2023-2023 ILCA FROSTBITE #14

Sunday was one of the best days of racing I have had this season. While light winds had been forecasted, the wind quickly increased to around ten knots with gusts well above that. It came from the south-southeast but would periodically shift farther southeast and less commonly would shift farther south. The puffs almost always came from the left side of the course. This combined with the prevailing shifts meant that the far left seemed the place to be for most of the day. While the pin was not significantly up for many of the starts, I felt that starting at the pin and taking off left was the way to go. The tide was outgoing the whole day, and so there was very significant up-course current. It took me seven seconds to travel upwind one boat length upwind at the first start while luffing.

The first start, we were in a left shift and most of the fleet was set up for the pin. I was OCS and decided to gybe and head upwind on port. I was lifted for a long time but eventually found a more average angle to tack on and head left. I rounded the weather mark in the back, but caught up to the fleet. The downwinds all day were very interesting. Because the pressure came from the left, a balance had to be struck between staying in the puffs and working to get the inside around the leeward mark. Personally, I found that by staying on the left side I could usually cleanly pass people I might have gotten tangled up with around the mark. I passed a few boats downwind, rounded the mark, and tacked immediately. I was headed for a while, but I got clear air and a very nice shift on the left side that put me in the upper half of the fleet around the top mark. The next downwind was fairly standard, I don’t remember passing anyone. The finishing leg was played very differently to the rest of the racing and overall I thought it was something I could have done better all day. It seemed like it was preferable to stay on port until on layline for the boat and then tack. I ended up finishing around fifth.

The second race went very similar. This time I accounted for the current more and was not over, but did not have a very good start. I decided to stay on starboard longer than anyone else to get clear air, and as a result overstood the layline. All day, I was right on the edge of being able to keep the boat flat in the puffs ( I am very light for the full rig). Being overstood definitely hurt more than normal because it was harder to keep the boat flat in low mode. I rounded the top mark in fifth but had a bad rounding and lost a boat right after. The downwind was very standard and I caught the boat that had passed me. All day, I thought staying more to the course left than your opponents was the only sure way to prevent them getting an excellent shift and making a comeback both upwind and downwind. By the end of the leg, I was overlapped with many boats and attempted to go wide and fall in behind the pinwheel. This did not quite go as intended and I ended up on the outside of a group. I tacked underneath and managed to gain a boat or two back on the upwind just by staying left. By now, the fleet was spread out and again I finished fifth.

The third race, I got an amazing start by winning the pin. Pretty quickly, I got headed but decided to just keep going because of good pressure up ahead. This turned out to be pretty costly and I dropped back to around third. I stayed there for the downwind but closed some distance. Rounding the top mark, I tacked on the first right shift and headed left. Shortly after, the wind began to die all over the course. It stayed a little longer on the right and it looked like some people made good gains over there. However, I could see whitecaps just before the bridge on the left and so headed that way, trusting that the wind would fill in. I have found that in general if the wind is dying and then coming back, betting on the new system rather than the old is favorable. I caught the shift perfectly as the pressure came back and ended up rounding the weather mark in first. I held this to the end of the race and took the win.

Race four, I had another great start at the pin. I found that setting up low was crucial because of the current and that there was enough wind a long runup was not essential. This was another advantage to going left upwind. Deeper water means more current so heading near the channel allowed for better speed upwind. I tacked in a much better place than race three and rounded the weather mark in first. I held on for the downwind, but going back up the wind had increased and I was struggling to keep the boat flat. I was passed by sail 603 as a result. I got close to catching him on the downwind but was unable to and followed him for the rest of the race.

Race five was very similar, I rounded the top mark in second by banging the left corner on the upwind. I was unable to catch the boat in first but managed to hold on until the last leg. Going upwind on port tack, the whole fleet was very lifted. I found a decent shift back and decided to tack sooner, mostly to cover the boats behind me. This turned out to be a mistake as I lost one boat and finished in third. I noticed someone behind me getting to the inside of a pinwheel by going very by the lee in a puff and planing for a few seconds, this seemed to work very well.

Race six, I had a good start but lost my lane quickly and was sucked back into the pack. I stayed left longer than any of the boats near me to get clear air, but two boats went further and both beat me to the weather mark along with a few others. I caught two boats downwind, but lost one back upwind because I went too far left and overstood. On the second downwind, I was sailing by the lee trying to get to a covering position when I was hit with a surprise puff and spun out into a capsize. I got to the board quickly but the sail was on the windward side so when I brought the boat up it flipped over again. I probably should have california rolled, but I had touched the bottom while righting the boat and was unsure if it was deep enough (as well as if my drysuit neck seal was good). I finished last in that race.

All told, it was a fun day on the water with near-ideal conditions that made the racing very interesting and enjoyable. If you could find a good angle on starboard tack, there were almost always opportunities to gain. While the downwind was fairly straightforward with no gybe until the end necessary, this led to great opportunities by playing for the inside and covering your opponents.

Credit to Kaitlyn for getting a good photo!

23-24 PRSA Frostbite Series #14

2023-2023 ILCA FROSTBITE #13

Big thank you to the Race Committee for running 5 great races. The weather was near ideal with the air temp in the 40s and wind between 12 and 19 kts for most of the day. I did consider briefly rigging up my radial sail as I worried that the realized conditions would beat the forecast. However, I gambled that the forecast would be accurate and wouldn’t exceed my cut off point (20 kts+) for wanting an easier rig to manage. Despite not being overpowered, I did manage to capsize upwind during the 3rd and 4th races. After chatting with Farley and Laura onshore, I think it was because I was overcompensating for some recent bad habits (oversteering while tacking and coming out low) and understeering and then crossing the boat too slowly. Laura did have a general comment that outhauls were too tight and people needed to keep some shape in their sails and not over flatten them.

My focus of the day was on having good starts and avoiding people. The line was set for the 15ish boats that signed-in so there was plenty of room to work with only 10 boats starting. With the wind out of the South and a flooding tide weakening the current, I was not worried about being over early. My strategy was to start in the middle and capitalize on the expected midline sag. Each race, I’d find a safety transit (a line from the back of the motor through the pin to something on shore) and aim to start accelerating from a couple boat lengths back at 10 seconds. The strategy worked 4 out of 5 starts with having clear air and on the line at the gun, only time it didn’t work is when I lost sight of Tom and he rolled me. After the start I worked my way up to the windward mark trying to minimize the number of tacks coming in close to the port ley line. Downwind, I worked to the inside to not give up the inside overlap. I was often able to pick up boats at the final leeward mark by rounding well and then sailing to the starboard ley line and finishing at the boat.

Tyler

23-24 PRSA Frostbite Series #13

2023-2023 ILCA Frostbite #12

Here is your post game third place writeup from sailing today!

Today was definitely one of those days where you needed to show up to see what was happening on the river.  While the forecast was for really light and rain all day, it turned out to be a really nice day.  The wind stayed all day between 5 and 8 knots out of slightly east of north.  Thanks to Chris and Logan for running 6 races for us!  And it really only rained for 2 races which also had the best wind.

As for the racing, there were no over early boats due to a strong out flowing current.  This meant that there was also considerable line sag that needed to be watched out for.  It also meant that you needed to be smart about your tacks.  I felt like each time I tacked I slid back a little on the course.  This was most evident if you missed the ley line at the windward mark and had to do a quick double tack.

I felt like starts were the most important part of the day.  Chris and Logan did a really good job adjusting the start line each race.  As mentioned, I think there was likely considerable sag in the line each start which mean some people would start “on the line” and be a boat length behind at the beginning.  With a well set line, the pin should be slightly favored and it was each race, but the wind shifts and the length of the line made me think the boat might be a good starting spot.  I was wrong every time I did this and ended up playing catchup attempting to catch Steen and Laura.  My better races were definitely the ones where I started at the pin.  I think this was due to the line sag and wind direction at or shortly after each start that allowed the pin starting boats to tack and cross the fleet.

Other important thoughts all day were:

  • Keep clear air going down wind.  This was relatively easy since you were automatically by the lee when rounding the windward mark on starboard and it was difficult for people to get on top of you if you just stayed a little bit inside of boat behind you.
  • Do not pinch upwind.
  • Watch for the shifts.

And unlike two other similar days this season with heavy current and light wind, the wind was a little more than those and you did not need to foot as much to make headway up river against the current.  You could sail a little more “normal”.

It is also very interesting that we had a 4 way tie for places 5-8!  There was a lot of really close sailing today!

Hope to see everyone out next week!

Farley

23-24 PRSA Frostbite Series #12

PRSA Happy Hour February 27, 7pm, at Solace (Navy Yard)

Hi sailors,

Our next happy hour will be at Solace in Navy Yard at 7pm on February 27th. This is a great opportunity to connect with other PRSA members, as well as possibly recruit new members to PRSA and find yourself crew! Sailors from DC Sail will be invited as well. Please RSVP (natalierehberger@me.com).
Solace has food options and is close to the Navy Yard metro stop. There is some street parking and there are parking garages in the area.
Natalie Rehberger
PRSA Social Chair

2023-2024 ILCA FROSTBITE #11

I figured I would send out my Third place write-up once my body had recovered from this Sunday. It’s not quite there, but here we go… Somehow being contorted into all manner of light air sailing positions is about as painful as heavy air.

Sunday was warm and sunny, roughly 50 F, and I’d say we had a blustery 2-4 knots.

There were several naysayers, but my boat was rigged and I was wearing a drysuit so I launched my laser and pushed off the dock. Reaching the racecourse was slow going, but after riding a few airplane exhausts I had arrived. I generally did not notice heavy current as I didnt seem to be drifting against the shoreline, but upwind felt more painful than downwind. (Although, the downwind legs were generally more broad reaches).

Throughout the day, the wind was light and seemed to vary between north, east, and southeast directions. My start of Race 1 felt pretty good, and I was off the line with some of the leaders. Unfortunately, I was tracking to port (west) of the windward mark and as the wind filled in from the east, I had to duck most of the fleet on port as it slowly sailed by in a line like ducks in a row. After rounding the windward mark, the wind continued to be from the east. A cluster of boats sailed high fighting for the windward spot, and I was able to consolidate downwind by sailing more directly to the mark and finished in 5th place after the 1 lap course.

For Race 2, I fought for a boat start to be closer to the wind (still coming from NE to SE). I came off the line with ok speed on starboard and ahead of many boats that were below the line at the start. I noticed some boats (specifically Laura, I think) with tight outhauls and cunninghams to minimize draft and allow the low velocity wind to flow across the sail. I tried tightening my cunningham but ultimately left it largely off after being traumatized by the vertical crease running down the sail. (I’d like to hear what other folks tried for such light air). Laura was ahead of me and slightly to windward, and seemed to be pointing higher than me. Whenever I began sailing to leeward of her, I would tack onto port to avoid her windshadow and move closer to the wind coming from the eastern shore. I believe I rounded ahead, but pretty far behind Steen. With no boats around me, I continued to sail the downwind leg, the second lap, and finished in 2nd place.

For Race 3, I felt that the pin was more to windward, but perhaps it was just a more even start line than prior starts. I attempted to start near the pin, but found myself buried behind boats, shadowed, and with little speed. After the gun, I tacked onto port and passed behind nearly the entire fleet until I reached the RC boat, where I tacked back onto starboard to finally cross the start line. The wind dropped to its lightest in Race 3. As soon as I could clear the RC boat’s anchor line I tacked onto port to again try and chase any light puffs coming from the east. Farley, Steen, Laura, and Logan had a good lead on the fleet and they seemed to be moving forward. I seemed to manage either slight forward momentum or holding position, while the rest of the fleet appeared to be drifting backwards. The upper half of the windward leg John had good speed and achieved overlap and rounded ahead of me. Downwind I was able to pull ahead into 5th place. I dont really recall the second upwind, but I largely held my position. For the second downwind Logan was holding the high lane by going left (east shore), but I consolidated by heading straight to the leeward mark. Logan seemed to have to fight back towards the leeward mark for the rounding. For the final upwind leg and the finish I was able to keep my bow ahead and eventually finished in 4th place.

23-24 PRSA Frostbite Series #11

2023-2024 ILCA FROSTBITE #10

Good evening, Frost biters!

As Kaitlyn had promised us, we got a nice day on the river with light to medium wind from a (by Potomac standards) stable northerly direction. The results are attached thanks to Farley – both for today and the totals. Below are a few highlights.

Eva gave the tip of the week of the year: When you’ve capsized enough times, find your way back to shore.  Last time we sailed, for me that number was one.

With the strong current and medium wind, be aggressive on the start line. If you find yourself too close to the line, all you need to do is head to wind for a moment, you’re back where you need to be, and there’s enough wind to get going again.  Today’s conditions really provided a safe environment for practicing getting a front row spot.

As my mother has told me for fifty years, dress appropriately.  I thought with the mild temperature today, I’d skip a layer, and I ended up being a bit cold.  A warm torso keeps your fingers warm, and more importantly, I think I had poor focus today partly because I was cold.

The current in the Potomac remains an enigma to me.  Today’s current was strong, so it mattered.  Current runs strong where the water is deep, so logic would suggest staying on the left side (west) upwind and on the left side (east) on the downwind. I think this tended to be true, but certainly not always.  If someone has cracked the code of the Potomac currents, please let us know.

As you can see from the totals, we’ve had just 26 races, with hopefully more than that ahead of us, so everyone has a good chance for a good spot by the end of the season. Hope to see many of you next week.

Steen

23-24 PRSA Frostbite Series #10

23-24 PRSA Frostbite Totals as of 1/28/24

PRSA Happy Hour: January 30, 5-8 pm, Alexandria Bier Garden

Join us for a PRSA Happy Hour at Alexandria Bier Garden this coming Tuesday (Jan. 30), 5-8 pm.  PRSA members, their families, and friends (especially those seeking to get more into sailing!) are welcome. The beer garden is kid friendly with a variety of food and beverage options, and the address is 710 King St, Alexandria.  
 
Please RSVP to our new Social Chair, Natalie (natalierehberger@me.comjust so we have a good estimate of attendees—and many thanks to Natalie for organizing this opportunity for us to get together!  I hope to see you there!

2023-2024 ILCA FROSTBITE #7

Sunday was a nice day. The air was warmer than it had been the previous week, and the sun was shining. Everything was perfect, except for the wind. While on shore at the start of the day, the wind felt sporty but manageable. I was running a radial sail. The airport reported 13 knots from the south at noon. When sailing out, it was clear that conditions had changed drastically since then. Significant breeze to plane was found in the lagoon, however the area of the course was experiencing a very weak wind from the south. This was very quickly replaced by a very strong wind from the northwest. At 1, the airport recorded 15 knots gusting to 27. The course was set and racing began. 

The first race I was OCS, and decided to tack to port and duck the line. I stayed on port for a long while and found a large right shift. This was noticeable throughout the day, the wind was oscillating between weaker wind from the west and strong puffs from the northwest. I made most of my ground back up on the right side and rounded the weather mark mid-fleet. The downwind was a lot of fun in full planing conditions, and most of the boats that I saw doing well stuck close to the rhumb line. Almost no boats gybed more than once. I maintained position for this downwind and had a fairly good mark rounding that put me in pretty clean air. I made a mistake in staying too far to the right on the second upwind and lost a boat or two. I saw one or two boats capsized near the windward mark. The final downwind leg was very similar to the first, except near the end I hit a puff wrong and auto gybed. I managed to stay upright and finished the race somewhere in mid fleet. 

By the time of the second race, the wind had increased greatly. At 2, the airport recorded eighteen knots gusting 28.  I put on all the controls as tight as I could except for the vang, which was in block to block position. I was late to the start, so tacked out early again. By this time, I was not really trying to be in the optimal spot on the course. My tacks and gybes are not very good, especially not in wind like that, so I did my best to play it safe and minimize the risk of capsizing by minimizing the number of tacks and gybes. I did not tack again until the layline, and ended up overstood due to another right shift. Still, I rounded in the top half of the fleet. The downwind was a survival leg. I saw at least two boats flip and when I pulled up my centerboard a little I immediately began to oscillate. I left the vang on for stability and because I wasn’t sure I could get it back for the upwind. While the wind was challenging, the waves were relatively small and there was sufficient power to go over them without much worry. This was when things started to get crazy. Almost half the fleet capsized at some point. I autogybed downwind and spun out, but managed to dry capsize and get moving relatively quickly. By the time I got to the second upwind mark rounding, most of the fleet was sailing in. I dropped one place on the final downwind but managed to stay upright.  

By race 3, only six boats were left on the course. The wind had now increased to 30 knot gusts and sustained winds over 20. I was on time to the line, but hit some waves wrong and lost my lane. Again, I tacked out early and tacked back at the layline. I set a rule for myself, two tacks or one gybe were allowed per leg. Even if I didn’t capsize, my tacks often ended with the boat heeled over like crazy and side slipping. I rounded the weather mark in fourth. Race committee had set a triangle course, so the downwind was a lot of fun and very simple. I tried to stay a little low on the first reach to get the puffs that would come from the right. On the second reach, I would sail to the mark or maybe a little high for the pressure. On these reaches, the boat began to hum and I had to fight the tiller to keep going in a straight line. I left all controls on because I didn’t think I could adjust them safely while being ready for the puffs.  On the finish leg, I caught a boat that had capsized right before the finish. 

Race 4 started similarly. I was late due to a bad tack and again hit the right corner. While definitely not optimal, this strategy was pretty close and got me to the windward mark with no complications. I rounded in fourth with lots of space between me and third. On the first reach, all three boats in front of me flipped. They got up before I reached them, but I closed almost all of the distance. A massive puff was chasing me the entire first reach, and I barely gybed before it hit. I had to hold the tiller with both hands on that reach to keep from spinning up and out. When I got to the lee mark, I had passed a boat. I let the boat round up, but lost control and flipped. I dry capsized, but had been overtaken and got fourth in the race. 

Overall, it was a hectic but incredibly exciting day. I capsized more times than I can count on the way in and on the course.  Race committee did an excellent job balancing rescuing boats and maintaining the course. I don’t think that I was sailing at peak in terms of boatspeed from hiking or strategy, but getting around the course with as little capsizes as possible was far more important. I don’t think there was a single boat that didn’t flip at some point. I was very surprised by my third place, but I think that I was consistent throughout the day and did well as a result. My starts were often not quite where I wanted them to be, but the general conditions and small fleet size reduced the importance of the start significantly. 

Logan

23-24 PRSA Frostbite Series #7

2023-2024 ILCA FROSTBITE #6

Hi Everyone!

Comments from Third Place.

Happy New Year!  New Year’s Eve provided us with a beautiful, sunny day.  Thanks so much to the RC for running excellent races despite having only one boat.   Congrats to Steen and Farley for taking the top two spots, all the competitors for close racing and to James for getting enough points on his OCS to put me in 3rdplace and avoiding the third place write-up!  All kidding aside, it was a lot of fun, tight racing.

The wind was less than 10 out of the South with a few shifts to provide some challenges to the RC.  They did a great job squaring up the course.  Here are a few thoughts on my day:

  • I was very late to the first start because I lost track of time on shore and the wind died a bit on the way out.  I started after everyone was up the course a bit.  I was far back enough that I had fairly clear air, but a wind shift made the first beat a one-tack affair.  Because of this, it made it easier to just concentrate on accurate steering and trim as there was not a lot of looking around.  I’m a bit on the heavy side (210) and the wind was on the lighter side so I was set up for as much power as possible.  I had a very full sail (about a hand width from the boom at the cleat), no Cunningham, and the vang at the two-block setting.  I was able to re-engage with the back of the fleet at the top mark.  Downwind, I eased the outhaul and vang to their max “off” setting and pulled the board up a few inches.  Accurate steering downwind was critical.  I loaded the rig by going by-the-lee with the main at about 90 degrees.  Once the boat heeled to weather, was sufficiently loaded up, and there was a small wave on the bow, it was very fast to press my knee into the front corner of cockpit to roll the boat to a leeward heel.  The boat would then begin to round up.  As this occurred, I trimmed the main in several handfuls to account for the heading and apparent wind angle change.  I would allow the bow to come up to almost dead downwind before inducing weather heel to bear away.  As the boat would bear away I would drop the mainsheet and then catch it at the 90 degree mark on my mainsheet.  This created a nice large flick of the leech and burst of speed.  In addition, when there was a big enough wave to catch, I would adjust my fore-and-aft weight to keep the bow at a constant height off the water.  I was able to pass three or four boats on the first downwind leg doing this.  I ended up in 6thfor a decent finish despite a critical error at the start.  Two key things jumped out.  One, be on time and two, keep fighting all the way around the course.  Every point counts.
  • The second race I wanted to go right so I started near the boat.  I had a nice hole below me as most of the fleet was not particularly close to the line.  I was able to bear away, heel the boat to leeward, and flatten into an acceleration just before the horn.  The wind had picked up a bit at this point so I didn’t need quite as much power.  I pulled my outhaul on to maintain slightly less than a hand’s width off the boom.  Again, no Cunningham and vang at the two-block setting.  I was able to keep the boat flat with moderate hiking and no depower.  James was to the right of me and the rest of the fleet either to my left or behind me.  James and I rounded the top mark first and second.  Down the run, I did the same thing as I described above but stayed to the right of James using the bear-aways to point at the leeward mark.  James went much farther left down the course and when we arrived at the leeward mark, I was clear ahead despite James being inside.  We both headed off to the right quite a bit ahead of the rest of the fleet.  I had a bit of height on James and was maybe a touch slower but in a good position ahead and inside.  About halfway up the leg, I made a big mistake.  I was paying so much attention to keeping the boat flat, steering accurately, and keeping my eye on James that I didn’t see a boat coming downwind.  I had to go head-to-wind to avoid fouling the leeward boat.  Two good roll tacks would have been a better idea, but I didn’t think that fast.  This gave James the opening to pull ahead and he led the rest of the race.  Key take away: pay attention to other boats.  It could have been worse, but it gave James the little advantage he needed to get ahead of me.  I finished 2ndin this race.
  • The next two races were very similar.  The right seemed to pay on the first upwind leg and the downwind legs were very even across the course.   I didn’t manage the fleet well at the start and let James and Farley to the right of me in the third race.  In the fourth race, only James got to the right of me at the start.  I’m not sure how Steen made the left work so well in both of those races. He must have been going really fast.  All of my settings were basically at their base settings with no effort to depower.  I finished 4thand 3rd for these two races, swapping with Farley.  James was fast and on what I thought was the correct side.  Two more bullets for James and two seconds for Steen.  The big take aways from these two races was that it was critical to get to the right as soon as possible (or in Steen’s case just sail really fast) so planning my start to the right of my competitors should have been the priority.
  • The final race called for similar strategy, but again I didn’t prioritize positioning over boat speed.  I started to the left of Farley and James.  I didn’t have a good enough start or boat speed to cross to get to the right.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until after I tacked.  I ended up ping-ponging back and forth a couple of times before I could get across.  At this point, I was in 4thand stayed there the rest of the race.  The big takeaway again was to prioritize where I wanted to be after the start and minimize tacks in the first few minutes.

Overall, I feel that I sailed well.  I had very good speed downwind and made gains on every downwind leg.  Upwind, I had good speed at times but being a bit heavier I don’t feel I shifted gears as well as I needed to to stay fast.  From a strategy perspective, I didn’t always execute my plan as closely as I should have and it cost me.   It is imperative to keep your head out of the boat.  When I did this, I did much better than when I got too focused on the mechanics of sailing the boat.  All in all, I great day on the water and fun to see everyone!

Mike

USA 220398

23-24 PRSA Frostbite Series #6

2024 Hangover Regatta Results

Greetings from 3rd place (Hangover-style),

Fun times on the water Monday! Thank you MUCH to Dave, Lloyd, Dan, and our guest photographer, Jeff, for helping to run 5 great races. The wind was moderate with some good puffs and shifts, and the current was heading out all afternoon (more on that shortly). We had 14 boats on the water, including two from SSA (thanks for making it out, James and Mike!).
A few observations:
1- Current. With a high tide around noon, we had an ebb tide the entire afternoon. And this meant a few notable adjustments to stay out of trouble/be fast, including:
  • Making sure not to be too close to the pin end when starting b/c it was hard enough to get over the line on starboard without the added stress of likely hitting the pin.
  • Keeping an eye out on where the line actually was when starting – and starting to accelerate a bit earlier than usual because it was easy to be a boat length or more from the line at the gun due to the current. (Related: I noticed there was often line sag, which made it much easier to get clean, front-row starts.)
  • Making sure to overstand the windward mark a bit and be careful about fully passing it before starting to head downwind (note: with the shifts, I unfortunately overstood a bit a couple of times, but it did help with avoiding the mark).
  • Making a tighter/earlier turn upwind at the leeward mark to avoid losing some unnecessary ground (this is more of a “note to self” for next time).
2- Starting. Yes, the current was an issue to recognize and adjust to — and the line became port-favored over the course of the afternoon. I had pretty consistent success being in the middle (or middle/boat side) and just below the line at about 30-40 seconds, which got me close to the pin by the start and gave me a great view of the line (and helped with starting roughly on time and on the line). I found the other critical element was making sure to be on the favored tack just after the start; increasingly, this meant a quick tack to port as soon as I could. There was one start earlier in the afternoon when the wind shifted pretty much at the start – and tacking over to port pretty much immediately helped a lot.
3 – A few other observations that might be helpful:
  • With such puffy/shifty wind, I found myself looking around a lot more when going downwind to a) see if any puffs were coming so I could be prepared (e.g., by preemptively tightening my vang and being ready to give my mainsheet a good tug in to avoid flipping); b) see how other boats were pointing as a hint of how I may need to change course.
  • Cunningham. I’m still amazed at how well I can depower the sail and make my boat easier to handle (while still being fast) with the MK2 sail. (That said, global reminder to us folks who are on the smaller side to not be shy with the cunningham when overpowered regardless of our sail – we can likely put on more than we think — and best to do this BEFORE the start (letting it off before rounding the windward mark) and BEFORE the leeward mark) to make it easier to give it a good, hard tug). (And all that said, it can also be helpful to loosen it in the lulls upwind if they seem to be hanging out for a while.)
Hope everyone is having a good first week back after the Holidays!
Laura
Photos can be found here.  Photo credit to Jeff Scudder with Viva Loudon.