Tag Archives: Sailboat racing

2016-2017 Laser Frostbite Series #5

We had 3 races in light to medium wind that went normally.  There were 8 lasers racing and 2 people on the 16 foot skiff.  During the fourth race we had dying and shifting wind.  The wind had been steady from the south but as the wind lightened it started clocking west.  The wind then picked up to 15 mph for about 60 seconds then the main blast of the storm came through.  I was on a reach at the time and immediately capsized.  I was able to do a dry capsize and stand on top of my boat, out of the water.  I was 3-5 boat lengths from Farley who advised not to right my boat to try and keep sailing.  Looking around I could see the wind and waves were way too strong to sail so I stayed capsized and balanced on the hull.  I could see Jolie capsized and in the water about 10 to 15 boat lengths to my west and Claus a little further to my south west.  James Jacob was back up (or didn’t capsize) and was survival sailing.  Other lasers were further south and but I couldn’t say clearly who was where.

At this point my plan was to say out of the water and on my boat until the wind died down. Farley and I were drifting rapidly and the drifting wrapped Farley’s sail in front of the mast (past 90 degrees) putting him in a more awkward position.  I pulled in my main sheet some to keep this from happening to myself.  I also adjusted my sailing controls to better suit the heavy wind.  Max outhaul, max Cunningham, medium to loose vang.  In my understanding the loose vang helps to bear away rapidly.  At some point I let the mast get too high out of the water and the wind lifted it and capsized the boat on its other side.  I wasn’t fast enough with my transition and went in the water.  I had a dry suit and life jacket per normal so I wasn’t wet but being in the water was cold. I moved from the cockpit side of the capsized boat to the underside and climbed the dagger board to again be back on top of the capsized boat.  Taking more care to keep the mast wet and the boat from flipping again I spend another 2-5 minutes standing on the boat. I had mentally started a clock that there are people who’ve been in the water the whole time and need to get out.  Farley was still on top of his boat, good.  Keith was upright and moving, good. Others were still in the water and I at some point in the high wind I saw the yellow laser do a cartwheel.

Another gust lifted the mast and sail out of the water however this time I managed to keep the boat upright and sail.  The wind was now in the 25 mph range where I can survival sail but not very effectively.  I happened to be facing toward the committee boat so I sailed closer.  The boat was upright and Len indicated the motor wasn’t working and they had no power.  I later found out they had both swamped and capsized during the storm.  I’m fairly confident that I met them post capsize but I’m not sure.  Now my plan was to get to shore, get the 19’ skiff and come back out to aid the other boaters.  I headed for shore and my path brought me near Claus who was in the water with his laser.  He was ready to go to shore so after some maneuvering I was close enough for him to grab on and tow him back to shore.  It was slow going but we got near the shore and he let go; I assume walked the rest of the way.  I made a few tacks in the channel and I was again relatively close to Farley who was also sailing in to the dock.  The wind had at this point dropped to 20 mph where I can begin to sail more effectively.  I could see Jolie still in the water and given I was not too tired I decided I could pick her up as well.  A short sail over and more maneuvering and she was in my boat and we were now heading in.  We sailed to the dock with the escort of a police boat.

Once ashore I pulled my boat out of the water and got more information from the people on shore.  All 8 sailors were back at WSM and 2 people on the committee boat had been towed by the coast guard to another boat ramp somewhere on the other side of the river.  We talked with the police and paramedics answering their questions and assuring we had the correct head count. Amongst the remaining laser sailors we formed a new plan.  We would pack our boats while the officials wrapped up what they needed to do.  Keith would take Len’s truck and the 16’s trailer to go get Len and his wife from where they had been towed ashore.  Some sailors would take the 19 to get the 4 boats that had been left in the river.  It ended up being Farley, Claus, and myself that went back out though we had more volunteers.  Other PRSA members had begun arriving and recall Melissa had brought glorious hot cocoa.

We could see 2 of the lasers from the dock and they were not moving so we decided to search for the 2 unseen lasers first.  Heading down river we found the first 2 most of the way to the 495 bridge.  The first was in the shallows south of Marbury Point and the second was tied to a pier in old town.  With the 2 “lost” boats found and recovered we came back to retrieved the final 2.  We got to the yellow boat which was in waist deep water.  The fourth boat was in neck deep water and we were unable to recover it on the first attempt given the 3 boats in tow limited maneuverability. Bringing the 3 boats back to the dock where we’re greeted by a number of PRSA members who unloaded the 19 of the lasers in record time.  With the light dying we headed out for the last laser.  With the new maneuverability of the 19 we recovered the last laser and brought it ashore.  To recover some the boats I had cut some control lines to get them apart, for which I am sorry.  I tried to cut near the end of the lines but I not sure I did this very well.

No one was hurt and property damage was minimal which is good but the day was a closer call than we need.  Some of the factors working for us were deliberate like 100% dry suits and life jackets on the sailors.  Some factors working for us were lucky, like the bystanders on shore calling for help and a quick response from multiple rescue agencies.  Some factors were unlucky like the powerboat swamping and capsizing.  How Len managed to get it upright and floating again while preserving his cell phone to call for help is beyond me.  Some weather stations had predicted severe wind but I had not checked the weather this day.  Going forward I plan to check for these alerts and take them seriously.  I’m happy with my gear and how it performed, though I do need a safety whistle on my winter life jacket. I was blown away by the response from PRSA members and the response from the police, coast guard, and fire department.

2016-2017 Laser Frostbite Series #5

2016-2017 PRSA Laser Frostbite Series #4

This Sunday was a surprisingly good day on the water. Wind started around 10 and built to 15 over the course of racing. Temperature started at 35F and rose to 40 when the sun came out. I was warm in a polypro midlayer and a light fleece under my drysuit. The wind direction was from the south and fairly steady only veering left slightly as the day went on.
The south direction allowed the race committee to set a longer course and I liked the location they chose just east of the airport runway. It is a little deeper there and I did not hit bottom the whole day. I also didn’t see any weeds which were still around last time we sailed two weeks ago. I think the races took around 20 to 30 minutes on average but I wasn’t tracking them. I usually use raceQs on my phone and put it in a drybag around my mast but on Sunday instead of setting the start recording time I accidentally forced quit the app before I went out. Whoops.
I don’t have any of my tracks to examine but when I was out there I didn’t pick up on anything strategic the wind or the current was doing. The right side or the left side didn’t seem like a clear favorite most of the time. I talked to Adam after the race and he said that he thought the current was affecting things a little bit. I checked the current on the pin end of the start line and it was flooding upriver a little bit at maybe a foot every 5 seconds. It could have been different at other times or other locations on the race course.
Upwind I tried to hike hard with my vang snug and my mainsheet two-blocked. downhaul was mostly off and outhaul was medium. I tried to go for pressure first and worry about shifts only if they were large or I was approaching a layline anyway. It seemed like people were overstanding the windward mark a lot. I know I did on a couple of occasions. I think it may have been due to the puffy nature of the wind since you can point slightly higher when the breeze comes up and sometimes it comes up at unexpected times.
Downwind I tried to protect my inside overlap but in most races it didn’t help me. There was more wind to the center of the river on and a couple of times people caught me or completely passed me on the outside on the downwind legs. Nich, I’m looking at you.
I think biggest factor in the racing on Sunday was where people started on the line. For much of the racing the pin end was favored but the pin end was not crowded at all. I think I started near the boat once on Sunday. On races where the pin end was neutral or a little favored people were starting a boat length away from the line when they were starting in the middle. We had a couple over earlies but I believed that they all occurred near the ends of the line. If your in the middle of the line its ok to punch out a little more than you think in your head. Google “sailing midline sag” for more. The start is very important in our laser frostbite fleet.

2016 PRSA AGM & Awards Ceremony Wrap-Up

We had over 50 people attend the 2016 PRSA Annual General Meeting and Awards Ceremony, making it one of the best attended in recent years!  I want to extend a very special thank you to Melissa Morgan and Heather Howard for all of their work in planning the AGM, organizing the food and drink, decorating the room, and generally ensuring good cheer such that a great time was had by all.

The PRSA Executive Committee was pleased to highlight  our growth over the year, including a 5th consecutive year of membership growth and the highest total membership level (118 members) that we have seen since 2005!  We were also pleased to recognize Aaron Boesenecker, Frank Gallagher, and Will Phillippe  with PRSA perpetual awards awards.  You can keep reading for additional details and links to the relevant documents, including the AGM Agenda, the list of PRSA Spring and Fall Series winners, details on the perpetual award winners, and your 2017 PRSA Executive Committee.

At the AGM each officer from the PRSA Executive Committee provided an update on the state of the association.  The membership approved the creation of a committee to review the PRSA Constitution and bring a revised Constitution to the membership for approval at the 2017 AGM.  We also celebrated the PRSA Spring Series and Fall Series winners in each class and awarded the PRSA Perpetual Awards to members who have contributed outstanding Service over the year.  Finally, we approved a new PRSA Executive Committee  for 2016.

PRSA Perpetual Award Winners

  • Founder’s Trophy (for outstanding service to PRSA and for the general promotion of PRSA): Aaron Boesenecker
  • Fleet Captain’s Award (recognizing outstanding race committee service): Frank Gallagher, for service at the 2016 PRSA President’s Cup
  • Yates Dowell III Award (for exceptional administrative service to PRSA): Will Phillippe, for extensive and outstanding work maintaining and improving PRSA Equipment.

2017 PRSA Executive Committee

  • Commodore: Kyra Tallon (congratulations Kyra!)
  • Vice Commodore: Will Phillippe
  • Rear Commodore: Nabeel Alsalam
  • Treasurer: Yates Dowell
  • Secretary: Nich Allen
  • Also assisting the PRSA Executive Committee in 2016:
    • PRSA Scorer: Farley Will
    • Website Support: Stew Harris
    • Committee for Social Activities & Outreach: Heather Howard, Lisa-Marie Lane, Melissa Morgan
    • Committee for Sustainability: Laura Lake
    • Committee to Review Governing Documents: Jeff Neurauter (and others TBD)

Finally a big thank you to our officers who served PRSA in 2016.  Here’s looking forward to an excellent 2017!

2016 PRSA Fall Series #7

It was a pleasantly warm day on the Potomac with a good bit of breeze.  SailFlow shows winds in the high teens for most of our racing period with a few gusts in the high 20s.  It turned out screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-11-42-05-amto be very nice  with some good wind for planing and surfing.  3 races were held and the RC also organized a fun race back to the dock for beer!

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2016-fall-series-7-buccaneers

2016-fall-series-7-lightnings

2016-fall-series-7-multihull

Breezy Fun at 2016 PRSA Fall Series #5

We had a great day for racing this past Sunday!  Six Lightnings, two Bucs, two Albacores, and an I-20 came out to play on a sunny day that featured some great, albeit shifty, breeze.  PRO Farley Will and his crew did a great job managing a “wacky west wind” in setting a course that gave us a mix of O2, T2, T3, and O3 courses.  The wind reports from National Airport show a breeze of 12-15 throughout the afternoon with the occasional gust in the 20s.

On board Beedobeat I was shorthanded, sailing with Piercarlo but no third.  Given some of the tight reach angles (and a short-ish downwind leg due to the wind direction) we didn’t fly the spinnaker at all, but we were still right in the mix with the rest of the Lightnings, winning a few races and enjoying some great planing rides on the reach legs under jib and main alone (though we did have to work our butts off to keep the boat flat going upwind in some of te puffs!).  Some of the Lightnings and Bucs did get their spins up, which mattered more on the Olympic courses with true downwind legs, I think.  It wasn’t a guarantee, though, as I saw some boats struggle with controlling spinnakers in the puffs and shifts.   The wind was not that crazy, though, and after 5 great races we headed back to shore for a BBQ under a wonderfully sunny (and warm!) fall sky.

Scores will be posted soon, and I think we will also have some great photos taken from the RC boats to post as well.  Stay tuned!

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2016-fall-series-5-buccaneers

2016-fall-series-5-lightnings

PRSA AGM & Awards Banquet: Saturday, November 19

The 2016 PRSA Annual General Meeting and Awards Banquet will be held on Saturday, November 19, 6-9 pm, in the community room at Marina Towers in Alexandria, VA.  Dinner & drinks will cost $25/person / $10/person for those under 21 (pay at the door with check or cash).   This is always a great chance to see everybody and reminisce about another year of great sailing, so I hope to see you there!  Please sign up here as soon as possible so that our volunteers can plan for the appropriate amount of food and drink.

Here is the basic schedule of events:

  • 6:00  Appetizers & Drinks
  • 6:30  Dinner
  • 7:30  Business Meeting & Awards
    • 7:30-8:00  Officer Reports
    • 8:00-8:30  Open discussion
    • 8:30-8:45  PRSA Spring & Fall Series Awards
    • 8:45-8:55  PRSA Perpetual Awards
    • 8:55-9:00  Discussion & approval of 2017 PRSA Executive Committee
  • 9:00  Adjourn & Cleanup

A full agenda of the evening can be viewed here.

Racing Highlights & Results

Financial Report

PRSA Dinghy Open Results

We had a great turnout this past Sunday with about 20 boats in a number of classes (Albacores, Buccaneers, Force 5, Lasers, Lightnings, Multihulls, and Sunfish)  racing in the 3rd Annual PRSA Dinghy Open.  The weather conditions were fantastic with a nice southerly blowing at about 8-12 knots the whole day.  PRO Bob Bear and his crew did a great job in getting us 5 fun races (all O2 or O3 courses) and we still had enough time for a wonderful BBQ in summer-like conditions after the racing.  Full scores will be posted soon.  In the meanwhile, here are the top 4 (the teams that earned hardware this past Sunday):

  1. Nabeel Alsalam (Lightning)
  2. Aaron Boesenecker (Lightning)
  3. John VanVoorhis (Lightning)
  4. Barney Harris (Albacore)

It was great fun racing against all the classes using the Portsmouth Yardstick (time/wind condition) scoring format.  Starts were especially interesting as we ran one big start for all,  meaning that you had to negotiate the different timing and starting strategies (and different maneuvering capabilities) of a whole variety of classes.  Definitely something new and different for us, but worth doing once or twice a year to shake things up and have some fun!

PRSA Dinghy Open

On October 16 PRSA will host the 3rd Annual PRSA Dinghy Open Regatta.  This is your chance to compete against all dinghy classes in a series of “boat-on-boat” races, so don’t miss out!

Sailboats of any class 20’ and under are invited to participate. Sailboats may be organized and compete in three divisions – Spinnaker Division, Non-spinnaker Division and Multi-hull Division. Based on the number of boats present at the Skipper’s Meeting, Divisions may be combined.  All races will be scored according to the Portsmouth Yardstick system.

The NOR and Sailing Instructions are posted below.  Questions should be directed to the Aaron at apb99@mac.com.

PRSA Dinghy Open NOR

PRSA Dinghy Open Sailing Instructions