Here’s the recap of Spring Series #5 racing, written by PRO Jeff Neurauter:
Despite the rain, we saw wonderful breeze on the river today and 4 Albacores and 1 Buccaneer showed up to play. Based on the size of the fleet and types of boats involved, the group decided to race in the river straight out from Washington Sailing Marina. This worked perfectly as it allowed us to get to and back from the race course quickly. The RC set up a W-2 and waited for competitors to arrive.
The first race started with one of the Albacores trying to execute a dip start – unfortunately they remained a boat length above the line and were called over early. The lead Albacore managed to accumulate a sizable lead by the 3rd leg of the course and casually sailed through the finish line on their way to the windward mark. The rest of the Albacores and the Bucc must have noticed this and must not have checked the course flags, because they all sailed through the finish line and then stopped racing! They each peeled off and started pacing back and forth below the start line. Meanwhile the lead Albacore was rounding the windward mark. After a few minutes, some of the Albacores had realized their mistake but none of them continued racing. Instead, the RC and everyone else waited patiently for one Albacore to sail the rest of the racecourse. It took the lone Albacore just over 20 minutes to finish the race and everyone else who started the race was scored DNF.
The second race started with the Albacores aggressively pushing the starting line and once again an Albacore or two were called over early. As this race progressed the wind steadily clocked to the left and by the time boats were on the 3rd leg, it was almost a reach to the windward mark. So we moved the windward mark from the Maryland side of the river to the Virginia side, squared the starting line, and prepared for the 3rd race.
The third race started with the Albacores again fighting for space on the line and again the RC called boats over early. As this race progressed, the wind clocked back to the right so we had to move the windward mark back to toward the Maryland side of the river for the next race.
By the fourth start, the Albacores had figured things out and made it off the line cleanly. This race brought the most exciting competition as the there were several very close roundings and position changes throughout the race by the top 3 boats.
Spring Series #4 was a drizzly day, but we did have enough wind to race. The RC set up a course just outside the airport pier and we were able to get 3 races in while the water levels were high enough and the rain light enough. Once boats started bumping bottom and the rain really came in we headed to shore, dried off, and then headed over to Rustico for a beverage and a bite in a spot a bit drier (and warmer) than the grove.
Spring Series #4 Albacores
Spring Series #4 Buccaneers
Spring Series #4 Laser
Spring Series #4 Lightnings
It took a bit for the wind to fill in for Spring Series #3. The RC postponed ashore on the advice of the folks out on the river running the I-20 Cherry Blossom Regatta since there was no wind between 1000 and 1130 or so. A light southerly began to fill around 1130 and those boats who still wanted to sail — 4 Lightnings and 2 Bucs — made their way up to the course. We were able to get off one W2 race and then a shortened second race in the light breeze. With no wind on the river at all as the second, shortened, race concluded and with some storm clouds brewing to the west we contemplated towing boats back to the marina area. The breeze filled in again though to help folks get home in time, and just ahead of the really gusty bands that came through later in the afternoon. As they say, a day sailing on the water is still better than a day at work!
Spring Series #3 Buccaneers
Spring Series #3 Lightnings
We had another nice day with a solid southerly breeze for our second spring series day. Temps were in the upper 60s . All in all it was another great day of sailing!
We had a really nice first day for the spring series. We had a lot of boats out, nice weather (75 or so) and breeze around 10 knots nice and steady out of the south. We had a nice turnout for the potluck afterwards as well.
Sunday was another great day on the water – sunny and warm with a nice southerly(ish) breeze and lots of boats on the line, which was awesome. Tom and his buddy were able to get in a bunch races and the course was Olympic which added some nice variety to our usual windward/leewards.
One hiccough was that the battery was dead on the automatic countdown timer and the committee boat horn was not particularly loud, so you really needed to be near the committee boat to catch the sequence start and timing updates. The first upwind leg was relatively short and it felt like a bit of a sprint to the windward mark. In hindsight, I probably could have under-stood the mark a bit (especially when I was on the starboard layline for 7-10+ boat lengths) and allowed the tide to push me up to the mark – ended up over-standing a bit more often than I would have liked. Reaches were fun and I enjoyed not always jibing at the jibe mark and instead going by the lee for most or all of many 2nd reach legs. It was a little challenging to not hit the leeward mark because of the ebbing tide.
During the 2nd upwind, I generally played the shifts and that worked pretty well – did not strongly favor one side over the other, although perhaps ended up more left than right, but still pretty centered. Upwind, I focused a lot on hiking hard and keeping my weigh forward and the boat as flat as possible. Vang was generally 2-blocked, with some play in the cunningham and outhaul. During the run, generally made sure that keep the vang loose enough for the leech to flab a bit, but still kept looking upwind regularly to make sure a giant puff wasn’t imminent. Tried to stay out of the wind shadows of others, pay attention to any shifts, and surf any waves that seemed appropriate.
Overall, it was a really fun afternoon. Thanks to everyone who showed up and to Tom and his friend for running races!
It was a beautiful day on the river. Sunny and warm with intermittent good wind. Although I finished in roughly the same place I do most Sundays (that is, near the back with a rare strong race), today worked in my favor as there were only 5 or 6 boats, leaving me with my first 3rd place finish. The wind was flukey, very light at times followed by a strong steady breeze. The wind kept shifting at the beginning, making it nearly impossible to set a windward-leeward course. In fact, the first race turned into reaches both ways. After the first race, the wind held relatively steady – in direction if not speed, allowing us to get in lots of races. With a small fleet, it was much easier for those of us new to Laser racing to be aggressive at the start and at the marks – instead of being out strategized by lots of boats, there was only one or two to content with at each rounding. The shifty wind favored those with good tactics and a good sense of the river winds – boats well ahead often lost considerable ground to others on a different tact, seemingly at random but clearly not since the top two boats consistently finished 1-2. The winds also, at times, left the fleet bobbing in the water for a few minutes before picking up again (I’m guessing the windier parts of the day were above 10 knots if not more). As a new racer, I found the smaller fleet a great opportunity to work on sail trim, starts and mark roundings. Other than to note a number of us have been talking about finding times this spring and summer to sail, not much else to report other than to thank the race committee and to encourage people to come out for the last few weekends of the series.
What lovely warm day of racing we had. Today was my third day out this season and my first where I did not feel like I was in survival mode, so I really appreciated that – this is also my first third-place write-up. The course was relatively short, so even with twice around and we got in a lot of races, which was great. Overall, it was a quite puffy and shifty day that required a lot of paying attention (wow, pin favored now, OK!) and for me, a lot of shifting gears.
Especially at the start of the day, the ebbing tide made it easy to be over the line early and our first start ended in a general recall. After that, I had some decent starts and some less optimal ones, but found that it was possible to move up by focusing on keeping the boat moving and sometimes sucking it up and fighting for a tiny lane on the lifted/mark-pointing tack (especially in some of those early races) instead of bailing for clear air but a header/heading away from the mark. Also, later in the afternoon, it seemed windier than it was due to the chop – so while I was tempted to haul in my outhaul upwind, I found that by leaving it a little loose (3/4 shaka?) it helped me keep boatspeed up and power over the waves.
Downwind, I was perpetually switiching up the vang depending on how windy it was – and how windy it might be in the next minute or so – it was a real balance between speed in the lulls (less vang) and then cranking it on (perhaps even a bit much at times) to feel solid and avoid death rolling. I can’t remember when I last played with the vang so much downwind. Another challenge downwind was to be mindful of the mark location – I found myself wanting (expecting?) it to be further east than it was and lost a few boats one race because I went too far outside the rhumb line and folks passed me inside.
Hoping for another couple of warm days like yesterday for the remainder of the season. Thank you to our race committee for helping us pack in the races and to everyone who showed up to sail!
Checking my email this morning I discovered a message from Will. The third place writeup has befallen unto me. I came away Sunday feeling pretty good about the racing. I thought that I was in the top half every race, but I didn’t expect the third. Wow.
Unfortunately, I don’t remember that much. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. Usually people say that I write too much. This is going to be short.
The first lesson learned is not to get discouraged by the weather forecast. Sunday promised snow when I woke up. Should I even head to the marina? That was my big debate with myself for the day. Turned out to be one of my most successful days in quite a while.
The second lesson is to try to relax and don’t forget the basics. I managed to get good starts in every race. I kept testing the middle of the line at the three minute horn with my bow upwind. The wind kept shifting left and the port end was favored in most races. I then reached down to the committee boat side and found my spot with about a minute to go. The line was just long enough that I could dip down a few times and start close hauled right at the gun. For some reason the favored end wasn’t that crowded. When I saw another boat coming up under me I luffed my sail and let him take the pin. I was then satisfied to get off the line second. Usually, the line was so favored that it was difficult for more than one boat to do that. I think I managed to find a groove where I managed to dip down just enough to maintain good rights but not so far down that I lost all speed pinching up to make the pin.
The wind was shifty, but I didn’t worry too much about always being on the favored tack. If you get off the line fairly well, you want to avoid disasters. Don’t sail up to the windward mark on port into a line of starboard tackers. A couple of times I lost a few boats playing it safe that way, but with a short course and a big fleet it’s more important to avoid the big mistakes.
Once or twice I managed to round the windward mark first. Where the hell is the leeward mark. I wish I had checked that before the race! I ended up taking a course too far to the left in a couple of races. That cost me a couple of spots.
I guess I took it one race at a time, wiping my memory after each finish getting ready for the next. It was great fun. Thanks to everyone for coming!