Category Archives: Frostbite

2017-2018 Laser Frostbite Series #4 – 12/10/17

Thanks for John Van Voorhis  and Cliff Bartlett for doing the RC today and working diligently to square the line and give us a nice mix of Olympic and WL courses and they even used the flags!!  🙂  Also a big thanks to John for offering to help me launch and retrieve the 19’ boat when I had RC last week.

I hope no one reading this is hoping for a lot of technical insight as to shifts, persistent or otherwise, I’m pretty sure I would not know one from the other.  Overall my mantra is to slog it out as best I can, keep the boat flat and hike as much as my body will allow me, and of course try not to make any mistakes or cut things too close.

This is the best I know:

Starts:

First, I benefited greatly from having ½ the fleet coming late to the start of race 1. That gave me a big boost in the day’s score. Being on time paid off for me.

When the start line is square (as it was in most races today), I find I sometimes do better coming in on port and searching for a hole about 15-30 seconds from the start. You have to be really quick though with your tack, because there is little time and space between the starboard tackers. So it’s a little risky.  In one case, however, it really paid off because I was able to stay on port by threading the needle as they say, and in that particular race ( I forget which one) a port tack was favored.  In that last few seconds before the start you really do need to head down off the wind and power up, and accelerate so that you are up at full speed when the gun goes off. That seems to be the only way to have a good race. So if you are going to concentrate and be on your game, these first 10 or 20 seconds after the gun goes off are the most critical.

Upwind:

I had my cunningham very tight, outhaul about 2” off the boom at mid point, and the vang ¾ on. The tight cunningham helped me when the puffs came so as to not be overpowered. I pretty much tried not to sail out to the lay lines too much as a shift in wind could easily gain you several boats if you tack quick enough on the header. As it was very quirky and puffy, I did my best to ‘ease-hike-trim’ whenever I could, and a few times I could really feel it working, and I was gaining on other boats.  As for when I would tack, that pretty much was determined by my looking at the luff of my sail, and when it started to collapse in (ie a header), I would throw in a tack.

Reach:

On the reaches, I would pull my board up ½ and ease the cunningham off all the way and then adjust the vang to as to get the best sail shape I could get. My cunningham does not seem to come off unless I go to the mast and pull on the slack of the line, so I found myself doing that a lot today.

Downwind:

Cunningham all the way off, board up 1/2 , outhaul about 2” off the boom at mid point, and the vang adjusted until I saw a good sail shape, which oddly, meant putting on quite a bit of vang.  I was worried about death rolling in the puffs, and managed to stay flat by looking back all the time for the darkness in the water, and then when it hit, I would use aggressive mainsheet trimming to dampen out the oscillations. But when the wind comes from the west like that, it can cause a lot of deathrolling.  So on days when it’s windier, if I feel I might deathroll, I quickly sail off on a reach and pop up on a plane and do the best I can that way. Better to be up on a plane, sail a little longer, and then gybe when you feel in control (or even chicken-tack if it’s really windy). Nothing is slower than going for an unwanted swim.

One final thought, it pays to look up at your sail shape as often as you can. I am doing this now more than I used to in the past ( I think Len mentioned that once or twice to me). So in going downwind, again for some reason it seemed like I had to put on vang for a nice shape, and I know most people ease their vangs going downwind, so I don’t quite know what caused that. Maybe it’s the new sail that has not yet broken in.

Best,

Jim Klein

2017_2018 PRSA Laser Frostbite Series #4

2017-2018 Laser Frostbite Series #2 11/26/2017

This was the first racing of the 2017-2018 Laser Frostbite series. It is traditional for the sailor who finished 3rd to do a write up of the weekend. I have no intention of deviating from this tradition, however, we don’t have the contact info on the sailor that got 3rd and my 4th isn’t that far off.  Next week we’ll get to the 3rd place finisher faster to let them know about their finish and duty.

The weather cooperated and was at the higher end of the fun scale, 8 to 10 with gusts at 15 to 18 blowing from the northeast.  RC set a good Olympic course and got a whopping 6 races in with 20 sailors turning out.  The wind slowly dwindled as the afternoon went on so the first races were all speed and hiking then the later races were searches for the big gust to keep speed up.

My first 2 starts were my best and I worked the left side of the course.  Not really for any strategic reason but in higher winds I’m looking to minimize tacks as those sometimes go poorly for me.  I think the left side of the course had more wind all day so this generally helped me being on that side of the course.  I didn’t have any issues at the marks so these finishes were solid.

The third race saw my best and worst start.  I had a great boat end start that got cancelled due to a general recall.  The second attempt I botched by getting into irons on the wrong side of the committee boat.  I ended up playing catchup with some pretty successful upwind legs as well as a windward mark rounding that paid off.  In a big crowd I try to remember that over standing is better than getting close.  Lots of boats make bad air and in the past I’ve sat barely fetching the mark with other boats sail around me.  Not today! I got to be the boat sailing around others

The last 3 races saw lower wind and some second row starts.  My plan with a second row start is to work to clear air then get on the right tack ASAP. Second rule with a second row start the laylines are off limits; boat ahead will tack on them and you’ll have to eat their bad air.  In the last race I spent a little time on the right side of the course thinking I had the lifted tack.  I got to watch the smarter folks go fast in the more regular puffs that came down the left side of the course.

Overall the day was very fun and I was only a little sore.  20 sailors turning out over thanksgiving weekend is encouraging.  We had some new faces which are great to see out!  I’m sure the rest of the fleet will welcome them as we see them out racing more.  See everyone next week!

Tom Hutton

 

2017-2018_PRSA_Laser_Frostbite_Series_2

2016/2017 Laser Frostbite Series #16 – 3/19/17

Sunday March 19, 2017.  Good weather for the last day of frostbiting.  It was sunny but cool with winds in the 10-15 mph range from the northwest.  We got in 5 races, all olympic course, and I did well in all but the last one.

My general start tactic on a heavier wind day is what I think of as a drift start.  I hang out past the committee boat on the right side of the course.  With about 30 second to go I power up and head for somewhere on the line.  When a bunch of boats bunch up at the committee boat there is enough wind to get to leeward of them and make it to the line on time.  If the boat end folks are early they will head down the line and leave a nice window.  This worked well today on most races and I was competitive to the windward mark.

On the course I used my normal heavy wind tactics namely, tight vang, medium outhaul and Cunningham, then lots of hiking.  I ease my outhaul 100% at the windward mark to give more power downwind and I ease the vang to about 50%.  The eased vang I find (and have heard) helps to bear away.  The triangle legs of the olympic were great and I think I reached a plane on most downwind legs.  This is super fun and I was able to make up some ground if I caught a puff.

I did have issues keeping my mainsheet running clean.  I had a few issues on the course because of this.  Twice I had the sheet wrapped around a foot causing me to tack rather than duck a starboard boat.  I also had a serious knot at one of the windward roundings that I had to undo before I could bear away.  Mainsheet discipline will be something for me to work on for windier days.   Still a fun last day, I’m looking forward to Cap City next week!

2016_2017 PRSA Laser Frostbite Series #16

2016-2017 Laser Frostbite Series #15 – 3/12/17

Sunday turned out to be one of the first actual frostbite days this season.  The breeze was predicted to be from the west at 10-16 with a high of 42.  It was pretty close to that.  The breeze was super shifty and puffy.  Rarely do you see it on the river come from every direction.  During the races the breeze was mostly swinging between the north and south.  Big thanks to race committee for running the races, especially to James Jacob for bringing is own boat down and giving us a mark boat to try and fix the course each race.

As far as the racing, I was surprised that I got third.  The scores were all over the place.  Winning the start did not guarantee a good race with how shifty it was.  We ran 3 W1, 1 W2 and 2 olympics.  We had some nice breeze and some lulls.  After a lull, typically one of the sides would pay off.  During the nice breeze on the olympics, we got to do some fun planing as well as between races.  We were able to see a few capsizes as well (including my own haha).
A quick summary on the season this far.  We currently have 16 people qualifying.  There are a couple of battles going on in the scores.  Will Summers and I are duking it out for 2nd place.  Jim Klein and Claus are battling for 6th.  And Kat and Francisco are tied with Kat winning the tie breaker.  We have just one more weekend to mix it up a little more.  Hope to see everyone out next weekend!

2016_2017 PRSA Laser Frostbite Series #15

2016-2017 Laser Frostbite Series #14 – 3/5/17

The wind prediction the night before called for 0 wind gusting to 1 mph.  The morning of this looked to be a very accurate prediction.  We talked a bit about should we go out or shouldn’t we, who needs more races to qualify (I do), and other light wind things.  We were leaning towards heading home when Will as RC says “we’ll just race in the cove!”

The first race in the cove was a bit more off the docks than in the cover proper but the course was not terrible.  I got exactly the start I wanted, at the pin end trying to port tack the fleet.  It was 0% successful.  Not only did I not beat anyone off the line but everyone passed in front of me without my needing to duck.  The once around was a bit slow and very little tacking was required but it worked.  I finished like I started but all sailing is fun. Toward the end the wind looked better so we picked up and headed into the river.

In the river the wind was a flunky as you would expect for a light-wind-from-the-west kind of day.  I have one rule I follow for light wind starts which is don’t get too far from the line.  This worked reasonably well and I managed to stay closer to the front of the fleet.  Light wind is not my favorite and I tend not to do so well.  I’m attributing getting 3rd place on luck, which I will of course gladly take.

My favorite part about this cold and still day, aside from the racing, was sitting between the races.  If you maneuver your boat so you are in the sun you can let the sun heat you up and get much warmer, almost toasty. It was slightly silly and pleasant. Definitely a nice day to be out on the river.

2016_2017 PRSA Laser Frostbite Series #14

2016-2017 Laser Frostbite Series #13 – 2/26/17

Last Sunday was a replay of the previous weekend. The parking lot banter was that I would just repost previous week’s write-up. Lots o’ sun, shifty winds, blah, blah, blah. Déjà vu all over again. But you couldn’t just sit on deck with an umbrella drink if you wanted to keep the boat moving and stay out of the water. Looking upwind to find the next line of wind and getting to it and/or being ready for it was a big part of the game.

I found myself continuously adjusting the shape and trim of the sail, both up and downwind, primarily using the vang, cunningham and sheet. I find it easier to trim the MK2 main because it simply looks more like a modern cloth sail when trimmed well. Working with the vang and the cunningham to create a nice foil shape was a constant challenge in the 1-15 knot wind we were dealing with Sunday. Downwind I relied on my masthead wind indicator to pick up the 45 degree shifts. Upwind I used the indicator in the lulls and the luff of the sail to adjust to the changing apparent wind.

Since the tide was really low we had to sail to weather with our boards up a few inches. There may have been some downwind capsizes caused by the board grounding and tripping over the centerboard. But at least it’s easy to right a boat that’s capsized in 3 feet of water.

It’s hard to believe that our Capital City regatta is only four weekends away on 3/25-26.

2016_2017 PRSA Laser Frostbite Series #13

2016-2017 Laser Frostbite Series #12

2/19/2017. Last Sunday’s weather was about as good as PRSA frostbiting gets, plenty of sun, warm temperatures and a tricky 02-14 knot breeze that worked its way from the NW to SW and back. We were lucky to have Jim Graham and company on RC keeping things square.

The ebb tide kept most of the fleet below the starting line and this put timing the acceleration and space needed to get rolling at a premium. The wind’s tendency to go a bit left during the start sequence made the pin an interesting location. Adam staked out a good position at the pin in one race and very cleanly port tacked the fleet. You have to love a gambler.  On a (very) different start Nabeel, Farley and I decided to raft-up at the pin and then go back around to restart. Not cool.

There was a lot of action at the rounding marks and proper boat handling is important to good roundings. This is something that can be practiced. Little things like looking up course, getting the control lines set, and carving a clean tight line pay big dividends. I need to try this practice thing. Thanks to all for a great day on the river!

2016_2017 PRSA Laser Frostbite Series #12

2016-2017 Laser Frostbite Series #10

Based on last Saturday’s temperature I was not terribly excited about racing on Sunday, but there weather warmed up into the high 40s and it was a pleasant day on the water. Wind seemed to be predominantly coming from the SSW, but shifts were certainly evident. Since the wind was SSW I found that the right side of the course typically had more breeze and you could also play the shifts first. I often find that my best finishes come from sailing my own race (not having my course dictated by surrounding boats and not sailing slower in a pack with less wind).

I focused on winning the boat side of the line. Even if the line was pretty square, my experience throughout the day indicated that I wanted boat so I could take advantage of the lifts and higher pressure on the right side of the course. In general, I was happy with getting off the line with good speed in the front row near the boat. This allowed me to have clear air and freedom to tack on all the shifts. Several times I noticed I was pointing significantly higher than those further off to the left side of the course. I kept tacks to a minimum and focused on sailing fast. Don’t quote me on this, but most races I believe I was within top 1 to 4 at the first windward rounding.
The fourth race (perhaps emboldened by my newfound success with starting) I decided I was going to WIN THE BOAT and not just be front row. This backfired as there wasn’t enough space for myself, James, and I think Bill came in as well. I was pinned at the boat, forced to gybe around, and restart. The result was my lowest finish of the day.
I don’t have much wisdom downwind, I seemed to lose ground and watch Len speed off into the horizon. I did watch a couple people sail offcourse (perhaps not realizing the leeward mark had been moved – by Len no less, hmm I’ll have to look into that). There were times my sail was set more for a broad reach rather than sailing by the lee due to the shifts, so I guess my only advice is to remember that shifts happen sailing downwind too! Not heeding my own advice, Jim Klein was able to round inside of me one race, even though I was clear ahead. I exited the rounding at an angle one typically would, while Jim thought it would be a better idea to sail at the higher angle to the wind (doh). Shout out to Kat and Jolie, who were thinking happy thoughts, and were able to scoot ahead of the fleet on the last downwind of the day to take 2nd and 3rd. I wish we had a photo of the fleet prior to the leeward rounding, we seemed to be spread shoulder to shoulder across the racecourse in a dead even heat.

2016-2017 Laser Frostbite Series #9

Sailing today was pretty interesting and tough.  We had a mostly west wind that was generally 5-10.  As is normal with the west winds on the Potomac, it was very shifty and puffy.  There were times when there was almost no wind.  Also there were times when we were full out hiking.  Dan and Cliff on RC got off 5 races.  Melissa Morgan finally made it out after fixing her laser the past couple months.

I was surprised that I got 3rd place today.  But the best that I can say is that as was usual, having a good start mattered, but today it was not paramount with the puffs and shifts.  The most important thing today was playing the shifts well and keeping boat speed up.  With 3 of the races being more paradelike than tactics racing, boat speed was the key ingredient.  In one of the races, Kat had a awesome race which was mostly due to her first leg where she kept her speed up and went lower than everyone else to have good speed and clean air.  This punched her around the windward mark in second that race.

Hope that everyone had a great time and see you out again soon.