Saturday, November 4, 2017

OCTOBER 31, 2017: THE LAST HURRAH OF THE SEASON

OCTOBER 31, 2017
THE LAST HURRAH OF THE SEASON

I love showing up to the harbor and seeing the flag on the Crow’s nest showing a stiff breeze.  I had anticipated very little wind and a short night creating the conditions for a miserable race, but these fears dissolved when I saw the flag!  My crew came and we left the harbor.

  The question always comes up: great wind, but will it dissipate?  On this night, in addition to sailing dice (sailing Pair A Dice), I decided to roll the dice and called for a rather ambitious course: Start, Wharf, finish with the finish line between Gov and the end of the wharf. With all boats out and ready, we started about 10 minutes early and gave a 5 minute horn at about 5:45.

We had about 10 boats out and on Pair A Dice, I wanted to start toward the end of the 10 boat length zone so we could be windward of the pack getting clean wind.  We accomplished this, though it required a last minute tack, not a good move for approaching the line with speed. We had the whole fleet to our leeward, but ultimately Pacific Spirit was able to tack over in front of us and clear us. Kudos to Homer on Equinimity who saw that he was 4 seconds early over the line, did the honorable thing and went back to dip the line!  On Pair a Dice we were on a good line and seemed to be sailing into more wind, we stayed on this tack out to the layline for wharf mark.  Pacific Spirit and Equinimity were tacking back and forth further inside.  Ultimately, our sailing to the corner (usually a bad move) worked out for us and we rounded Wharf just ahead of Pacific Spirit and Equinimity and Nidaris II.

In the run to Gov, the perils of an extemporaneous course call prevailed.  Was the finish to be 5 boat lengths from Gov or was it the “line between end of the wharf and Gov”?  Homer was first over the line, but Pacific Spirit was closer to Gov.  All boats finished and it was a gorgeous sunset to boot.

We had a great barbecue at the club and celebrated the last hurrah of the season!

TACTICS, TO THE CORNER OR NOT?

Normally in racing, it is not a good idea to “sail to the corner”.  The thought is to take advantage of headers and lifts by tacking up the center of the course.  On this night we sailed to the corner because we saw that the seas were flat so we were not being stopped by waves.  We also noted that the wind seemed to be increasing as we moved further out AND we seemed to be sailing into a lift.  We overstood the layline a little, but made it up by not having to pinch to make the mark.  Another consideration was that while the boats inside were searching for headers and lifts and more wind they had to tack several times, while we only tacked once when we were on the layline.  It does not work often, but on this night it worked for us and we were first to the wharf mark.

THE PERILS OF THE EXTEMPORANEOUS COURSE:

This night was an example of why I love the course charts that Fred Molnar, Chris Hofmann and Don Radcliffe helped me design this year.  On these course charts all situations are delineated.  I am always checking the chart to make sure we “following the rules”.  The impromptu course we called tonight was perfect for the time and conditions, but the “sailing instructions” were not there yielding to confusion.

OTHER REGATTAS:

I am very proud of our fleet and the progress everyone is making in their sailing.  I have always said the quickest learning curve in sailing is achieved when you race!  All of you have improved this year.  I would encourage all of you to get a PHRF certificate (form available at the club), and participate in the Midwinter series of races put on by SCYC.  The first day of racing is Saturday November 18.  It is time for all of us to experience a real sanctioned race with a real start line. 
    
SANTA CRUZ YACHT CLUB:

The SCYC is a prestigious yacht club without an intimidating initiation.  I have been a member since 2009 and it has been very beneficial for me.  The steps to membership are simple: two current members need to sign your application and $1000 gets you in. Since many of our group are members, getting two signatures should be no problem.  Once a year the dues are only about $500.  We have many sailing events, social events and learning seminars that make it well worth this minimal effort to join!

THANKS TO ALL OF YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND PARTICIPATION THIS YEAR!

Barry Keeler

Sailing Pair A DIce 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

OCTOBER 24, 2017 SHORT RACE, BEAUTIFUL SUNSET

SHORT RACE, GREAT SUNSET

As we left the harbor, I got a sinking feeling.  There were about a dozen boats floating around the start mark with zero wind.   As we approached the start mark, I announced the course (B6 with an option to call the race at Blacks) and gave a five minute horn at 5:55.  Almost on cue, the wind started to build as the 5 minutes ticked off. 

  There were several boats caught off guard by the building wind and were early to the line.  All boats ran the line and started correctly.  The wind seemed to be no more than 5 knots and we all seemed to be racing in slow motion.  About halfway to Blacks, I announced that we would finish at start-finish.

The first around Blacks was Pacific Spirit followed by Homer and Pair A Dice.  As we left Blacks, the wind seemed to be dying making the Start mark look very far away.  Alas the wind did die at Blacks and most of the twelve boats out just headed to the barn.  Pacific Spirit finished the race just ahead of Homer followed by Pair A Dice.

SAILING WITH HONOR:

Using the start line between the start mark and Blacks point, it appeared that all boats started correctly.  One of the boats touched the start mark and  took a penalty turn. It made me proud to be sailing with such an honorable crowd!

I am still learning rules.  It was pointed out that it is not legal to use a boat hook to hold the clew of a sail out.  This is rule 50 and indicates that anything that holds the clew out must be attached to the mast unless you are in the process of jibing. You can use your hand to hold out the clew, but your body must not be outside the life lines.  I am certain I have ignorantly broken this rule in the past.

OTHER REGATTAS:

Again, I would like to point out that SCYC is putting on the midwinters series. Being winter, these races are usually light wind races and can be very fun.  You will need a PHRF certificate (get one at the club). The first day of races in this series will be November 18.  There is usually a skippers meeting before this first race.  Check out the Notice of Race on the SCYC web site.  We have all learned a lot and it is now time to enter a real race. If three Jib and Mainers do not register for the race, we will be included with the B fleet which will be sailing with spinnakers and we will get a 12 second PHRF advantage.  If you do not know the flag sequence for starting sanctioned race, email me and I will go over it for you.  Better yet, ask me at the barbecue and we can discuss it.

THIS COMING TUESDAY WILL BE THE LAST TUESDAY OF THE YEAR AND WILL BE A BARBECUE NIGHT AT THE CLUB.  THE BAR WILL BE OPEN! BRING YOUR FAVORITE GRILLING FOOD! IT WILL BE HALLOWEEN, FEEL FREE TO DRESS UP!

We will discuss the coming year and ways to improve our Tuesday sails.  Please make an effort to at least come to the barbecue!

See you Tuesday,

Barry Keeler
Sailing Pair A Dice


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

OCTOBER 17, 2017: NO WIND, WIND NO WIND

OCTOBER 17, 2017

                NO WIND, WIND!, NO WINDL

I was at the harbor for most of the day and was not encouraged with the lack of wind on the bay.  I even got a couple of calls with the predominant question “you’re not going to race today in no wind are you?  I was quite surprised as we exited the harbor to see an easterly building with steady pressure.  We called for course B6: start, Blacks, Start finish. Since we had no radio, Homer agreed to do the starting sequence and horn.  Gotta love teamwork!

The wind was not quite easterly but more South-east: from a 130 direction.  It appeared it would be possible to fetch Blacks from the start mark.  Pair A Dice was late to the start mark and had Sea quake to port on or bow and Kicks to our starboard on our stern. We sailed as hard on the wind as possible and ultimately were able to tack over in front of Kicks for more wind outside.  Once we tacked we were getting better (clear) wind and made good progress on the leaders (Equinimity and Pacific Spirit).  At Blacks it was Equinimity followed by Pacific Spirit and us followed by Nidaris II.  The only problem was that Blacks was in a no wind zone at that point and we all desperately tried to get back out to the stronger Easterly blowing outside.  On Pair a Dice, we noticed that there was a whisper of a Northerly blowing right off the beach and tried to utilize it to our advantage.  We were all creeping toward the start mark.  Many boats opted for an early appearance at the Crows Nest and motored toward the harbor. 

At the finish it was Equiniity, Pacific Spirit, Pair a Dice, Nidaris II, Tara and Aeolian retired early and headed for the harbor leaving Kicks to finish.
We had a great dinner at the crows nest discussing tactics and sailing.

GAINING INSIDE POSITIAN AT A MARK:
 As we were approaching Blacks, we were in a race to the mark and feared Nidaris would have an inside overlap on us.  We fell off gaining speed then turned for the mark right at the 3 boat length zone breaking the overlap.  This cleared us for a rounding without having to give them room.

TACTICS, MORE WIND OR HEADERS AND LIFTS?:
I was discussing with Homer the different tactics used in racing.  He said that he was more prone to take advantage of headers and lifts to get ahead.  Some people just look for more wind rather than headers and lifts.  This is an interesting concept. I have seen both tactics work to an advantage.  These are the finer nuances of racing and sailing.  It seems to me that sometimes more wind pays and sometimes taking advantage of headers and lifts works.

ERROR ALERT!  For those that saw the first posting of this nights blog, I got ahead of myself. We actually have two more weeks of Tuesday night sailing.  The last night of racing will be October 31 and there will be a barbecue on that night.  This is also Halloween, so you can wear a costume if you want. 


See you next Tuesday.

Barry Keeler
Sailing Pair A Dice


Friday, October 13, 2017

OCTOBER 10, 2017: SHORT AND SWEET

October 10, 2017

SHORT AND SWEET

After last week’s fiasco with the wind dying and only a few boats able to finish the race, I was determined to not have a replay this week.  As we left the harbor the wind seemed adequate but there was no clue whether it would hold.  We set a mark about 150 yards directly to windward of the start mark.  We announced the course: Start to the windward mark, Blacks and finish.  We gave the normal 5 minute horn at 5:55 and held our breath as the wind seemed to be dying.  Normally, it seems nature takes the 5 minute horn as a signal to start backing off on the wind.  On this night, we were fortunate to have the wind actually build in the 5 minute period to the start.

On Pair A Dice and with about 15 boats on the line, we felt it prudent to start on Starboard tack.  Our problem was that with the increasing wind, our timing for the line was wrong.  More wind creates more boat speed causing a potential over early situation.  As the time was expiring I thought we were possibly over, but checking the range I  had observed with the lighthouse and the trees behind showed we were well behind the line. Nobody was over early so we had a fair race! It is amazing that such a short distance to the windward mark developed into so many different tactics to get there.  Pair A Dice was fortunate to round the mark first with Equinimity and Pacific Spirit following close behind.  On Pair A Dice we set the pole trying to go dead down wind while Equinimity and Pacific Spirit sailed further toward the beach.   As we converged toward Blacks, Equinimity was in the lead and Pacific Spirit had an inside overlap on us so we gave them room at the mark.  As we rounded both Pacific Spirit and Equinimity sailed straight outside again while we sailed further along the beach.

As we tacked back out toward the finish mark, we were feeling pretty good about our chances.  As we got closer to the finish mark and both Equinimity and Pacific Spirit tacked over for the mark, we were amazed to find Equinimity ranging on us and was clearly going to cross in front of us!  We crossed in front of Pacific Spirit and tacked on their wind.  First over the line was Equinimity, Pair a dice less than a boat length ahead of Pacific Spirit then Kicks, Sea bird, a Saber 34, Toad, Freya, Aila (Beneteau 34), Tara and Sea Quake.

It was a beautiful night with great wind and a beautiful sunset. It was a short and sweet race.

OTHER REGATTAS:

Keep in mind that the midwinters regatta will start on November 18.  This series is held on Saturdays rather than Sunday.  For this series, if three Jib and Main boats enter, we will have our own class.  If not enough of us enter, we will sail against the spinnaker class.  If sailing jib and main, you will be given a 12 second PHRF adjustment.  My PHRF is normally 180, but will be 192 for this series.  This will level the playing field for us sailing against the spinnakers.  If you want to enter this series, be certain you have a valid PHRF certificate on file.

I will see you out there next Tuesday.

Barry Keeler

Sailing Pair A Dice

Saturday, October 7, 2017

OCTOBER 3, 2017: SKUNKED AGAIN

October 3, 2017

SKUNKED AGAIN

In anticipation of a light wind night, I brought a buoy to use as an alternate windward mark.  I was surprised when we came out of the harbor and there seemed to be plenty of wind: but would it hold? We ambitiously chose the course to finish the race at Mile.  We gave a 5 minute horn at 5:55 and it was almost as if the wind gods took the signal and the wind started to decline with the blowing of the horn.  Boats were spread all over the place on both sides of the start line and when the 5 minute count down expired, many of the boats headed outside while some of us took the inside line.  The boats on the outside seemed to be doing pretty well after they tacked back in toward mile and Tara was leading the charge on the “inside boats”.  In the end the wind died and one by one boats called in saying they were retiring.  Some people hung out to the end and finished.  Odonata reported that they finished at 7:25!  We were treated to a wonderful sunset with a hint of a green flash!

THE GREEN FLASH:

I have always been intrigued with the concept of the green flash.  I thought that the green flash would wipe out all of the normal pink in the sky and it would all turn green for a very brief moment. I learned tonight that the green flash is a small area about the width of the sun that hovers over the horizon for just a moment just as the last edge of the sun disappears.  I actually did see this on this night, but did not realize it until Fred explained it to me.

THE FUTURE:

I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing the growth of our fleet this year. I feel we have a lot of potential for future growth next year.   This growth, while exciting, has caused me a lot of frustration.  Gone are the days when we had 3 to 6 boats out.  It was easy to record finishes and report the race with fewer boats.  I have done my best to record finishes, frequently hanging around the finish mark until the last boat finishes.  Replaying the race later as I write the blog, I have had problems recognizing the names of boats (my writingL) and because of this have been guilty of leaving some of the boats out of the finish sequence.  Sometimes I am back in the pack and cannot see the sequence of the finish and taking reports from different boats as to who was winner has been fraught with conflict.

 On top of these other frustrations, the fact that some boats “play loose” with the start line drawing even more boats over the line adds to my personal frustration.  Last week, I announced I was going to site the line and not a single boat was OCS, so I know it can be done.  If we were having a foot race and a competitor consistently started 50 yards ahead of everyone else, how long would the foot races last before competitors stopped coming?  

is an embarrassment to me as we have new boats joining us to have the start line played so loosely.  They come out because they have heard that there is more organization on Tuesday nights. They have course cards delineating the start line and find boats all over the place on both sides of the line. This is not just my perspective, others are complaining also.  On this night there were easily 3-4 boats OCS from my estimate NOT siting the line. What does this say about our group?  I really do not want our group turning into just a social event where nobody observes the rules.  What can be learned in such an environment? Rules dictate that if you are over the start line early, you must turn back and go through the start line again.  This is a huge penalty when there are 18 boats on the line, but must be done to exonerate yourself and be part of the race.

There have been people that have suggested we should set up a line complete with a committee boat to site the line and record finishes.  Another suggestion has been to have a ‘sheriff’ boat sail outside of the line to site it and report OCS instances.  This means that this sheriff boat would be given a distinct disadvantage and in essence is not racing on the night they are acting as sheriff.

Where are we now and where do we want the fleet to be in the future?  I am encouraged to see so many boats out but find it impossible to keep track of all of the boats.  What is the answer?  I believe the answer to all of these problems is to use current technology!  We have talked about the FREE app that can be loaded onto any cell phone call Race Qs. 

Once you have downloaded this FREE app, you can preset the start for 5:55 to record the start.  You place the phone face up near the centerline of your boat with the top of the phone pointed toward the bow of your boat. Make certain the phone is in a position where it will not slip out of place.  I mounted a wood strip in my chart table to hold my phone in place. The app will record your position and every movement of your boat. Once done with the race, you must upload the track and can study it later on the web site.  It is an incredible learning tool, showing how well you are steering and how efficient your tacks are.  Each time you tack, there is a white dot you can click on that opens to show 8 different parameters of that tack.  You can compare your tack against the winning boats and learn from their example.  This app will also record the location of every boat at every point during the race and accurately record the sequence of the finish.  The app allows installation of start and finish lines, so there would be no guessing about any of these issues.  In essence, race QS becomes the regatta committee!

Several of us are planning on using this app this coming Tuesday. We will show it on the TV for the last BBQ on Halloween night.   I encourage you to download and use the app this Tuesday.

OTHER REGATTAS:

The next series of SCYC regattas will be the midwinter races. It would be great to have at least 3 of our jib and main boats to constitute a class for this race.  If three of us do not register, there is talk of incorporating us into the spinnaker boats with a PHRF allowance of 12 seconds a mile.  This means if your PHRF is 180 and we are in the spinnaker class, we would be assigned a PHRF of 192 FOR THIS SERIES.   It goes without saying that we should all get a current PHRF certificate.  This certificate takes all of the specifics of your boat into consideration: folding prop, spinnaker or not, max size of your jib etc.

Looking forward to next Tuesday.

Barry Keeler

Sailing Pair A Dice     

Thursday, September 28, 2017

SEPTEMBER 26, 2017: SHORT NIGHT, LONG COURSE

SEPTEMBER 26, 2017
SHORT NIGHT LONG COURSE

The sun certainly is setting earlier these days so I was pleased when I showed up to the harbor to see a good breeze blowing from the northwest. I had most of my crew back on board and it was great trading stories about our various vacations.  As we left the harbor, there certainly was breeze but the question was “would it last?”.   We set the course as W5: Start to wharf and back to start.  

On Pair A Dice, we set up to sight the line just before the start in an attempt to see if any boats were OCS (On course side) at the start.  We gave a 5 minute horn for a 6pm start.  Sighting down the line at the start, miraculously NO BOATS were over the line at the start.  Perfect 36 nailed it perfectly right on the line right at the start! With 18 boats on the line, it was a sight to see.


On Pair a Dice we came in on port and tacked over as soon as we saw a hole.  We all beat our way to wharf mark using various tactics.  It appeared that the wind was rather shifty at the mark because several boats had to throw in another tack to make it around Wharf.  Homer on Equanimity was the first around followed by Pacific Spirit, Makani and Zoop (Islander 36) and Perfect 36.

The race did not get interesting until we were on the long run back to start mark.  Every boat had to sail through the varying wind as the Easterly tried to build and failed, then the Southerly tried to fill and failed.  There was even a hint of a northwesterly that tried and failed.  As we all experienced these shifts, we thought we had the advantage at one point or other as competitors seemed to be motionless while other boats were moving. It was like musical wind as the slight breeze moved boats at different times.

 At the finish it was Equinimity, Zoop, Pacific Spirit, Makani, Perfect 36, Pair A Dice, a Saber 34, Nidaris II, Odonata and Rosa Nautica.  Other boats finished but we had a barbecue to get to and abandoned our post at the start line.

DEALING WITH SHIFTING BREEZE:

There is no quick answer to this.  On this night my skipper admonished us to let the wind dictate where the sails should be.  The last thing you want in these situations is a back winded Jib or main sail.  The crew must be alert and change the sails as conditions dictate.

CORINTHIAN SPIRIT:

Our Catalina Tuesdays has certainly attracted a mixed group of sailors.  We have several sailors in our group that are nothing short of professional.  Others of us are beginning sailors and racers.  Some of us have the most tricked out boat possible: professional sailor at the helm, adjustable back stay, new sails, adjustable fairleads, folding props, clean bottom, empty holding tanks and no excess weight on the boat (guilty as charged on most of these!). Others of us have full holding tanks, dirty bottoms, no folding props and less experienced helms(wo)men.  The beauty of our Catalina Tuesdays is that we all have fun competing against our fellow sailors whether for first or last place.

 The essence of Catalina Tuesdays is to have fun and to LEARN. It is no mystery that Homer on Equinimity and Don on Pacific Spirit win more frequently: Each of them is nothing short of a professional sailor.  Each of them are in high demand to crew on the “bigger boats” whenever a regatta occurs.  In my opinion, it is NOT all about winning! It is about doing your best and learning more.

What does this have to do with “Corinthian spirit”?  The whole idea is to bring everyone’s game up.  I thoroughly enjoy sailing with my better sailors, but freely offer them up for other boats to bring their game up.

 I remember when SCYC hosted the Nationals for the 505s several years ago.  I was amazed to witness all of the competitors sitting in a circle in the parking lot as the top sailors were giving instruction to the 50 or so other sailors giving tips on what works in Santa Cruz.  This for a National regatta! This made me proud to be a sailor.  This in essence is what the Corinthian Spirit is all about.

Members of our group are astounded at how the group has grown (18 boats tonight!). I refuse to take all of the credit for the building of our fleet.  I believe the essence of the Corinthian spirit is responsible for this.  Everyone seems to be enjoying the vibe of Tuesday nights. Sharing information and all improving our abilities as sailors.  The predominance of the Corinthian spirit is responsible for the growth of our fleet!  Let’s keep it rolling!








Scotty C from Rosa Nautica








We had a great barbecue at the club and were even entertained by Scotty on his guitar with his new hit “Catalina Tuesdays”


See you next Tuesday.

Barry Keeler

Sailing Pair A Dice

Saturday, September 23, 2017

SEPTEMBER 19, 2017: WIND AND WAVES

WIND AND WAVES

Since I was not out for Tuesday September 19, I will not attempt to write a recap of the activities. I understand there were 10-12 boats out for the fun.

TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 26 IS BARBECUE NIGHT AT THE CLUB AFTER THE RACE. BRING YOUR BEST GRILLING FOOD.  BAR WILL BE OPEN!

For years, I have noticed that you can use waves to your advantage while going downwind. This does not always work, which has been a mystery to me.  Several months ago, I wrote a piece about using waves to your advantage.  I shared this piece with a few of my friends and had a great exchange expounding on this occurred. I would like to share this with you.

Waves and sailing

I came from a surfing background and when I took up sailing a Hobie Cat I always enjoyed surfing my Hobie.  Santa Cruz has a long point used by surfers.  When riding my Hobie, I would beat to weather for 20-30 minutes until a mile outside off the point.  At this point the wind was so strong, I would usually “chicken Jibe” and as a wave would approach, I would set my sails so they would be in trim after I made my drop down the face and made my bottom turn.  At the moment the wave would be ready to pop me out the back, the sails would POP into trim and I could ride the wave all the way to the beach for over a mile long ride. I did this over and over again.  It did not matter if the wave was a one foot wind chop or an 8 foot swell it all worked the same.

Mechanics of Surfing:

You never see a competent surfer surfing a wave straight to the beach.  Surfers always ride in a way so the board is basically parallel to the wave face surfing down the line.  This is much faster than riding straight to the beach.  Riding straight to the beach results in speed only as fast as the wave is travelling.  Riding sideways can lead to incredible bursts of speed depending on the speed of the breaking wave and the power of the surf.  When I am sailing I try to achieve the same feat that surfers do, surfing sideways down a wave. 
Sailing with waves:
Sailing in an ocean environment lends itself to skillful use of waves. In this setup, what you do with waves has a lot to do with your race results. Every boat is different.  Every day has different conditions.  Heavy wind, heavy short chop or long ocean swells, light wind and big waves.  Every day requires a different approach.  It is critical to recognize the conditions and apply different approaches for each.  My experience is now sailing on a Catalina 30, a rather heavy, beamy boat.

Sailing to weather Into waves:

The only way to do this in light wind is to not take the waves directly on the bow.  Cracking off 5-10 degrees can often allow you to glide over waves rather than bash into them.  This is even the case if there is heavy wind and heavy quick chop that stops the boat every time a wave hits.  If the waves get a little bigger, I find I can climb straight up a wave face, then take the back of the wave at an angle.  This uses the back of the wave as a longer slope to gather speed for the next wave.  Turning off at an angle, as a surfer would, also give you more power in your sails that helps you speed down the face.  This works for me in my boat in about 20 knot winds

Sailing down wind:

On my boat we do not fly a spinnaker, but we do use a whisker pole on the jib.  When the wind is light, there is not much you can do with my heavier boat.  When the wind gets to 20 knots or so, the game changes.  As I feel a wave begin to lift the back of the boat, I give a quick turn of the wheel to port letting the blade of the rudder take the power of the wave to propel the boat down the face of the wave. Since the water in the wave is moving faster than the boat, this quick flick of the wheel does not turn the boat, but you can feel the energy of they wave pushing the rudder. As I catch the wave, I turn the wheel to starboard using the power of the wind in the sails to increase the time I stay on the wave.  Once again, I do this by going sideways (remember the surfer).  I study the GPS knot meter to see how long I can keep the boat in the wave.  Maintaining a boat speed of 7.5 to 8 knots is the goal.  If you can accomplish this on wave after wave staying on each wave for 5-7 seconds, you can really make some headway.  I know this concept flies in the face of keeping a steady hand on the wheel or rudder, but it really seems to work well for me.

Sailing with waves into the wind:

This unusual occurrence happens when an Easterly wind starts working in Santa Cruz.  I witnessed this once when someone was steering my boat.  It seems the boat never slowed down.  I asked how he did it and he said, you steer down the face of the wave and as the wave is ready to fade and leave you behind, you fall off the wind using the power of the wind to maintain the speed of the boat to catch the next wave.

Conclusion:

It is a fine nuance of sailing, using waves and wind together to propel your boat.  Experiment with it and you may be surprised with your results.
**********
I got a response to this article from Chris Hofmann which really made sense as to why it doesn’t always work:
Barry,

Good Stuff!   Nice descriptions about the "feel" and finer points in surfing displacement sailboats.   Here are some added thoughts that come to mind.
There is probably some underlying math that could be added to get more precise for different boats that combines a boats polar plot that maximizes boat speed from the direction and velocity of the wind, plus surfing action related to the direction, speed, period, and height  of the waves.
For example sometimes you get the right conditions and everything falls into place on the exact course you want to steer and the surfing seems easy; other times its more of a struggle because everything is not lining up so weel.   Still other times you are just trying to optimize the fastest sailing for the longest period of time on a down wind leg.
In the Catalina 30 16 knots true wind at relative bearing 174 degrees
would maximize boat speed and allow you to catch and stay on waves the longest just using the effect of the wind.

The next step would be to determine the direction, period, and height of the of the waves to understand the optimal steering angles and all the finer points that you mentioned that promote surfing on the correct jibe.
The wind and waves don't always line up.   So the result is that port tack relative wind bearing 174 degrees boat speed will be different that starboard tack relative wind bearing 174 degrees.  After rounding Natural Bridges or Wharf mark we often take the port jibe because this promotes the best surfing angle in the stronger winds  and  frequent westerly waves for the "longest leg" of the down wind course to finish or black pt.  In these conditions getting to port Jybe as fast as possible has a big advantage.

But if the wave pattern was more southerly the 174 relative wind bearing on starboard tack might be the favored set up and an early quick jibe at the mark is not so critical.

Usually as we get closer finish/black pt. the wind and waves die down a bit, so we all sail a shorter leg on the other jibe where the combined effects of polar VMG and wave surfing aren't as great.
Because the polar curves are different for different boats the general steering angle and the small adjustments (letting the boat glide down waves v. small or big flicks of the rudder) to promote surfing are going to change.
Hobie 16s are going to want to generally sail closer to 130 degrees where they can almost double their base boat speed, and would allow them to sail a lot longer on a wave with small steering adjustments.

http://www.trifoiler.info/Municipal/index.php?title=PERFORMANCE_COMPARISONS_AND_HANDICAPPING
A Santa Cruz or Express 27 has a pretty flat polar curve at about 170-130 degrees so in certain conditions they max out boat speed sailing anywhere between dead downwind and broad reach.  This mean they have a lot more options for lining up just the right angle on the waves.

http://express27.org/articles/polar

****
Thank you Chris for this explanation.

See you at the barbecue this coming Tuesday after the race!

Barry Keeler
Sailing Pair a Dice