2017 Spring Series #7 – June 4

What a beautiful day for racing!

The winds were from the south between 10 and 15 mph.   They oscillated between 180 and 200.   Later in the day, they’d occasionally drop down below 10 but then new breeze would roll up the river.

There were 8 Lightnings on the line.  Aaron and I had very close racing with us edging him out by a point at the end of the day.   On this type of day with moderate & steady breeze and flat water all the boats are very similar in speed.  It is very hard to pass and so the start is more important than usual.

Our strategy was to start near the boat so that we’d have the freedom to tack away.  The one time we started down the line, we had a very good start but not good enough to cross the fleet on port.  Will & Aaron had us pinned.  We eventually tacked and swerved hard to duck Will but Aaron had already tacked and led the pack to the windward mark.  Nothing we did would reel him in.

After rounding the leeward mark, if we were leading the strategy for staying in the lead was to sail on port all the way to the airport. Simple.   (The airport is generally the better side to be on, maybe because of less chop or maybe because the land funnels the wind a bit there.  Don’t really know why.)  If we were not the lead boat, we had to fight to keep from sailing into the bad air of the lead boat and look for a small header or better breeze on the left before tacking.  Then we had to be on the lookout for another header to get back toward the airport. Not so simple but we made it work once.

Downwind we worked hard to get inside rights at the mark.  Usually this meant sailing as deep as possible without sailing by the lee.  If the spinnaker trimmer is curling the luff, I’m by the lee if the spinnaker clew is to windward of the forestay.  For speed downwind, we tried to keep our weight forward to keep the water flowing smoothly off our transom, healed slightly to windward to give the spinnaker as much air as possible, and the board almost all the way up into the trunk to give the boat some leeward helm.   But none of that beats getting a good puff!

Fun close racing!

Thanks to Jeff Neurator, Heather Howard, Chris Porter, and Yates for giving us 4 great races.  Heather also took some great pics from the signal boat (thanks Heather!).  And thanks to Tom Hutton for getting the scores calculated not just for today but for the whole Spring Series.

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2017-Spring-7-I-20
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2 thoughts on “2017 Spring Series #7 – June 4”

  1. It was a great day on the water! On 14592, sailing with Rick and Peircarlo, we saw much the same thing that Nabeel describes above. Starts were paramount, especially given the relatively short length of the first beat (little room to make up lost ground). A boat-end start was also important since that gave you the option to either tack out and go right or keep the fleet pinned to the left and under control to the layline. The one time that we started farther down the line (race 1) the same thing that Nabeel describes happened to us — in this case Nabeel was to windward and had us pinned all the way to the layline, such that we could only tack once he did, so our only option was to follow him into the mark and then around the course.

    The O2 course presents some other challenges as well. Passing is tough on the reach lanes, as Nabeel notes, but there are opportunities at the jibe mark if you can keep clear air and hold a lane inside of other boats–and then complete a good, tight jibe. This can be challenging in breezier conditions (on the last race we nearly popped onto a plane on the reach legs!) so good crew work matters. Thanks to Piercarlo and Rick in the jibes we were able to pick up a boat or two at times at that jibe mark.

    Downwind we were focused on the same things that Nabeel notes — weight forward, roll the boat to windward a bit, board up, and carve down as deep as you can go. Going back upwind I was still surprised at how the airport side tends to pay even in “even” conditions such as those this past Sunday. Indeed, we often thought we saw more pressure on the left (channel) side of the course, and sometimes we were fine going that way whereas other times we got edged out by boats who went right. In these moderate conditions (with flat water) keeping the boat *absolutely* flat upwind is also important. On more than one occasion Rick or Piercarlo would spot a puff, we’d all pre-hike a bit, and then hike *hard* as the puff hit. If needed, I’d pull on a bit of backstay or burp the traveller (only happened once or twice). When we kept the boat flat through the puff we would squirt 1/2 boatlength forward vis-a-vis the boats next to us — you could really notice it in these conditions!

    As even as the breeze was, the small differences in velocity did make a difference, especially later in the day as the breeze fluctuated more. Sailing in a puff (or avoiding a lull) can make a huge difference. In the last race I trailed Nabeel and Will around the second leeward rounding (of an O3 race). We all sailed off to the airport shore, but then we observed Nabeel and Will sail into just a bit of a lull. We tacked out into the river to stay in pressure, and then tacked back towards the airport after a bit as Nabeel and Will both came out into the river. We were still behind them both, but along the airport shore we found a nice lift and some pressure such that at the next crossing we were ahead of Will and much closer to Nabeel. We were not able to reel Nabeel in on that last downwind or on the short leg to the finish, but I’m confident we picked up one spot (and narrowed the gap overall) because we were doing a good job watching for these differences in pressure.

    Overall it was a great day on the water and I saw lots of good stuff happening. Will & crew were fast all day long, and Bob was as well–including a bullet for him, Ryan, and Sofia! I was glad to see such a good turnout from the Fleet, and am looking forward to Spring Series #8!

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