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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

May the Wind be at your Back

The wind direction is a key issue for rowing or sailing -  'in your face' can mean a long slog if you are sailing.

But of course rowing along backwards (why do rowers make it so complicated by facing the wrong way round?), it is not good to have it 'in your back' which is why a recent encouraging comment from Alison 'may the wind be at your back' made me chuckle - grammatically correct and spot on - a following wind is what is needed - at my back -  from the back of my boat.

I am looking very carefully at the wind chart. On friday it is currently threatening a solid 16 mile an hour wind 'on my back.' So I am hoping the forecast is wrong, but I have three days for it change in my favour.

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Sunday, 28 April 2013

Bad news for surfers but good news for PicoMicroYacht

I don't want to spoil your fun, fellow surfers, but the truth is I have to admit that just for a little while good news for me will mean disappointing news for you. I logged on to a Cornwall surfing report and read the following comment from today:

'The coming week isn't looking great with high pressure stationed to the west of the UK all week, sending weak lows to the north, we're into a run of north dominated winds and small north wind swell, making for north coast small onshore sessions the only option, with the south coast basically flat. A rest week I reckon (and yes, I will just paddle out for fitness at some point, like you will).'

Frustrating for your I know but it's the news I want to hear - low waves.

Two hours on the rowing machine today watching YouTube videos of people sailing across the oceans.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Weighing the odds and planning the route

It's only six days until I set off from Portreath, weather permitting. Realistically the weather systems are not particularly settled. A current forecast for the day before I start is light northwesterly winds with relatively low waves.

Being cautious I am not going if there is any doubt about the wind and sea state.

I have plotted my route, with estimated voyage times. The first voyage is from Portreath, about 9 miles, which should take about three hours. It takes me two miles out to sea to avoid the Stones, a series of reefs off Godrevy Island. There is an inner passage between the reefs and the island but there is danger of a race forming if there is any sea. After the Stones I cut in and end up at St Ives.

The next three days take me round the tip of cornwall, starting at St Ives and tucking into Sennen Cove for one night and then Mousehole, with a short hop in the final day.

To get to Sennen I have to be two and a half miles off Pendeen to avoid a race and then I head to the right of a rock formation called the Brisons, then entering Whitesand Bay and manoevring into Sennen Cove just before Lands End. Passing Lands End I go inside the Longships but outside the Runnel Stone to avoid the risk of turbulent water off Gwennap Head. The total voyage is about 42 miles according to my measures.

The art of sailing is to be thinking of plan B, plan C and preferably plan D. The problem with the tip of Cornwall is that there are fewer plans. If the sea state gets too difficult to get into Sennen Cove there isn't a great plan B - either reversing up the coast back to St Ives or South and the East, perhaps to get into Porth Curno or Lamorna or on to Mousehole. So in a small boat I am being very cautious.

BUT I have another plan B for the charity event - if the weather fails me then I will cycle round the coast, meeting up with runners on the way and do the same distance on my rowing machine the next weekend - and wait for another opportunity!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

PicoMicroYacht versus Oxford University

Relatively high winds and cold weather means I am training using the rowing machine. On Sunday I was in a safety patrol boat in the middle of Chichester Harbour so missed the Oxford and Cambridge boat race.

I watched it on iplayer, on my rowing machine at the same time. I was supporting Oxford and there was no comparison (I mean between me and Oxford).

Oxford at 45 at the start settling into a rhythm

Oxford went off at a stonking 45 strokes per minute and settled into an amazing rhythm between 34 and 36. I started at 20 and settled into 24, not so impressive. Because Oxford were in the lead and focused on their 'power plan,' by about Chiswick Steps they were down to 33  and keeping  ahead by 2/3 of a length. At this point I got off the rowing machine to start running my bath.

Cambridge trailing Oxford

When I returned, Oxford sprinted, their rate going up to about 37 and they drew clear ahead, just in time to avoid taking the outside of the next bend. I resumed rowing and kept going to the finish increasing to 26, whilst Oxford settled down to a sedate 34 until sprinting for the finish, but only at about 36. They didn't seem particularly exhausted at the end.