2015 Racing Schedule Posted!


We have posted the 2015 Racing Calendar to the PRSA Website: http://potomacriversailing.org/calendar/   It might be cold and snowy today, but it is not too soon to start making your plans for the 2015 sailing season!

Laser Frostbite Series #17

Yesterday was a great day on the river!
A squirrelly Northwesterly kept things interesting and definitely made it a challenge to stay in phase and keep your ass out of the water.  At several points the breeze was way left at the start, but it was hard to know if/how long that was going to hold so I usually split the difference and went for a hole in the middle of the line and tacked on the first shift.  Most races that got me to the windward mark in good stead.  Make or break moments for me most of the time, however, had to do with boat handling unfortunately.  At several points I gave up a lead or lost boats by getting stuck in irons fumbling to release the vang, capsizing, or incurring totally unnecessary fouls.  My key takeaway from yesterday, minimize mistakes.
The race committee did a great job setting a course that split the different between the oscillations in wind direction and getting races off in short order.
Congrats to Eric Petersen for a remarkably consistent performance yesterday (all 1sts I believe) and on his overall win for the season!  We also owe Eric a huge thanks for all that he does as Fleet Captain and Farley for doing the scores and updating the website!

Laser Frostbite Series #15

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!

2014-2015 Laser Frostbite Series 15

2014-2015 Laser Frostbite Series Totals

Laser Frostbite Series #11

There was perfect weather today but not much wind. The windalert.com track never went over 5 knots and at some points the graph drops to zero. On the water the wind was light and oscillating but the race committee did a good job setting up the course for the conditions. We always had enough water to sail in thanks in part to a high tide. Sailing on the lagoon I only noticed current when we finally sailed in by the docks as the tide flowed out through the channel.
One thing I think I did pretty well today was the starts. I watched this youtube video a couple weeks ago about Starting Strategy with Peter Isler (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WzOrK3y9nI). It is over an hour long but I think it has really good information. What Isler advocates is not trying to fight for the very best spot but instead going for a ‘good enough’ spot where there is less competition. On the first start of the day I approached the line on port tack and almost the entire fleet was to the right of the boat gunning for the best start possible. I tacked to starboard a couple of boat lengths down and got a decent start even though I set up a little early and didn’t defend my hole as well as I could have.
The second race people spread out on the line a little more and I was able to find a hole from a port tack approach much nearer to the boat. I tacked out to the right side quickly but I never got my boat going the way I wanted and Jim Graham went from sitting on my hip to sailing higher and faster to the point were I could read the word ‘Toucan’. I tend to pinch a lot in general and I think that on these light wind days if you don’t get up to speed first before trying to pinch you’ll forever be stuck in 1st gear going lower and slower. Moral of the story: make sure to foot a little after the start or after a tack before trying to pinch in light air.
On the third race the wind went far left just before the start. The fleet was still mostly collected around the boat and there were only about three people eyeing the pin end. After some match racing luffing and tactics against Eric Petersen I was able to tack on to the pin lay line on starboard right before the start and accelerate with clear air. After the start I looked for the earliest opportunity to tack back and try to center myself on the course and consolidate my gains in case the wind decided to fill in with more velocity on the other side. Being in the lead with clear air it is much easier to play the shifts and capitalize on your lead on the upwind legs and that is what I was able to to. I always tried to steer a little towards where I thought the next puff was coming from and keeping between the person behind me and the next mark.
Winning the start on the third race gave me the confidence to try and win the boat on the last race. I was able to do it by setting up at the right time (~30 sec before the start), sitting on the lay line to the RC boat almost head to wind with my nose about two feet from the end of the committee boat and then accelerating at the right time at a little less than 10 seconds. Even with winning the boat I still had someone to leeward of me so I couldn’t bear off as much as I maybe normally would have in this light air. By the time we got to the windward mark Farley Will was able to tack inside of me by over half a boat length. He started mid-line that race and I bet he didn’t have anyone to leeward of him which may prove Peter Isler’s strategy.

Laser Frostbite Series #10

The forecast was for 5mph wind, increasing to 7-8mph, however this did not hold as the wind died out during the second race.
During the first leg of the first race, Len was first to catch a big shift and took off on everyone.  The rest of us battled it out for 2nd.
The second race was very light wind with increasing current.  Everyone needed to be patient and those with good light wind boat speed finished well.
The third race was a windward – leward once around, with wind only on the west side of the course.  Adam had a great start at the boat end, then tacked into the wind.  However, he got stuck in a hole and others caught up.
We finished the day with a great parking lot birthday party for Kevin, who is approaching Grand Master status on the Laser Masters tour.
On days like this, I try to:
  • keep the boat moving – at the start and by not pinching upwind
  • actively look around to figure out where the wind is
  • keep my weight forward – upwind and downwind
  • roll tack
Thanks to Dan and Nich for doing RC!

Laser Frostbite Series #9

Awesome day on the water! Great job to the RC for fitting in several quality races.

The wind was very up and down, and then back up and down again, and then way right, and then left, and then…. we’ll you get the point. Fluky day and very important to be on the favored side of a shift, could make or loose half of the fleet on a couple of occasions.
The downwinds were a little tricky for me, tried hard to stay in a lane with clear air and work my way to the inside. Lots of pinwheel roundings.
Tide was very high when we first started, so I can only assume it was going out as we raced – it had more effect when the wind was light. I didn’t rly pay much attention to it when the wind was up.
The starts were pretty aggressive with the boat being way favored a couple times with a lot of people pushing to win the boat.
Great day on the water, looking forward to more wind!

Laser Frostbite Series #6

When we first got out I was psyched to see the wind from the South at about 10-12 knots.  As someone on the taller/heavier side I like it when the wind is up and, in my experience on the river, Southerlies tend to be stable both in velocity and direction.  Apparently, though, that was not the Southerly we had today.  The first two races saw big shifts at the start and then the breeze died off for the second two.  The first race it went way right making a boat end start critical.  The second race it went way left.  The puffs, it seemed, were coming in predominately from the right and tended to be right shifts, so I gambled with a midline start and headed right.  Whatever I may have gained from being on the right, however, did not make up for missing the first big shift and not being at the pin.  As the wind dropped off for the last two races finding the breeze became the overriding consideration and it seemed almost as likely to be on the left as the right.  We had an ebb tide for most of the day, but the current seemed negligible.  Justin did a great job as RC finding us enough water to sail in and getting the races off.
Great to get out on Laser again and to see so many new faces.  Looking forward to next Sunday.
Jason Ipe

2014-2015 Laser Frostbite Series 6

2014-2015 Laser Frostbite Series – Cumulative (Through 1/4/15)

2015 Hangover Regatta

On January 1, 1974, about the time of one of the first Hangover Regattas, the Potomac River Laser Fleet was comprised very similarly to today’s fleet, with the British Naval Attaché as our fleet captain, Turkish diplomates, Lightning sailors, 470 sailors, Jet 14 sailors and numerous high school sailors. Mark Bear and I were two of those high school sailors. With the guidance of Peter Syverson the Potomac boasted one of the first Laser fleets. There was one important difference, however. In 1974 Northern Virginia had yet to experience its huge building boom. The Sailing Marina was uniformly 14 feet in depth across the cove to the airport rip rap. We regularly held huge events in the cove including such deep water boats as Stars.Today, much of Arlington and Falls Church have washed down Four Mile Run into our cove and center of the river. Nabeel, our RC chair, citing the extreme low tide, wisely elected to head north to avoid the shallow conditions downstream from the marina. As we headed for the race course both old timers such as Mark and Michael, and even fleet regulars such as Dan and myself( I am almost a regular), found themselves glued to the bottom just inside the last day mark. Fortunately, I was able to spring free just in time to make the two minute horn. I was able to convince Nabeel to postpone to accommodate our less fortunate fleet members.

Once we all assembled at the race course we found a surprisingly nice place to race. The tide conditions we very simple, with the flood quite pronounced on the left, channel side of the course, while quite benign on the right, landing pier side of the course. The cove gave the breeze a much better fetch than we experience either racing inside or in the more recent Marina Towers race area. The breeze seemed to fit Sail Flow’s forecast almost perfectly at 7-18 with about 60-65% of the larger shots coming with a fair amount of west and far fewer coming from 180. The line was rather long and seemed to be square to pin biased all day. My strategy for the day was simple, find a relatively clear spot on the line where I could always be in phase, and hopefully working right. In the first race that strategy seemed to pan out until one of those 35% probability lefties scrambled the weather mark rounding. I believe Mark and Len escaped most unscathed. The lesson learned for the day was, while favoring a side, given the puffy nature of the breeze, I was never going to sail to either layline again.
As the day progressed, I generally found the right and middle of the start appealing, despite the pin bias, so that I might be one of the first to take advantage of the relatively few truly lifted port tack beats. I tried to anticipate the starboard gusts, remaining content to sail around the entire”catspaw” of the right hand blast to avoid that fate of race one. In general, I found most boats playing the right sailed far too close to the pier and lost huge amounts as they sailed back to the mark in reduced pressure or a slight knock. Every so often sailing hard to one or another side paid off as Eric will attest in the last race.
Downwind, I concentrated on a technique that I have watched my son, Alex employ very effectively all fall. At all costs, I sailed to the big blasts. Once in the blast I attempted to position my boat so that I sailed as close to rhumbline as possible. In one instance I rode the blast a tad too far, crashing on my jibe just to leeward of the leeward mark.
Lessons learned:
1. In a puffy westerly/southwesterly tack early–attempting to gain too much from a shift might backfire
2. If the phases of the shifts are not lasting for an entire leg do not “own” one side or the other
3. Always seek pressure downwind.
4. Appreciate the awesome volunteers that make our sport great.
Thanks to everyone who missed sailing to run races yesterday and all year. Happy New Year!
James L. Jacob
And a special thanks to Carl Schaefer for taking photos.

Laser Frostbite Series #4

Laser Frostbite Fleet,

Today was a great day on the water. We had a very shifty North West breeze which was deceiving upon arriving to the club. I thought today would have been light but instead, we had strong breeze with significant velocity and directional shifts today allowing for lots of passing opportunities. Days like today are reminders of just how demanding the laser is. We sailed out in the river and the tide was fairly slack, I didn’t pay much attention to it today. The starting line and mark roundings were exciting and busy with 25 lasers out! Today it was important to stay in the middle of the course and tack on the headers, have all controls trimmed for the breeze that you were in and hike hard. I trimmed the vang, outhaul, and cunningham much more than i usually would given the wind velocity was constantly changing. It is exciting to have such a large group out, I look forward to the next one.
Cheers everyone.
-Jamie Moran

Laser Frostbite Series #3

First, as newcomer to the fleet – hello to everybody!  I moved to DC late last year and – after seeing the fleet out one day having too much fun while I was driving by in slow traffic — I decided to get back into Lasers.  Turns out, one of the best decisions I’ve made recently.  Actually that’s not a high bar in my case, but still….

Now, since it seems I was ‘close enough’ to third place today, I was honored with the coveted write-up spot.  Which, as I’m sitting down doing it, is actually pretty fun for what in effect sounded like a version of homework.

For me, the day was all about keeping the boat moving as consistently and roughly fast as possible – not fine-tuning – right from the start and all the way around.  There was plenty of wind (especially in the first races) that was relatively steady both in terms of gusts and shifts, along with enough chop to notice.  So not really a tactical racecourse today – I can imagine that when we sail in a north gusty-shifty breeze close to the marina in that little cove things get incredibly always-look-around-split-second-decision-type tactical.  But out where we were today, with a wide empty river and airport to windward, I think focusing on boat speed and boat handling is what paid off.

For the starts, although the c-boat seemed favored or way-favored, I really just looked to launch off the line as fast as possible, more or less from the middle or even closer to the pin – wherever I could ‘launch and breathe’.

Upwind, I’m not that heavy Laser-wise (or any-wise I guess).  Since, as Dirty Harry tells us, a man has got to know his limitations, in breeze today I start off with relatively tight outhaul and very, very tight Cunningham, and then (as soon as possible after the start-launch) nail down the vang hard as well.  The de-powered set-up means that you keep things consistent and non-overwhelmed – calmer.  But then it is absolutely, positively necessary to avoid pinching or trying to go up too high – boat speed with a depowered sail means keeping the momentum, even if the sheet is way out.  Accept your limitations. Especially with the chop.  And sand-bars (…well, maybe not the sand-bars…I obviously have no wisdom on that front).  So in a way, with the sail way-trimmed, you have to stay way-loose on the helm.

At the top mark, there is one Commandment in today’s breeze:  Thou shall get the vang eased, or thou will be cast most forcibly up or down upon the waters (I have been a sinner much in this…and have paid the price).  Easing the Cunningham or lifting the board – nice to have, but not so important with all that windpower around – you can procrastinate.  Focus on the vang. I think it is even worth aiming to hit the starboard lay-line with more runway than strictly necessary just to get it sorted more or less.

Downwind, I think the choice on offer today was often between by-the-lee and normal sailing – whichever would result in the fastest speed more/less to the mark.  For me, by-the-lee always feels so strange to begin with (such violation of a fundamental big boat instinct) but once you get going, it is of course very stable and very fast.  Leeward legs in breeze it’s pretty much a default setting.  With the triangles today, more optional.

Finally, at the bottom mark – it seemed that getting the sheet in as quickly as possible and snapping the boat ‘round seemed to pay.  Again, plenty of breeze means that you’ll be going relatively fast where you are pointed, so it is a priority to be heading the right way, as opposed to right angles to that.  Sail controls and all the rest can wait – my boat is often a flapping, sheet-trailing, tangle-line, awkward-odd-hiking position mess as I go around but that’s ok (as long as no photogs around – I’d fear Eric’s GoPro if it faced astern…) I clean it up later…

Anyway, all FWIW.  I better send this to Farley before the dog eats it in the traditional way.  Great to join the fleet – I look forward to sailing with ya’all as much as possible!!

John Ryan 205405

Must watch video from Eric Petersen – excellent capsize recoveries, starts, and speed.

Laser Frostbite Series 3