2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #6

While the prediction was for no wind, we had a nice steady southerly all day.  It might have gusted up to 8, but never went really light.  Also not very shifty.  I think I managed to get on the wrong side of whatever shifts there were however.

7 boats out and we got in 5 races.  There was an issue with the 17, but Len and company switched to the 19, and the races got under way before 1pm.
Today was a day where a lot of positions changed because of the current, which was flooding the whole time.  It didn’t seem too strong, but it made the weather mark quite tricky.  It also made for some great opportunities at the start.
The starting line was fairly short  since there were only seven boats and it was pretty square. The first race I managed to start last or second to last because I completely misjudged how far the current was pushing me.  All the rest of the starts I managed to be at the boat with speed at the gun, because everyone else pushed away from the line by the current.  In the race I managed to place second in (2d or 3rd race) I think I started nearly two boat lengths ahead of the next boat because I was trimmed and on the line.  Definitely easier to do that when the fleet is small.
The other place the current played a big role was at the weather mark.  You really couldn’t set up too far down the lay line because of the current.  I think most of the time the leaders ended up coming in on port and tacking inside of ten boat lengths.  Every time I lined up from farther out I had to pinch, shoot or double tack to make the mark.
It was a beautiful, sunny day with a low, but steady breeze. It was a great way to finish my 2019 sailing year.

Hangover Regatta, New Year’s Day 2020

It was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the 40s and winds in the 10 to 18 mph range. Unfortunately, the wind was from the west which limits the length of the windward leg. So the race committee created a new rectangle (parallelogram) course with windward, reach, downwind, and reach legs in the hope of giving the sailors some planning opportunities. The races were quite long by frostbite Laser standards but the race committee got in 4 twice around races and 1 once around. The winds were puffy enough that there were quite a few capsizes.

19 sailors came out including Dave and Randy from the Marsh Creek Club in central PA and the Jacob family of James, Alex, and Erin.

The RC was Nabeel Alsalam, Jim Klein, Dan Miller, and Jacob Donkersloot.

Hangover Regatta, January 1, 2020

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #5

During the skippers meeting 11 competitors were left staring across the river with a light 5 kt westerly. That didn’t last long. The average throughout the day was likely between 12 to 16 kts, although we did experience some lulls throughout portions of the racing. The largest gusts were roughly 21 kts, which was likely during the first race (I’m gonna claim that’s the gust I deathrolled on). Race Committee efficiently ran a total of 5 races, and even swiftly reset the course roughly midway through once the wind clocked around more northwest. High tide was roughly 10:10 am and low tide was scheduled for 4:35 pm.
Core Strategy
I’m not sure I had any tactical revelations for the day regarding shifts or tide. Instead, I had two main focuses for the day, typically starting as close to the committee boat as possible and boat control. By starting near the boat, I was trying to place myself in a position to sail on my own without interacting with the fleet. If I got away clean great, if not, then I could quickly tack onto port and sail towards the right side of the course without frequently tacking to avoid other boats. By limiting my tacks (only tacking on substantial shifts), I plodded along and often found myself within the top 4 at the first windward rounding. One windward leg I found myself sailing behind, but pointing slightly higher than Nabeel. A header came, Nabeel didnt tack on it, and I thought Aha I can pass him on this shift if I play my cards right. I tacked (too slowly) and began to feel myself stall in danger of getting stuck in irons. I quickly re-tacked back onto port. I was now twice as far away from Nabeel. Back to limiting my tacks. The wind strength and the number of competitors around me influenced my downwind strategy. I focused first on maintaining boat control (as I have struggled with frequent death rolls in the past) and if I felt comfortable would then consider sailing more aggressively or fight for inside rounding mark room.
Boat Handling / Sails
I focused on staying upright (which meant sailing more conservatively) and rounding the windward and leeward marks as quickly and directly as possible. Several races I either secured or picked up a boat or two based on my roundings. So what exactly were my key focuses for boat handling? When approaching the windward mark upwind the main focus was to uncleat the vang. A tight vang effectively acts like a close-hauled mainsheet and the vang must be eased in order to round the windward mark and immediately head downwind. Once around the mark, the greatest attention was to adjust the mainsail leach position based on the wind strength. If wind strength was up, the mainsheet was tightened to prevent the boom from being greater than 90 degrees out from the stern. The vang was often cranked back on immediately after rounding such that the top batten was also no more than 90 degrees out from the stern. My understanding is that deathrolling often happens when the force applied to the sail goes forward of the mast. Mainsheet and vang tension help prevent the wind force from overextending forward of the boat. If there was a lull, I would ease the cunningham and also ease the vang (while keeping a watchful eye for gusts behind me). There were several leeward roundings where I was able to maintain boat control slightly better than others and round inside and higher than a boat ahead of me. I think I ended up easing my vang setting just a little for the leeward mark gybes which may have allowed me to dump some power if I needed to (again, an eased mainsheet with a tight vang will have similar effects as a tight mainsheet).
Nich
Additional Thoughts from  Nabeel:
Upwind:
When the gusts hit, I cannot hike the boat flat.   I need to ease the mainsheet.   If the vang is loose when I ease the mainsheet the sail gets full and there is still too much for me to handle.
So very tight vang and be prepared to ease the mainsheet when that gust hits.  Looking ahead for the gusts coming is much better than staring at the telltales.
By the way, if my block on the traveller is rising up and in from the edge of the boat, then I probably don’t have the traveller tightened hard enough.  I know have a new low-profile tiller so the traveler can be tight and the block cross easily during tacks.  Love it.  One less distraction.
Tacking:
To avoid going into irons, I need to go through the tack faster (before that big wave stops me cold), so push that tiller faster, ease the mainsheet more, and try to get the boat back up to speed quickly, i.e. get to a hiked out position on the new windward side and trimming on the mainsheet pronto.
Windward mark:
Before bearing off, ease the vang most of the way, maybe not all the way.  Otherwise, the sail will be way too powerful when going from beating to reaching.
I tell myself to get the boat going fast on a broad reach first and only then bear off for the leeward mark.  If I try to bear off before going fast, the wind hits the sail too hard and bam, I’ve death rolled.  Done that many times.
Downwind:
If the boat is rocking and rolling, I know I’m sailing dead downwind.  I need to harden up some or bear off more to by-the-lee.   Slightly reaching or by-the-lee puts pressure on the centerboard and stops that rocking and rolling.
Don’t sail with the mainsail out at 90 degrees like I would do on a lighter wind day.  Keep it in some.  Say 75-80 degrees.
If I feel a lot of pull on the tiller, something is wrong, the boat is out of balance.  More or less vang.  More or less mainsheet.   Eventually, the pressure goes way, the boat takes off and I know I am doing it right.  Sweet.  Make mental note of settings for next downwind.
I use those cleats on the side of the cockpit to make sure my sail doesn’t go out while I fool with the vang or move my weight around.  I hear the pros don’t use them, but I can’t believe I’ve sailed this boat so long without them.
Leeward mark:
If I need to gybe, I need to start trimming the mainsheet before I start my turn.  That way, the main will gybe sooner and I’ll have less mainsheet to pull in after rounding.
On my to-learn-soon list for the leeward mark:
Switch hands on the tiller without letting go, i.e. behind the back.  Letting go for even a half second and the boat can round up and hit the mark.   Did it on Sunday and gave up a 1st place to that dastardly Tom Hutton.
Starts:
I only need the last 5 seconds that the Ollie counts down to get up to full speed.   So I get into position with a loose vang.  When that last 5 seconds begins I pull hard on the vang, trim, hike, and go.   A loose vang is important during pre-start maneuvering. Otherwise, the boat doesn’t turn easily and takes off when you don’t want it to.
Cunningham:
Pulling hard on the cunningham is a good way to depower the sail on a high wind day.   That is how people can sail the Laser in 30 knots.  But on a day with the wind going up and down, that doesn’t work (for me).   Plus it give me yet another task to take care of after the windward mark and before the leeward mark which distracts me from more the important ones.  So I set and forget.
Outhaul:
I think this is the least important adjustment on the Laser.  So when the sailing is challenging, I set and forget.

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #4

Race Committee set up a windward leeward course (I believe all 2 lap races) and ran a total of 6 races. Although we had a total of 18 competitors for the day, we had as few as 7 and as many 17 scored competitors in any given race. I’ve perceived the wind strength to be fairly steady in the 8 to 11 knots range, primarily southish. Low tide was at 11:20 am and (in my view) was influential in the early races. With high tide scheduled for 5:40 pm, I observed substantial current flowing north (upriver) for the first 3 or 4 races.
Upwind
My first several starts I was too far from the line and had to work my way up the fleet during the first windward leg. For the first race most of the fleet went left/east and I was able to consolidate by going right/west. I think I experienced far less current by being further away from the channel along the eastern shore. Upwind I focused on boat speed by continuously easing/sheeting my mainsheet to determine what my pointing angle would be. I took boat speed over pointing and was able to steadily progress out of my mediocre starts, particularly on the full upwind leg (after the first leeward rounding). This ranged from 2-block to probably 4 to 6 inches of ease between the blocks. I didn’t feel the need for vang and primarily only used it if I was having trouble keeping the boom on the corner of the boat. Cunningham was typically tightened to help reduced any significant wrinkles and I eased the outhaul if I felt sluggish in any chop/waves. If I was ever directly behind someone I either tacked for clear air and headed to a side of the coarse with less boats or if a shift dictated that I should continue sailing with a pack I performed two quick tacks just to get out from underneath someone (most often shortly after rounding the leeward mark). Due to the current flowing north, I think more and more sailors chose to go right/east as the day went on. However, current began to die down the last race or two and the wind had several significant shifts to the right/southwest. I think many people got caught going too far right, especially after the first leeward rounding and ending up overstanding the windward mark and sailing a longer distance.
Downwind
I tended to sail fairly straight to the leeward mark, but definitely attempted to fend off boats astern of me by sailing by the lee hoping I could avoid providing mark room to inside overlapped boats. I saw Len sail both extremely by the lee, carving hard to the west to secure the inside lane and rounding rights, as well as passing folks on the outside. Tyler also had a great leeward run by sailing by the lee and getting an inside lane. Since current was substantially flowing north I would have thought the outside lane / east would have paid. As soon as I rounded the windward mark, in addition to pulling the board up, I eased cunningham and outhaul. And I mean make sure the cunningham is all the way off (after uncleating the line, I would physically pull any tension out of the purchase and slide the sail up the mast). My experience is that there should be zero cunningham for any reaching or downwind sailing using the Mk 2 sails. I suppose you could use some if you are hanging on for dear life. I would also tweak the vang so that the top batten was roughly parallel to the boom.
Spiritual Enlightenment
One of my worst races I fouled Nabeel at the windward mark. My last race, I felt like I finally got a descent start with clear air (especially after Len graciously took a detour), and I got a second. So yeah, do good not evil.
Nich

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #1

It was a good turn out of Lasers for the first week of the Frostbite season. The weather was a little colder and windier than what we have been used to for the start of the season the past couple of years. Around 42 degrees with 12-14 knots of wind. It warmed up as the day went on and the water is not yet super cold creating a really nice day of sailing.
Current was flowing with the wind direction which cut down on the chop. It also made it much easier to keep position at the start by keeping people below the line while stopped. I started most races by parking about a boat length below the line and then accelerating around 10 seconds. The line was setup to be slightly boat favored so I started most of the races a couple of boat lengths down the line from the RC boat concentrating on speed and making sure I was “punched out” from the people around me. I tried not to be involved in any battles for the absolute best starting spot (by the RC boat). On the first beat I generally sailed a long first beat to allow the fleet to shake out if I had clear air. I blew one start and had to tack out early but quickly came back to sail the favored tack early.
We sailed Olympic Courses all day. The legs weren’t super long so I concentrated on using the leg to set up a pass or protect my position on the mark rounding. The were some small waves to surf on the downwind legs but nothing too major. The wind was fairly steady so I didn’t notice the fleet bunching up much on the downwind legs which we usually see a lot of on the Potomac.
On the upwind to the finish the pin end was favored almost every race but I didn’t see a lot of people trying to finish there. I was able to pass a boat by finishing at the pin when they opted to finish at the boat. Perhaps people were paying too much attention to the puffs or shifts rather than trying to sail the shortest course on the last leg.

PRSA AGM Wrap-Up

It was fantastic to enjoy some food and merriment with so many of our sailors at the 2019 PRSA Annual General Meeting and Awards Banquet.   Please find below links to the material presented during the meeting.  Congratulations to our perpetual awards winners (listed below) and to our new PRSA Executive Committee (listed below).  Many thanks to our outgoing officers for their hard work and for their service to PRSA.

2019 PRSA Perpetual Awards

  • Founder’s Trophy: Yates Dowell
  • Fleet Captain’s Award: Aaron Boesenecker
  • Nabeel Alsalam Award: Michael McConnell
  • Yates Dowell III Award: Angie Darrah
  • Katherine Kearst Award: Daphne Byron
  • Len Penso Award: Barney Harris
  • Norman C. Shaller Award: David Beckett

2020 PRSA Executive Committee

  • Commodore: Tom Hutton
  • Vice Commodore: Stew Harris
  • Rear Commodore: Aaron Boesenecker
  • Secretary: Kyra Tallon
  • Treasurer: Jeff Neurauter

2019 AGM Presentation Slides

2019 PRSA Racing Award Winners

PRSA Fall Series #8

Great weather two weeks in a row at the end of the fall series is virtually unheard of on the Potomac, but that is what we had for the final fall series race day of 2019!   PRO Frank Gallagher and his RC crew got us 3 nice races in a moderate southerly.  Temps in the mid-50s meant that it wasn’t too chilly to stick around for a post-race BBQ and beer.  What a great way to wrap up the season!

Albacore Fall Series #8

Buccaneer Fall Series #8

I-20 Fall Series #8

Laser Fall Series #8

Lightning Fall Series #8

Multihull Fall Series #8

PRSA Fall Series #7

After two weeks of lousy weather we finally had a nice day for racing for PRSA Fall Series #7.  PRO Farley Will and his crew did a great job in taking full advantage of a nice southerly breeze.  After some great racing there was still enough daylight left for a fun BBQ.

Albacores Fall Series #7

Buccaneers Fall Series #7

I-20 Fall Series #7

Laser Fall Series #7

Lightning Fall Series #7

Multihull Fall Series #7

PRSA AGM & Awards Banquet

Our PRSA Annual General Meeting and Awards Banquet will be held on Saturday, November 16, at the Evening Star Cafe’s No. 9 Lounge (2000 Mount Vernon Ave, Alexandria VA, 22301).  In addition to the regular business of the AGM (including officer reports, awards, and election of officers) we will also consider an amendment to the PRSA Bylaws (see language below).  Additional AGM details will be posted soon.

 

Proposed Amendment to PRSA Bylaws to Article III. Section 3. Part B.3.

The current language reads:
3.A late payment fee of $25 will be assessed for returning members paying dues on or after January 15.
The proposed language is (changes in bold italics):
3.A late payment fee of $25 will be assessed for returning active members paying dues on or after January 15.
Please note that active membership is specifically defined in Article III. Section 1. Part A.

PRSA Fall Series #4

We had a beautiful southerly breeze for Fall Series #4, allowing PRO Jim Antonivich and his crew to set a nice long course.  We enjoyed 2 “O3” races and an “O2” race before heading back to shore to relax and grill.

Albacores Fall Series #4

Buccaneers Fall Series #4

I-20s Fall Series #4

Lasers Fall Series #4

Lightnings Fall Series #4