PRSA Fall Series #1

There sure wasn’t much wind when we showed up at the marina on Sunday…and there was far less wind (read: none!) as we towed boats up to the racing area.  Thankfully for the eight Albacores, four Lightnings, and the lone Buc came out to play the breeze did fill in as forecast such that we were able to get 3 races after a bit of a delay.  I was PRO for the day, assisted by Lee, Lisa-Marie, and Jim (great job crew!). You can keep reading for some of the details that I observed on the signal boat.  Jim and Lisa-Marie Lane took some great photos of the racing (thanks!!!).

I was of two minds as to whether we should tow boats up to the course or simply postpone ashore on Sunday morning.  A few puffs had come through before the competitor’s meeting, and the skiff that we sent out to the course reported 3-5 kts up near Hains Point.  The river was like glass as we towed boats up there…with me fervently hoping that the forecast for a S/SW breeze to fill would turn out to be accurate.

We quickly set a course as a westerly breeze picked up, sending the boats off on a W2 as soon as we reasonably had enough breeze to start.  The wind was patchy and shifty, but boats were imploring us to let them race (the Albacores in particular!) so off they went.  The breeze ended up shutting off after the Lightnings rounded the leeward mark, so we shortened the course to finish at the windward mark, but this still meant that boats had to struggle across the current and tide (flowing out) to finish.

Just as the last of the Albacores finished a nice wind line came up the river from the south, filling in across the river and giving us a good 8 kts or so of breeze.  We re-set the course as quickly as we could (the RC crew was amazing!) and sent everybody off racing.  There were quite a few oscillations in the breeze at the RC boat, so choosing a course side and/or an end of the starting line became an important part of the strategy.  It was one of those days on the Potomac when you weren’t going to get a perfectly stable breeze, so we tried to shoot the difference on the oscillations and — most importantly — keep boats racing rather than trying to reset and perfect the course with each swing in the breeze.

The one feature that I did notice was the breeze arcing as it came up from the south.  It appeared to be a little more westerly at the windward mark, such that most boats jibed at the mark right away.  As they came through the start/finish line area, though, they were sailing dead down, and eventually couldn’t sail deep enough to make the leeward mark, so ended up jibing back in a breeze that seemed more due south down by the leeward mark.  It made for some interesting tactics, but for the most part finding pressure was more important than anything.

After 3 races we were nearly at the time limit for the day so we sent folks to shore to enjoy some dogs, burgers, and brews around the grill on what turned out to be a gorgeous afternoon.  Looking forward to next weekend!