Friday, August 26, 2016

SYSCO Twilight Summer Series, Race #5, August 25, 2016

We came in first. Wow. Crew was Bill O. Just the two of us. The course was W, S-1-4-F. The wind was 8 knots out of the west with a slight northerly direction.

We had a decent start. We were second right behind Vaporware. But we had River Weasel, La Dolce Vita, and Blew Streak to windward behind us and two boat lengths upwind. We were stuck for a while behind Vaporware in dirty air. I wanted to go to port to get into the channel for the downstream push. We were on the Oregon side and in shallow water. We could get a better push in the channel. I had to slow down enough to pass behind both River Weasel and La Dolca Vita. We did and tacked to port. We passed closely behind La Dolce Vita. I did not like doing that, but we were not winning the race where we were.

We tacked to starboard at the wind line near the Washington shore. The only boat to pass us in front was La Dolce Vita. They did a great job moving upwind. We had to tack twice more to make the mark. We were right behind La Dolce Vita on the line to the mark when Blew Streak tried to barge in. She came up on port tack and went to starboard tack right under us. She had no rights after doing that. I did avoid her a little bit, but nothing to protest. She did slow down and follow us around the mark. We set the pole to port and headed sort of toward the Oregon side keeping the wind on our port stern quarter. The fleet stayed in the channel and headed straight up river. We kept meandering over to the 20 foot depth and followed that to the leeward mark. The fleet being in the channel lost ground to us and by the mark, we were a good quarter mile ahead of them.

We rounded the mark and came to a port close hauled tack. Went out toward the channel and tacked to follow Barcode to the finish line. First place is sweet for the last race of the season.

Thank you Bill.

On our way back to the marina, we ran aground. You can see where we were by the bright read line at the end of the track. Aventura draws 4.5 feet. The Columbia should never be that shallow, at least, not there. We got off by my grabbing a shroud and leaning out over the toe rail with the engine in full reverse.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

SYSCO Twilight Summer Series, Race 4, August 18, 2016

Nice wind that night. Crew was Bill O. and David H. David was new to the boat, but experienced crew. Bill and he worked well together. We had a few ragged tacks but for the most part they did well. The course was #10, C-2-X-C.

We did as I wanted and did not get far away from the start line. We ran it twice to get an idea of how the boat went and to figure how the wind would be. We let out only about 50 per cent of the head sail. That balanced the boat quite well for the wind conditions at the start. We started about 15 seconds late, but was first across the starting line. Blew Streak (BS) was second with La Dolce Vita (LDV) way back. We were second around the windward mark right behind BS. We tacked to port right after the start and tried to keep in the channel for the current boost. The track shows I tacked soon, but I was worried by the northing of the wind and the shadow of the buildings on shore. So I tacked soon, but kept us in the channel. We were second around the windward mark. We set the whisker pole to port. and kept up with BS. LDV and the rest of the fleet was well behind us. We rounded the leeward mark with BS and followed her to the finish line.

One thing I am thinking of at the Friday morning quarterbacking is that instead of following BS to the finish line, we could have gambled and tacked at the same time she did and maybe would have gained a little on her. But that is moot, now.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

What a good experienced crew can do

SYSCO RACE Summer Twilight Series, 2016 I am in awe of my crew. They are the difference between finishing fourth and second. I did have experienced crew last week, but he was by himself and did not have assistance of our other experienced crew. When the two get together, they combine to form a team that just makes Aventura go.

The race course was new to us. The RC chose windward leeward course V, S-1-4-1-3-F. It was just right for the conditions. The wind at the start was 12 knots. The start was near B mark and toward the channel more than the last races. We ran a timing start early and determined that we could start at the barge on the north shore at 2:40 from the start. We were right there when we started. We ended up starting before most of the boats but behind River Weasel (RV). She was right on time and stayed in front the whole race. We however fought for second place.

At the windward mark we were fourth around it. We set the whisker pole to port. We determined that we would round the finish line to the Oregon side before the race. We observed white caps along the Oregon shore earlier this evening. We ended up rounding the first leeward mark behind La Dolce Vita (LDV), RV, and Blew Streak (BS). But we pick up a place when BS did not perform their pole dropping smoothly. We went to port tack and stayed on the tack long enough to make the starting line. Other boats, RW and LDV did not and had to tack to port tack to avoid the finish line. We stayed on starboard tack as long as we could. We finally tacked to port only to discover that BS was coming down on us. We had to duck. This ducking was the closest we did without colliding with the boat as I have come. We must have missed her by only a foot or a little more. It turned out to be advantageous for us. We tacked to starboard to make the mark and only had RW and LDV ahead of us.

We again set the pole to port, but this time I headed straight down to the mark passing close to the committee boat and over the starting line. We managed to stay abeam of BS and pass LDV, but RW was too far ahead to do anything about. When we rounded the second leeward mark we managed to do it smoothly to port tack while BS had trouble. We passed them and maintained port tack until we were able to make the finish line. We were second to finish.

I really like have my experienced crew with me do the races.

Congratulations are really due to William Street and Bill Ormond. They are the best.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

SYSCO Thursday Night Summer Series, June 29, 2016, Race 5 (which was really race 3)

The crew tonight was Bill S. and Chris D. Bill is experienced, while Chris is a newbie. I rely on Bill to help train the newbie. Sometimes it works.

The race tonight was TT, Start-1-3-1-3-Finish. The wind was out of the west with a little northing to it. It was from 8 to 10 knots with gusts to 15. The committee boat was having a lot of trouble staying put in this wind. She kept overriding her anchor. Poncho setup the start and finish buoys in line with the boat. After a few minutes the committee boat had to reset its anchor. This made the committee boat the favored end of the start line.

We decided to port tack the fleet starting from the committee boat end of the start on port tack. If the rest of the fleet did the conventional start, we could cross in front of them and get to the channel and tack to starboard. This all hinged on timing. For some reason we did not get our timing right and started a little late. We ended up crossing behind most of the fleet. There is a wiggle in our track caused by a boat coming from starboard. We yelled "ducking" and started to turn, but the other boat panicked and blew here horn and yelled and turned. No contact. She should have stood on, since she was stand on boat. We managed to get ahead of Wildheart by the windward mark. We set the pole to port as usual in this kind of wind. We made up quite a bit on the rest of the fleet. We rounded the leeward make third. Back to the windward mark in three tacks. Set the pole to port again. Made up quite a bit more on the fleet, but could not catch La Dolce Vita or River Weasel. All we had to do is beat La Dolce Vita for first place in the series. We round the second leeward mark about 5 boat lengths behind La Dolca Vita who took a port tack to get angle on the finish line. There was a Ranger 20 between us and La Dolce Vita. We were overtaking the ranger when they lost it and started coming at us. We were close so we panic tacked to starboard. We lined up and saw we could make the finish mark on this tack. We might be able to make the line before La Dolca Vita because she spent a lot more time on port tack than we had. That's when you can see the yellow segment of our track. We got in irons. I was fiddling with the main sheet instead of steering the boat. We ended up back on port tack and got the boat straightened out and tacked back to starboard tack to get to the line. But by then we lost our advantage on La Dolce Vita.

We got second on the series and third on the race.

Friday, June 24, 2016

SYSCO Thursday Night Summer Series, Non-Race 4

As the headline says, the race did not count. We raced for 1 hour and 45 minutes. That's when poncho came with the "N" and "A" flags flying to abandon the race. But it was a fun race anyway.

Crew this evening were Bill S. and Chris D. Chris is the new guy. He is filling the vacancy caused by the "old" guy Bill O.. He bought his own boat in the last couple of weeks and my not be with us long. We shall see. It was good to have him along. Bill S. is training him well.

We had a mediocre start. We were fourth out of five. Yes, all five boats were racing tonight. Blew Streak had the best start. I think he started by the mark while the rest of us fought it out by the committee boat. Again the wind was light at the start. We figured that the race would be shortened at 2. By the way, the race course was 14-2-14. The committee boat used the buoy 14 as the finish line and set a start mark to the Oregon side of the boat. We were third in our group and in dirty air. We tacked to port to get to the channel and clear air as soon as we could. But we had to give La Dolce Vita a lead so we could tack. She was above us and we could not tack in front of her. We had to wait until she passed to tack to port and get to the channel.

We got to the channel and tacked so we could avoid Ryan Point. On starboard tack we had rights, but did not need any. We were not challenging any leaders. We tacked twice after that to get to the windward mark. We rounded the mark in third place. We had improved our standing by one. We set the pole to starboard and meandered over to the 20 foot depth. We were closing on the leaders, except for Blew Streak, who was doing a fabulous job of leaving us behind.

The wind died on us twice. We anchored twice. We started sailing again about 8:30 and were doing 3 knots when Poncho III came by with the abandon race flags at 8:45. Since we were sailing we continued trying to catch Blew Streak, since we could sail. The wind was building to 8 knots. We did not catch her. She "finished", or should I say she went by buoy 14 a little before 9:00. We "finished" going by 14 about 8:59. We tacked to starboard and had a great sail back to Tomahawk.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

SYSCO Thursday Night Summer Series, June 16, 2016

Boy did we have a good start. The Bill's were crew tonight. I kept hearing too soon between the count down to the start. 20 "too soon", 15 "too soon", 10 "too soon. Until I said let's go for it. We were first across the line. We were a little early, but we walked the line with the rest of the boats, but we ducked in between two and hardened our sails and took off. Before we knew it we had a couple of boat length lead over the second boat. We actually had a 5 boat fleet tonight. Instead of doing our port tack at the line we usually do we continued ahead of the fleet until we could pass the drydock on the Washington side on the down stream side . I was hoping to be able to make mark 2 on this starboard tack. We waited until the last moment to tack to starboard down stream of the drydocks. We tacked but had to tack again to make the mark. We were first in our fleet to round the mark.

We set the pole to starboard and was being pursued by the other San Juan 28 in our fleet. Blew Streak was being sailed by husband and wife team of Gary G. and Mrs. They came on strong for a while and almost passed us. We wandered over to mid-river and sailed on this tack for almost half the way. You can see where we increased our speed on the track below. At this point we actually changed the pole over to the port side. Normally this move does not pay. We usually loose ground because the head sail is not pulling during the switch over. I wanted to go straight to 14, our leeward mark, but could not do it on the previous tack without sailing very by the lee. My crew gave me looks that could only be near mutiny, but they did change the pole. Thanks. We maintained our speed and our lead. We even caught up to Barcode, who is in the previous start.

We rounded the mark with Barcode and set a starboard close hauled to the finish line. We could not keep up with Barcode to the line, but we kept our lead.

Other points for the evening was the wind was out of the west and very light at the start. It built during the race. We caught up the the previous fleet because we rode the building wind down to the fleet. Very interesting race and the results help make it memorable to us.

Thanks crew.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

SYSCO Summer Series 2016, Race #2 (which is really race #1)

This was a frustrating race. But, at least, it was a race. The wind was calm up to 6:35. There was a little rain, but it stopped about the same time. Then the wind came from the south and built from 4 knots to 6 by the start of the race. We watched Poncho II set the number one mark. It sure looked close to the shore. It was leeward of a stand of trees. I told the guys there would be no wind there.

The committee boat picked up its anchor and moved to about "B" mark. The start buoy was set upstream while the finish buoy was set downstream. Mark 3 was set at Ryan point.

We chose to start at the mark as it was really the favored mark. My plan was to use the momentum of the boat to round the mark. All went to plan. We came inside LDV at the mark. What was not to plan was all the boats sitting at the mark due to being in the lee of that stand of trees mentioned above. I had no choice but to go around the 6 to 8 boats lined up at the mark all becalmed. I had enough carry to get to the front of them, but not enough wind to go around the mark. We sat there getting puffs of wind moving us forward only to have it die and then drift us back. We did this for almost 1/2 hour. Unbelievable. So we finally get clear and LDV has long gone and made her other marks and was finishing at the time we were crossing the start line for the second time. So I chime up and say we got the horn as LDV got her well deserved horn at her first place finish. Of course, we had to go to the leeward mark yet, but it was fun anyway. We finished the race without incident. The race committee was sure glad to see us finish as we were the last boat for the night. I can say we were glad to finish.

We had a new crew member this evening. His name is Chris D. This was his first race in many years. He raced off of Honolulu many years ago and is looking for a boat. I got his email because the fleet captain email forwarding had not changed to John Osborne's email address. The universe works in very strange ways. I have been looking for a crew to replace Bill O. who is moving on. Bill O. has been excellent crew for more years than I can remember. I do remember the first day he crewed. I was short of crew as usual. Here was this guy with a boat two slips away and with nothing to do. So I asked him if he would like to crew. He has been with me since then. I will miss him very much.

The Race

The Mark (About 30 minutes). The boat was facing upstream all the time. That is to the right in this picture.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

SYSCO Spring Series, Thursdays, May 5, 2016

This was fun. The wind was up and the course board was confusing. The RC decided to save time and effort and combine pennants with the same course on the same line. I took it to mean that there would be only four starts, but as later pointed out to me there were six starts as usual. There were no plus signs between any of the pennant numbers. DUH. That explains the interesting squiggle at the beginning of the race. We started twice. Actually we were going to start three times, but noticed that only the rangers were starting on the third start so we bowed out. We did start in the fourth start, but noticed that our fleet flag stayed up after we started. Strange. Then it occurred to us that we would have to start again. Thus the squiggle.

At this time I would like to thank my crew. We managed to snag Gary K. to help Bill S. Gary owns Blue Streak, the other SJ28 that should have been racing, but he has been having more fun crewing on other people's boats.

We had a decent start, right behind La Dolce Vita (LDV). It took us some time to figure out where we were after our first start and managed to get started alright. We managed to round the windward mark second and get our whisker pole out to port to make the downwind run. The wind was about 8 to 10 knots with gusts to 15. We meandered over to the 20 foot depth and headed for 14. The gusts would get us going about 7+ knots. The water off the bow and stern was the loaded I have heard on Aventura. Then about 3/4 down the run, a gust exploded the whisker pole. It broke in half. Half going in the water and the half attached to the mast stayed with the mast. We were contemplating taking the pole down because of the usual problem of the wind going to a beam reach from the broad reach at times. This is caused by the boat getting ahead of the wind or the wind dying while the boat continues with its speed. We were gaining on LDV until the pole exploded. So we finished second, again. This puts us in third place, but tied in points with River Weasel and LDV. They each have a first.

I bought a 20' length of 2" diameter .065 walled aluminum tube to replace the whisker pole. I am going to cut it at 15' and use the end I have and make another end for the sail on my 3D printer. It is a 7 hour build. I am waiting for a day where I will be home for the build. I am just too busy being retired. Probably build it Saturday, during the rain.

Click map for larger view:

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

SYSCO Spring Series - Race 2 Thursday Nights - April 28, 2016

I can't believe I have not posted in over two years. The race was course TT ( Start-1-3-1-3-Finish ). The wind was like the normal summer wind from the west-northwest. Poncho put a "1" buoy out in the middle of the river across from McMennimens. The "3" buoy was located off Rose City Yacht Club. The committee boat, start, and finish was about at "C" mark. Crew for the night was Bill S. and myself.

We chose a starboard tack to start at the mark end of the start line. We had made a run at the mark and discovered it was way over toward the Oregon side of the river from the normal start lines. We adjusted. We were a little early to the start at 7:00 PM. We are in the "C" Cruising class with La Dolce Vita (LDV), Braveheart, River Weasel (RW), and Blue Streak. Blue Streak did not show. We walked the line for the ten seconds and turned when the flag dropped. La Dolce Vita was on our tail while the other two boats where behind her. We went to port tack as soon as we could to get over to the main channel to get into the current. Upon looking at my track later I discovered we tacked too soon back to port. If we waited a little longer we could have remained on port tack long enough to eliminate two tacks later. The wind was good enough to carry us. We ended up tacking to starboard a little early and passing behind LDV. They were making better time to wind than Aventura. We are going to have to experiment with the sail settings now that she has new rigging. The head sail sets differently now. We tacked back to port to get up to the windward mark. We were doing fine until I heard Bill say we are in a collision course for Braveheart who was on a starboard tack. In the moment all I could think to do was a 360 turn, which would get us up behind her and clear. You can see the kink in our track before the windward mark. It shows as a yellow area between two light blue tracks. On hindsight I think if the crew was ready we could have just tacked to starboard and be in front of Braveheart and to leeward. We would be almost in a line to the mark if we headed the boat a little. The result was that we were the last around the windward mark.

Bill set the whisker pole to port with the boom to starboard making us on a port tack downwind. We inched over to the 20 foot depth and then headed for the leeward mark, which I did not see for quite a while. We ended up looking a the track not heading straight for it but a curve to the south. Meanwhile RW did a beeline to the mark. She stayed in the channel a little more. We were catching her for a while, until she got into the shallower water with more wind. We did alright because both LDV and Braveheart went over to the Oregon side and tried to beat the current but lost some wind.

We caught up to Shadowfax an Elite 36.1 owned by Michael Nance. He was in our class last year with Estrella Del Mar a 29' boat. He is living aboard his new boat now and carrying all his belongings. I latter learned that he hit Vaporware on the start of his race and spent some time untangling the two. In the track you can see where he slowed us down toward the end of the leeward leg of the race.

We rounded the mark with Shadowfax who turned to a starboard tack while we turned to a port tack to get back the the main channel and the current. About that time a barge had to come up from the I-5 bridge through the racers. He was far enough downstream that we went to the main channel and tacked back to starboard and headed over to the middle out of his way. We sailed on starboard looking for the windward mark. By this time the sun was setting. We could not see a mark. So I headed for buoy 2, thinking the mark had been picked up. We finally picked up the mark and saw Poncho off to the starboard of the mark. We could see her navigation lights, but could not see a flag. But why else would she be down by the mark, but to shorten the course. It was getting dark anyway. We finished second.

Click to enlarge the image: