Windward Gate Trial Series – Sunday 3 October 2021
A bright and sunny, subtly variable, light SE to E breeze greeted 14 skippers (5 DFs and 10 IOMs) for the trial of a twist to our usual course today. RO Paul used the two windward marks as a gate for us to sail up the beat and pass between the two marks.
Laurie collected Rita and in double quick time, the foreshore facilities were up and ready for racing to get underway. Robert brought the sound system and Rata’s battery over, Laurie laid a superb course, and Mark laid the caution tapes. Thanks all.
The trial was an instant success and worked consistently through the Series of 19 DF95 and 21 IOM races. It gave us lots to consider for our future club racing.
  • The new windward gate, combined with the usual leeward gate gave us maximum passing lanes and tactical choices through the races – America’s Cup style.
  • Skippers found they could easily up their tactical game. Right from the first race skippers were checking ahead for the best breeze or least congestion, and choosing the left or right mark onto the run, or the next beat.
  • This increased awareness, ahead of the game, led to far fewer tangles at the first mark – much to everyone’s delight.
  • There was none of the usual ‘follow the leader’ procession round the windward mark and separator.
  • However, there were a few occasions when boats turned immediately onto the run and ran into boats beating into the mark.
    • A couple of skippers have suggested it would be worth trying a separator mark up to 4 boat lengths away and 45 degrees downwind from each gate mark.
    • This is not needed at the leeward gate since boats sail off at 45 degrees and have to tack, to sail into the path of running boats.
  • We agreed the gate marks were best if they were no more than 8 boat lengths apart. It is easier to set a fair gate and the commitment to one side or the other is less dramatic.
    • This provides additional opportunity for tactics because the 4 boat length zones overlap. If we agree to use the windward gate course again in future, it will be worth going over the rules relating to mark room.
    • We can still set 3, or even four marks in a line across the windward end of the course to adapt to changes in wind direction, and move the separators as needed.
  • The trail highlighted the importance of a driver for Rata being quickly available between races to tweek the gate marks and remove obvious bias. We found it was relatively easy to drag relevant marks a few metres into position. in the deeper parts of the lake, there is no weed on the bottom.
There were many other highlights of the day…
Colin’s new 3D printed D6 cut its teeth on a full day’s competition. They came 4th overall with some top placings. The yacht sailed cleanly with good acceleration, enabling Colin to work the courses or catch up through the fleet. Also, to try settings and identify improvements.
It was great to see Peter R with NZL 82 out again, and Vern G proved you can’t outwit a seasoned campaigner.
Top honours go to…
  • Darryl (DF #79) who had his work cut out occasionally when Mark got round the course cleanly or Peter and Kelvin chose the right shifts.
  • Gary (Tex): first IOM overall with consistent high placings 👏. NZL 57 was a force to reckon with today. Gary was on fire on the line, around the course and making appropriate settings adjustments through the day.