Category Archives: Results

Fall Series # 5 – October 22, 2017

The air was light to non-existent.   John Van Voorhis, our PRO for the day, postponed on shore.  After a while though the sailors got restless and with the promise that the wind would come in around 1 pm decided to make an attempt to sail up river.

I thought those sailors were far too optimistic but Jess, Tom, and I decided to go up to Gravelly Point with Shadowfax in tow and see if the wind would come in.   After sitting on the shore for quite a while, with planes landing over our head, we finally saw the first boat appear around the point.   Then we saw that there was indeed some wind coming up the river from the south.

We got to work setting up Shadowfax and sailed south to where John had set up the course.  We arrived in the starting area just as the first race was finishing up.  Better late than never.

Unfortunately, I discovered I had left our spinnaker at home.   Argh.  We did well upwind but then had to point straight downwind sailing wing and wing with our weight all the way forward.  Meanwhile the other sailors set their spinnakers but had the problem of to trying to keep them full which was no easy task in the light air.   Jeff Neurauter and Heather Howard on their Bucc figured it out and sailed past us.  However, we were able to keep the others just behind us at the leeward mark.

Bottom line, the wind was sufficient and it was a fun day of sailing!   Never say die.

2017-Fall-5-Albacore
2017-Fall-5-Buccaneer

2017-Fall-5-I-20

2017-Fall-5-Lightning

PRSA Dinghy Open — All Classes, All Boats, One Winner!

We held the Fall PRSA Dinghy Open on Sunday, 15 October.  With 7 Lightnings, 2 Buccaneers, 2 Albacores, and 1 WETA we had a nice mix of classes on the course.  PRO Bob Bear and his RC Crew did a nice job in setting up 4 fantastic races (an O2 and 3 O3 races) in a steady S/SW 10-15 knot breeze.  It was a fantastic chance for all of us in various classes to square up against one another on one start line and on the same course!

Instead of presenting a writeup from just one person, I’ve asked all of the skippers and crews to send in a line or two describing what they saw on the course, what they were thinking about, or what they learned.  I’ve started the thread with the first few contributions here.  Please feel free to add your own thoughts as comments, or email them to Aaron to have them added to the main post.  Scores are posted here, but keep reading for some of the fun details and observations from the weekend!

From Nic and Connor on their Buc:   Connor and I, after getting in the mixing bowl with everyone else for the start of Race 1, decided, for races 2 and 3, to hang 10-20 yards below the starting line, going across on starboard from midway of the line at about the 1 minute horn. Then we slowly headed up with the goal of starting right at the pin at full speed. And it worked! We were leeward to everyone as we got to the line and so had a great position and got 2 really good, fast and clear starts (before our jib issues half way through race 3  led to us going in).  Also, at BNAC we learned how to use the spinnaker pole to wing out our jib on the downwind legs when wind speeds made us a little nervous to fly the spinnaker. Winging it out lets you sail right at the mark and to take advantage of any surfing possibilities that come up when you’re going directly with the waves . I think that we were as fast, maybe ever faster, to the mark (VMG) as most boats around us. We put the pole on the jib sheet and then lower the pole to stretch out the jib to expose as much surface area as possible.

From Aaron, sailing with Dana and Blake on Aaron’s Lightning: from the beginning we thought that the right side of the course would be favored (having observed some wind shifts at the line and the puffs along the airport shore).  Contrary to Nic’s strategy described above, we made a point of fighting for a boat-end start for each race.  It paid off for us — we were either off the line and leading early, or we had the room to tack right and then tack back to go south.  We gained each time we went right, though we had to be careful.  There was a nice righty (lift on starboard tack) as you approached the windward mark each time.  At the same time, you could make nice gains by staying middle or a bit left after rounding the leeward mark.  It was most important to get right in the upper 1/2 to 1/3 of the windward leg.  Beyond that, we focused on boat balance.  Sailing a Lightning flat (windward chine just barely out of the water) is very, very important.  When we did this well we could point 3-5 degrees higher than our competition and still keep our speed.  Doing this off of the start allowed us to hold lanes against Albacores and Bucs, and to pinch off boats to windward.  Flat is fast!!!

Fall Series #4 – October 8, 2017

The weather forecasts threatened rain and maybe even thunderstorms and the sky was gray.  But guess what?  No rain and the best breeze we’ve had all fall!   It was a small group of 5 Lightning and 2 Buccs at the Albacores were at West River for their Nationals and neither the I-20s or Multi-Hulls were there.   You guys missed out!

The RC gave us four W-2 courses set up on a southwesterly axis.

Jeff Neurauter, Heather Howard, Ben Arthur, and Ann Tyree ran race committee.  Tom Hutton did the scores.  Thanks!

2017-Fall-4-Buccaneer
2017-Fall-4-Lightning

Falls Series #3 – October 1, 2017

The combination of low tide, hydrilla, and light air made it difficult to get to the course.   Once there, is was easier but the light air and winds that came in from the east, the west, the north, and often privately provided to a small group of sailors made it particularly challenging.  Here is the writeup on PRSA Fall Series #3 from John Van Voorhis in the Lightning Fleet.  Scores and more info are posted below.  Kudos to John and David for taking 1st on the day in the Lightnings with three well-earned 2nd place finishes!

Last Sunday, 10/1,  started out a little chilly, but by the time we were done sailing we had a gorgeous fall day.  The Race Committee tried starting us early due to the wind forecast, but the wind didn’t cooperate.  It really didn’t cooperate all day, but the RC did a great job getting off three races for the Lightnings. The wind was shifting from back and from from the NNE enough that the favored end of the starting line would switch back and forth through the starting sequence.  For races one and two, the wind tended toward the east, then in race three it was going all the way around the clock as small convection cells moved across the race course.

David and I managed to get three seconds on the day, so we felt pretty good.  In the first race we had a not so great start, but managed to catch the right shift correctly and get to the first mark first.  With the way the shifts came in it seems as if being rightmost boat, but near the middle of the course worked best for us in the first race.  Think it was Nabeel who passed us on the second weather leg and we couldn’t pass him down wind.

In the second race, we got exactly the start we wanted at the favored end by the committee boat, and were able to hold on near the front through the whole race.  I don’t remember who passed us, but again there was a lot of shifting wind and middle right with clear air worked for us.  In those conditions we let the jib tell us when to tack and eased out the main a lot when we couldn’t see the wind.  We blew it on the last down wind leg by setting the spinnaker, when we shouldn’t have.  Don’t forget to check if you can lay the mark!

In the last race we had an ok start, but that first leg took forever as the wind was coming straight down.  Again we stayed calm as we passed and were passed by other boats.

Thankfully the wind filled in enough for all of us to get back to the marina under sail.

Thanks to Jim Graham for stepping up yet again to do RC along with Barney Harris, John Hart, and Steve Young.

Thanks to Tom Hutton for doing our scores every week.

Results:
2017-Fall-3-Albacore
2017-Fall-3-I-20
2017-Fall-3-Lightning
2017-Fall-3-Multi-Hull

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 #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

 

 

2017 Spring Series #7 – June 4

What a beautiful day for racing!

The winds were from the south between 10 and 15 mph.   They oscillated between 180 and 200.   Later in the day, they’d occasionally drop down below 10 but then new breeze would roll up the river.

There were 8 Lightnings on the line.  Aaron and I had very close racing with us edging him out by a point at the end of the day.   On this type of day with moderate & steady breeze and flat water all the boats are very similar in speed.  It is very hard to pass and so the start is more important than usual.

Our strategy was to start near the boat so that we’d have the freedom to tack away.  The one time we started down the line, we had a very good start but not good enough to cross the fleet on port.  Will & Aaron had us pinned.  We eventually tacked and swerved hard to duck Will but Aaron had already tacked and led the pack to the windward mark.  Nothing we did would reel him in.

After rounding the leeward mark, if we were leading the strategy for staying in the lead was to sail on port all the way to the airport. Simple.   (The airport is generally the better side to be on, maybe because of less chop or maybe because the land funnels the wind a bit there.  Don’t really know why.)  If we were not the lead boat, we had to fight to keep from sailing into the bad air of the lead boat and look for a small header or better breeze on the left before tacking.  Then we had to be on the lookout for another header to get back toward the airport. Not so simple but we made it work once.

Downwind we worked hard to get inside rights at the mark.  Usually this meant sailing as deep as possible without sailing by the lee.  If the spinnaker trimmer is curling the luff, I’m by the lee if the spinnaker clew is to windward of the forestay.  For speed downwind, we tried to keep our weight forward to keep the water flowing smoothly off our transom, healed slightly to windward to give the spinnaker as much air as possible, and the board almost all the way up into the trunk to give the boat some leeward helm.   But none of that beats getting a good puff!

Fun close racing!

Thanks to Jeff Neurator, Heather Howard, Chris Porter, and Yates for giving us 4 great races.  Heather also took some great pics from the signal boat (thanks Heather!).  And thanks to Tom Hutton for getting the scores calculated not just for today but for the whole Spring Series.

2017-Spring-7-Buccaneer
2017-Spring-7-I-20
2017-Spring-7-Lightning
2017-Spring-7-Multi-Hull