Today was a really nice day of racing. The wind was up with a constant 10 gusting to 20 out of the south and the temperatures were around 45 degrees. Sadly the sun did not come out which would have made it nicer. Thanks to John and Jolie for doing RC. They were able to get off 6 Olympic races and had a pretty square course. Each race was running about 18 minutes. Due to all the recent rain, we had a nice high river and the current was ripping out all day with it getting worse at the end of the day.
Great day out on the water just what we all needed sun and wind, don’t know what those gusts were getting up to but they had the potential for trouble! Quite a bit of chop in the river today so somtimes it was hard setting up the rig, tight and point high into the chop verses, loose and go for speed, I went with the point high option. Down wind was all reaching so capsize potential, not so bad once the boat up on the plane. The windward mark seemed to still have a lot of water pushing on it or perhaps it was just a lot of leeway on the boat. Did not get the vang of in time on last race semi-capsized, not good.
In a breach of tradition, I was asked to provide some thoughts on today’s racing.
I am not going to recount each race, but as we all know the breeze was light all day and the current was slack for the first race, but progressively got stronger heading down river (and upwind) making the beats short and the down wind legs seem much longer. The pin end was favored to varying degrees throughout the day.
The upwind leg was short so it was imperative to get off the line quickly today as there was little opportunity to recover from a bad start (as a learned after flipping at the start…).
What worked for me today was to get a clear air start at or near the pin, get the boat moving as fast as possible and then look for an opportunity to tack to port and towards the windward mark. Simple in concept, sometimes tougher in execution….
I think in the light conditions we had today it is critically important to constantly seek to find more power in the rig. This means a loose outhaul (one to one and one half hands at the middle of the boom), loose Cunningham (or maybe just a tiny bit but not enough to remove wrinkles), and Vang slightly less than block to block tension (You want the mast to straighten when you ease the sheet for power).
I don’t think I ever was able to “two block” my sheet tension today, but generally had my sheet eased out between 6-18 inches depending on wind pressure.
The key to light air speed is to ease the sheet for power to get the boat moving. As the sail powers up, you can then apply more weight on the rail, which translates force into your foils and increases boat speed. As the speed builds, you can trim the main for greater efficiency. The trick is not to let the boat stall after you trim in more closely. After you trim in and you start to feel the boat lose power you have to immediately ease the sheet again to get more power. Adjustments should be pretty subtle unless there is a big wind speed change. I believe this cycle of easing for power, applying weight to the rail to increase speed, and then trimming as the boat accelerates is key to being fast in light conditions.
Similarly, I think the most important factor downwind was working to keep the boat powered up. Whenever it got really light downwind I felt it was fast to either head up 15-20 degrees or sail aggressively by the Lee to increase flow across the sail. Once the boat was moving well, then it was time to head more towards the mark. I think I ended up gybing on every down wind leg because I sailed “hotter” angles and almost never dead down wind.
Hope a few folks find this helpful. Thanks to all for sailing today and Happy New Year!
Sunday the wind was great and picked up throughout the day, which I really liked as I had to hike. During the races I played a lot with my controls (Vang, down haul, and out haul) to try and find my perfect set up. The pin end of the start line was very favored and it was almost not possible to sail from the committee boat to the pin, but I liked this as it was challenging to get a good spot on the line, while also being able to keep it and get off of the line with speed. During the first few races I tended to go up on the port side of the course all the way to right below the lay line and then to tack over, but as the wind increased it shifted a bit and the starboard side of the coarse was favored in the last two or three races. I am never very aware of the current (which I should probably be) but throughout the day it was going out. I am definitely going to wear like 6 pairs of socks next Sunday, because my feet were frozen.
See you all on Sunday
Frostbite Series #2 and #3 have been great conditions, good turnout, and fun racing. I regret missing the first weekend. As always, a thank you to our underpaid Race Committee. I was initially skeptical of the leeward gate setup, but variety is the spice of life (it was fun)! Conditions were mostly steady from the south, but became light in race 14 (I think). The last couple races we started to see some significant starboard tack lifts with boats stacking up near the committee boat and puffs from the western shore. A flooding current wasn’t as aggressive as last week’s ebb current, but still worth accounting for during mark roundings.
PRSA Sailors — this weekend we take a break from our regularly scheduled fleet racing of the fall series for our dinghy open. The NOR and SIs are posted at http://potomacriversailing.org/nors-sis/ The basics are the same, 10 am skipper’s meeting, 11:30 first warning, and après-sail pot-luck cook out, but this week you get to pit your skills and tactics against sailors in the other fleets!