Thanks to Tom Hutton who gave up a day of sailing on a sunny day to give us the opportunity to race on the last day the frostbite season. The NNW to NNE light to nearly non-existent breeze and a strong ebb tide made for challenging starts and windward legs on the four one lap and one two lap races.
Today we had light turnout and light shifty wind. For those that chose not to come, I think it was the wrong decision. It was a super nice day with temps around 50 and abundent sunshine. The wind ended up coming from every direction and was mostly between 1 and 5. Jim and Melissa did an excellent job running the races and changed the course 3 times to try and account for the shifts. It ended up playing out that 3 of the 5 races were reaching races. The other two started of with the wind coming from the windward mark but shifting during the race. I found with the light air, it was helpful to sit on top of the dagger board most of the day. Also starting well was helpful. While my position was fine for the starts, the people that came to the line with speed tended to be the ones in front. Something that is important to remember the when the start line is parallel to the wind with the pin to windward is that starting at the pin can get you pinched out by the leeward boats that can head you up.
The race committee (thanks Nabeel and Francisco) smartly kept the marks in place for the second race but renamed the marks from leeward to windward, and windward to leeward, so you might call that a shifty day. In the second race i started on port on the right end of the line while the fleet sailed on starboard on the left end of the line, and in a very light wind once around the course, maintained a lead and won. On such a light shifty day the key for me to keeping the boat moving was watching the windward boats for indications of possible shifts, and sometimes powering up by bearing off on short term headers instead of tacking.
Today the wind was rather shifty and it picked up and died down a lot. For me it was pretty challenging to tack in the wind shifts as the occurred mostly in the lighter wind. I feel that the most important aspect to keep in mind on a day like today would be to have clean air to keep your speed. Before going out I thought there was going to be a lot of wind, but most of it died down before the first race. I placed third in the first few races, which I think is mainly because I tacked out of dirty wind and I was able to somewhat control the wind shifts. In the last race however, and I’m pretty sure many can relate, the wind was way to light and I had difficulties getting off the start line. I can’t recall what sides were favored in which races, because it was so shifty, but I feel that in general the left side was favored to most people. In the last race when the wind died down, the course was a reach in both directions, which I actually liked as we didn’t have to adjust to shifts as much. I had a lot of fun on the water and the races were pretty competitive.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Below are the preliminary (in case I’ve made mistakes) cumulative results for the 2017 Fall 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.
Brrr… It was a chilly day. It did not get out of the 40s. AND the sun was not out. Still, there was a nice light breeze, and it was the last chance to sail until April, so we went sailing.
The tide was coming in and that light southerly breeze was very shifty but quite sailable. By the third race, the wind almost completely shut down and the RC mercifully shortened course at the 2nd windward mark.
Doing well was all about keeping the boat in the groove, not get too excited about tacking on every shift, and making smooth transitions at the marks On Shadowfax, I helmed the first race and Lisa-Marie Lane did the next two. She did just what I mentioned above and got two bullets! Great way to end the season.
A big thanks to Jeff Whitten, Bob Harford, Geoff Fuller, and Jim Lane for running the races. Thanks to Tom Hutton for doing the scores.
Frank Gallagher and his team of multi-hull sailors — Ben Arthur, Yates Dowell, and Jim Antonovich ran the races. The tide was in. So to save the sailors from going all the way up river, the RC ran the races off of the power plant.
Does someone who was there want to add some comments?
This past Sunday felt more like a professional training venue than a local club’s series. After a beautiful sunny and moderately breezy Saturday, I suspect Sunday’s forecast of rain and either too little or too much wind kept many sailors away. In reality, we experienced little to no rain while racing, enough wind for three competitive races, and began to receive the predicted gusts for the sail home.
The three lone participants (Farley, Barney, and myself) received unwavering attention from our two support boats. An active RC squared the course, captured action shots, and even fed us beer bread! I can’t thank RC enough for holding a great day of racing. Competitors saw both triangle and olympic courses, which offered a welcome relief from a constant dead downwind wing-on-wing leeward leg.
With just three boats, I focused on being on the line (or as near to it as I often dare – still working on that) and optimizing boat speed, while Marisa performed excellent compass work. We seemed to have just as good or better boatspeed and so I really worked at pointing higher than surrounding boats until I felt us start to slow down. Several of our passing maneuvers resulted from pure boat speed, while others from sailing in the lifts. All in all, it was a joy to be in our new boat Mega Woof and race against some stiff competition.