Friday, June 23, 2017

JUNE 20, 2017: CLEARLY EASTERLY

JUNE 20, 2017
CLEARLY EASTERLY

I happened to be out for a sail on Monday night and it was cold, foggy and very little wind.  I only hoped that these conditions were not an omen for our Tuesday sail.  Showing up to the harbor, the wind was clearly from the East and there was not a cloud in the sky.  In short, a beautiful night for a sail!  We got out of the harbor and made our way to the start mark.  We called course B4: Start, Blacks Gov, Finish. We blew our 5 minute horn and set up for our start. 

It was miraculous that there were no boats at the pin end and we had a clean start right at the pin end.  The mad rush was on to Blacks with Pacific Spirit to our port and ahead and Guenther on his fin just off our starboard rail.  We were slowly gaining on Pacific Spirit and when we got just ahead of them, we tightened our main to give them disturbed air and they quickly fell back and tacked over for clear air.

 We rounded blacks and everyone was on the long slog to Gov, with everyone using their whisker poles to their best advantage.  We started with pole on port, but when Homer was gaining on us with pole on starboard, we switched.   Eiquinimity (Homer) was the first to round Gov with Guenther and us following.   Right after rounding the mark Pair a Dice got a little crowded with other boats and ended up with a backwinded jib and drifted into a mild kiss with Gov.  We proceeded to round the mark again completing our penalty 360 turn and continued back toward the start mark.
 
All boats were taking different courses to the start mark.  We headed inside after clearing the downwind boats and sailed clear to the lighthouse jetty. At the finish, it was Homer, Pair A Dice, Guenther on his Fin, Pacific Spirit, Perfect 36, Kicks, Nidaris, Odonata, a Catalina 27 (name?), Sea Quake, Aeolian and Scotty C sailing his Catalina 40 by himself.

SAILING DOWN WIND WITH A WHISKER POLE:
It was not until Homer started passing us that I noticed that our pole was on the wrong side.  Set properly the whisker pole and the boom should approximate a straight line. With the pole on the port side and the angle we were sailing, they were not nearly in line.  Once we changed the pole to starboard, we gained speed with both in line.

STARBOARD VS PORT AND RULE 14:
Everyone knows starboard tack boat has right of way over a port tack  boat and leeward boat has right of way over a windward boat.  Yes and overtaking boats yield to boats ahead.  Over riding all of these well know rules is rule 14.  Rule 14 says to always avoid collision.  I know the heat of the race can cast caution to the wind but we all need to remember: race hard, keep an eye open for your competitors, follow the rules and avoid Collisions! Sailing is a team sport and it is every crew member’s duty to apprise the skipper what other boats are doing.

STARTING TIME:
Over dinner, Homer brought up a concept that nobody has broached before with me.  Why start at 6PM when the evenings are so long now?  It is true that many people work till late and we all must fight traffic getting to the harbor.  Lets make it a little easier for people and, instead of a 6PM start, lets start at 6:15 until it starts getting shorter nights.

NEXT TUESDAY IS BARBECUE NIGHT AT THE CLUB.  BRING YOUR FAVORITE GRILLING FOOD.  THE BAR WILL BE OPEN!

Looking forward to next Tuesday!

Barry Keeler

Sailing Pair A Di
ce  

Saturday, June 17, 2017

JUNE 13, 2017: JUST WAIT 15 MINUTES

JUNE 13, 2017
JUST WAIT 15 MINUTES

The wind had been blowing like crazy for the last week, so I was wondering what conditions we would have for this night.  Sure enough, the wind had blown itself out and by the time we got to the start area about 6pm, all of the boats were milling around with virtually no wind.  We postponed the start to see whether the easterly or the  westerly would fill in.  Alas about 15 minutes of waiting delivered a fair easterly wind.  We called for course B6 with the potential to extend to B5 if the wind held and gave a 5 minute horn.
 
Once again, Pair a Dice decided not to fight the crowd at the mark and started further down the line in clear air.  We all had to tack over to make the mark and Pair a Dice was the first around Blacks followed quickly by Makani.  Sailing back down wind toward the start mark was rather challenging with pockets of no wind and the waves on our bow.  Somehow Makani was able to pass us and rounded the mark with a healthy lead over us.  In the interim it was determined to lengthen the course to B5, lengthening the course to twice around the marks. Makani sailed off on port tack to the presumed lay line for blacks.  Pair a Dice tacked over earlier and lucked out with much more wind on the inside to allow us to round blacks just ahead of Makani again.  We sailed out on port tack to the layline and tacked over to finish first with Makani coming in second followed by Kicks,  Nidaris II (Santana 30), Wind Goddess and Toad.

We had a great time eating at the crow’s nest after the race.

WIND AND WAVES:

When sailing in Santa Cruz, it is critical to assess the state of the wind versus the waves.  If there is a light wind and you are sailing dead down wind and you have the waves directly on your bow, you can get very frustrated with your lack of progress.  What can you do to get the boat moving?  Why not harden up on the wind so both sails are propelling the boat?  At the same time, you are not taking the waves on the bow, you are taking the waves at an angle and gliding up and over them.  This is counterintuitive to many people because frequently you will be sailing further away from the mark.  As long as you are moving faster and waves are not stopping you, the time will be made up when you tack the other way and are, again, not taking waves on the bow.  I have seen this work out many time to my advantage.  Always pay attention to wind and waves and their effect on your boat!

OTHER REGATTAS:

Sunday, June 25 will be the last day of the SCORE series.  Be sure to come out for the fun!
JACK ONEILL PADDLE OUT:

On July 9 at 11am there will be a paddleout Honoring Jack Oneill off East Cliff drive in front of Jack Oneill’s house at 38th avenue.  There will be several boats anchoring at that location as surfers paddle out to honor Jack. It is proposed that any sailboats that want to participate should sail outside the circle of surfers to provide a back drop to the event.  I am thinking it would be fun to have some of the Catalina boats sailing in this flotilla.  If there is interest, we could conduct a starting clinic after the event.  We could set another Buoy by the normal start mark and do a couple of countdowns and starts.

We will see you next Tuesday.

Barry Keeler
Sailing Pair A Dice


Friday, June 9, 2017

JUNE 6, 2017: MODERATE EASTERLY

JUNE 6, 2017
MODERATE EASTERLY

The wind in the harbor felt like an Easterly.  There was word of a strong Northwesterly on the outside.  I decided to keep use the 155 jib for the night.  We left the harbor and as we approached the start mark I could not believe all the boats that were out, and there were even more coming out behind us.  I believe “Catalina Tuesdays” is getting to be very popular.  More and more boats other than Catalinas are joining us.  It is all great fun: Learning to race and improving your sailing skill.  This is a great venue for improving your knowledge of saililng.  We decided on and Easterly Course B4: Start, Blacks, Gov, Finish and gave our ‘5 minute to the start’ horn.

We had about 15 boats on the line, many trying to start at the start mark end of the line.  Pair A Dice started a little down the line with clear air.  Makani and Perfect 36 were up the line a little from us as we all raced toward Blacks. Slowly they waterlined us and left us in their wind shadow as all three boats approached Blacks.  Makani had inside rights and took Perfect 36 down a bit before rounding the mark.  This left a wide open door for us to turn tightly around the mark.   On the long run down to Gov, we reached upward of Gov to maximize our wind in the sails and to minimize the slowing effect of the waves on our bow. Perfect 36 sailed even further out and Makani was trying the inside track closer to the beach.  When we reached the point where we could sail dead down wind, we set our pole and inched very slowly toward Gov.  Our strategy worked well and we rounded Gov ahead of Makani and Perfect 36. 

After rounding Gov we sailed outside searching for more consistent wind.  We saw a steady 9 knots of apparent wind that did not dissipate until we were almost to the layline for the start mark. We were watching Makani as they took an inside line closer to the beach.  When we crossed, Makani had closed a large part of the gap between us as we tacked to cover them.  Ultimately we rounded the finish ahead of Perfect 36 which was followed by Makani, Guenther on his “fin”, Nidaris II, Pacific Spirit, Kicks, Aeolian, Sea Quake and Toad.

STRATEGY VS TACTICS:
Strategy is sailing the course the most efficient way as if no other boats were competing.  Using tactics is applying the rules to maneuver and basically try to better your position by applying these rules against another competitor.  There are many examples of using rules to improve your position: luffing someone up at the start, establishing inside overlap  for a better rounding of a mark are just two examples.  It is a fine art balancing both of these principles (strategy and tactics) in racing.  Tactics are ultimately used intensely in team racing which is another topic completely. Overemphasis of either of these principles can hurt your performance.  Suffice it to say in normal fleet racing, like we are engaged in, any time you engage in a tactical battle with another boat, you may be leaving the other competitors a way to pass you.

SIZE DOES MATTER:
Pair A Dice was using a 155 jib on this night.  In these light wind conditions, every inch of sail area improves your performance.  Equipping a boat for racing can be an expensive proposition between sails for all conditions, and efficient equipment such as whisker poles that work well and adjustable fairleads can allow fine tuning of the boat while under way.  This does not mean you cannot learn how to improve your sailing using the equipment you have.  Everyone starts racing by finishing DFL.  As you learn more and get a team that works well with each other, you will start moving up through the pack. So do not get discouraged if you do not finish first. Keep coming out, keep learning and improving.

Please keep in mind the next SCORE regatta day is Sunday June 25.

I am looking forward to next Tuesday.

Barry Keeler

Sailing Pair A Dice

Saturday, June 3, 2017

MAY 30, 2017: WHO CHOSE THIS COURSE?

MAY 30, 2017
WHO CHOSE THIS COURSE?

My first glimpse of the harbor showed the Crows nest flag starting to droop.  While this was not an encouraging sign, seeing boats heeling over out on the bay while exiting the harbor was inspiring.  Once again, we had about a dozen boats out for the fun.  When we got to the start area we saw 15 knot winds with no signs of dissipation.  The wind direction was from 210.  We optimistically chose course W3 again: Start, wharf, Blacks, finish.

After the 5 minute horn was given, everyone set up for their start.  It is amazing to me how every boat seems to be getting better at starting as the season progresses.  We all started on starboard tack with the attempt to get to the wind line further out.  Some of us tacked over early for the inside track looking for the “always present lift”.  The problem tonight was that the inside track did not live up to its name and the wind dissipated the further we went inside. The boats that tacked out earlier to stay in the wind did much better and Equinimity, Pacific Spirit, Makani and Perfect 36 rounded very close to each other.  The fishing boat sitting right on the wharf mark did not help matters. 

  On the long run to Blacks the same boats were leading the way as the wind seemed to be getting lighter and lighter!  Who chose this course?  As I looked back at the fleet, I could see that this was going to be a long night and we had a barbecue to get to.  There was no argument when I proposed calling the race to get to the club and the barbecue.

Just as many of the boats were starting their engines, there was an easterly building and the boats closest to Blacks actually finished the course.  Equinimity finished just ahead of Pacific Spirit.  When the race was called it looked like Equinimity had the lead over Perfect 36, Pacific Spirit and Makani.  Pair a Dice had quite a distance to the mark with Andiamo, Guenther on his Fin, Toad and Tara were coming down with Nidarus II.

THE ADVANTAGE OF QUICK DECISIONS:
Frequently in life but especially in sailing it is critical to make a quick CORRECT decision.  There is no time for “analysis paralysis”.  Years ago, with two of us racing my boat we were in a crossing situation where we had to duck a starboard boat. I was crewing and made novice error of easing the jib to help duck.  This rounded our boat up at the most inopportune time with the crossing boat right in front of us.  The person on the helm quickly turned the wheel to crash-tack and we narrowly missed the boat.  We definitely fell behind with this move but more importantly avoided collision with this quick decision.

There are many times that quick decisions need to be made while sailing.  While starting a race, frequently boats are in close quarters and making various moves.  Having alternative plans in place helps but the helmsman must make quick decisions for the various situations that will occur.

 Even while racing, if you are sailing into a hole (an area with less wind), the longer it takes to decide to tack out of the hole for more wind presents a double penalty.  As you slow down while entering the hole, it will take even longer to get out of the hole. 

HEADS UP:

Sailing in great wind on a gorgeous evening is incredibly mesmerizing.  While racing it is critical for the crew to apprise the skipper of other boats.  I always tell my crew to NEVER ASSUME I see all boats, especially in the starting countdown. You should not have to, but you should always be aware of all approaching boats, even if you are the right of way (starboard) boat.  Rule 14 in the rule book says to avoid collision at all cost. 
We will see you next Tuesday!

Thanks to Drew for the pictures. 
Barry Keeler

Sailing Pair A Dice

Friday, May 26, 2017

MAY 23, 2017: GLORIOUS SAIL

MAY 23, 2017
GLORIOUS SAIL
It was a beautiful evening in the harbor.  There was a steady northwestern breeze blowing and we had enough crew to share with other boats that were shorthanded.  We left the harbor around 5:30 and there were already a half dozen boats out with even more coming down the harbor to join.  After seeing that the wind was coming from the northwest with a little south in it, we decided on course W3: Start, Wharf, Blacks and finish. By the time of the start, we had 12 boats on the line.  We gave the 5 minute horn and set up for our start.

As is usual for any start, we could not predict the actions of every boat.   Some unexpected moves were made by some boats, we compensated and quickly tacked over to port tack right after crossing the line.  We barely cleared a couple of starboard tack boats and were sailing toward the wharf in a steady 13-15 knots of breeze.  As we approached Gov and the wharf, we noticed we were getting lifted so sailed further.  Finally our estimate of the lay line for wharf mark was a little off and we had to tack to get around the mark.  Perfect 36 was sailing hot on our tails the whole way and rounded just behind us as we all headed toward the next mark; Blacks.

On the way to blacks we went inside to take advantage of the lift on the way toward Gov. Perfect 36 sailed a line that was a little further out than us and Kicks sailed outside, presumably looking for more wind.  We finally jibed our whisker pole to sail directly to Blacks and everyone was sailing toward the mark.  We cleared the mark and sailed directly outside for more wind.  We sailed to the lay line for the start mark and tacked over.  The boats filed through in this order:  Pair A Dice (time 0)  Kicks 1:30 after us, Perfect 36 (2:03), Pacific Spirit (4:28) Fin (dinghy sailed by Guenther 5:50), Sea Quake (6:45), Aeolian (6:56), Odonata (7:21), Aila (Beneteau 36 8:06), Andiamo 9:12, Tara 10:13 and Nola II (Catalina 34-11:41).

We had a great dinner at the Crow’s nest where there was much discussion on tactics and how to sail boats better. 

Headers and Lifts:
On the way to Gov we noticed a lift which we sailed further to take advantage.  When sailing to weather a lift will let you sail closer to your destination, so you want to sail into lifts.  When sailing downwind you are looking for headers that will let you sail closer to your downwind destination.  We sailed inside looking for the lift we used on the way out which would turn into a header on the way back. 

Correct start times:

We try to sail and set starts by GPS time.  On this night I was a few seconds off of GPS time, though we did go by the 5 minute horn we blew over the radio.  I will do better in the future, setting my watch so it is correct GPS time and more correct for the start.

At the crows nest, Homer was giving some tips on sail trim. In jest I  told him he was talking too loud!   In my opinion, this is what Tuesday nights are all about: Improving our sailing abilities!  I love that we can go out and sail against each other and trade stories and tips while eating dinner.  We have amassed some incredible talent in our group.  Sailors are always free with advice and tips.  Take advantage of this opportunity to improve your skills.  Arrange to have one of the many talented sailors in our group sail on your boat with you.  I guarantee, you will learn a lot!

NEXT TUESDAY IS CATALINA TUESDAY BARBECUE NIGHT:  BRING YOU FAVORITE FOOD TO GRILL AT THE CLUB.  THE BAR AND CLUB WILL BE OPEN.

I am looking forward to next Tuesday.

Barry Keeler
Sailing Pair A Dice


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