Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Just Another Club Race

Our club race last weekend was amazing. It looked to be a bit blustery and it was – by the time the preparatory flag was up, it was around 20 knots and higher in gusts.

 I had a standard rig and thought it might not be so bad since I had slipped off my diet recently and put on a bit of weight. About 30 seconds before the starting signal I noticed a significant shift to the right and decided to go right immediately.

So, I took a risk and started at the pin end and hit the line going full speed – it worked and I managed to cross in front of all the starboard tackers. They all headed left and I continued on right. I went almost to the layline and got a nice lift. I tacked and came into the windward mark 3 boat lengths ahead of the others.

Although it was blustery, I managed a clean bear away and started sailing by the lee immediately, using the technique that Doug recommended in his recent post, and catching some awesome waves. I noticed a large gust coming from behind and got ready for it. Barely avoiding a death roll, I managed to catch the gust and surf into a 5 boat length lead.

Coming to the leeward mark, I noticed a bit of current swirling around it and took it wide, executed a flawless roll gybe, rounding up just inches from it. As I started up the next beat, I saw Robert Scheidt approaching the leeward mark, shaking his head, wondering how he was going to catch me. He was frantically adjusting every control and shifting his body weight everywhere, but to no avail. I was too much for him.

But the really sad thing was to see the dejected look on Tom Slingsby’s face as he trailed Scheidt. But at least he had the good grace to hail me just as I was sailing out of range “Good race – can you give me some tips sometime?”

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Upper Telltales

In the races last weekend I did relatively well, finishing second in both races. Admittedly my results were helped by the absence of our 2 best Laser sailors who went to a regatta elsewhere. But never mind - it still feels good to come close to the top of the fleet.  And I also beat a good friend who has been besting me lately.

So, what was I doing right?  I think it was mainly concentrating on my upper telltales.  The wind was around 8 - 10 knots and I made a conscious effort on the beats and reaches to do everything I could to keep the upper telltales streaming, even if that meant some flutters in the lower ones.  I adjusted the vang more than usual, experimenting a bit to see what it would do on the upper telltales.

One downside to concentrating on the upper telltales - or any telltales - is keeping your head inside the boat.  And so it happened that after rounding a leeward mark, I was very efficiently keeping the telltales streaming just beautifully - as I started to head toward the wrong mark. Luckily I realized my mistake and managed to head the right way before too much damage was done.

Anyhow, I had consistently better boat speed than my friend.  Was it the focus on the upper telltales?  Did he just have a bad day? 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Look both ways

You do what you can in a race and take what you can - lessons learned, including both the things you did right and those that you will do right next time. So it was this weekend.

There was a particularly large tidal current and, as usual, those who read it best reaped huge rewards.  One fellow who is usually in mid fleet with me almost won the race and it was due to his going right when most went left.  The tidal flow was against the wind, so on the beat the common sense logic dictated going left to stay in the main channel with the best current. And most of us did. But those who went a bit right - not all the way to the really shallow water but enough right to be out of the deepest part of the channel - apparently found some better wind which more than compensated for whatever difference there was in the favoring current. It was not always easy way to really see the better pressure - there was a fair amount of confusion in the waves on the water, with various patches almost flat due to some sort of tidal stuff going on underneath surrounded by choppy water - difficult to read the wind itself.

After one particularly sloppy mark rounding (tacking too early, having to go almost into irons to miss the mark by about an inch, fumbling and almost dropping the tiller, etc) I was able to redeem myself a bit with a good downwind leg. The waves were too choppy to do much surfing, although at one place where the tide was creating some larger waves I caught a couple of them for a brief ride.

So, I made a point of concentrating on looking behind a lot to look for puffs and it paid off. The other boats around me stayed pretty much straight downwind toward the mark but I went for the little puffs and tried to sail by the lee as much as possible - I gained three places.

I didn't finish covered in glory, but did feel satisfied in having done something right.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Future Sailor

Struggling mightily in so many ways to keep up with Tillerman, I have finally made progress in one area, although it should have little effect on my boat handling skills.

I have finally become a grandfather!  Gabriel was born a few days ago and although I have not yet had the pleasure of making his acquaintance, I am already thinking about how and when I can take him out on a Laser and then introduce him to his very own Optimist.  Neither of his parents is a sailor so I am sure they will welcome my taking care of these critically important tasks for them.

What age is best to start him sailing ?  I quick look on Google tells me that most babies can sit up, and also hold a toy (tiller?) around 6 - 8 months - is that the right time, or should I wait a month or so when he will be able to hike a bit more?  How can I adjust the toe straps to accommodate his short legs?  Will the padding of his diapers be a help or hindrance to proper hiking?

How soon will he be able to sail faster than his grandfather?
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