You are here

Xenon Championship - much practicing

A friend emerged from the Club changing rooms and stopped in surprise. "Are you breeding them" he asked, referring to the Xenons littering the launch area all in various states of being rigged.  Not sure why I always get the blame but I could understand his comment as he had not been able to sail for a while.  There are always a few Xenons sailing but with the approach of the Championship the need to practice has dawned on us all and the latecomers needed to thread their way between Xenons.

We have high hopes of the best turnout yet with the added sponsorship from Topper and there is clearly many people who have every intention of winning the title.

Our first race of the day did not get off to a good start, I obviously had a little dream because on the starting gun and flag we were still approaching the line. Our starts are normally almost immaculate but one slip and we found ourselves behind the packI  We buckled down to some hard sailing in a fairly strong and variable wind.  At the windward mark we had closed the gap and a rapid launch of the gennaker saw the Xenon further close down on the leaders. At the offset mark we managed to gybe inside the leader and attempted to come out tight,  - too tight - as a gust caused the boat to teeter (Xenons know how to teeter!) I dropped the gennaker sheets but the teetering continued and crash we were down. Nuisance but not a disaster until I found it difficult to recover the gennaker.  We quickly righted the boat even though the gennaker was still partially hanging over the side. Whilst helm did his best to resume the race I attempted to relaunch the gennaker but no go -  the loose hoist line had been pulled into the chute and had done a grand job of parcelling up the gennaker.  The solution, as is often the case, was to gybe the tangled gennaker. As we gybed I alternately loosed and gently pulled in the sheets which partially freed some of the gennaker. Another gybe and bang it burst into life and we shot off after the others.  We did manage to close the gap - in fact we were surprised at how close we were, only to discover later that some other boats had also gone over!  First race not good.

As the racing is back to back and we came in nearly last there was no time to recover and we needed to make a good start.  In the event it was an excellent start, right on the button with the boat travelling at a reasonable speed..... a quick look around to realise that we were not alone. We were flanked by two other fast boats rapidly approaching the windward mark.  In strong and variable winds the helm needs to keep the boat as flat as possible, the effect of speed when the Xenon is shipping water over the front and spueing it out the rear is an illusion. Crew needs to hike hard to reduce the degree with which helm needs to release the main in the gusts, thus keeping the power on.  It was exhausting work one minute hiked right out the next minute scrambling back in as the wind dropped only to have to throw myself out again as the next gust hit.

We made the windward mark just, only just, ahead of the other boats, we made a tight turn and as we turned I was already launching the gennaker. A sudden fierce gust hit the boat, helm veered away and the boat shot forward and we were well away. The second boat was not so fortunate they were part way through the turn when they were caught by the gust and unceremoniously flattened, right in the path of the third Xenon.  We continued to sail hard but it is a lot easier to stay ahead when you have space to choose your course.

The lesson from the days sailing was that the slightest mistake costs dear.  The racing has become very close indeed and if we are to make any mark in the Championship mistakes must be eliminated.

If you plan on sailing in the Championship please get in touch (you can use the Contact Us option on the Home Page).  Apart from the racing that, weather permitting, should be great fun it will be an opportunity to meet other Xenon sailors at the evening meal and discuss modifications and exchange experiences.  




We will all be chasing you - we all want one of those lovely trophies