Category Archives: Frostbite

2020-2021 Laser Frostbite Series #7

Dear fellow frostbiters!

After a couple of rainy race days with temperatures in the low thirties and after disturbing events on Capitol, finishing the week on a sunny Potomac with a pleasant breeze and 24 other lasers was a nice change!  We welcomed two more talented SSA exiles, Dave and Scott – it is great to have you, and we hope you stay with us!  Laura and Tyler laid out a slightly longer up-down course than usual and a more spacious start line.  That proved helpful as the rising tide tended to push us early over the starting line. In spite of shifting wind force and direction and an additional incident I’ll come back to, they aptly pulled off 6 great races – big thanks to Tyler and Laura!
The winning strategy of the day seemed to be making good bets and relying on good luck. The current was strong and probably stronger to the east, but the defining bets seemed to be who found the wind gusts and predicted the shifts.  Predicting the wind shift directions was hard – except it tended to revert more or less to where it started – in spite of many wild changes, the course really didn’t need modification. Anticipating where the gusts would come was marginally less random – looking at the water upwind gave us good clues. With 6 races, there were many bets to be made.
Starting strategy was influenced by the incoming tide and shifting winds. It just doesn’t work hanging out on the starting line on starboard with the sail flapping when the current carries you over the line.  With the more generous starting line than usual, moving around and looking for a good spot to start worked better for me. Even starting on port tack worked for me once, but it is risky!
A broken mast just after the 2nd start added some drama to my own experience. The upper mast has a weak point where the rivets hold the sleeve in place. It also demonstrated the sportsmanship and comradery as many of you checked in on me, and Len (I think it was you, Len, I was a bit distracted) offered to lend me an upper mast. Tyler and Laura swiftly picked me up, carefully pulled me back to the marina, they made it back in time to clock in everyone else, and I just barely made it back for race 3.  I then noticed that my gooseneck was starting to crack on both sides, and I sailed the remaining races slightly terrified that I would need a second rescue, but one side stayed attached, and it proved another bet worth taking.  Many thanks to Laura, Tyler, and Len for their help!!
The day was perfectly capped by Aaron Boesenecker cooking up delicious Glühwein!  Other than having a boat that doesn’t fall apart, I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend my Sunday.
As usual, with many thanks to Farley, the results are attached!
Sunday!
Steen

2020-2021 Laser Frostbite Series #6

Hi everyone,

Greetings from 3rd place. First – a huge thank you to Brian and his son for manning the committee boat and making sure we got in six races on a cloudy, cold, and ultimately rainy afternoon. A sunny and mild afternoon is what most of us would likely prefer and this was definitely not that! Thank you for taking one for the team.
The theme of the day was pin-favored starts, wind shifting more and more left, and a constant ebb (south-flowing) tide, so much so that earlier in the afternoon it seemed the current was doing more on the leeward legs than the wind! As for courses, we did our usual windward/leewards, mostly twice around.
Starts. These conditions made starts a bit more interesting. It was hard, if not impossible, to get over the line on starboard near the pin end, so that meant trying to be sure to be in the front row to allow for a quick tack to port (if starting on starboard). I got lucky in the first race and was able to start on port by the pin and won the race – but it was risky. As for the other starts, I did a mix of starboard and port starts with varying degrees of success. I noticed that I wasn’t the only one who got in some good port starts! But again, risky (but also fun to try).
Mark roundings. At the windward mark due to the current and the wind, the starboard layline was quite high and it was a little tricky gauging when to tack to ensure a bit of a cushion, but not too much. I mostly avoided hitting the windward mark by being very careful, including watching the mark as I rounded and steering accordingly. But during the last race I did hit it – and the boat overlapped to windward of me hit it as well! That kind of day. At the leeward mark, it was more the opposite problem. It was hard to do a close rounding and easy to be several feet downwind if one turned at the usual time/rate as if there was no current. I found that I could start to turn a bit early because I was drifting down the river so fast and this sometimes helped me pick up a few boats.
Upwind strategy. It generally paid to stay left-ish, especially towards the end of the day. At one point, I lost quite a bit of ground staying on port too long after the leeward mark and not heading back to starboard for a bit earlier in the leg. During one of the earlier races though there was actually more wind going slightly right at the top of the leg and I caught up a good bit. During another race, almost the entire beat was one big close-hauled tack/reach which made the start (especially location) super important as it was hard to pass with nearly no tacking opportunities.
Controls. This wasn’t a day where I did a lot controls-wise. Upwind – outhaul was a bit closer than a hand’s width (and tighter when the wind picked up); cunningham loose at the starts for pointing and then snugged; vang just snugged (mostly). Downwind – outhaul quite loose; cunningham off; just a bit of vang. Also (re control of self) – keeping my weight forward (and remembering to do this) helped too.
Other observation. For me personally, yesterday was a reminder to keep my head out of the boat more. It can be easy to focus on boat speed, especially when it is cold and I just don’t want to turn my head! – but my best races are when I’m looking around a lot more to see who is where, where they are pointing, where the puffs are, etc. Always something to keep working on.  Related – thank you to those lovely folks who were good about yelling “starboard!” – I appreciated it!
Finally, it has been so awesome to have so many of us out there Sunday after Sunday. After spending many winters with a fair bit of travel, being able to sail regularly with you all has been a big silver lining of this pandemic. Looking forward to many more weeks of the season!
Scores via Farley attached (thank you, Farley!)
Hope everyone is having a good start to the week!
Laura

2020-2021 Laser Frostbite Series #5

Dear fellow frost biters,

December 20 proved yet another beautiful race day run by our two grownups, Jim and Jacob.  Short up-down courses and a short starting line provided abundant thrills and excitement in the first few races.  After a couple of general recalls, J&J released the pressure on us with a longer start line and an Olympic course that calmed the mark roundings.  A big thanks to J&J for an excellent set of varied races!

A few Annapolis exiles joined us again bringing new blood and adding to the vibrant racing. Thanks to whoever invited them and a warm welcome to our visitors and newcomers.

It seems tradition to reflect on sail trim.  Many of you already know I’m back on the water after more than a couple of decades as a landlubber, and my last few pre-landlubber years were in a 27 ft keelboat (h-boat) with very different trimming.  I think I’ve done well because of starts and other factors, so with weak confidence to advice on Laser trim, here’s what I was working on in the light wind.

Downwind: no cunningham, outhaul provided for a deep sail curve by the boom.  I trimmed the kicking strap to where there is just enough control of the leech/twist, and I sometimes tightened it during puffs.  I’m still trying to figure out how to sheet relative to the wind – a vane is on my list to Santa.

Upwind: clearly the combination of sheeting and the kicker is the key, no kicker is always too little, and with more wind, more is needed, but I haven’t figured out the balance.  I play with it a lot. I usually find myself sheeting more loosely than others. I use very little cunningham if at all, and the outhaul is trimmed with the sail ~4-5 inches from the boom and only marginal variation.

Starts: I felt I did very well starting on the port end of the line as close to the mark as possible. After the tide turned, I thought it was better to be farther east, where I think the current is stronger, but I’m not really sure. Especially after we got a bit more space on the start line, rather than waiting in a promising spot, keeping moving around with some boat speed before the start seemed to allow me to find a good spot and cross the line with some momentum.

All in all another great day in the series, and I look forward to more.  Until then, my best wishes for the holidays!

Thanks to Farley, the race results are attached

All in all another great day in the series, and I look forward to more.  Until then, best wishes for the holidays!

Steen

2020-2021 Laser Frostbite Series #4

I was afraid going into the last race yesterday that this might be my fate.

Well actually I was pretty pleased.

Arriving at the dock at 11, it looked the westerly breeze had nearly died. As we got out to the race course, the northerly shift arrived and started filling in. In the first 2 1/2 races, the right side was strongly favored. In the first three races I got out to the right early, and was at or near the front at the first mark each race.  The wind started shifting left in the middle of the third race and several boats who took the chance did well.

The wind shifted fairly strongly to the left at the end of the race, leaving the starting pin strongly favored. So I worked hard to get port tack starts for the last three races. In races 4 and 6 I missed the front hole, and had to cross some sterns. I was actually over early in race 4, and went around the pin, but was able to find a nice lane and clear air. In race 5, I was right on the line, and only “let” Tom pass me at the last leward mark. I still haven’t figured out how to do everything one needs to do down there.

Best thing on the day for me was being able to see where the wind was and get there.  Worst thing is still that leward mark rounding.

Thanks to Farley for doing RC solo.

John Van Voorhis

2020-2021 Laser Frostbit Series #4

2020-2021 Laser Frostbite Series #3

Hello Sailors,

The sailing was very good with plenty of sunshine and strong wind. There was a bit of debate if it was truly heavy wind, but it was at least border line. We had two on RC and I’m glad we did as I wouldn’t want to have just one on a windy day like today. As the temps get colder I’m thinking that two on RC should be the rule rather than the exception. Thank you John and Kaitlyn for coming out and getting 6 races in!
We had 11 boats come out and start but with the winds getting strong in the gusts many people reasonably let up on racing. The winds were from the west so we were the short way across the river. The wind had strong gusts at 15-20 with lulls that were in the 8-10 range, with plenty of shiftiness. I typically do better in the 15-20 range so the lulls were somewhat troublesome for me.
Starts
The start line was less crowded than in weeks past so I used my typical “drift” start. I’ll drift near-ish to the committee boat until 40-30 second to go, then pick up some speed before the start and go. There has to be enough wind that sailing around boats is no issue, and there is plenty of line room for acceleration. Vang halfway on so I can have some maneuverability before the start. Once I start I two-block the main, take off, and snug the vang.
Upwind
I tend to have good speed upwind when the wind is up, and in a couple of races I used this to my advantage. The wind was shifty and I’ve been struggling to determine which is the favored tack. Sometimes speed upwind is good enough, but not today as I often went the wrong way and got punished. I also had trouble powering back up for the lulls, another thing I need to work on. Sails in hard to stay flat in the gusts turn into underpowered when the lulls strike.
Downwind
I had an okay time downwind, I tried to steer for the current that came in later in the day. I also managed to stay upright downwind. My only wind came in a race where 2 boats in front of me capsized or nearly capsized. I did have a bit of trouble heading down at the windward mark. Easing the vang is key, as is getting the sail out and the boat pointed the right direction.
It was again good to be out sailing and to see everyone. I’m already looking forward to next week!

2020-2021 Laser Frostbit Series #3

Photo Credit to Kaitlyn Lucey

2020-2021 Laser Frostbite Series #2

Thanks to Jim Klein for providing a seamless solo RC experience.

For series #1 and #2, we’ve had a healthy turnout (22 sailors for series #2).  I want to start off with one of the reasons why I enjoy sailing so much. The sport, and especially our club, is filled with a great group of people with varied experiences. Sailor’s ages range from teenagers to grandparents, and couples or parents and children are often found on the racecourse. This past weekend really captured that for me. I loved finishing each race on Sunday and watching various clusters of boats form to congratulate one another and discuss where things went right or wrong. I never feel like I’m sailing alone and rarely harbor the types of feelings you would traditionally associate with the word “competitors.” To me, at its best, sailing feels like a team sport. The real rivalry is proving which one design fleet is best :p
It has been great seeing more and more female helms join us for the Frostbite series. We’ve had pretty strong weekends with 7 female helms this past Sunday. Congratulations to Laura for securing first place both weekends. Thanks to everyone that has come out in the past even if you lost time or interest, or simply found frostbiting not to your liking. If anyone wanted to like frostbiting, but didn’t please reach out. We’d love to have you and help you have a good time.
On to the sailing.
Starts
Since I had not been in a boat for a while, I found myself more focused on enjoying the experience. I don’t think I checked the course or the line once the entire day. Instead, I tried to find any spot on the line. While I didn’t always have speed off of the line, I at least managed to be front row which is crucial for the first upwind leg.
Upwind
There seemed to be puffs rolling down the right side of the course, but I often found myself on the left (particularly for the first leg after the start). I think that is because I often rely on boat speed (tack as little as I can) and prefer coming in from the left to avoid the dreaded layline parade. For the mk 2 sail, I find the most important sail setting to be the mainsheet. I constantly adjust it searching for where I feel the most boat speed.
Downwind
It was an interesting day downwind. With puffs generally coming down the west side of the river, the fleet really spread out across the width of the Potomac. I believe my downwind legs really helped my positioning for the day. In the light breeze, it was important to drive deep over to the western side (inside lane) to catch the puffs. Overall, it was a longer sailing distance but boat speed more than made up for it. However, the lighter the wind got it was also just as important to look upwind to see where the next puffs would come from. There were several instances where I abandoned the western side and made my way back towards the center as I saw where future puffs would likely track.
Later on in the day, there were a few downwind legs where the breeze evened out a bit. Some of the leaders were still fighting each other for an inside lane and to reach the puffs on the western shore. I was able to pick off a few places by sailing dead downwind to the mark when the puffs hit, while others sailed that longer distance. For the mk 2 sail really focus on removing any cunningham from the sail (unless you need it to depower). That means uncleat and pull the entire purchase up the mast to remove any tension.
Two last pieces of advice. Don’t ignore Jim Graham on the right side of the course upwind and protest those that foul you. Otherwise, you too will earn the coveted third place writeup!

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #15

It was a lovely day on the water – warm and windy and a very good turnout! We did a couple of windward/leewards and then switched to Olympics, which was fun. One of the big challenges and opportunities of the day seemed to be mark roundings. At the windward mark, it was not coming in on port too close to the mark or hitting the mark or avoiding the boat hung up on the mark. I mostly escaped these traps unscathed (mostly) and tried to have at least my vang loosened a bit before the mark to help with turning down quickly. A few times, I did not turn down far enough and lost some boats inside by the time we made it down to the leeward mark (or had to work extra hard to catch back up) – and then started paying more attention. At the leeward mark, I tried to focus on going wide then tight, but it wasn’t always possible and once I thought I would have room, but didn’t at the last second…which was interesting. At the jibe mark, I sometimes was able to make up boats by doing a quick jibe and getting on a plane as quickly as possible and passing to windward.
Another observation is about controls – I made sure to have my cunningham and outhaul rather tight going upwind – tighter than I normally would considering it was generally windy and not crazy windy – and it did seem to help. I wasn’t as overpowered and was still able to point mostly OK and have decent boatspeed. Downwind, I let the cunningham and outhaul off almost all the way and didn’t play the vang too much once set because the wind tended to be relatively steady – mostly made sure the leech still had some movement. I also did a better job remembering to keep my weight as forward as possible upwind, which somehow seemed more doable with my depowered rig.
Hope everyone is having a good start to their week!
Laura

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #14

It was a beautiful is exasperating day on the water on Sunday.  Wind from literally every direction.  Long spans with little to no wind followed by brief interludes of decent breeze.  But, it was warmish and sunny and a nice day to be on the water.  Other than having replaced my toe rails and downhaul line (it had been the same color as my boom vang, which wasn’t so smart) the week before, I have no idea what I did differently this week that landed me in third place.  In any event, I tried to concentrate on the things that have consistently plagued me this season, which was particularly important given the tight line and relatively short upwind leg.  First, I focused on getting a decent start without trying to be first (the week before I was over early 3 or 4 times). Second, I concentrated on making fewer unforced errors, such as hitting marks, tacking before looking around carefully, and tacking with the vang so tight it’s nearly impossible to get underneath the boom smoothly.  On that last point, I did do a much better job loosening control lines at mark roundings and while tacking, netting a few boat lengths here and there.  Third, I imitated those who were always in front of me, figuring they were in front for a reason, other than the one race where we basically drifted aimlessly around the course.  Finally, I made a cheat sheet based on tips Keith Davids sent around last year, which I try to follow somewhat religiously, particularly using the vang more aggressively.  Copying his tips below for those who don’t have them.
Cheers,
Brian

– boom Vang tension upwind.  A number of folks are sailing with loose Vang tension upwind.  Even when it is relatively light air I suggest you keep at least a snug Vang.  In really light air I actually put on a good bit of Vang to induce bend in the mast to flatten the sail.  As the wind builds from around 4-6 knots I I will loosen it a bit but the Vang will never have slack in it.  As the winds builds beyond that I will continually add more Vang to flatten the sail.

– traveler block  A number of folks were sailing upwind with their traveler block too far inboard.  Often that is a sign that your traveler line is too loose.  If I see my traveler block is not all the way outboard I will ease my sail a few inches to encourage it to get further out before trimming it right back in.

– boom angle downwind.  Sailing by the Lee is really fast in a laser, but a lot of people sail with their boom too far out.  Remember that your leech falls off far beyond your boom angle, so if your boom is eased beyond 90 degrees, let’s say it’s hypothetically 110 degrees, your leach is probably somewhere around 125 degrees.  In light air having the boom beyond 90 is okay, but not way beyond (unless you are purposely trying to move across the wind for a tactical situation).  As the wind builds, you want to bring the main back in to 90 degrees and when it is windy, in a lot more than that.  Did you flip (or almost flip) recently when a gust came down the course from behind?  That could be a clue that you are sailing with the main too far out.  It is hard to tell when your main is at 90 degrees, but what I find helpful is a mark or piece of tape on my mainsheet that tells me when the boom is at 90.  I use that as a reference to adjust from.  The other critical adjustment downwind is Vang tension.  A good way to tell if you have your Vang tension right downwind is to watch the leach of your sail.  You want a lively leach, meaning it should bounce a bit when you hit waves or when you get puffs.  If it is too rigid you have to much vang.  If it is falling off to leeward and never bouncing back, you have it too loose.

– turning the boat around the weather mark.  Getting quickly away from the weather mark is a big help when you are next to other boats.  Many people lean in as they come to the mark to ease their Vang, outhaul, and Cunningham.  The trouble is that leaning in causes the boat to heal to leeward, which makes the boat want to head up not down.  To compensate, most people will use their rudder to steer the boat down, which creates huge amounts of drag (slow).  A better approach is to ease your control lines before getting to the mark (Vang is most important). As you get to the mark hike out and lean back, which will shift the center of lateral resistance and cause your boat to turn sharply downwind. Due this as you ease your sheet and you will escape quickly from the mark.

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #14

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #13

First, It was a beautiful day for a sail with light winds that didn’t quit and didn’t vary much.  The current/tide was a factor, both on the start line (I got caught over once) and at the windward mark.  I found going right and setting up well out worked for me, as the current would drift me to the layline by the time I reached the mark. I found going downwind (upcurrent) to be slow, requiring sitting very still with sail by the lee, but I feel the total weight of the boat and skipper was a factor   (Jim Klein was uncatchable)  Twice I picked a little debris off my rudder which could have slowed me a bit. This is my first time to do a third place write-up, due in part to the fact that the race committee (Farley and Tom) almost always take places above third.  Thanks for doing Race Committee!  Welcome back to Dan Miller who had yet sailed this season, but showed no rust as he led the first race until the last few boatlengths, being nosed out by Jim Klein.
Not much else to say except that today’s sailing is one of the most pleasant “frostbite” events I had in 20 years of frostbiting!!