Category Archives: News

Fall Series #2 – Sept 26, 2017

I am reposting this writeup from Geoff Bishop who finished in 3rd place in the Lightning class. Geoff was sailing with his daughter, Gigi, and son Quentin.  This is only their 3rd time out on the Lightning.

Sit still and try to keep moving!  It was a fun day on the river but once again not much wind.  Sailing out to the course I was pleasantly surprised by a steady breeze but in the end the forecast for light and variable winds held true.  The race committee did a phenomenal job setting the marks and a square start line despite early engine problems.  Trying to recall the light air sailing lessons we learned last week, our strategy was simply to keep the boat moving.  We did our best to start the day’s only race on starboard with speed and footed nicely up the left side of the course.  When waves from boat traffic in the channel came by we footed even more in order to keep our boat moving through the chop.  Taking those waves head on in this light air would have been deadly.  Then the wind died and a breeze filled in on the right side of the course!  The boats that went right were heroes!  In retrospect the more dependable wind was probably coming down the Anacostia – on the right side of the course –  and I made a point of staying right on the next upwind leg.  The rest of the race seems a bit of a blur as we sat bobbing up and down, drifting under the blazing sun.  Somewhere along the way I recalled the saying: “the first shall be last and the last shall be first.”  This thought came to mind right about the time Shadowfax came scooting by us downwind with the spinnaker pulling and passing boats right and left.  With patience and perseverance we coaxed our boat forward and on the last downwind leg found a little breath of wind coming off the airport side of the river that we used to generate some momentum around the pin and into the final stretch.  The final leg of our race reminded me of rubber duckies floating in a bathtub.  We were near a group of about four lightnings just bobbing ever closer to the finish line – and in particular the leeward pin as the current was at least as strong as any “wind.”  By sheer luck we bobbed just ahead of Frank and Marianne (we had traded places back and forth with them most of the race) for a third place finish.  Not exactly lightning speed, but we’ll take it.  Thank you to all who participated –most of the classes had a great turnout – and thank you to the race committee who graciously let us go in early to enjoy the rest of our afternoon on shore

Results:
2017-Fall-2-Albacore
2017-Fall-2-Buccaneer
2017-Fall-2-Lightning

PRSA President’s Cup: Light Winds Didn’t Stop Us From Having Fun!

We didn’t have much breeze for the 2017 PRSA President’s Cup, but that didn’t stop us from having fun!  With 50 boats in 6 classes registered we were all ready to race on Saturday morning.  Mother Nature had other plans.  However, we did get to go racing on Sunday, and among other highlights we were happy to welcome a couple of new sailors — John and Amanda — first spotted sailing a Thistle on Saturday but convinced to sail an Albacore on Sunday, thanks to Barney.  As it turns out, they beat Barney at his own game! 🙂

It turned out to be a great regatta with good fun had by all.  Keep reading for some of my observations from aboard Lightning #14592 and, by all means, please add your own observations as comments on this post!  Scores are here and you can view the great photos from Lindsay Bach here.

Continue reading PRSA President’s Cup: Light Winds Didn’t Stop Us From Having Fun!

Fall Series #1 – Sept 10, 2017

Great day to kick off the falls series. The sun was warm, the air was dry, the breeze was from the northeast (sort of) and varied from none at all to as much as 10 mph. The current was strong. The RC set up a triangle and signalled 3 O-2s and 1 W-3.

Shadowfax won the day in the Lightning fleet, but certainly not all the races. I took away three lessons that you might find interesting:

Judging the time to the line.
The start line was very pin favored and the current was ripping down the line against a traditional starboard tack approach. On Shadowfax, we decided to start the races on port at the pin. I knew the main threat would be from Bobby Astrove coming down the line on starboard. So we had to judge how long it would take him and us to get to the pin. Tom Hutton, in the middle, helped judge that time and called it. We crossed him once and ducked him twice but had a good start every time. In addition, it was clear that most of the other boats starting on port were getting to the line far too early and having to bear off down the line thereby losing a lot for every second early that got there. It is well worth practicing deciding how long it will take to get to the line and learning how to speed up or slow down to get there at the right time.

By the way, in the first race Bobby could not get to the pin on starboard and at the gun he was roughly midway and tacked immediately. In at least, two of the following three races, he approached the line from above the committee boat and executed a beautiful dip start near the pin. Dip starts are risky because 1) leeward boats may not let you dip and 2) because you may not get yourself all the way below the line and get called OCS. So it take good judgement of what the other boats can do in the conditions and of where you are relative to the line.

When in doubt sail the long tack to the mark.
The wind was spotty and shifty and so it was difficult to decide whether to go off to the right and try to get a puff coming down the Anacostia or go left and toward that puff coming down from the north. We found that if we simply sailed the tack that was lifting us to the mark, we did very well. So although it always pays to look for the breeze and try to get there, when in doubt simply sail the longer tack toward the mark.

Related to this lesson was a case of bad luck for us or good strategy by John Van Voorhis. John was on starboard maybe 10 boat lengths from the windward mark but not fetching by a couple of boat lengths . We were approaching him on port. Our plan was to duck him, tack onto starboard on the layline and force him to duck us as we approached and rounded the mark. Good in theory, but just after we tacked the wind shifted left. Now we were headed and not fetching the mark.  He tacked to the lifted port tack and made the pin many boat lengths ahead of us. He was sailing the long tack to the mark and waited for a good shift. We sailed the short tack and had little choice of what to do when the shift came.

Where to point when the wind dies.
We were ahead of John Van Voorhis approaching the leeward mark when the wind went very soft. I kept steering at an increasingly hot angle trying to keep the spinnaker full. Not only did that not work because the wind simply wasn’t there, but I was going further away from the mark. In contrast, John Van Voorhis just pointed to the mark and the strong current I mentioned above took him past us. When there is current, consider simply using it when the wind dies.

Results
2017-Fall-1-Albacore
2017-Fall-1-Buccaneer
2017-Fall-1-I-20
2017-Fall-1-Lightning
2017-Fall-1-Multi-Hull

Spring Series 2017 – Final Results

Below are the official cumulative results for the 2017 Spring Series scored according to the NOR.   Think of each day as a race with your standing at the end of the day as your finish in the race.  If you did race committee that day, your score is the average of all the days you did sail.  If you neither sailed nor did RC, your score is simply a blank. To qualify you need to have sailed or done race committee 4 days (50% of days your fleet sailed). Your score is the average of your best 4 days.

A big thanks to Tom Hutton for doing the Sundays scores.

2017 Spring Series – Albacores
2017 Spring Series – Buccaneers
2017 Spring Series – I-20
2017 Spring Series – Lightnings
2017 Spring Series – Multi-Hulls

Spring Series 2017 – Cumulative Results

Here are some unofficial cumulative results.   “Unoffiical” because the official way of scoring the series, which is described in the NOR, is complicated and we have not had a chance to do those calculations.   These cumulative results simply add up the scores and mark people who sailed less than 50% with an #.    Simply adding up scores penalizes people who sailed the most so don’t pay attention to the rankings.

2017-Spring-All-Albacore
2017-Spring-All-Buccaneer
2017-Spring-All-I-20
2017-Spring-All-Lightning
2017-Spring-All-Multi-Hull

Spring Series #8 – June 11

It was a familiar day on the river.   The morning started with a nice northerly breeze, became increasingly unstable and then died, and finally picked back up again from the south.    The tide was ebbing the whole time and the current got stronger and stronger.

When the wind was northerly, it was easy to see the patches of stronger wind and there were 20+ degree shifts only part of which could have been due to velocity changes.  So the classic strategy of connecting the puffs or trying to sail in stronger and lifted breeze as much as possible consumed our attention and was successful in race 1 and most of race 2.

However, as the wind started to die and become unstable we made a classic mistake.   We rounded the windward mark for the last downwind leg in the lead.  The wind had shifted right and the wind looked better in the middle of the river so we gybed to port immediately.   The fleet behind us did not gybe as quickly and so we were the furthest right (looking upwind).   As the wind died we had to sail hotter to keep the boat moving, thereby moving further right. Initially, I was happy with our speed, but I ignored the fact that I was giving the fleet behind more and more leverage to catch up if the wind shifted even further right — a header (and downwind headers are good, especially for boats on the outside of the header, just the opposite from upwind).  And that is exactly what happened.   Despite the header, I was too far to the right of the course and had to gybe and come back on the unfavored starboard gybe while my competitors sailed deeper and directly to the mark on the favored port gybe.   One boat (Aaron) passed us and another (Will Summers) arrived at the mark at the same time.

Lesson:  When the wind is unpredictable and you are in the lead, cover the boats behind, i.e. stay in the middle of the course to take away their leverage and minimize any potential gains they can make from a wind shift.  Plus that puts you in the position to adjust your course right or left to take advantage of a finger of wind coming down the river.

A big thank you to Yates Dowell, Ben Arthur, and Marc Carre who stepped up on Thursday to join Melissa Morgan and save us from having no one to run the races.

That is the last of the Spring Series but next Sunday there will be a fun Distance Race which is open to all.

2017-Spring-8-Albacore
2017-Spring-8-Buccaneer
2017-Spring-8-I-20
2017-Spring-8-Lightining

 

 

PRSA Spring Regatta: May 27-28

The NOR for the PRSA Spring Regatta (May 27-28) has been posted and registration is now open.  Visit the regatta website and register by May 21 to take advantage of the early registration discount.  Once you’ve registered, help us spread the word about the regatta!

We have partnered with DC Sail once again to organize a spectator cruise aboard the American Spirit on Saturday of the Spring Regatta.  Spectator cruise tickets are $20/person (or $25 for a combined cruise and Saturday dinner ticket).  Tickets can be purchased via the regatta website.  We have also posted complete details on the cruise in the “race documents” area on the regatta website.

2017 Spring Series #5 – May 14

The RC (Jim Antonovich, Leigh Boyle and Yates Dowell) ran three races in the cove today with winds typically about 12 out of the NNW with frequent higher gusts.  The wind oscillated between W and N every few minutes all day.  We got off the course early before the really hard gusts came in.  A beautiful sunny day.

The Lightnings were at Leesylvania for their 33rd Doc Gilbert Potomac Cup Regatta

2017-Spring-5-Albacore
2017-Spring-5-Buccaneer

2017 Doc Gilbert Results – Lightnings

PRSA Rookie Regatta May 7th 2017

PRSA sailors, this is the weekend to bring your friends out sailing and show them how much fun racing can be. Our regular spring racing series is suspended this week in order to hold our rookie regatta. Bring new friends out or let your crew take the helm.  As always there will be an apres-sail pot-luck picnic at the grill. See you Sunday!

SIs are  here

Results:  Unfortunately, the wind was gusty.  Only two or three boats wanted to try racing in those conditions and one of them capsized.  So PRO Kyra Tallon cancelled the racing.

Marine Weather Seminar This Week!

Please join us this Wednesday evening, April 5th, to hear NOAA meteorologist Bryan Jackson discuss how  NOAA develops marine weather forecasts, and how you can best access this information.

We will be meeting at Heavy Seas Alehouse in Arlington, 1501 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA. Come straight back to the party room.

Socializing starts at 6:00 pm, Seminar begins at 7:00 pm.

We hope to see you there!!