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Xenon Dinghy torpedoed!

We set out for a pleasant Wednesday evening sail - attracted by the forecast of stronger winds. The racing format for Weds evenings is very informal. Each race consists of a single lap and there are usually 3 races. The Race officer very kindly and cheerfully volunteers his services for the enjoyment of us all, even though he also is a keen sailor.  Those racing on Weds evenings are often the very knowledgeable ones, so we are used to trailing in at the end of the field.

Today promised to be very lively. When we arrived the wind was a steady F4 gusting to over F5 and the forecast was for a slight increase during the evening. We seriously considered reefing the Xenon,  however the flotation system is not so good with lowered sails and we fancied our chances of staying afloat so we set sail with the full rig. In practice we feel very comfortable with the Xenon in strong winds although after three capsizes in the evening you would be forgiven for wondering about our judgement!

The purpose of this blog is to describe our first capsize (too embarassed to describe the rest!). Xenon owners may be interested to see the whole sordid saga captured on video.  It was a great evening sailing that included a lively and very fast gennaker run (not on the video) but seeing the capsize close up may be helpful and reduce any concerns Xenon owners may have over their ability to recover the dinghy.

The Xenon is easy to right after a capsize and the video shows the whole procedure but don't blink as it takes only just over 60 seconds before we are running again - even including our safety checks. This rapid recovery was achieved in all three capsizes. We did not need to use the righting lines.

As you will have noted the incoming torpedo (a Topper) forced us to  bear away rapidly in an effort to reduce the impact. As you might expect the Xenon did not even notice the impact and fortunately a rescue boat was already on station trying to sort out the carnage produced by the heavy gusts and to assist the lad on the Topper.

Immediately after the impact the Xenon had fully recovered but the bow was still swinging to port and we were rapidly turning stern to wind. A crash gybe was inevitable but had I acted sooner in releasing the Jib sheet we would have completed the turn and we would probably have resumed our course.. but I didn't!

As we continued the race I wondered why we had capsized after a seemly smooth recovery. It was the video playback that exposed the reason. If you are interested have a look at the 'crash gallery'; a series of snapshots from the slow motion replay. The events leading to a crash gybe are shown step by step.

The GPS we had on board at the time had a nervous breakdown!

The video was captured using a Contour HD camera in a waterproof case. I mounted the case on my helmet using a wide strip of elastic supplemented by self adhesive Velcro type tape.



Great post David, all that was missing from the assorted carnage was a U boat! Thanks for sharing.