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.