Sunday, June 05, 2011

SYSCO Spring Series Race 5 (Actually 4, because Race 2 was called.), June 2, 2011

The course was R-C-14-R due to the southwest wind at the planning stage, but the wind changed to westerly by the start. The starting line was setup east-west at R just off the Kaiser dry docks. The start was not awful. We did get over the line withing a minute of the start. We were accompanied by the usual suspects, Second Half and Brenda Lou. We started on port tack and managed a sort of broad reach but more close hauled to crab straight for C mark. The mark was set further south than it usually is in the summer due to the abundance of water. We were in a crowd of boats by the mark. The wind by the mark was lighter than on the Washington side. A note I should have made to myself. We rounded the mark about 3rd or 4th.

After the mark we set the boom out starboard and the pole out to port. I started the crab toward the mark. We were close the the marina but not within the 150 foot line. We were among three boats that took this route. Second Half and Brenda Lou were the other two. Second half had ducked in around the mark first coming to the mark on port tack. He set his pool to port, too. His lead varied from 3 to 7 boat lengths. But he was not heading toward the mark but a distance to the right of the mark. This distance grew as we approached Buoy 14, the mark. I had been crabbing to the mark the whole time and thus the extra distance Second Half had given himself to round the mark gave me enough lead to round the mark before him in third place. I was not aware that two of our fleet had already rounded the mark. They had taken the middle of the river course from C to 14. The had more wind and current, but the more wind was enough to get them around the mark before us. Current did not play as much a part when the river is this high and the wind was light and gusty.

Some more interesting things happened at 14. First there was this rain squall. It hit us about 10 boat lengths from the mark. Which greatly increased our speed. It hit us first, then hit Second Half, but the difference was another help in closing the gap. The second interesting event was a log floating down river. This log was some 50 feet long and full of snags. The timing of this log could not have been better for us. There was enough room for us to round the mark, but by the time Second Half rounded, he had to go around it. Which further lengthened my lead. The rain was now in our faces, but there was wind. Plus the current gave us a boost. We managed to maintain our lead to the committee boat and place third.

We were awarded second place for the series. Each race had its learning points.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SYSCO Spring Series, 2011

This is already almost the last race of the season. I have not added to this blog. This entry is for the first four races.

Race 1, April 28, 2011.

Weather was overcast with a few sprinkles. Wind was light. The race was ambitious. The race committee delayed the races for 10 minutes, which made us start 5 minutes after 7. The wind was dying. It was about a 5 to 6 knot westerly wind to begin with. But was dying. The race was 14 – R – X – R – 14. We were early to the line, so we had to do a delaying maneuver and fell in behind 4 boats. We were on starboard tack. We waited to tack until we could make the mark in one tack. This meant coming to the mark on port with no rights. We watched the starboard tack boats and found a slot. We were behind two boats, Second Half and Avenger. The we set our new whisker pool and headed for X. But the wind was dying. We sailed to the end of the wind just off of Salty’s. We anchored. We waited about 15 minutes. It was cold. It was wet. We did the unforgivable and started the motor and and retired from the race. Just about that time Poncho came down from the already shortened race at X to the line of other boats still sailing or anchored. They counted those races and placed them in the race. Since we had retired, we were judged DNF.

Race 2, May 5, 2011.

The wind for this race was out of the east at about 4 to 5 knots and fading. Again the race committee delayed the race for 10 minutes. We started at 5 after 7. But the wind was so lite that we had to start amongst the previous fleet. We actually started about 10 minutes late because the wind was so light that it took that long to get to the starting line. Starboard tack would get us across the river, while port tack we actually made a little upstream, but not much. We crossed the start line many times. We just could not make any upstream headway. We keep encountering the RC boat. I made the comment more than once that the RC was sailing better than we were. It was anchored. We finally got smarter and started noticing the darker water and staying within that. We were making headway toward the X mark when Poncho came and terminated the race.

One interesting moment during the race was when we were crossing the start line on starboard tack one time, Second Half almost hit us. He was on port, thus I was the stand-on boat. I could not see him through our head sail, but my crew warned me about Second Half. I yelled “STARBOARD.” I heard an “OOPs” and the next thing I saw was Second Half’s stern about 2 feet from our port beam. We sailed on, but he was completely out of shape and heading down river, with the breeze.

Race 3, May 12, 2011

This was a short race, C – 2 – C. The race committee is learning. We started early and had to do a delaying maneuver, again. Timing has been bad this year. The RC keeps throwing in delays that shift the starts. We started on starboard tack with the fleet. but in bad air. There was room to tack to port and get out of the bad air. We sailed to the middle of the river, where we tacked to starboard and road the current there. We stayed in the middle until off the west entrance of Tomahawk Bay Marina. Back to port tack. We were able to make the mark ahead of the rest of the fleet by a boat length. We rounded the mark but lost about three boat lengths coming about. The whole fleet put out whisker poles to port. We managed to get in the lead, but being shadowed by the slower boats could not keep it. Avenger was doing great. Second Half and Estrela Del Mar were in second and third respectively. Second Half was edging in on the starboard finishing mark and edging out Estrala Del Mar. He did not give mark room to the other boat who called it. He was suppose to. He later withdrew from the race after finishing, which made us, who came in third, well actually fourth, second.

Race 4, May 26, 2011

Again a short race. The wind was from SSE. This made the race a cross river race. The course was R – C – R – C – R. We had fun before the race. The wind allowed us to hold position in the River with just our main. So we sat just outside the starting area and watched the other starts. The RC delayed the race due to a tug/barge in the channel just at the start of the first race. The started the first three races without a hitch. The delayed the fourth and our races because one of the earlier races was rounding R, the starting mark. This caused a lot of traffic. This also caused our timing to be changed. We were not synchronized well with our start timing. Our plan was to stall at a the starting line and then get under way a minute before the race starts. We were very close to the start line. I figured we had about a 30 second run to the line, once we started. The one minute warning went. So we waited what we thought was 30 seconds and started. We were at least 20 seconds late over the start. With a race this short, that makes a difference. Second Half took off like a rocket. We were with Avenger and Second Half for a while, but could not point as high as either of them. Second Half tacked early. We waited until we were well above the mark before tacking and made the mark on this next tack. No boats were near when we rounded the mark on port tack. The run to R was a close reach. We made that with inches to spare, too. We watched Second Half round the mark and loose 4 to 5 boat lengths getting around. I asked the crew to see if we could get around without loosing too much ground. We did better by only loosing 2 boat lengths. We did not stay on starboard tack as long this time thinking that the slower current by the mark might give us better speed, so we tacked earlier. We got to a line to tack to starboard from port tack and tacked. The wind was doing some fluky stuff, but we did make the mark with Tangera close by. Tangera is in the fleet that started just before us. Their course was longer. For this next leg, I sailed it like the second, but I should have sailed it like the fourth. I mean that instead of just doing the broad reach, we could have done a broader reach and get more speed by heading for the upstream committee boat. We did finish second, again. This time not because of any penalty.

The crew commented how they liked “parking” at the start line and watching the starts instead of sailing hard up and down the river. It was much more relaxing and educational watching the other starts. Plus we did have a good view of the Committee boat and flags.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

RCYC Frostbite Regatta, March 26, 2011

Aventura was entered in the forth start with 9 other boats. One boat was with another fleet, so raced himself. Crew was Bill, Dave, and myself. Dave was new to the boat. We left the pier about 10 to 11. Motored out of the marina. Set sail pretty fast. We chatted for a bit, but the crew wanted to get some practice in. Besides it was cold just standing there and doing nothing. Dave started to jump up and down to stay warm. We practiced a few coming abouts. The first was alright, but obviously done by three people who had never worked together. The next tacks were better. Not until we had started the race did the we start working together with one tailing the line and the other wenching it up and me bringing the boat about slow enough for them to get the sail trimmed. I tried to make sure the tacks were slow enough to allow them to pull in the sheet, but we had not moved the spinnaker or topping lift line aft to the mast. These lines are snapped to the down haul pad eye about 18 inches in front of the mast. So the head sail would snag on them as we went through the wind.

The start was confusion. We were the 4th start, but it did not seem like the timing was right. I thought they would start in order, they did. But they seemed to be five minutes slow. None of us had a good idea of when the start was. I did not get the time we crossed the start line, but it must have been a whole 5 to 10 minutes after the actual start. The wind did some strange stuff right at the start and it seemed we could not get to the start line. We must have tacked 4 times before the start.

The port tack would take us across the river while the starboard tack would take us sort of up river, but not much more upstream than port tack. The race course was R-A-C-14-R. We started at R and headed for A. A is off the first coffer dam upstream from the 42nd Street boat ramp. Lining out the race on Google, says it was a 4 mile race. Aventura's handicap is 195. This will be important latter.

It seemed to take us forever to get to A. There were two interesting encounters. The first was with Bob, a Martin 24. We were close passing in front of them on a port tack while they were on the starboard tack. They were trying their best to make me tack, by almost luffing their sails. They yelled that they would protest, but nothing came of it. No contact. No damage. No proof. The second interesting encounter was with one of the larger boats in the flying sails fleet. They were on starboard tack, we, again on port. This time my crew noticed the boat. I could not see it, as it was behind the sails. They both said it looks like we should tack. So we did. Which was nice, because we came up 1 1/2 boat lengths lee and abreast the boat on starboard tack. This would have been a very unfortunate encounter if my crew had not spoken up.

Rounding Mark A, the windward mark, was another study in river racing. As we approached we watch another boat misjudge the current and take a short tack to get back up to the mark to round it. We took Aventura in as far as we could to get the mark well passed amidships so we would not have to take that same short take the boat ahead of us did. The closer to the mark we got the more it looked like we would not make it. The current right at mark A was strong. We inched up to the mark. The more I tried to go up river, the slower we got. The faster I approached the mark, the more downstream we went. I found the balance and rounded the mark. Dave had to watch the mark to see if we cleared. He said we cleared it with about an inch to spare. I have to believe him, as the mark did not move as we rounded it. It would have moved a bit, it did not. If we had struck it, we would have been disqualified.

We ran down to Mark C, the first downwind mark. This leg went pretty fast as it was downwind and with the current. I noticed a couple of big boats sort of in a wind hole near the marina at the mark. But I was paying too much attention to sailing and keeping the boat going. The wind was light and fluky by the mark. We rounded the mark with out too much problem. But getting upstream to the third mark, Buoy 14, seemed to be a bit of a struggle. We rounded Buoy 14 with lots of room to spare. That is one mark I don't want to tangle with.

We finished the race in 1:36:47. La Dolce Vita, the boat I use to crew on was behind us at 1:37:13 or 26 second behind us. My handicap as stated earlier is 195. La Dolce Vitas is 205. Race was 4 miles long so I had to give him 40 second. So he beat me by 13 second. He placed 3rd, we placed 4th.

Still putting a crew together for the Spring Series. Bill and Chuck and now it looks like Steve, as Dave has not answered my emails.

I did not get a track of the race. I get confused by the switches in the SeaClear Software. I need more practice with it.