Writeup to come…
Register now for the PRSA Spring Regatta! This is PRSA’s signature spring event, and it promises to be lots of fun. If you register and pay your registration fee by the end of the day on Saturday, May 16, your registration feel will be $10 less than if you register and pay after May 16. Register now and save some cash! Plus, knowing who is coming will help us plan for food and beverages.
The NOR and additional regatta information are all posted on the Regatta Website. Please register now so that we know you’re coming and so that we can generate some momentum for the event!
Sunday turned out to be another predictable day sailing on the Potomac. You were completely assured that whatever breeze you were currently sailing in would quickly increase or decrease in velocity, or completely change direction. Once again, our PRO and RC for the weekend (Dan, Barney, Lee, and Jim) deserve praise for focusing on running races in the dynamic wind conditions.
Overall, I would describe the conditions as light and shifty were the puffs often brought wind from other directions. The south running current was quite strong and was particularly a factor as the breeze decreased. My goals for the day were to be on the line, maintain boat speed, play the shifts, and look for breeze upwind.
During the first race the windward mark was set roughly due south. As we rounded the windward mark the wind died and I attempted to gain separation by moving to the edge of the fleet to maintain speed and remove myself from any wind shadows. Looking up river we could see the breeze building so we transitioned from downwind to upwind gears. We did our best to resist pinching and keep the boat moving. We were one of the first boats to get the breeze, but were on the wrong side of the coarse (we received the header, while Jim rode a lift to the mark).
After the first race, RC set the windward mark off the airport shoreline approximately from the northwest. Although we won the start with Jeff, a huge header on the left side of the course meant that the rest of the fleet rode the lift on the right side of the course. Once we rounded the windward mark, we set the boat up to sail high and to windward of the mark for a couple reasons. We wanted to have inside room at the mark rounding, keep our speed up by sailing higher, and let the current carry us downwind to the leeward mark. Although not racing the buccaneers per say, this really paid off in the third race when Jeff sailed low to the leeward mark and then had to fight upwind and against the current to round the mark.
The start was crucial for the third race. During the start sequence, with the windward mark still set to the northwest, the wind shifted to the north and a number of boats from various fleets were stuck well below the line, fighting the current and wind direction to make the start. With few boats on the line, we basically tried to sail fast and tack on the big shifts. Again, on the leeward legs we sailed high to maintain speed and position.
The strongest wind of the day seemed to be the sail back to the marina. We sure did miss the majority of the lightning fleet! In your honor, no one could bring themselves to light the charcoal (I guess we know who brings the party). It was great to have so many new boat owners on the water (Mike C, Allen G, Anne T, and Katherine M). Hopefully this was a glimpse of what we hope to accomplish with our annual Rookie Regatta!
Back by popular demand, we will be holding the 2nd Annual PRSA Rookie Regatta this coming Sunday! This one-day regatta has two purposes:
- To encourage skippers and crews to bring new people on board, hopefully sparking an interest in racing and in sailing with PRSA; and
- To encourage PRSA crews to take a turn at the helm to learn about driving, build team rapport on their boats, and perhaps even spark an interest in becoming a full time owner and driver!
The racing on May 10 will be scored separately from the PRSA Spring Series. The scores will not count towards a boat’s Spring Series scoring. Instead, we will recognize all of the new crew and skippers at the regatta and provide a few racing awards for each class based on the day’s results. For this regatta, a high-point scoring system will be used. There will be point bonuses for bringing new sailors aboard, for having crew instead of the regular skipper drive, and more.
Please review the Sailing Instructions for the “Rookie Regatta” (below) and work on your boat’s lineup for the day. Each boat should also fill out a Bonus Sheet and turn it in to the scorers after the racing. Hard copies of these forms will be available Sunday as well.
We encourage you to invite new people out to sail with you, or to turn the helm over to one of your regular crew! The racing will be followed by the standard post-race BYO BBQ, so remember to bring a little something for the grill and some beverages as well.
Well, Spring Series #3 was certainly far different than the previous week’s “puff and shift festival” (to quote Bobby Astrove). Instead of 15-25 from the east we were greeted with a light and variable wind and plenty of sunshine when we arrived at the marina. At first it looked like the forecast breeze (NE 8-10, shifting to N and then NW) would fill in as predicted. However, the breeze shut down completely as we tried to make it up to the race course, prompting PRO Nich Allen and skiff driver Stew Harris to organize tows up to the course.
After a bit of drifting the RC wisely went into sequence at the first hint of a semi-steady breeze. The W2 course was oriented with the windward mark to the ENE, off Hanes Point and just outside of the channel. The breeze was certainly spotty and shifty, though the boats that favored the left (north) side of the course seemed to catch better air and benefit from some breeze lines that came down from the North. There was no easy path, though, and on board Sinistra in the Lightning fleet we went from mid-fleet to last to first to last to mid-fleet again over the course of the first race. With the puffs filling from the North we didn’t get a true downwind, so there was lots of jib-reaching and jockeying for position to find the side of the course that had breeze.
It was certainly not an easy day to be RC, as the breeze would fill, shift, die, and then fill from another direction. Race 2 was a 1-lap windward-leeward race that started in very little breeze but then saw a NE breeze fill for a bit such that it was a really quick race. As it looked like a stronger northerly breeze would fill in and become consistent the RC quickly got us off on a third race (back to a W2 this time). In what seemed to be a perfect expression of the craziness of the day, we bumped the starting pin on Sinistra and found ourselves last after doing our turn…only to round the windward mark first after finding some breeze on the left (north) edge of the course that we were able to hook into and hang onto for a tight reach, a beat back up to the windward mark, and a reach back down. We were happy to end the day with a bullet, and the RC wisely sent us in to enjoy the rest of the afternoon by the grill as the wind died altogether and we hooked up for a tow back to the marina. All in all, though, a good day on the water!
Today was an awesome day on the water and the weather gave us exactly the opposite from last weekend. The breeze was out of the east/south east and was blowing around 16 most of the day. As is typical of an east wind, the conditions were quite puffy and shifty. The race committee set us up a triangle course and was able to get 5 races off (3 T2s and 2 O2s). The conditions gave us some nice long reaching legs that were quite fast at times. We had 3 Albacores, 2 Buccaneers, and 6 Lightnings and decided at the skippers meeting to just have everyone start together which provided fun races and competitive starts.
The opening day of PRSA’s 2015 Spring Series arrived clear, blue and still: the river was glass smooth and only faint wisps of breeze out of the north were all that remained of the frontal winds from the day before. Race Committee PRO Jim Graham pulled everyone together for the skippers’ meeting at ten and announced a one hour delay, noting that we all had to be off the water for the PRSA BBQ scheduled to begin at 3PM. Four Lightnings were present– Frank Gallagher, Nabeel Alsalam, Bob Astrove, and Lindsay Bach– along with groups of three or four each of Albacores, Buccaneers and Interlake Scows. So everyone milled about for an hour or so when Jim came walking through the clusters of sailors blowing his whistle, announcing another one hour delay. About halfway through the second hour, Jim decided we should all splash and the RC would tow the boats up to the course. This took about about three quarters of an hour during which time the the scows dropped out. The wind was still mostly absent though the forecast was calling for the breeze to come up out of the South sometime around one o’clock. So the fleet drifted and bobbed for about another three-quarters of an hour in the luxurious sunshine until a faint southerly breeze of about 3 mph began to fill in, right on schedule, a little after 1:00 PM.
The race committee started the first race on a W2 course with the windward buoy set about 300 yards down river, just off the new runway extension at the airport. It was slow going but at least we were going. Frank, Nabeel and Bob crossed the starting line followed by Lindsay. Rounding the weather mark, Lindsay managed to slip ahead of Bob on the downwind leg. Given that the southerly wind was only about 2-3 mph — barely enough to overcome the push of the incoming tide– the RC decided to shorten the course and finish after one lap. The positions established after the first weather mark held for the rest of the race with Frank in the lead followed by Nabeel, Lindsay and Bob. Frank crossed first about three boat lengths ahead of Nabeel, and as a measure of how light it was, Nabeel crossed about 2 minutes later.
After the first race, the Lightnings drifted around for another half an hour or so as the wind continued to slacken and the rest of the fleet struggled to finish. It was not exactly certain that the RC would hold another race as it was nearly 2 PM. However, fresh wind began to appear down by the Wilson Bridge and soon made its way up river, coming in finally at about 6-8 mph. The RC repositioned the weather mark a little further east out in the river and started the second race on the W2 course. The pin end was strongly favored but positions among the four boats were spread along the short line at the start. The fleet tacked away soon after the start towards the airport and Frank got out in front with Nabeel in second, followed by Bob and Lindsay — positions that remained unchanged throughout the race. After the finish, the fleet had a fine sail back to the marina followed by the PRSA BBQ
Great day on the water. I had a lot of fun and it seemed like most people did too. The wind was good, 8-12 by my estimate, and it was titanic status with icebergs all over the course.
Seemed like the left payed well but I was able to make gains going right too.
Tried to keep the boat as powered as I could and didn’t feel the need to depower except for at the end when I was tired. If you’re not on the heavier side, I think depowering was needed. But don’t forget to start with some power in the sail off the line and be adjusting in the lulls. I also adjusted the sail controls for the reach and downwind right before the weather mark. This helped get up to speed faster and get ahead if I was with someone at the rounding.
I tried the straight downwind strategy and bigger broad reaches. Each had its advantage. I didn’t like the reach approach when I had to sail very high to induce the plane. I think I just sailed too much extra distance and vmg went to those sailing on dead downwind heading.
See everyone next week. Let’s hope for even more wind!
We are just over a week away from the start of our Spring Sailing Season. Take a moment now to make sure you are ready for the season by doing the following:
- Pay your PRSA Dues.
- Make sure you are signed up for RC duty.
- Make sure you have our key dates on your calendar.
If you take care of these things now, you’re all set to enjoy the season. See you on the water soon!