Thanks to Keith and Magda for running our races last week. Keith found a good spot for us to sail in, just out in the river due East from WSM, and a little north of our regular ‘power plant’ spot.
The wind was roughly out of the south, but also somewhat shifty. As I was one of the first boats to get out in the river before the races, I probably should have been trying to figure out if the MD or the VA side had better wind, but I was not really paying attention. Lesson learned: I guess if you get out early you should try to figure these things out. The tide was running out all day and was significant (low tide at 4 PM that day).
We only raced two races, as the wind died almost completely by the end of the second race. For the first race, I estimate we had about 4 kts steady. The second race was maybe between 4 and 1 kt. I’ll just sum up information for both races together below:
I set up my outhaul so that at max draft, my sail was about 3” from the boom, my cunningham was completely off, and my vang was left pretty much untouched and was on maybe about 1/3. Before each race, I raised my centerboard to clear any grasses, and I also checked my rudder as it too would pick up twigs. Also, on downwind legs I tended to raise the c/b all the way once to clear it. If you pick up stuff on your rudder, you will feel it in a slight vibration of the tiller. Any plant life stuck to your blades will really slow you down, so be vigilant. I thought the start line was pretty square so I set up to start in the middle of the line which gives me more options. At the last 15 seconds or so before the start, I keep up boat speed so that if someone comes in and attempts to get on my lee side, I can sail down hard and prevent him/her from getting that overlap. I was surprised at how much room I had in the middle of the start line for both races. So coming off the start line I felt like I had good speed. From that point, (as was taught to me from Erich Hesse) it is vitally important that you focus on speed and getting those first few feet out in front of everyone else. (In other words, this is not the time to take a break.) This is the time to really focus all your attention on sailing as fast as you can to get in clear air. Now, as this was a light air day, and my body weight is lower than most, I had a big advantage, and I knew if I could just not make any mistakes, I’d come out ok, as was the case. On heavier air days, I usually way behind the heavier people.
Upwind, I just look for which side I thought the wind was stronger, and I kept in mind that as the current was going south, the laylines for the windward mark would be shifted a boatlength or so to the north. So I tacked onto the starboard layline a bit earlier than if there had been no current. This put me right at the windward mark and I did not end up sailing any extra distance. As for mainsheet, mostly I had about 8” between the traveler and aft boom blocks, but when the wind really died, I let it out even more in an attempt to keep the boatspeed up.
Downwind, I just looked behind me and tried not to sail in dirty air from the boats behind me. Oddly, I was still able to pretty much sail the rhumb line and still get pretty clean air. The boats ahead of me tended to go way left to protect anyone from getting an inside overlap on them prior to the downwind mark, so I let them go left and just kept to the rhumb line. Remember as the current was going south, to give the downwind mark extra room or else you’d be swept into it by the current.
In both downwind and upwind sailing, I tried my best to keep my weight very far forward in the boat, even at some times sitting ahead of the centerboard. Maybe that is too extreme, I don’t know.
Hope I have not left anything out. First time for me in 8 years to do the 3rd place write up.
Now is the time to pay your PRSA dues for 2016! As a reminder, the PRSA constitution was amended at our Annual General Meeting and Awards Banquet on November 21, 2015. As a result, the annual PRSA membership year now runs from December 1 through November 30. The 2016 membership year started December 1, and you have until January 15 2016 to pay your dues without late fee. On or after January 15, 2016, a late fee of $25 will be added to the dues of returning members. After you fill out the membership form you will be offered the option of paying via PayPal or sending a check to our PRSA Treasurer.
I want to emphasize that having our association members pay dues up front each year is of immense help to all of our PRSA volunteers. We can better allocate expenditures over the year, organize RC requirements, set up scoring systems in advance, and more. Your PRSA dues support boat and equipment maintenance, insurance, slip fees, and everything else that goes into allowing us to race each weekend. Of course, skippers must be paid PRSA members in order to qualify for the Laser Frostbite Series and the Spring and Fall series racing series, and to be eligible to vote at the PRSA AGM.
As you pay your dues I would also encourage you to support the PRSA Commodore’s Club (a donation can be added to your 2016 membership payment). Donation’s to the Commodores Club go directly to our fund for boat and equipment maintenance. Whether big or small, any additional donation is a great help as we work on maintaining our equipment and conducting safe and fun racing each year.
A big thank you to all of the members who have already paid their 2016 dues. Many thanks, as well, to all of those who contributed to the PRSA Commodore’s Club in 2015 (see listing here: http://www.potomacriversailing.org/applications/membership/CommodoreClub.php) I’m already looking forward to the 2016 sailing season, and I hope that you are as well!
Chris Bolton with the help of Lindsay Bach ran the line boat while Bill Kleysteuber & Frank Gallagher ran the mark boat. The water was so low in the river from the previous two days of strong northerly winds that Chris was forced to set us up in the cove. The wind was very patchy and could switch 180 degrees between the windward and leeward mark. The lead boat around the leeward mark often lossed that lead on the short beat to the finish as a result of big wind shifts that would lift the 2nd boat to the finish while leaving the lead boat stranded.
Len Guenther managed the conditions with patience and won the regatta.
Great day on the water. I had a lot of fun and it seemed like most people did too. The wind was good, 8-12 by my estimate, and it was titanic status with icebergs all over the course.
Seemed like the left payed well but I was able to make gains going right too.
Tried to keep the boat as powered as I could and didn’t feel the need to depower except for at the end when I was tired. If you’re not on the heavier side, I think depowering was needed. But don’t forget to start with some power in the sail off the line and be adjusting in the lulls. I also adjusted the sail controls for the reach and downwind right before the weather mark. This helped get up to speed faster and get ahead if I was with someone at the rounding.
I tried the straight downwind strategy and bigger broad reaches. Each had its advantage. I didn’t like the reach approach when I had to sail very high to induce the plane. I think I just sailed too much extra distance and vmg went to those sailing on dead downwind heading.
See everyone next week. Let’s hope for even more wind!
- keep the boat moving – at the start and by not pinching upwind
- actively look around to figure out where the wind is
- keep my weight forward – upwind and downwind
- roll tack
Awesome day on the water! Great job to the RC for fitting in several quality races.
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.
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….