The forecast and the actual weather didn’t line up at all which makes me leery. The weather called for light winds from the west switching to stronger from the south. When I got to the marina winds were light and shifty but coming from the north by the time we got on the water. The first two races were in the light and shifty stuff with a very strong down river current. RC wisely got the races off without worrying about a perfect course. For the first races I was focused on managing current rather than wind and this seemed to help some. I would head offset to the mark to counteract the current. In the very light wind, when it’s too light for tell-tails and wind vanes, I use a wet finger to determine where the wind is coming from. Then I setup the sail so it looks correct relative to where I think the wind is coming from. I steer to try to make sure I’m not pinching, as speed takes a while to build and there isn’t enough wind to show pinching in the sail. After the second race the wind died completely and it looked like wind would fill from the south. As the wind came in RC did a quick course reset and we got in 3 more races with a nice breeze. The current was still strong and was now pushing boats over the line. I was OCS in the last two races, and I managed to force Nich with me in the last race. Factoring in the current would have helped me here. In the medium breeze I’m keeping the boat very flat and looking for clear air on the favored tack. I focus on pointing and keeping my speed up. I did manage to factor in current for the windward mark layline and picked up a few boats the overstood. Overall it was a nice and sunny day, great to be out on the water. We also had Richie come out for the first time so welcome to him. Thanks again to John and Mike for doing RC!
Third Place Write-Up, 2020 Frostbite #8 – 1/12/2020
This Sunday we lucked out with wind. There was a storm Saturday that passed perfectly. We were catching the tail end so that there was good breeze that later Sunday dropped to very little wind. The weather reports indicated strong wind, but on the day it was less that predicted. Turnout was good with some new fast sailors making an appearance.
I had some good starts and some not so good starts. The wind was a bit up and down as well as shifty. My bad starts I though I was in good position in the middle of the line, then a shift put me unable to fetch the pin end. Another time a swirl put me in irons pre-start, very not-good as boats going backward have no rights. Fortunately the boats around me all pass me without incident so, through no skill of my own, I didn’t foul anyone.
Upwind there were some small and big shifts. Sometimes I got these right and passed boats, sometime I got this wrong and lost boats. I’m getting better at steering, telling when I’m getting headed vs when I’m just pinching. A lesson I need to learn better is when the wind is this shifty to try to stay in the middle of the course to not get buried by a big shift. The oddest thing going up wind was when closer to the mark it seems there were swirls, possibly from jets or from puffs dropping to the water. A swirl would seem to have wind but it would not be from any specific direction. One race I thought I was tacking on a header but in reality was not. The tack didn’t help and I’d given up all my speed to the swirl. Other times boats ahead of me would get caught in them, dramatically slowing down, like I had. The swirls were very localized so getting hit by one seemed to be luck.
We had windward-leeward courses set so downwind was more or less strait down wind. I had more success staying on starboard rather than jibing. There were puffs that could sometimes be taken advantage of as well as a cross current that meant going inside was beneficial. I aimed for puffs more than trying to fight for a tactical position. This worked out okay, and I managed to avoid a couple of big pinwheels. Big thank you to RC for coming out and setting a course in the messy wind.
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.