Race number six, the first Gold fleet race, produced 14 Black Flag starters. While the race committee flew the black flag after two general recalls, I was caught among this group of sailors and had to sit out the race for being called over the start line early. I had notable company, including Paul Goodison, who captured his second black flag for the regatta.
There are a number of strategies to choose from when approaching a Black Flag start. The safe approach is to place yourself in the middle of a group of boats and make sure the committee can't see you or your sail number. If you feel the fleet is holding back, then you can be more aggressive and push the line while others are afraid to (this is what caught out Goodison today). I decided to combine the two approaches. I made a late port tack approach and found a gap with 20 seconds to go into the middle of a grouping near the pin end. I got my bow lined up with my fellow competitors and pulled the trigger at the gun. Unfortunately the group I chose were all over the line when I cozied up to them with 20 seconds to the start.
The second race, a 16th place, was a solid performance that has kept me in 13th place overall, two points out of the top ten. Again, I was well placed at the first windward mark, just ducking behind Goodison to round in 6th. While I slid back on the run he charged to the front, eventually winning the race. The difference between his technique and mine is subtle but effective - something I need to build on.
more downwind work needed
Tomorrow is the final day and the forecast is for 10 knots of breeze from the east - perfect laser conditions.