Category Archives: Lasers

2015 Hangover Regatta

On January 1, 1974, about the time of one of the first Hangover Regattas, the Potomac River Laser Fleet was comprised very similarly to today’s fleet, with the British Naval Attaché as our fleet captain, Turkish diplomates, Lightning sailors, 470 sailors, Jet 14 sailors and numerous high school sailors. Mark Bear and I were two of those high school sailors. With the guidance of Peter Syverson the Potomac boasted one of the first Laser fleets. There was one important difference, however. In 1974 Northern Virginia had yet to experience its huge building boom. The Sailing Marina was uniformly 14 feet in depth across the cove to the airport rip rap. We regularly held huge events in the cove including such deep water boats as Stars.Today, much of Arlington and Falls Church have washed down Four Mile Run into our cove and center of the river. Nabeel, our RC chair, citing the extreme low tide, wisely elected to head north to avoid the shallow conditions downstream from the marina. As we headed for the race course both old timers such as Mark and Michael, and even fleet regulars such as Dan and myself( I am almost a regular), found themselves glued to the bottom just inside the last day mark. Fortunately, I was able to spring free just in time to make the two minute horn. I was able to convince Nabeel to postpone to accommodate our less fortunate fleet members.

Once we all assembled at the race course we found a surprisingly nice place to race. The tide conditions we very simple, with the flood quite pronounced on the left, channel side of the course, while quite benign on the right, landing pier side of the course. The cove gave the breeze a much better fetch than we experience either racing inside or in the more recent Marina Towers race area. The breeze seemed to fit Sail Flow’s forecast almost perfectly at 7-18 with about 60-65% of the larger shots coming with a fair amount of west and far fewer coming from 180. The line was rather long and seemed to be square to pin biased all day. My strategy for the day was simple, find a relatively clear spot on the line where I could always be in phase, and hopefully working right. In the first race that strategy seemed to pan out until one of those 35% probability lefties scrambled the weather mark rounding. I believe Mark and Len escaped most unscathed. The lesson learned for the day was, while favoring a side, given the puffy nature of the breeze, I was never going to sail to either layline again.
As the day progressed, I generally found the right and middle of the start appealing, despite the pin bias, so that I might be one of the first to take advantage of the relatively few truly lifted port tack beats. I tried to anticipate the starboard gusts, remaining content to sail around the entire”catspaw” of the right hand blast to avoid that fate of race one. In general, I found most boats playing the right sailed far too close to the pier and lost huge amounts as they sailed back to the mark in reduced pressure or a slight knock. Every so often sailing hard to one or another side paid off as Eric will attest in the last race.
Downwind, I concentrated on a technique that I have watched my son, Alex employ very effectively all fall. At all costs, I sailed to the big blasts. Once in the blast I attempted to position my boat so that I sailed as close to rhumbline as possible. In one instance I rode the blast a tad too far, crashing on my jibe just to leeward of the leeward mark.
Lessons learned:
1. In a puffy westerly/southwesterly tack early–attempting to gain too much from a shift might backfire
2. If the phases of the shifts are not lasting for an entire leg do not “own” one side or the other
3. Always seek pressure downwind.
4. Appreciate the awesome volunteers that make our sport great.
Thanks to everyone who missed sailing to run races yesterday and all year. Happy New Year!
James L. Jacob
And a special thanks to Carl Schaefer for taking photos.

Laser Frostbite Series #3

First, as newcomer to the fleet – hello to everybody!  I moved to DC late last year and – after seeing the fleet out one day having too much fun while I was driving by in slow traffic — I decided to get back into Lasers.  Turns out, one of the best decisions I’ve made recently.  Actually that’s not a high bar in my case, but still….

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Laser Frostbite Day #2, 11/25

Seventeen boats came out for Day #2.  The wind started out lighter than forecast and then picked up to forecast about 10-12 mph.  It started out west-southwest and shifted south-southwest half way through the day.  Len and Barb Guenther set a windward-leeward course out in the river.  The current was the opposite of last week (coming in all day) and I believe played a big factor in the racing today more on that later.  There was some big debris/speed bumps (tree trunks) out in the river causing some to fall out of their boats and other to stop for a minute.  If you have not made it out yet this season it has been near perfect sailing conditions and just in luck for you we sail again next Sunday same time same place.  Keith Barron and William Kruse will be providing the RC.
Full scores are posted on the website here:

Click here for week #2 Scores

Erich

Laser Frostbite Day #1, 11/18

It was a beautiful day to be on the water.  If you could order up breeze like this every day that would be great.  The wind turned out to be more than forecast from the low teens with some gust in the high teens from the north-northeast and east.  The current was going out all day.  It was a shifty day but Justin Pollack and Jim Klein set a windward-leeward course which they did not have to adjust much during the day.  Twenty-two boats came out with three boats being the first day sailing with us.  Bob Gotthardt took the day for the newbies to the fleet with an eleventh overall.  Making it to the top ten was an accomplishment as a lot of the top guns came out to sail today.
Results posted on the website (Thanks Farley and Scott).
We sail again next Sunday with the Guenthers providing the RC.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
Erich

Frostbite sailors scream downwind

March 4th, 2012 was a big wind day*.  The Laser frostbite fleet went out onto the river to avoid the puffs and shifts in the cove.   Here is some video the RC boat — Steve Yelland and Kevin Crowley — took of us flying downwind.

Lasers fly downwind

* Observations at the airport: 12:52 – N at 15 mph with gusts to 22, 13:52 NW at 22 with gusts to 31, 14:52 NW at 21 with gusts to 31.

Laser Frostbite Day #5, 12/18/2011

It was a beautiful day on the Potomac River with the wind from the northwest 7-15, which was more than the forecast that I saw. The sun was behind the clouds making it feel like a frostbite race but the wind was enough to keep you working. It was another great turnout with 23 boats making it on the last sailing day in 2011. Will Summers and Istvan Pely set up a windward leeward out in the river. The current was coming in/slack at the beginning of the day and was going out pretty aggressively by the last race keeping the fleet off the line.
Getting a good start was essential and the mark roundings were crowded which put an emphasis on making the right decision in a short amount of time. The firsts were well spread out in six races with six different people winning a race (Erich, Frank, , Len & Robert). The wind was very shifty which caused many lead changes. Results are posted here.
I have been excited by all the new faces this year and the turnouts thus far. I hope that we can keep it up in 2012.
The next Sunday is the Hangover Regatta January 1. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year and hope to see you on the water on the 1st.

-Erich

PRSA Spring Regatta 2011, Lower Course Results

If you missed Saturday you missed a great sailing day with a south breeze 10 mph and warm temps. We had sixteen boats with a few people who have not sailed in quite sometime. Steve Parsons sailed with us for the fist time in about a year and Cheryl Taylor has not sailed in over a year.

The day started out with a very solid breeze with very few wind shifts (unusual conditions for the river) but by the fourth race the river had found its wind shifty groove.

Cary Comer came out of the gate rounding all of the marks in the first race in first and finished fourth on the day. Len Guenther warmed up after the first three races and finished with a 3-1-3-4 and good enoguh for third place overall. Justin Pollack was very consistent and finish the day with a first in the last race and second in the overall standings. Erich Hesse loved the steady southerly and took the first place honors.

Thanks to Jim Graham for organizing the regatta. Big thanks to Rick Welch, Aaron Boesenecker (thanks for the pictures) and another Lightning crew member for great RC and crunching the numbers by hand afterwards. Thanks to Steve Parsons, Len, and Farley with helping flipping burgers and rolling hot dogs. I think a great time was had by all.

Erich Hesse (Laser Fleet Captain)

2011 PRSA Spring Regatta – Lasers

Pictures: Lasers on the Lower course

Laser Frostbite 1/30/2011

Fourteen people showed up to take part in a 40 degree day on the last Sunday of January. The wind was from the east-northeast starting out light to variable in the last race. Erich Hesse and Ridley Nelson set up a windward-leeward course in the cove with the starting line within a stone’s throw of the Mount Vernon bike path. The winner of the day was Nabeel Alsalam and his winner’s write-up below. We had one new boat owner join us for the first time, Justin Pollack, who bought a boat that has been sitting at the marina. Justin had a good day after a long hiatus from Laser sailing and finished 2nd overall. We also had a friend of Alex Jacob, Shawn Golden, join us and they both showed the older/heavier people how to do it in the light air.

Here is a cool shot by Erich of Nabeel ghosting toward the finish. (Click to enlarge)

Continue reading Laser Frostbite 1/30/2011