Fall Series #3 Wrap-Up: We Had Breeze!

For the first time since the President’s/Leukemia cup we had very good breeze for our racing!  The steady NW breeze (which had a lot of left shift in it at times) gave us great conditions, and PRO Jim Graham and his RC did a fantastic job in getting us three races.  Eight Lightnings, six Albacores, two Buccaneers, a Laser, and a Hobie came out to play and after a solid day of racing we all enjoyed a great BBQ (thanks to Red and Susan for bringing burgers!) in the picnic area afterwards.  Carrie Quinn took some amazing photos from the day, and I’ve posted some of my observations below from the Lightning fleet below.  Keep reading for more details from the day’s racing, and make sure to post a comment with your own thoughts, recollections, and tall tales from the day — especially if you were in one of the other fleets!

Sitting at the marina listening to sails flog as people hoisted and left the docks, one got the impression that it was going to be a very windy, wet day.  The chilly breeze and occasional bit of drizzle also might also have kept a few teams on shore, but as Red pointed out after the sailing, “this is why I bought foul weather gear!”  Once we got out onto the river, though, it was clear that we had good breeze but nothing extreme.  The sun even poked through the low grey clouds at time, and by the time the day was done we all agreed that it was one of the finest days on the river in a while.

The RC did a great job of tucking the windward mark up near that little shed (the one with the red and white checkered roof) on the airport side, and then placed the leeward mark out near the channel, giving us a nice long windward-leeward course.  Already in the pre-start sequence it was clear that a pin start and a strategy that took you up the left side fo the course, along the airport shore, would be favored most of the day.  Hooking into one of the little lines of pressure coming down that side of the course could give you a significant advantage, in terms of both pressure and angle, over a boat that was just a few lanes to windward or leeward of you.  This, combined with the left swings in the breeze, meant that most boats were fighting for the pin end, and that the boat that won the pin generally made it to the windward mark first.  That is certainly what Nabeel (sailing with Craig and Stefano) did in the first race, with Team Sinistra (Rick, Aaron, and Pat McGee — welcome back Pat!) close on their heels.  Frank likely would have been first, but he was a bit early to the pin and had to go back around after being called over early.  As it turned out, Team Shadowfax led all the way around, with the distance between them and us after 3 laps (!) nearly the same as it was after the start–just a boat length or two!

Going downwind the fleet quickly split into two packs, especially in the first race, as some boats opted to fly the chute and others chose not to in the somewhat puffy conditions.  As the breeze settled down over the day, more and more boats opted for the bag, which was good to see.  With this in mind, though, I only got glimpses of those boats near us.  Jeff, Bruce, and Becky sailing on Team Ariel were competitive all day, just narrowly loosing out to us on Sinistra in a close finish for third place (behind Nabeel and Frank) in race 2.  In race 3 we were lucky enough to get far enough left – thanks to Pat’s insistent urging – to hook into a pressure line and lead the whole way around the course.  This was made a bit easier by a continual left shift that meant that the first downwind leg was actually a pretty tight reach to the windward mark — it made for a fun ride in almost-planing conditions, but also meant that there was no passing to be done (fine from our perspective up front!).   The second lap around the course saw some shifts and pressure changes that allowed the trailing pack to close the gap, but Rick did a great job of protecting his lead and taking Sinistra across the line for the final gun of the day.

As I mentioned above, we had a great BBQ after the racing complete with beer, brats, and burgers.  In addition to the Lightnings I mentioned above, I saw Eric Hakanson out sailing with his fiancee Meghan (congratulations you two!) and Jen; Mark Ewing was on the water, as was Will Philippe in the “college boat”.  Since some boats missed the first race and others left early, I didn’t necessarily get all of your crews names.  If you were out there and I missed you, go ahead and post a comment here!

I hope everybody is rested up and looking forward to the resumption of our fall series on this coming Sunday.  We’ll see you on the water!