Tag Archives: One Design Racing

2020-2021 Laser Frostbite Series #1

Third Place Write Up (Jim Klein)  11/22/2020

Hello Everyone,

Thank you Tom Hutton doing the RC for us on this first week of our frostbite series. Despite being alone in the RC boat you managed to give us Olympic, WL and Triangle races to keep things interesting, as well as maintaining a square start line.

My boat was set up the following way:

Vang: On fairly tight upwind, but not so tight that I had to worry about hitting my head on the boom during tacks. Offwind pretty far off, but always cleated down. You don’t want to have the vang completely loose or else the whole sail structure is loose, moves around too much, and generally sucks up energy of the boat rocking back and forth. Rather, you want that rocking energy to be translated to forward motion. Think rigidity in the whole boat/mast/sail structure.

Outhaul: About 4” off the boom at mid point.

Cunningham: Off and completely loose.

Mainsheet: Two blocked upwind during the windier times, else about 5” between the aft blocks.

Starts:  No one side was favored enough to attempt starting on that particular side.  I felt it was more important just to have good speed at the gun. I would often try to start on port and in the last 20 seconds or so, look for a hole in the fleet so I could tack and be on starboard tack at the gun. But this did not always work out so well; in one race, I could not find any hole and had to let the entire fleet cross the line before I squeezed in finally at the boat end.  Interestingly, that was the one race where I went out way to the right (on port tack) and somehow got some favorable wind so that I could pass just about the whole fleet by the windward mark. That was more luck than planning. The first 15 seconds after the gun are critical for you to get out in front as much as you can. This is no time to be playing with sail controls, but rather to be focused completely on getting ahead of those around you.

Upwind: In the first several races I had a helmet on (and covid mask), and it was preventing me from feeling the wind shifts. Then I took all those off and did better because I could feel the wind better with my head and face. I would tack pretty often when I detected a wind shift. I tried to be careful never to let the mast come beyond 90 degrees to the water. That meant moving around a lot on the boat.

Downwind: I tried to keep air flowing over my sail, even if that meant sailing in more of an “S” shape path rather than a straight line to the mark. That means, when the wind dies off, try to head up a bit from a run to a  broad reach, and focus on keeping the air attached to your sail and telltales flying back. Then if the wind would come back in strength, I would again go back to a dead run. In some cases, it was very advantageous to sail by the lee. I also tried as much as possible to get my weight all the way forward and to heel the boat so the sail sticks up in the air as much as possible.

2020-2021 Laser Frostbit Series #1

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #15

It was a lovely day on the water – warm and windy and a very good turnout! We did a couple of windward/leewards and then switched to Olympics, which was fun. One of the big challenges and opportunities of the day seemed to be mark roundings. At the windward mark, it was not coming in on port too close to the mark or hitting the mark or avoiding the boat hung up on the mark. I mostly escaped these traps unscathed (mostly) and tried to have at least my vang loosened a bit before the mark to help with turning down quickly. A few times, I did not turn down far enough and lost some boats inside by the time we made it down to the leeward mark (or had to work extra hard to catch back up) – and then started paying more attention. At the leeward mark, I tried to focus on going wide then tight, but it wasn’t always possible and once I thought I would have room, but didn’t at the last second…which was interesting. At the jibe mark, I sometimes was able to make up boats by doing a quick jibe and getting on a plane as quickly as possible and passing to windward.
Another observation is about controls – I made sure to have my cunningham and outhaul rather tight going upwind – tighter than I normally would considering it was generally windy and not crazy windy – and it did seem to help. I wasn’t as overpowered and was still able to point mostly OK and have decent boatspeed. Downwind, I let the cunningham and outhaul off almost all the way and didn’t play the vang too much once set because the wind tended to be relatively steady – mostly made sure the leech still had some movement. I also did a better job remembering to keep my weight as forward as possible upwind, which somehow seemed more doable with my depowered rig.
Hope everyone is having a good start to their week!
Laura

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #13

First, It was a beautiful day for a sail with light winds that didn’t quit and didn’t vary much.  The current/tide was a factor, both on the start line (I got caught over once) and at the windward mark.  I found going right and setting up well out worked for me, as the current would drift me to the layline by the time I reached the mark. I found going downwind (upcurrent) to be slow, requiring sitting very still with sail by the lee, but I feel the total weight of the boat and skipper was a factor   (Jim Klein was uncatchable)  Twice I picked a little debris off my rudder which could have slowed me a bit. This is my first time to do a third place write-up, due in part to the fact that the race committee (Farley and Tom) almost always take places above third.  Thanks for doing Race Committee!  Welcome back to Dan Miller who had yet sailed this season, but showed no rust as he led the first race until the last few boatlengths, being nosed out by Jim Klein.
Not much else to say except that today’s sailing is one of the most pleasant “frostbite” events I had in 20 years of frostbiting!!

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #11

Week 11 scores are below. We are going to break from the 3rd place tradition and have a first place writeup since the 3rd place boat actually had a DNS.
Week 11 started as a light day and slowly built all day.  We were able to get 5 races in with the last race starting to get breezy.  My thoughts from the day were that the pin was favored and I started at the pin 4 of the 5 races.  In the last two races, the downwinds started getting quite interesting because the southerly was going against the current and created some really nice waves for surfing downwind.  You were really able to work the boat and make gains going downwind.  I know that I did this in the last two races and picked up a couple of boats.
Additional Thoughts from the Race Committee:
Hopefully it will be of some interest to also have a perspective from the Race Committee (RC) on the Feb
2 racing.
The forecast (Windfinder) for this past Sunday (2/2) was for 8-9 mph winds from the W or SW with gusts
into the high teens. It was also supposed to be sunny, which turned out to be true. All things considered, a
great forecast. But right after the Skippers’ meeting, the direction of the wind changed substantially. In
fact, once out on the river, the wind was from the South. This necessitated a change of plan with respect
to setting the course. Actually, it was easier now because of the much larger playground available. After
setting the pin end of the starting line, the windward mark was dropped near the (former) power plant and
then the leeward mark up-river, near the airport. To lessen the chance of mayhem at the windward mark,
we set the starting line so that the first upwind leg of our W/L course would be as long as was reasonable.
The group had agreed at the Skippers’ meeting that there was no need for a reaching mark because of the
light wind prediction.
The RC was ready at 12:35, but our wonderful Ollie timer had decided to stay home; instead, Jim
provided us with a decidedly low-tech whistle for the count-down. To see how long it would take to sail
the course, the RC decided on a ‘once around’ for the first race. A sigh of relief from the RC boat once the
fleet got going without anyone being OCS (‘over early’). It took about 15 minutes for the winner (Nich) to
finish, and the others followed in the next five minutes or so. Therefore, we stuck with that format for the
next three races. Sometime after (or during; not sure) the third race, the wind increased significantly. We
had no wind meter, but the report from National Airport indicated 12 mph around 2 PM and 16 mph an
hour later. And yes, we did see small white caps. Because of this development, we decided (with gentle
encouragement from Farley) to do a ‘twice around’ for the fifth race. Once the fleet got going, several
sailors got themselves into ‘unusual’ situations. Fortunately, most everyone was able to self-rescue, but we
must give a shout out and much credit to two (Michael L and ?) who helped getting the Georgetown #3
Laser back on its feet near the windward mark. To make it more interesting, the RC also had to keep its
eyes on Mike S who had trouble as well getting his boat right side up. We could see that his boom (which
had gotten loose), and likely also his mast, had gotten stuck in the shallow area not too far from the RC
boat. With no ready resolution in sight, we decided to pick him up and let his Laser sit, to be rescued
later. After lifting anchor and turning on the engine, our (recently serviced) 17′ skiff behaved admirably.
Mike was hoisted aboard, but was, fortunately, in no distress. By the time we got back to our proper
position on the line, the fifth race was still ongoing. Tom finished first, way ahead of the others, but credit
should be given to the lighter weight sailors in the breeze. By now, several of the fourteen boats that had
raced today had gone back to the marina, and we decided to call it a day.
Later on, a small group went out again with our fleet captain to retrieve Mike’s Laser and the marks. The
rig was put on the skiff and the hull towed back to the marina without further issues.
We hope that everyone had a good time at least some of the time; it was quite a day for the RC (Greg &
Jacob)!

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #8

Third Place Write-Up, 2020 Frostbite #8 – 1/12/2020

Weather:

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.

Starts:

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.

Swirl upwind:

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.

Downwind:

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.

2019-2020 Laser Frostbite Series #8

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.