Friday, May 19, 2017

MAY 16, 2017: SEASONAL WINDS

MAY 16, 2017
SEASONAL WINDS
The flag on the Crows Nest was as stiff as a board showing a strong northwestern breeze with no sign of lightening.  As we approached the start area. We saw winds approaching 20 knots.  We immediately put in a reef so we could control the boat.  We called for Whiskey 1: start to wharf, mile blacks start and gave a 5 minute horn.

As usual, Pacific Spirit and Equinamity were first off the line.  Pair A dice and Kicks came off the line at the same time, near the pin.  We all tacked over soon for the inside run toward the pier.  When Pacific Spirit and Equinamity tacked over, Pacific Spirit had us clear but rather than duck, we tried to tack on top of them attempting a lee-bow but were unsuccessful in getting close enough to affect their wind.  The tacking duel to Wharf was on with no drop in the amount of wind.  Early in the race we had to duck Perfect 36, but as we approached wharf, they had to duck us.  This was turning out to be a close race!

Perfect 36 and Equinamity were first around Wharf followed by Pair A Dice and Perfect 36.  Perfect 36 was slowly closing the gap on us toward Mile but we were able to round just ahead of them.  We then had the long slog down to Blacks.  At Blacks, Pacific Spirit and Perfect 36 rounded first followed by Equinamity and Pair A Dice. 

At the finish it was Pacific Spirit, Perfect 36, Equinamity, Pair A Dice, Kicks, Odonata, Aeolian and Tessa. Andiamo had to drop out due to a blown jib L.

We had a great dinner at the Crow’s nest with the crew of Perfect 36 showing up for the festivities!

To Reef or not to reef?

We all know our boats and when they should be reefed.  Larger boats seem to stand bigger winds without reefing.  On Pair A Dice, with a 135 jib, we like to reef with anything over 25 knots.  I learned a long time ago that being in control and being able to point better is a distinct advantage.  It does no good to slip sideways away from your destination.  Homer talks about being able to not reef and run the jib sheet out onto the rail rather than inboard.  I have yet to try this.

OTHER REGATTAS:

This Sunday, the 21st will be the second of the SCYC score series.  Nobody took a score on the first race so the score is even.  All you need is a PHRF certificate and entry fee to take part in this official race with committee boats and the whole thing.  We have all learned a lot about sailing and racing.  It may be time to up the ante and take part in a real race. We have 3 boats very interested in entering.  It would be great to get Pacific Spirit out also!  I hope to see you out there.

I am looking forward to seeing all of you next Tuesday if not before (at the SCORE race on Sunday).

Barry Keeler
Sailing Pair A DIce



Friday, May 12, 2017

MAY 9, 2017: POSITIONING FROM BEHIND

MAY 9, 2017
POSITIONING FROM BEHIND

As I approached the harbor, I got excited as I saw the flag flying briskly from a strong Easterly breeze.  We got our crew sorted out again and headed out.  We decided on course B4 to keep us inside where the Easterly would not die.  There was talk of a transition zone right at the start buoy, but we started the 5 minute count down anyway.  As can be expected, the wind started dying as soon as we blew the horn.

Any start in light wind is challenging and this night was no exception.  Somehow, Equinamity and Pacific Spirit had a great start  and were charging off for Blacks moving into an increasing wind as they approached the mark. At the mark Pacific Spirit and Equinamity rounded very close to each other with Perfect 36 and Rosie right behind. After we all got around Blacks the wind seemed to be getting better as we sailed to Gov. 

  Pacific Spirit and Equinamity and Perfect 36 had built up quite a lead by this time.  But wait!  There was a hole (an area of no wind) right at Gov and all of the boats were compressing with the leaders.  Pair A Dice rounded with the leaders and started back to start mark.   Pacific Spirit and Equinamity still had quite a lead on us as we all trudged to the finish mark.

While Pacific Spirit and Equinamity tangled with each other trying to steal each other’s wind, we sailed further out and Pair A Dice rounded Start first with Equinamity and Pacific Spirit following. Aeolian, Perfect 36 finished.  Andiamo edged out Rosie at the finish, followed by Kicks.  Right after we finished the race, the wind filled in with 15 knots of northwesterly breeze for a wonderful sail.

PAYING ATTENTION:

We all love to sail!  It is hard to concentrate on racing when nature is displayed so beautifully around us.  Paying attention to every detail helps to improve your standings.  On this night, we were way behind the leaders. I was settling in enjoying the sail and the evening (and accepting our position), when the skipper snapped me out of it with “what is happening at Gov?”  I looked and there was obviously a hole at Gov.  We noticed that there was a little more wind outside of the mark so we sailed high of the mark and used the waves to keep our momentum around the mark.  There is no way to predict that a hole will develop, but you can see the hole if other boats ahead have sailed into it.  Always avoid sailing into a “no wind” area, it could turn into a “no win” situation!  On the way back to start we could see that there was a little more wind further outside.  Though it was a little further to sail than Equinamity and Pacific Spirit were sailing we went for the more wind outside and prevailed.

The skipper can only do so much. A lot of winning depends on the crew paying attention.  If a boat is attempting to roll you to windward, apprise the skipper of the situation! Are all the telltales flowing as they should? What is happening with the other boats?   How did they set their sail on the downwind leg?  How is this working out for them?  Where is the wind the most? Are your Outhaul, Vang, Backstay, Cunningham, Fairleads all set appropriately? As each of these are adjusted, check the results on your boat speed by checking your GPS (assuming the wind is consistent).  There are a multitude of fine tuning adjustments that can be made on a boat that if done correctly can make a difference in the results of the race.

Looking forward to next Tuesday!

Barry Keeler
Sailing Pair A Dice


Sunday, May 7, 2017

May 2, 2017: Inside, Outside

MAY 2, 2017
INSIDE, OUTSIDE
When I approached the harbor I could see that an easterly wind was working very well.  Once crew issues were sorted out, we headed out and the prediction was that the wind would not die so we chose the longest East wind course: Start, Blacks, Mile, Gov and finish at start.  We gave a 5 minutes to start horn and everyone set up for their start.

There were several boats that were early to the line and had to run the line to not be OCS.  Hats off to our vice commodore, Joe Altmann on Rosie for being closest to the pin and an excellent start. Pair A Dice was leeward of Pacific Spirit and Homer was also out in front.  Getting bad wind, we could not point very well and had to tack over to round Blacks.  Kicks was sailing directly to the mark in clear wind.  Equinamity and Pacific Spirit were first around Blacks followed quickly by Kicks and Pair a Dice.

On the long slog to mile, most boats were bucking waves which were directly on the bow.  On Pair A Dice we set the pole and tried sailing slightly below the line to Mile. As I observed the boats with waves on their bow, it was apparent that lighter boats took waves better than heavier boat.  Lighter boat glided up and over waves while heavier boats were at a stand-still.   At mile Equinamity and Pacific Spirit rounded very close to each other.  It was a relief to be on a better point of sail toward Gov.
 
By the time Equinamity rounded Gov they had quite a lead on Pacific Spirit and the rest of us.  On the way to Gov, Pair a Dice was slowly closing the gap with Pacific Spirit.  As soon as Equinamity rounded Gov, they headed outside thinking more wind was outside.  Pacific Spirit headed further in toward the beach, as we did.  “How far shall we go in?” someone queried on Pair a Dice.  “Clear to the rocks” was the reply from the helmsman.  We all tried different tactics to find more wind.  As it turns out the boats that stayed inside found more wind than the ones that stayed outside. At the finish it was Pacific Spirit, Equinamity, Pair A Dice, Nidaris (Santana 30), Perfect 36, Kicks and Aeolian.

Dealing with waves:

Waves are a fact of life in Santa Cruz.  How you deal with them has a direct effect on your performance.  When Pair A Dice took a lower line than the other boats, we were thinking of improving our performance by using our whisker pole.  We may have done better on this point of sail by taking the wave at a different angle.

Finding the wind:

On this night there were huge gains made by reading the wind correctly.  We are sail boats: it is critical to be in the most wind available. How do you tell where the most wind is?  You can always look at the surface of the water looking for darker water.  You can observe how the flags are flying on the Crows Nest and casino and the wharf. As far as direction of the wind (are we headed for a header or a lift), you can look at anchored boats which are always pointed directly into the wind, unless strong currents are at play.
See you on Tuesday for another night of fun.

Barry Keeler

Sailing Pair A Dice. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

TUESDAY APRIL 25: A GUSTY NORTH

TUESDAY APRIL 25
 A GUSTY NORTH!
I don’t know about everyone else, but on Tuesdays I am always watching the trees all day in anticipation of what wind we will get on the water.  On this Tuesday the trees were whipping around all day and when I got to the harbor I knew we would not be disappointed.  The wind was blowing steadily from the North.  Being a Barbecue night, I was thinking it would be a good time to conduct a starting clinic.  We got other marks all set to go so we could have a proper start line and planned on setting a rounding mark a couple hundred yards to windward.

When the starting clinic was proposed to the other boats, it was flatly refused.  Why futz around with a starting clinic when we could actually be sailing!  I could not agree more.  We settled on course G2: start, Gov, Blacks finish.  On Pair A Dice, I got us too far from the start line.  Actually our timing would have been perfect if we could have sailed directly toward the start pin, but my boat does not sail directly into the wind too well.  A total mis-judgement on wind angle on my part.  I learned a long time ago to not get too far from the start line, but this vital lesson somehow slipped my mind this night!  Oh well, last one off the line once again.

We had quite a few boats out and the wind was steadily from the north with plenty of gusts you could see on the water. All of the boats had to tack over to take Gov to port and Homer (Equanimity) was the first around the mark with Pacific Spirit close behind. Though we were able to close the gap between us and some of the boats, we did not seem to pass many of them. 

At the finish it was Equinimity, Pacific Spirit, Perfect 36, Makani, Kicks, Pair A Dice, Odonata, Tara, Aeolian and Toad.  We all had a great time at the barbecue afterwards.




Tactics and boat handling:

Rather than giving tips, I should be taking lessons at this point.  As noted, even in great wind always stay close to the start line keeping in mind the rules of the road to avoid fouling other boats.
 
In the gusty conditions we had this night,  my main-sheet trimmer was hard at work.  One of the things most important in racing is keeping the boat sailing at the same angle of heel.  In gusty conditions, this is accomplished by the main-sheet trimmer releasing the traveler to ease the load on the boat with each gust.  How does this work to make the boat go fast?.  Originally, it made sense to me that letting the boats angle of heel change would take incredible amounts of energy which should be used to propel the boat.  This is true but also consider what happens under the boat with the keel and rudder.  You will get much better speed if the foils under the boat work as well as the foils above the boat.  It really helps to try to maintain the same angle of heel!

Other Regattas:

This Saturday, April 29 will be the commodore’s cup.  This is a reverse PHRF start and should be a lot of fun. The weather should be great. You can register for this race on the SCYC web site. Click on Regatta and follow the lead to register for this regatta.

Pair A Dice was out for the first of the SCORE races.  These are races put on by SCYC and are really a lot of fun.  I know many people did not know about this race and we were the only ones in the Jib and Main fleet.  We ran the course but did not cross the finish line (DNF) for both races so other boats can come out for the next race days and we are all starting from scratch.  Register and come out for the fun!

See you next Tuesday!

Barry Keeler

Sailing Pair A Dice

Saturday, April 22, 2017

VACATION RECAP FOR APRIL 4 RACE

VACATION RECAP
I am finally back from our extended vacation.  While I was gone, Mike Gross was kind enough to write me a recap of the events for the April 4 sail.  From the sounds of it, the night must have been excruciating with such light wind.   At least they were lucky to have two buoys to limit the line.

I was not there, so will not judge but we are doing everything we can do to maintain the integrity of the start line.  As I have written before, not being OCS is as simple as siting the line to set up a range.  Once this range is established, you can easily determine if you are over early.  We will start sighting the line for OCS boats on occasion and announce the OCS boats.  If announced as OCS, you must go back and restart in order to be considered for that night.

Another issue we need to work on is VHF radio protochol.  I know everyone likes to comment on the selected course, as well they should!  This is not a dictatorship and we are open to suggestions.  A problem occurs when this dialog continues right up to the start time.  We should attempt to be finished with all discussions about the course by 5:50 so we can get set up with our minimal 5 minute horn.   Maybe we can give a five minute warning on stopping all radio transmissions until the start.  Obviously this is a work in progress.

It sounds like it was an interesting race with many tactical and strategic decisions.  Though Mike gave a thorough recap (thanks Mike) I cannot comment since I was not there.  At the finish Equinimity was first with Pair A Dice close on her heels.  The next three boats were Makani, Pacific Spirit and Perfect 36 all overlapped with each other.   Next were Kicks and Aeolian followed by Sea Quake and Odonata.

Sailing in light wind is certainly Challenging!

OTHER REGATTAS:          
It is time for everyone to show our prowess on a proper course.  Santa Cruz Yacht Club has an active race schedule.  When you excel in these regattas, you actually get to take home some hardware (trophies).  I know this is short notice, but the next regatta series is quickly approaching on Sunday April 23.  This is the first day of the spring SCORE series.  These are always fun races.  Make sure to sign up so we can have a good representation of the “Jammers”.   It is important to race in all of the race days of the series.  Missing one day of racing can dramatically affect your standings overall, so sign up and we will see you Sunday!

Another regatta that is quickly is our Commodore’s cup on April 29.  Some of you know that I am the current SCYC Commodore so this is “my race” with all of the fixings of an actual regatta complete with committee boats and all.  Please sign up and race in this regatta!
Thanks to all of your for being part of the Catalina group!

Barry Keeler
Sailing Pair a Dice

THIS COMING TUESDAY NIGHT (APRIL 25) IS A BARBECUE NIGHT. PLEASE PLAN ON ATTENDING AND BRINGING YOUR FAVORITE GRILLING ITEM.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

March 27, 2017: A STERN RE-VIEW

A STERN RE-VIEW

With my wife’s grandiose plans for a long vacation, tonight’s sail was going to be my last for a while.  The forecast for wind looked good with people commenting all day long about how blustery it was outside.  Would the 155 jib be too much?  It seemed that I was getting multiple text messages and phone calls with one question: “Do you have room for one more on your boat?”  I never discourage people from coming out on Tuesday nights, but when I showed up and we had about a dozen people looking for rides, I was feeling the pinch.  Thankfully one more boat was going out which lightened the load for everyone.  Barbecue night and finally a night with wind was stoking the crowd.  The wind was flowing in puffs basically from the North.

I have worked hard my whole life and have followed all the rules so I am not accustomed to getting stern reviews.  Little did I know what a stern re-view I was in for on this night! 

As I fumbled through the courses, it is amazing anyone understood my gibberish, but the communication was finally made: Start, Gov, Finish.   My mind had slipped off on vacation early I guess. Thanks to Kathy for calling to clarify that the final mark was to be taken to port, the way we normally finish on the run from gov to the start mark finish. Chris Hoffman was kind enough to set a start mark for us which was basically square to Black point.  I did not count the boats but it seemed like about a dozen.

Everyone was milling around for the start.  On our first run toward the start we felt we were too early so we tacked back for a second run.  At the start many boats seemed to be late to the line with Pair A Dice being the latest of all.  Variable, puffy, unpredictable winds and being last in line was not working.  We thought we saw more wind toward shore and tacked over to get inside and to get clean air and got headed so badly that we were actually sailing away from Gov.  I am sorry, but we were so far back and so intent on sailing our boat, I did not see who rounded Gov first.  Talk about a stern view!  We were last to round Gov and then we were getting our stern Re-view as all boats were ahead of us. 

Most of the boats sailed inside and about three of us decided to gamble on running outside. On a night as unpredictable as this, anything was worth a try.  All of the boats that went inside had to buck the waves to get back to the mark.  Many people were claiming victory and I am sorry I missed the barbecue because I am sure there were some interesting discussions.  The guys on my boat said they were going to tell everyone that I was so humiliated I was selling my boat and moving to Kansas!  It was bad, but not THAT bad!  

Aside from being such a stern re-view, losing on a Tuesday night can be a beneficial experience if you analyze and learn from your experience.  So this is my post- race analysis of my errors.

1)          Know your start line!  I did not analyze this element at all before the race.  I should have done a line sight to set up a range to tell when we were on the line.  This is the only way to properly estimate such a long line and one that is new to our group.  Another way to do this would be to have someone with a puck compass knowing the bearing to Black point to give an estimate to how close you are to the line.
2)      When wind is coming in puffs, they will invariably hit you at the wrong time like when you are trying to start!  I should have dumped sails to slow down rather than tack back as I did.
3)      Focus on the race.  My mind was obviously not on the race, and my poor steering showed it.  Anyone trying to follow the course instructions I gave on the radio could tell I was already on vacation.
4)      I believe I was correct in tacking over for the “more wind” further toward shore.  When in last place you are forced to gamble and go for fliers and this one did not work to our advantage.   In short this was an unpredictable night for all of us and I just made bad predictions. 

I will be gone for a few weeks on a different kind of cruise.  My boat will be going out and hopefully she can do better in my absence.

Have fun sailing on Catalina Tuesdays.


Barry Keeler

Thursday, March 23, 2017

MARCH 21: THE FIRST SAIL OF THE SEASON AND COURSE CHARTS

FIRST SAIL OF THE SEASON

Last Tuesday, we tried but failed miserably.  There is something about pea soup fog allowing only 50 yards of visibility combined with no wind that dampens the sailing spirit.  Still, Pair A Dice and Kicks motored out to the start area just to be sure.

The predictions for tonight were 12 to 15 knots of breeze and the predictions were spot on!  We motored out of the harbor with 5 or 6 boats out.  There was no start buoy so we dropped one attempting to be square with the wind and the lighthouse jetty.  The course was called: Start mark to Mile, Gov then finish at the start mark.  A five minute horn was given and everyone set up for their start.

Pair A Dice came off the line further down from Equanimity and Odonata and just leeward and behind Kicks.  We quickly realized it was going to be a long slog with Kicks giving us bad air so we tacked over just as we crossed the line.   Everyone else sailed out for a bit before tacking over.  As we sailed out, we found we were nearly going to make mile on port tack.  We ultimately tacked over for mile and actually cleared the whole fleet.  Kicks had retired due to mechanical issues.  Pair a dice was first around Mile followed by Homer on Equanimity.  We continued our slog toward Gov and Homer did a stint wing on wing DDW.  Homer passed us and rounded Gov ahead of us and was off to the start mark.

At the finish, it was Homer followed by Pair A Dice, Odonata and Aeolian.  We had a great time at the Crows nest after the sail.

Tactics:
I have found when Homer does something unusual in sailing, it is best to pay attention.  Rounding mile right behind us, the natural inclination is for most sailors to try to steal the wind from the boat in front.  We see it all the time, two boats tangling with each other going down wind and with all of the maneuvering both boats get slowed down.  Homer did the smart thing: sailed his boat away to separate from the competitor in front and it paid off for him. I’m going to remember this for future use.

Other Regattas:
We are all bringing our game up.  Sailing better, using tactics and generally racing better!  The SCYC will be having their Commodores regatta this year on April 29.   This is just like the Big Brothers Big Sisters regatta being a reverse PHRF start.  I love these “pursuit races” where slower boats get a head start and the faster boats do what they can to pass the slower boats.  It would be awesome to see a large representation of the Catalina fleet in this race.  You can register for this regatta on the club website at SCYC.org.


NEXT WEEK IS THE LAST TUESDAY OF THE MONTH: CATALINA BARBECUE NIGHT AT THE CLUB.  BRING YOUR FAVORITE GRILLING FOOD.  BAR WILL BE OPEN.

For those that did not get a course card, the information is copied below.

2017 Catalina Tuesday Courses                                         e=mc2
Whiskey, NW wind, 1st mark Wharf (start line SM & S 330M)
Miles
W 1       Start, Wharf, Mile, Blacks, Finish(stb)
4.04
W 2       Start, Wharf, Mile, Gov(stb), Finish
3.93
W 3       Start, Wharf, Blacks, Finish(stb)
3.23
W 4       Start, Wharf(stb), Gov(stb), Finish
3.07
W 5       Start, Wharf, Finish
2.68
W 6        Start, Finish at Gov (stb) (line from Gov to SC Wharf)
1.31


Mike, S wind, 1st mark Mile  (Start line SM & JLH 310M)
M 1       Start, Mile(stb), Gov(stb) (finish line is end of SC Wharf to Gov)
  2.24

M 2       Start, Mile, Finish
  2.17

M 3        Start, Finish at Mile (Line from Mile to Wharf)               
Bravo, E wind, 1st mark Blacks (Start line SM & BP 352M)
  1.06

B 1         Start(stb), Blacks(stb), Mile(stb), Gov(stb), Finish
  4.03

B 2        Start(stb), SC3,Blacks, Finish(stb)
  3.04

B 3         Start(stb), Blacks(stb), Mile(stb), Finish
  2.72

B 4         Start(stb), Blacks, Gov, Finish
  2.43

B 5         Start(stb), Blacks, Start, Blacks, Finish(stb)
  1.12

B 6         Start(stb), Blacks, Finish(stb)

  0.55

Golf, N wind, 1st mark Government            
G 1        Start, Gov, Mile, Blacks, Finish
    (start line SM & BP 352M)
(stb)                                            4.03                                                 

G 2        Start, Gov, Blacks, Finish(stb)
2.45

G 3        Start, Gov, Finish
1.98

G 4            Start, Finish at Gov (Line from Gov and Wharf)                      1.31

Oscar, Other
F 1         Start at Mile(stb) (start line contains Mile and JLH),  Wharf (stb)     1.48                                                                                                                                         
0.96
                Gov(stb) (finish line is end of SC Wharf to Gov)


F 2          Start at Mile (start line mile and sc wharf),                                     
1.50   

                 Wharf,  Mile (finish line mile and sc wharf)








                        2017 Catalina Tuesday Courses p2                             f=ma
1.  All marks are left to Port unless designated (stb) which shall be rounded to Starboard.
2.  Both the start and finish line shall be a line containing Start mark and designated landmark. There may be a temporary mark placed to designate the other of the line (will be announced)
3.  When starting, the start mark shall be passed within 10 boat lengths per the course description.
4.  When finishing, the finish mark shall be passed within 5 boat lengths per the course description.
Any foul shall be exonerated by one tack and one jibe in the same direction, executed as soon as clear from other boats.   (a 270° turn)
Monitor VHF channel 69 at start time. There may be a boat sighting the line to call “over early” boats.  If called over early and do not restart properly, you will not be given a finish.
                                   MARK DESCRIPTIONS AND LANDMARKS
Wharf= Wharf Mark       SC Wharf= End of Pier         BP=Blacks point
S= White House at Schwan Lagoon   JLH=Jetty light House    SM=Start Mark
                     
Blacks

Yellow Ball

36º 57.22' N   121º 59.29' W
Gov
White Ball
36º 57.47' N   122º 00.72' W
Mile
Whistling Buoy
36º 56.35' N   122º 00.56' W
SC3
Yellow Can
36º 56.49' N   121º 58.00' W
Start/Finish
Yellow Ball
36º 57.09' N   121º 59.62' W
s

For Basic  Racing Rules see:   https://www.latitude38.com/YRASchedule/rules.html