Tag Archives: Potomac River Sailing Association

PRSA Distance Race: June 18

Come one and come all — try out your speed and tactics against other boats and other classes in a distance race on the river on Sunday, June 18.   We will use government marks and the course will be determined by weather conditions on Sunday.  The NOR, Sailing Instructions, and Course Diagrams are all posted below.  Scoring will be done using the Portsmouth Yardstick system.  Questions should be directed to the PRO for the Distance Race, John Van Voorhis.

PRSA Distance Race NOR

PRSA Distance Race Sailing Instructions

PRSA Distance Race Course Diagrams

2017 Spring Series #7 – June 4

What a beautiful day for racing!

The winds were from the south between 10 and 15 mph.   They oscillated between 180 and 200.   Later in the day, they’d occasionally drop down below 10 but then new breeze would roll up the river.

There were 8 Lightnings on the line.  Aaron and I had very close racing with us edging him out by a point at the end of the day.   On this type of day with moderate & steady breeze and flat water all the boats are very similar in speed.  It is very hard to pass and so the start is more important than usual.

Our strategy was to start near the boat so that we’d have the freedom to tack away.  The one time we started down the line, we had a very good start but not good enough to cross the fleet on port.  Will & Aaron had us pinned.  We eventually tacked and swerved hard to duck Will but Aaron had already tacked and led the pack to the windward mark.  Nothing we did would reel him in.

After rounding the leeward mark, if we were leading the strategy for staying in the lead was to sail on port all the way to the airport. Simple.   (The airport is generally the better side to be on, maybe because of less chop or maybe because the land funnels the wind a bit there.  Don’t really know why.)  If we were not the lead boat, we had to fight to keep from sailing into the bad air of the lead boat and look for a small header or better breeze on the left before tacking.  Then we had to be on the lookout for another header to get back toward the airport. Not so simple but we made it work once.

Downwind we worked hard to get inside rights at the mark.  Usually this meant sailing as deep as possible without sailing by the lee.  If the spinnaker trimmer is curling the luff, I’m by the lee if the spinnaker clew is to windward of the forestay.  For speed downwind, we tried to keep our weight forward to keep the water flowing smoothly off our transom, healed slightly to windward to give the spinnaker as much air as possible, and the board almost all the way up into the trunk to give the boat some leeward helm.   But none of that beats getting a good puff!

Fun close racing!

Thanks to Jeff Neurator, Heather Howard, Chris Porter, and Yates for giving us 4 great races.  Heather also took some great pics from the signal boat (thanks Heather!).  And thanks to Tom Hutton for getting the scores calculated not just for today but for the whole Spring Series.

2017-Spring-7-Buccaneer
2017-Spring-7-I-20
2017-Spring-7-Lightning
2017-Spring-7-Multi-Hull

PRSA Spring Regatta: May 27-28

The NOR for the PRSA Spring Regatta (May 27-28) has been posted and registration is now open.  Visit the regatta website and register by May 21 to take advantage of the early registration discount.  Once you’ve registered, help us spread the word about the regatta!

We have partnered with DC Sail once again to organize a spectator cruise aboard the American Spirit on Saturday of the Spring Regatta.  Spectator cruise tickets are $20/person (or $25 for a combined cruise and Saturday dinner ticket).  Tickets can be purchased via the regatta website.  We have also posted complete details on the cruise in the “race documents” area on the regatta website.

2016/2017 Laser Frostbite Series #16 – 3/19/17

Sunday March 19, 2017.  Good weather for the last day of frostbiting.  It was sunny but cool with winds in the 10-15 mph range from the northwest.  We got in 5 races, all olympic course, and I did well in all but the last one.

My general start tactic on a heavier wind day is what I think of as a drift start.  I hang out past the committee boat on the right side of the course.  With about 30 second to go I power up and head for somewhere on the line.  When a bunch of boats bunch up at the committee boat there is enough wind to get to leeward of them and make it to the line on time.  If the boat end folks are early they will head down the line and leave a nice window.  This worked well today on most races and I was competitive to the windward mark.

On the course I used my normal heavy wind tactics namely, tight vang, medium outhaul and Cunningham, then lots of hiking.  I ease my outhaul 100% at the windward mark to give more power downwind and I ease the vang to about 50%.  The eased vang I find (and have heard) helps to bear away.  The triangle legs of the olympic were great and I think I reached a plane on most downwind legs.  This is super fun and I was able to make up some ground if I caught a puff.

I did have issues keeping my mainsheet running clean.  I had a few issues on the course because of this.  Twice I had the sheet wrapped around a foot causing me to tack rather than duck a starboard boat.  I also had a serious knot at one of the windward roundings that I had to undo before I could bear away.  Mainsheet discipline will be something for me to work on for windier days.   Still a fun last day, I’m looking forward to Cap City next week!

2016_2017 PRSA Laser Frostbite Series #16

2016-2017 Laser Frostbite Series #15 – 3/12/17

Sunday turned out to be one of the first actual frostbite days this season.  The breeze was predicted to be from the west at 10-16 with a high of 42.  It was pretty close to that.  The breeze was super shifty and puffy.  Rarely do you see it on the river come from every direction.  During the races the breeze was mostly swinging between the north and south.  Big thanks to race committee for running the races, especially to James Jacob for bringing is own boat down and giving us a mark boat to try and fix the course each race.

As far as the racing, I was surprised that I got third.  The scores were all over the place.  Winning the start did not guarantee a good race with how shifty it was.  We ran 3 W1, 1 W2 and 2 olympics.  We had some nice breeze and some lulls.  After a lull, typically one of the sides would pay off.  During the nice breeze on the olympics, we got to do some fun planing as well as between races.  We were able to see a few capsizes as well (including my own haha).
A quick summary on the season this far.  We currently have 16 people qualifying.  There are a couple of battles going on in the scores.  Will Summers and I are duking it out for 2nd place.  Jim Klein and Claus are battling for 6th.  And Kat and Francisco are tied with Kat winning the tie breaker.  We have just one more weekend to mix it up a little more.  Hope to see everyone out next weekend!

2016_2017 PRSA Laser Frostbite Series #15

2016-2017 Laser Frostbite Series #14 – 3/5/17

The wind prediction the night before called for 0 wind gusting to 1 mph.  The morning of this looked to be a very accurate prediction.  We talked a bit about should we go out or shouldn’t we, who needs more races to qualify (I do), and other light wind things.  We were leaning towards heading home when Will as RC says “we’ll just race in the cove!”

The first race in the cove was a bit more off the docks than in the cover proper but the course was not terrible.  I got exactly the start I wanted, at the pin end trying to port tack the fleet.  It was 0% successful.  Not only did I not beat anyone off the line but everyone passed in front of me without my needing to duck.  The once around was a bit slow and very little tacking was required but it worked.  I finished like I started but all sailing is fun. Toward the end the wind looked better so we picked up and headed into the river.

In the river the wind was a flunky as you would expect for a light-wind-from-the-west kind of day.  I have one rule I follow for light wind starts which is don’t get too far from the line.  This worked reasonably well and I managed to stay closer to the front of the fleet.  Light wind is not my favorite and I tend not to do so well.  I’m attributing getting 3rd place on luck, which I will of course gladly take.

My favorite part about this cold and still day, aside from the racing, was sitting between the races.  If you maneuver your boat so you are in the sun you can let the sun heat you up and get much warmer, almost toasty. It was slightly silly and pleasant. Definitely a nice day to be out on the river.

2016_2017 PRSA Laser Frostbite Series #14

2016-2017 Laser Frostbite Series #13 – 2/26/17

Last Sunday was a replay of the previous weekend. The parking lot banter was that I would just repost previous week’s write-up. Lots o’ sun, shifty winds, blah, blah, blah. Déjà vu all over again. But you couldn’t just sit on deck with an umbrella drink if you wanted to keep the boat moving and stay out of the water. Looking upwind to find the next line of wind and getting to it and/or being ready for it was a big part of the game.

I found myself continuously adjusting the shape and trim of the sail, both up and downwind, primarily using the vang, cunningham and sheet. I find it easier to trim the MK2 main because it simply looks more like a modern cloth sail when trimmed well. Working with the vang and the cunningham to create a nice foil shape was a constant challenge in the 1-15 knot wind we were dealing with Sunday. Downwind I relied on my masthead wind indicator to pick up the 45 degree shifts. Upwind I used the indicator in the lulls and the luff of the sail to adjust to the changing apparent wind.

Since the tide was really low we had to sail to weather with our boards up a few inches. There may have been some downwind capsizes caused by the board grounding and tripping over the centerboard. But at least it’s easy to right a boat that’s capsized in 3 feet of water.

It’s hard to believe that our Capital City regatta is only four weekends away on 3/25-26.

2016_2017 PRSA Laser Frostbite Series #13

2016-2017 Laser Frostbite Series #12

2/19/2017. Last Sunday’s weather was about as good as PRSA frostbiting gets, plenty of sun, warm temperatures and a tricky 02-14 knot breeze that worked its way from the NW to SW and back. We were lucky to have Jim Graham and company on RC keeping things square.

The ebb tide kept most of the fleet below the starting line and this put timing the acceleration and space needed to get rolling at a premium. The wind’s tendency to go a bit left during the start sequence made the pin an interesting location. Adam staked out a good position at the pin in one race and very cleanly port tacked the fleet. You have to love a gambler.  On a (very) different start Nabeel, Farley and I decided to raft-up at the pin and then go back around to restart. Not cool.

There was a lot of action at the rounding marks and proper boat handling is important to good roundings. This is something that can be practiced. Little things like looking up course, getting the control lines set, and carving a clean tight line pay big dividends. I need to try this practice thing. Thanks to all for a great day on the river!

2016_2017 PRSA Laser Frostbite Series #12

2016-2017 Laser Frostbite Series #10

Based on last Saturday’s temperature I was not terribly excited about racing on Sunday, but there weather warmed up into the high 40s and it was a pleasant day on the water. Wind seemed to be predominantly coming from the SSW, but shifts were certainly evident. Since the wind was SSW I found that the right side of the course typically had more breeze and you could also play the shifts first. I often find that my best finishes come from sailing my own race (not having my course dictated by surrounding boats and not sailing slower in a pack with less wind).

I focused on winning the boat side of the line. Even if the line was pretty square, my experience throughout the day indicated that I wanted boat so I could take advantage of the lifts and higher pressure on the right side of the course. In general, I was happy with getting off the line with good speed in the front row near the boat. This allowed me to have clear air and freedom to tack on all the shifts. Several times I noticed I was pointing significantly higher than those further off to the left side of the course. I kept tacks to a minimum and focused on sailing fast. Don’t quote me on this, but most races I believe I was within top 1 to 4 at the first windward rounding.
The fourth race (perhaps emboldened by my newfound success with starting) I decided I was going to WIN THE BOAT and not just be front row. This backfired as there wasn’t enough space for myself, James, and I think Bill came in as well. I was pinned at the boat, forced to gybe around, and restart. The result was my lowest finish of the day.
I don’t have much wisdom downwind, I seemed to lose ground and watch Len speed off into the horizon. I did watch a couple people sail offcourse (perhaps not realizing the leeward mark had been moved – by Len no less, hmm I’ll have to look into that). There were times my sail was set more for a broad reach rather than sailing by the lee due to the shifts, so I guess my only advice is to remember that shifts happen sailing downwind too! Not heeding my own advice, Jim Klein was able to round inside of me one race, even though I was clear ahead. I exited the rounding at an angle one typically would, while Jim thought it would be a better idea to sail at the higher angle to the wind (doh). Shout out to Kat and Jolie, who were thinking happy thoughts, and were able to scoot ahead of the fleet on the last downwind of the day to take 2nd and 3rd. I wish we had a photo of the fleet prior to the leeward rounding, we seemed to be spread shoulder to shoulder across the racecourse in a dead even heat.

2016-2017 Laser Frostbite Series #9

Sailing today was pretty interesting and tough.  We had a mostly west wind that was generally 5-10.  As is normal with the west winds on the Potomac, it was very shifty and puffy.  There were times when there was almost no wind.  Also there were times when we were full out hiking.  Dan and Cliff on RC got off 5 races.  Melissa Morgan finally made it out after fixing her laser the past couple months.

I was surprised that I got 3rd place today.  But the best that I can say is that as was usual, having a good start mattered, but today it was not paramount with the puffs and shifts.  The most important thing today was playing the shifts well and keeping boat speed up.  With 3 of the races being more paradelike than tactics racing, boat speed was the key ingredient.  In one of the races, Kat had a awesome race which was mostly due to her first leg where she kept her speed up and went lower than everyone else to have good speed and clean air.  This punched her around the windward mark in second that race.

Hope that everyone had a great time and see you out again soon.