In the first race I was second to the top mark close behind a very skillful and accomplished teenage girl who always sails superbly. Downwind she really showed her skills by planing away in a shower of spray and gybing skillfully back onto what was a flat run to the bottom mark. My attempts to follow suit had me capsizing twice in a row. On both occasions the centerboard came out of the centerboard case and started to float away. I spent a lot of time trying to get it back in its slot so that I could heave on it and right the boat again.
BUT - as I sailed back to the club house to the beer and barbecued sausages I hardly felt hard done by. The water was very pleasant to capsize into as it is warmed while flowing into Whangarei Harbour over several large sand banks that have been baking in the sun all day. Also, in this big wind memories came flooding back from my early sailing years as I felt again the joy of small boat sailing: Thrashing to windward, then planning off downwind in a flurry of spray and wind - very, very, very good for this old buggers soul I can tell you.
1 - "Always wear a life jacket". Wise words. I would have drowned without one.
2 - I am showing my age. Hiking out for long periods of time at 64 years of age is very taxing. I need not just the set of compression pads to protect the underneath of my thighs, I also require a set for my calf muscles.
3 - The boat requires another self bailer. In these choppy conditions I had water coming green over the bow and filling the cockpit.
4 - I need a piece of shock cord (something that all Starlings have - something I had overlooked) to hold the center board in place when capsized.
5 - I need to make sure that I do a thorough boat inspection before launching. I failed to see that I hadn't re-tied the hiking straps back up with shock cord which made getting my feet under the straps harder after each tack.
6 - "She'll be right" is not good enough - I thought the two loose sail battens in the mains'l that I knew required new elastic in the sail pocket (to hold suitable tension on them) would be ok. But in this full sail breeze one of them popped out when the sail was flogging in the wind. I took the sail into 'Calibre Sails' today to get fixed.
7 - My little Starling looks beautiful in all her varnished glory - BUT - she is also very slippery to work in. I slide like hell all over my beautiful varnished cockpit floor slats LOL and the deck isn't much different. Many racing yachts have non skid tape or painted out patches in high use areas - But I know all of this - My keeler Mariners' deck and cockpit are all painted out in non skid paint. I think I will have to do something about that if I continue to race.
8 - "Practise makes perfect" so the saying goes. I would settle... not for perfection, but for just staying upright throughout the racing. So a bit of practise is required in a less frenetic context where I can get used to a few of the old moves. You can't teach an old sea dog new tricks - that's because he needs to teach the new tricks to himself - with a bit of practise.