morning of using the D rig, the smallest available. The attritional weather, never mind everything else that is going on in the world right now, left just the hardy few to battle it out; these are the few who have won the fight to keep their electrics dry and who, over the last several weeks have honed their skills so they can (mostly) control their boats, tacking and gybing at will in all but the strongest gusts. Average wind speeds today were 20mph but there were several gusts in the high twenties and one measured at 34mph really the top end of what the little RC Lasers can cope with.

Series leader Jamie Blair was in attendance, as was the MYC Commodore, Mark Penny, who won his first ever race last week and won some more today. Before Christmas, if we had seen these conditions, there would have been quite a difference in boat speed between those at the very front and those at the back of the fleet. The experience of several weeks of strong wind sailing means that the gap has narrowed. Today it seemed that Andrew was sometimes the fastest boat off the start, and Brian was also quick in a straight line.

In today's conditions it was the way boats dealt with the distant windward mark which was the distinguishing factor in the results. Jamie generally managed to judge the lay line well and often gained metres on the competition when doing so. On the other hand, in one race he took out Tim when misjudging a port and starboard call, and apologetically took his penalty. Mark also usually judged the lay line to the windward mark well although he suffered in an incident with another competitor when his boat was dismasted, leaving it looking like HMS Belleisle at the Battle of Trafalgar and Mark with a DNF.

Tim generally avoided contact with other boats and the melee at the windward mark but had problems judging the lay line to it, several times having to stick in a couple of extra tacks to make the mark, which delayed his progress. Andrew and Brian, on the other hand, whilst often in the mix at the windward mark, rarely came away from it in the top three places.

Wins today were shared by Jamie, Mark and Tim. At the end of thirteen races Tim got the nod from Jamie by a single point, while Mark completed the podium.

We hope next week will be a chance to try out some of the other sails with Round 13 - Sunday 22nd March. Details on www.rclaser.org.uk/events

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9R10R11R12R13Pts
1st45Tim Townsend‑311‑222222121117
2nd51Jamie Blair‑422‑311131212218
3rd3Mark Penny133133‑413(DNS)33327
4th613Andrew Nicholls2‑44444344344‑540
5th958Brian Lev'y‑5‑55555555455453

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