Spring Series #3: Light and Challenging!

We had a great turnout for Spring Series #3.  Unfortunately the weather was a bit less cooperative, providing us summer drifting conditions.  A determined RC eventually got us off on a W2 race in a very light and patchy southerly after numerous attempts to find breeze and set a course.   I know that at least a few boats were glad that we got that race though, as Sunday saw Lisa-Marie Lane earn her first ever bullet in the Lightning fleet.  Staying patient, staying focused on the conditions, and being mindful of finding clear air appeared to be key for her & team As You Wish.  Lisa-Marie was followed closely by Kristen Burke (skippering Progressive Plastics) in 2nd, and I’m told that this might mark the first time in Fleet 50 history that we had female skippers finish 1-2 in a PRSA series race.  Congrats all around!

I was finally out for my first racing of the spring season aboard Lightning #14592  (sailing with regular crew Piercarlo and welcoming new/interested crew Claudio Purificato aboard) and we quickly relearned some of the cardinal lessons of light air sailing: find clear air (especially after the start), find the next patch of breeze, and mind the current.  I was caught to windward of a pack of boats on the start, which was a mistake.  Groups of boats go very slow together in light wind, and we saw that firsthand.  We were too close to bear off and gain speed; tacking away killed the speed we had, so we were fighting back from the rear from the start.

Piercarlo and Claudio did a great job finding breeze and clear air up the first leg, though, so we were in the hunt at the top mark.  The incoming tide was a big  factor on the afternoon, and I saw numerous boats in different classes take themselves out of the race by cutting it too close to the windward mark.  By the time you got clear and did circles you were at the back of the pack.  We all did a good enough job with the current and we maximized our gains on the few easterly puffs that came through such that we were able to reel in many, but not all, of the 11 Lightnings on the course.

After the racing we all enjoyed a great BBQ around the grill.  Keep reading for the scores and for some more details from the racing.  Please feel free to offer up your own comments here or on the PRSA email listserv!

As noted above, I have to take a moment to offer a huge — and well deserved —congratulations!” to Lisa-Marie Lane in the Lighting Fleet for earning her first bullet in some very tricky conditions on Sunday.  Sailing with Jim Lane and Chris Kozel, Lisa-Mare and crew demonstrated great patience and focus in very light breeze (nonexistent breeze at times) and a hefty current.  Team As You Wish got off the starting line well as far as I could tell, and then did a great job of seeking out clear air and the patches of breeze that were to be found on the river this past Sunday.  Once they worked their way out to the front they stayed there, maintaining focus and not making any mistakes to win a very challenging (and long) W2 race.

Congratulations are also due to Kristin Burke (sailing with Brian Burke and Bob Astrove on Progressive Plastics) for a 2nd place finish.  Determination and patience brought team Progressive Plastics up from mid-fleet to eventually catch everybody but Lisa-Marie in another demonstration of some great light air sailing.  As Bob Astrove pointed out, this is perhaps the first time in Fleet 50 history that the top two places went to female skippers!  That’s awesome!

Aboard Lightning #14592 we also worked hard on being patient, observing the current, and finding wind.  We were too bunched up with other boats on the start line so ended up with little speed at the gun (and then less speed after we tacked away from the group).  That is a cardinal error in light breeze.  Groups of boats go slow together in light air, and there we were, instantly in the middle of the pack.  We worked up the right side of the course on the first beat and headed into the windward mark 7th or 8th.  The boats out in the river seemed to make out better, even if they were fighting a bit more current.  A group of boats hit the mark due to heavy current (another cardinal error in light wind) and effectively took themselves out of the race given the time it took to recover, clear, and do turns.  We were lucky enough to catch an easterly puff for the 1st “downwind leg” (a jib reach) and passed a few more boats in the process.  We did OK in holding our spot upwind save for 1 extra tack — and that extra tack allowed Kristen to get by and also allowed Will to get back by us after we had reeled them in on the 2nd beat.  We were able to hold our place in 4th though for a decent finish — and some tough reminders of the things to watch for in light air racing.

2016 Spring Series #3 – Albacores

2016 Spring Series #3 – Buccaneers

2016 Spring Series #3 – Lightnings