With winter starting to make its effect over the last few days with very needed rain, strong winds and the first dusting of snow on Mt Wellington, it was with welcome relief that today was mild and sunny with light breezes that were forecast to strengthen. Ideal conditions to launch my new DF95 with its A Rig, taking on the rest of the 14 strong IOM fleet with their far greater sail area, but with twice the weight. Up wind the IOM's point far higher and are quicker, but with the breeze up and downwind, these light weight "mini Marbleheads" are blazingly quick and rarely dig right in. In light conditions though, the IOM leaves the DF95 drifting so to speak.
Coordinator Stuart Harris layed down the law and announced the format for the day: 3 races only at set starting times with casual scratch racing in between. The 3 races would be over the standard small box big box course, which for the small DF95 is quite a long track. Thankfully though, Stuart assigned the starting line for the DF95 to be between 3 and 4 and with a very healthy handicap advantage I admit. Race 1 was in light breeze of around 3 to 5 knots and the DF95 crossed her start line to start the race, giving the rest of the IOM's their 2 minute countdown with the back markers starting at zero. I was blessed with consistent breeze most of the race and was able to keep the IOM's astern to take the gun with John Smith closing rapidly in second and the Silver Fox Peter Darcy hot in pursuit in third place.
Race 2 and the breeze had strengthened a knot or 3 and I was now starting on 1 minute 30 from the same starting line. Again I was able to get to the top marks as the puffs were coming and took advantage of the downwind speed, maintaining the gap enough to just take the win from the charging Rod Jackman in second and Wayne Turner sailing well in third place.
Race 3 and the wind had built further with one or two of the IOM's changing to B Rig. The DF A Rig was being tested and I found the going tough, particularly upwind getting into irons during tacks, downwind though and the thing was almost leaping over the waves. This start and I was starting back with the big boys but at 1 minute 30, about a minute ahead of the first IOM. I managed to hold the fleet off till the final leg when the peloton arrived and Chris Wood took the win from the Dragon Flite in second and Wayne Behrens taking the minor spot.
Not a bad result for her first sailing. A couple of wins and a second in three races. Yes the handicap was generous but I think Race 3 was close to the mark. Second place for the day went to Chris Wood with third place going to John Smith on countback from Don McLeod. The IOM racing was close with one point separating most of the field and a three way countback for ninth position.
My first impressions after racing the Dragon Flite for the first time: easy to sail but has to sailed the "bow down" approach when going to windward. Try and point high and they slow right down, which is what you would expect from flat sails. I found they are very reactive to the rudder but they have quite a large turning radius for their size, whereas the IOM's can almost turn on a dime. The absolute pleasure of sailing the Dragon Flite is downwind in a good breeze. During the casual scratch racing, the IOMs slaughtered me to the top mark but the DF held its own and overtook several of the IOM's on the long runs down to the bottom mark. In the stronger down wind puffs, some of the IOM's with A Rig were nosediving whereas the DF just skipped through the crest and ploughed on. There were a few overpowering puffs and the DF does nosedive but it's a tough little pocket rocket and there wasn't a drop of water in it at the end of the day. With a few of these relatively cheap one design racing yachts already in the hands of or ordered by club members, we will soon have a decent fleet and plans are being made to have a separate division for Wednesday racing, and who knows maybe even schedule for Sunday racing if that will increase Sunday participation.
Saturday is the re scheduled John Emms Memorial Trophy for Marbleheads. From Andrew's emails, entry to the club area is from 10:30 AM, with racing from 11:15 AM.
Till then, wet sails.
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