All posts by Nabeel

Lightning & Laser sailor/racer.

Spring Series 2017 – Final Results

Below are the official cumulative results for the 2017 Spring Series scored according to the NOR.   Think of each day as a race with your standing at the end of the day as your finish in the race.  If you did race committee that day, your score is the average of all the days you did sail.  If you neither sailed nor did RC, your score is simply a blank. To qualify you need to have sailed or done race committee 4 days (50% of days your fleet sailed). Your score is the average of your best 4 days.

A big thanks to Tom Hutton for doing the Sundays scores.

2017 Spring Series – Albacores
2017 Spring Series – Buccaneers
2017 Spring Series – I-20
2017 Spring Series – Lightnings
2017 Spring Series – Multi-Hulls

Spring Series 2017 – Cumulative Results

Here are some unofficial cumulative results.   “Unoffiical” because the official way of scoring the series, which is described in the NOR, is complicated and we have not had a chance to do those calculations.   These cumulative results simply add up the scores and mark people who sailed less than 50% with an #.    Simply adding up scores penalizes people who sailed the most so don’t pay attention to the rankings.


Spring Series #8 – June 11

It was a familiar day on the river.   The morning started with a nice northerly breeze, became increasingly unstable and then died, and finally picked back up again from the south.    The tide was ebbing the whole time and the current got stronger and stronger.

When the wind was northerly, it was easy to see the patches of stronger wind and there were 20+ degree shifts only part of which could have been due to velocity changes.  So the classic strategy of connecting the puffs or trying to sail in stronger and lifted breeze as much as possible consumed our attention and was successful in race 1 and most of race 2.

However, as the wind started to die and become unstable we made a classic mistake.   We rounded the windward mark for the last downwind leg in the lead.  The wind had shifted right and the wind looked better in the middle of the river so we gybed to port immediately.   The fleet behind us did not gybe as quickly and so we were the furthest right (looking upwind).   As the wind died we had to sail hotter to keep the boat moving, thereby moving further right. Initially, I was happy with our speed, but I ignored the fact that I was giving the fleet behind more and more leverage to catch up if the wind shifted even further right — a header (and downwind headers are good, especially for boats on the outside of the header, just the opposite from upwind).  And that is exactly what happened.   Despite the header, I was too far to the right of the course and had to gybe and come back on the unfavored starboard gybe while my competitors sailed deeper and directly to the mark on the favored port gybe.   One boat (Aaron) passed us and another (Will Summers) arrived at the mark at the same time.

Lesson:  When the wind is unpredictable and you are in the lead, cover the boats behind, i.e. stay in the middle of the course to take away their leverage and minimize any potential gains they can make from a wind shift.  Plus that puts you in the position to adjust your course right or left to take advantage of a finger of wind coming down the river.

A big thank you to Yates Dowell, Ben Arthur, and Marc Carre who stepped up on Thursday to join Melissa Morgan and save us from having no one to run the races.

That is the last of the Spring Series but next Sunday there will be a fun Distance Race which is open to all.




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.


PRSA Spring Regatta May 27-28

Thirty seven boats sailed in the PRSA Spring Regatta.


The regatta started slowly with no wind on Saturday morning.   The PRO wisely 🙂 made the decision to postpone ashore so that the sailors did not have to bob around in the sun.   We were teased with a bit of wind right along the marina shoreline but it was glassy further out on the river.  As the hours passed nothing came in.   A couple of sailors ventured out onto the river and made great headway with the current but struggled to get back against it.

The cove had a bit of breeze and so the lower course PRO, Geof Fuller, gave the Penguins (3) and Lasers (2)  5 races.

Any attempt at upper course racing was abandoned at 1:30.  Many of the sailors were drinking beer by that time anyway.

The Lebanese Tavern brought the food just before 5.  Great stuff.  The rain came but two pop up tents protected most of the sailors as they munched and drank.


It began as a cool cloudy day with a 7-8 mph east breeze.  The current was an hour into its ebb cycle as the races began.   The PRO (me, Nabeel) set up  O-2 courses:  triangle, windward-leeward, finish upwind.  With five classes in four starts, it was busy.  After the Flying Scots started race 3 and the Multi-Hulls/Lightnings started race 4,  some rain came and killed most of the wind.  After rounding the windward mark, those sailors did everything they could to keep from being swept down river by the strengthening ebb current.   The RC shortened course at the leeward mark and everybody rode the current back to the marina.


Congratulations to Lisa-Marie Lane in the Lightning class for winning her first regatta and getting her name engraved on the Katherine Hearst award for the woman beating the most boats in the regatta.

Congratulations to Marty Minot in the Albacores for winning that the largest class in the regatta.  It was also the Albacore Mid-Atlantic Championship and he also gets his named engraved on the Len E. Penso award for being the sailor over 50 to beat the most boats.


Thanks to the RC team for giving us races:

Lower course: Geof Fuller & Amy Krafft

Upper course: Nabeel Alsalam, Barney Harris, Jess Harrington, John Hart, and Magda Bugajska.

Thanks to the social team for the just as important food & drink:

Heather Howard and Melisa Morgan

Thanks to the protest committee for a quick and thoughtful resolution of one minor incident:

Aaron Boesenecker, John Van Voorhis, and Marty Minot.

Report from Marty & Jordan Minot:
PRSA Spring Regatta and Albacore Mid-Atlantic Championship 2017

The supposedly two-day Mid-Atlantic Championship at PRSA ended instead as a day on the beach followed by a quick succession of fluky, but competitive, races on Sunday.

Saturday’s forecast was for a very light day on the Potomac and, unfortunately this proved to be the case. Even the weatherman’s (or phone app’s) promise of a few knots in the afternoon didn’t materialize until very late in the day, too late to organize anything in the way of racing. With not enough breeze to even fight the current, no wind meant no racing for the first day.

An improved forecast for Sunday promised a second day. The morning started out very light but improved to a light breeze out of the ESE. With the air moving, the fleet and the Race Committee headed out at the appointed time, hoping to make up for our lackluster Saturday.

During the first race, the breeze that had been merely present came in stronger and was enough to have both skipper and crew sitting on the rail. Though the tide had been more or less slack when we launched, by the first gun the current was already ebbing briskly as we worked our way upwind. Relatively constant in direction, the breeze seemed fairly even across the course, with no one side highly favored. Watching the Buccaneers beat to the windward mark, it seemed that some of the boats on the right side of the course had a slight advantage, and this proved to be true for our race as well. The breeze held for the entire race, a relatively short Olympic course, and the fleet was close and competitive throughout.

By the second race, the breeze had fallen away somewhat and became a little streaky, with unpredictable puffs scattered over the course. Boats separated by just a few boat lengths would get different breezes—a fact that was especially frustrating to us as we watched Khin Thein cruise on a puff from the final leeward mark to snatch away the lead. If the decreased volume and increased flukiness of the wind did not dampen spirits, the few sprinkles of rain that had started to fall were not especially welcome.

Race three was much lighter still, but there was just enough wind to fight against the current, although the jib never seemed to fill completely. The evaporation of the breeze was accompanied by an increase in the rain, at times fairly heavy. The harder rain further worsened the wind, which fell to nearly nothing. This near-complete disappearance of the wind coincided with the fleet’s rounding of the final leeward mark. Our boat, which had a less-than perfect start, had climbed up the fleet in the downwind leg and were behind the main pack when the wind gave up. With the current pushing us to port of the mark, we slowly made our way around, using what little wind and momentum we had to get to leeward and starboard of the mark, finally letting the current help us around. One final puff helped edge most of the fleet upwind to the finish but quickly this too went away. The other classes, having just started a race, were not so lucky and stalled halfway through their first reach leg, ultimately finishing at the leeward mark. After waiting to see if the wind which had been so promising in the morning would return and seeing no signs, the race committee dismissed the fleet, most of which had been taken down the river by the current anyway.

Overall, it was a fun, if shorter, regatta with tight, competitive sailing and some really good Lebanese food for dinner Saturday. The Race Committee ran an impressive operation, managing to get the different fleets started and racing as quickly as possible so that we were able to make the most of what the wind would give us.

2017 Spring Series #5 – May 14

The RC (Jim Antonovich, Leigh Boyle and Yates Dowell) ran three races in the cove today with winds typically about 12 out of the NNW with frequent higher gusts.  The wind oscillated between W and N every few minutes all day.  We got off the course early before the really hard gusts came in.  A beautiful sunny day.

The Lightnings were at Leesylvania for their 33rd Doc Gilbert Potomac Cup Regatta


2017 Doc Gilbert Results – Lightnings

2017 Spring Series #3 – April 23

We got more practice in light air sailing which seems to require 1) patience and 2) and zen with the wind and current. The wind was loosely speaking from the northeast and after dying it usually, but not always, came back from the east. In the Lightning class, Bob Astrove showed off how good he is in these light conditions.