Category Archives: Frostbite

2022 Laser Frostbite First Weeks Update

Well Sailors, after 3 weekends in a row of cancelling, we hope to finally get out and race this coming weekend.

Frostbite Series 1 (Nov 13) was too windy.  Two souls made it to the race course with several capsizing on the way and others waiting on shore.

Frostbite Series 2 (Nov 20) was also windy.  And the high of 38 gave us January Frostbiting weather in November.  And with a lot of wind for the weekend and low tide, there was not much water in the river. Three brave souls showed up to try and race but ultimately pulled the plug.

Frostbite Series 3 (Nov 27) was rainy and a strange forecast of 9 gusting to 33 with a small craft advisory.  6 sailors showed up but only two were gung ho to go out and ultimately we decided that it was not worth punishing the race committee for two of us to go sailing.

Next weekend is a new day and hopefully we will get out and finally do a few races!

2021-2022 Laser Frostbite 11

David Metcalf and Carlo Sdralevich ran the races.  It was their first time doing it.  Thank you!

The wind was generally over 10 mph and relatively steady. The last race the wind picked up briefly to over 15 – no whitecaps but close. The racers were beating block-to-block for the most part, and they enjoyed the relatively steady wind. Some looked worn out by the 5th race, I know I would have been.

The low tide was lower than usual and setting a course in line with the wind in the deep parts of the river was challenging. For most of the races the pin end of the starting line was favored, the best starts were made from the middle of the line, away from traffic. Tom Hutton got in a groove and finished 1-1-1 in the last three races.

— Dave Metcalf

Results (Race 31-35)
LaserFrostbite2122_11

2021-2022 Laser Frostbite 6

Gray day with a soft rain and a southwest wind in the 10-15 mph  range.    Air and water temperature both around 41.

John Van Voorhis and Jim Graham ran the races.

Day’s Results

LaserFrostbite2122_6  (races 26-28, January 9)

Thoughts from Farley —

Sunday was an interesting day on the river.  The front mostly came in as expected and the wind built throughout the 3 races.  It was a little different though because while the wind built, it continued to be mostly a southerly.  The wind did generate some waves that were definitely surfable and it was still kind of puffy.  Each race the wind built and started around 10 and was definitely gusting above 20 by the last race.  Oh and it was raining the whole time.  A huge thanks to Jim and John for doing race committee on a nasty day and putting a triangle mark to give us olympic courses!

For myself, I was struggling a bit with my first day out on the laser with high wind in basically 2 years (last year was decidedly not windy for the days I sailed).  The first race I started near the pin and that did not work too well for me since the course was starboard tack and boat favored (I was running late and did not check anything).  I did have some fun downwind tactics in the first race with Ethan where I was able to use the waves and wind to pass him on the inside right before rounding the leeward mark.  The second race the wind had picked up a little more and I was starting to get overpowered.  I snugged up my vang, outhaul, and cunningham to depower and stopped sheeting in quite as much.  I got a little lucky and passed some people that capsized in that race.  Some people went in for the last race.  In the last race, it was getting windy.  This was my “bad” race.  I got stuck in irons 2 times during tacks and capsized 3 times during the race and was generally exhausted by the end (and glad it was the last race).  For the stuck in irons, I did not think my vang was on too hard but I let it off and got the boat moving again before resetting.

All in all it was still a fun day but definitely harder than I was ready for!

So far this season, 30 boats have sailed and 15 have sailed half or more.  Farley is learding the qualifiers, but Steen is way out front among the non-qualifiers and is likely to reach the quali fying threshold.

Cumulative Results Through #6

LaserFrostbite2122_thru6

2021-2022 Laser Frostbite 5

Jim Klein and Kevin Cowley ran RC. They and the sailors had a long discussion about whether it was safe to go out. In the end they and 11 sailors did go out.

The winds where in the high teens (white caps were not constant) and gusts were up in the 20s. The air and water temperatures were similar — mid 40s. Colds hands were an issue for several sailors — we need to compare our methods of keeping hands warm. Capsizing and hard hiking was tiring.

Conditions at Reagan National Airport:

Results:

LaserFrostbite2122_5

Thoughts from Mike Renda

Well, the wife took the kids and went to NY this morning, and the weather forecast was for 45F and gusts in the low 20s. Seemed like a good day to get out and go sailing. Anyways, some thoughts.

On the water, my mantra is this on days like this: 90% fast, 100% of the time. In general, this focuses on minimizing mistakes, avoiding problematic situations and risk, thinking ahead, and keeping good boat speed.

Racecourse: My general observation is that I think there were better puffs out left. Current didn’t really seem to be a factor, or at least I didn’t really think about it. There were small gains on shifts to be had, but tacking on them required a bit of calculation to determine if the shift was big enough to warrant the extra tack (tacking too much on a breezy day can be slow, and the course wasn’t really long). I believe most of my first beats were: start at boat, go left until near port layline, tack on port, tack back on starboard when on layline with about 2-4 boatlengths to the mark.

Pre-start: I believe the boat was increasingly favored throughout the day (though never that much). My general approach on days like this is to err on being near the boat, with a focus on getting off without a hitch (low risk). Vang should be loose in case you need to duck / maneuver, though drastic moves should be avoided — no gybing. Also, I try to keep my head out of the boat a bit and avoid starting near crowds of boats (again, trying to avoid big problems). Outhaul & cunningham should be set for upwind mode (in lighter breeze I’ll start with them looser). Finally, on these breezy days, when the fleet sits and waits for the last 30 seconds, nobody ends up quite on the line, as everyone drifts downwind and gets going too late. Trim up a touch early and take advantage.

Upwind: In general, vang was at least two-blocked, outhaul near the end of the boom, and cunningham pretty much as tight as you can get it. Once going, I try to keep the main two-blocked as much as possible, easing in the puffs when needed. Body position, I’m focusing on getting my weight outboard and forward to keep the bow down. The laser does really poorly when healed up, and you should really do whatever you can to avoid the big heels in the puffs. I also focus on trying to keep the bow knuckle touching the water. Every time the bow gets picked up by a wave, you’re getting tossed off the wind, losing forward progress. I also think it’s important to find a body position that you can hold for most of the leg rather than be consistently resetting. Once you’re set, your head can focus on the sail, boats around you, and the puffs. When the sail gets really flat on days like this, the groove gets really narrow, so I find that getting set bodywise can help eliminate a variable and allows me to more easily find the groove via the rudder and mainsheet.

Windward mark: It’s really important to be able to ease and turn the boat downwind at the windward mark. Get your vang off early (do what you can to make this happen). Having the vang line tied to the centerboard is a really good idea, as you can more easily reach it when hiked (and the end never ends up to leeward). As I approach the windward mark, I reach down at the mainsheet block and make sure I can let the mainsheet slide through my hand as I raise it up above my head. This ensures I can ease the mainsheet a good 6 feet as I turn downwind without hitting any knots. Once turned downwind, I always tighten the hiking strap — this is extremely important. Once tight, wrap your aft leg around it (when on starboard, this is your left leg). This will help you physically control the boat through the waves with your bodyweight, as you are effectively tying yourself to the boat.

Downwind runs: With your aft leg wrapped around the hiking strap, your front leg / knee can be used to help get the boat up on waves. Lean forward, put your knee on the diagonal part next to the centerboard slot, and lean back once your boat hops up on the wave. I thought the runs were particularly well aligned to the waves for small periods of surfing. I did a bit of the “wave carving” business, but I’m not very good at it, and again, safety / stability is a paramount concern. It’s important to be looking backwards every 15 seconds or so to look for puffs.

Leeward mark: Get your boat setup for the upwind leg. Board down, cunningham tight, vang tight, outhaul tight, hiking strap back to loose. Turn the boat upwind (even if you don’t have the main trimmed) right at the mark so that you’re in as high of a lane as possible (“wide, then tight”).

Final leg strategy: If you round right behind someone, tack off and make them cover. Stress them out and make them make mistakes in the breeze. If they’re responding to your move, they’ll never tack as well as they can. This applies on light air days as well.

Between races, I’m always thinking about how I get the blood flowing again. Hiking contorts your body up and limits blood flow to the legs. I think it’s important to stand up between races and get the blood moving around. Pro tip: Leave a thermos of hot chicken noodle soup on the committee boat for between races. Be sure to provide RC with beer afterwards.

Nice racing Steen, and thanks to Jim & Kevin for RCing. Good seeing everyone, and happy holidays to all.

2021-2022 Laser Frostbite 4

Greetings from 3rd place. Sunday was a bit of an odd wind day – it was from the northwest and the difference between the puffs and lulls was more than usual. Many folks flipped at one point or another (myself included), but we all thankfully ended the day back on shore mosty in one piece. Many thanks to Farley and Celeste for running the races!

It was nice to switch things up and have a jibe mark for a few races. I found generally staying high-ish on the reaches to be pretty fast – and a few times, I was able to pass a boat or two to windward at the leeward mark by being a little patient and making sure that my rounding was tight.

In terms of upwind strategy – there were fewer opportunities for tacking with shifts than expected in part because the mark was pretty far right and in part because often a seeming shift was just a lull, not an actual shift. As the afternoon wore on, I found myself waiting a few seconds to see whether it was worth tacking instead of continuing on my current course.

In terms of controls, I had my cunningham and outhaul pretty much max strapped for the first few races and then eased them just a tad in the later ones and during the less windy periods, especially downwind. Vang was 2-blocked or 2-blocked plus pretty much the entire day going upwind – and then loosened just before the windward mark in preparation for going downwind (and then adjusted tighter or even a bit looser depending on the puff situation). If you weigh more than I do, you probably didn’t need to tighten everything quite so much.

Overall, it was fun day and really great to have so many folks out there!

— Laura Windecker 167248

(Actually Laura was 2nd because she won the tiebreaker with Ethan  — she had a 1st in race 2)

Results:
LaserFrostbite2122_4
(Races 16-21)

2021-2022 Laser Frostbite 3

Another pleasant day, probably the lightest of the three we have had so far.  Laura Windecker and Steen Byskoff ran the races and had to reset the marks a couple of times.

The light breeze was from the ESE with occasional puffs that could make you look like a genius or destroy you if is missed you.  The current was going out strong and pushing us over the line.  We had a general recall and some OCS boats who did go back.

21 boats came out.  Nice!

Ethan was third.  Ethan, do you want to write something up about what you did?

Pictures from Steen

Results:

LaserFrostbite2122_3

 

 

2020-2021 LASER FROSTBITE SERIES #17

It’s Groundhog Day with another 3rd place write-up from me. Surely no frostbites today – sunburns were more likely. It was like a high school dance in winter with few participants appropriately dressed for the temperature, the venue not quite fit for purpose, yet everyone seemingly having a good time. We’re used to shifting winds on the Potomac, but today took it to a new level. It reminded me of Rumsfeld when he confidently said the WMDs were, “east, west, south and north somewhat.” Dan and Mike energetically boated around trying to have the marks in the right direction only to find that between the warning sound and the start not only might it change which end of the starting line was favorable, but which was the more logical windward mark. Big thanks to Dan and Mike for adding another great sailing day, and to Farley for delivering the attached results.

So, how does one do well on a day like today? Probably three key things: find the wind, tack on the shifts, and get a good start.  Finding the wind is about keeping your head up and looking on the water and other boats.  I did a lot of tacking today, and mastering the tacking is really important in these light winds. That is probably the biggest thing I’ll practice now that the series is over – efficient roll tacks. When starting in light wind, free wind matters. Starting close to too many other boats can be risky, and I tended to do better when I just found a fairly open spot on the line where I could start with some boat speed and no one stealing my wind.
This is it for the Frostbite series – it has been great fun! Restarting sailing this past fall has really been a bright spot for me during covid.  I’ll miss the regatta next weekend but look forward to many more fun races, practices, and dock chats in the spring.

2020-2021 Laser Frostbite Series #15

Sunday was sunny, warmish, and probably the windiest frostbite day so far.  John and Greg laid out an Olympic triangle course, which provided for planing when the gusts coincided with the reach legs. Greg and John heroically tried to adjust the course to the changing winds and were, on average, successful. Big thanks to John and Greg for RCing and to Farley for the attached results.

The starts were exciting – it was often possible to sail the length of the line in less than 20 seconds, so it quickly got crowded.  I preferred shuttling between the pin and the boat and coming on port to find a good spot behind the RC boat about 35 seconds before the start.  That way I avoided getting stuck in a crowd … it worked sometimes. Having, for once, the current largely in the same direction as the wind also made the typical strategy of lingering on the line viable.

On the upwind leg, gusts often came along with 30-40 degree wind shifts. That meant we had to be on our toes … or more literally ready to quickly adjust the sheet, rudder, and body position. The first victim I witnessed was Jim G., who had to tack as Farley came on starboard right at the time of a big gust and wind shift, which landed Jim with a taste of the Potomac.

Downwind was fun as there was just enough wind for a bit of waves to form. That allowed for practicing both following the waves and using body movement and sheeting to control the boat with minimal rudder. Supposedly s-turns on the downwind leg are more efficient, but I still haven’t figured them out. During stronger gusts, the jibing could also get exciting.  At one point I was chasing Len for the first place he capsized right by the mark. I then managed to not only also capsize, but as I tried to climb around to the daggerboard I somehow tripped in a way that had me drop backward in the water hitting daggerboard on the way down before having my first taste of the Potomac. A far cry from the salty sea water I grew up with, but not as bad as feared. Glorious as my fail felt, had we had a weekly epic performance award, it would have probably gone to Tyler, who artfully lodged 8603 almost completely atop Celeste’s laser. Surely I missed many other exciting incidents – all in all, another beautiful Sunday on the Potomac.

Now, this is my 3rd 3rd place write-up, so I’d suggest we adjust to formula next season to include more authors.  Not just because I’m lazy, but also for literary diversity and because I’m curious about others’ experiences and ideas.

Finally, happy International Women’s Day – it is truly a joy to have you dedicated, fearless, fun, and lovely women both on the water and on the dock – you represent the best of what IWD stands for!

2020-2021 Laser Frostbit Series #15