2023 ILCA Frostbite Series #17

I think this is the second time I have raced a Laser since Y2K. Here are some thoughts.

CURRENT: High tide was at 1518, however recent rains to the west must have filled the river as we had an out going current all day.  I am not intimately familiar with this part of the Potomac. Reviewing my RaceQs record (see attached file), the extent of the course for races 2-5 was roughly mid way between the east and west shores. The bathymetry would have gradually increasing depth from right to left looking upwind. I would expect the current to be slower on the west side of the course due to it being shallower water and in the “lee” of the mud flats surrounding the airport landing lights.

WIND: While rigging I had forgotten to install the battens in the sail. Everyone had departed, so I slid the boat from its dolly onto the grass and rolled it over. In the process I saw the dirt and grime covering the hull – figuring that no one would be racing in such light air – and gave it a quick cleaning. By the time I got to the course area I saw the fleet in the final throes of race #1 that was started in an easterly that morphed into a nearly non-existent southerly for the final two legs. The breeze gradually, sporadically filled in from the south for races 2-5. This was nothing like our regular, thermal-driven southerly. More often than not, we saw gusts from the east. The combination of favorable current and SE gusts drew me to the left more often than not. Now, the day’s forecast was for a southerly breeze shifting to west and increasing at around 1400. I was half expecting people to come from the far right, planing into the mark – but this never occurred. The westerly finally showed up, nearly two hours late and right after the final race. Bottom line is that if one were going to pick a side, in the absence of any other indications, the left (east) appeared to be favored. What will it be next time? No freaking clue.

RANDOM OBSERVATIONS: I kept overstanding the windward mark. I don’t recall the Laser being that close winded. Maybe it was me mis judging the current. We had a few fleeting moments where we had to hike and almost enough wind to blow the leech open. I put tell tales in the middle of the sail. None on the leech – its always stalled anyway. My new dry suit worked really well: the relief zipper served its purpose – a heretofore untested and critical piece of technology!

IN SUM: The PRSA frostbite program continues to function well. I recall my first sail on the Potomac during the winter of 1982-83 in penguins and then lasers. Just about all the names have changed but the sailing is still tricky, challenging, and fun. The informal post race social was fun and enhanced by the bright sunshine and 74 deg F temperatures. GF Lee drove down and brought some snacks. Celeste brought Elmarie. Special thanks to Tyler and Eva for serving as RC.


23-24 PRSA ILCA Frostbite Series #17