APRIL 16 2013
The overwhelming response from all participants was “Wow, that was FUN!”. It seems the word is finally getting out about our Catalina Tuesdays. This was very apparent as we were leaving the harbor and saw all of the Catalina’s sailing around the start mark. The participating boats on this particular Tuesday were: Aeolian(A), Pacific Spirit (PS), Katrina, Sailing Pair A Dice(PAD), Diver Down(DD), no-name the Catalina owned by Donna and Rob Franks and Free Spirit (FS) and a few other boats that have not come out before. This was a very windy night with the wind coming out of the northwest, with very shifty wind coming straight off the beach (from the north) when you got close to the beach.
We decided on a course from Start to Wharf, Mile, Blacks and back to start, all roundings to port. Before the race we actually saw 21 knots of wind and quickly put a reef in on PAD. With this much wind, it was a rather chaotic start, with A and PS coming out with the best starts, right on the line on starboard tack and off and running. PAD was to leeward behind PS and A was sailing ahead of PAD and to port. FS got pinched at the mark with DD coming in on starboard and had to spin around the mark. As we all marched off toward wharf, PS was clearly in the lead and A sailing faster and much lower than we were. On PAD we were trying to split the difference with a plan to tack onto port to position ourselves about 10 boat lengths below the mark where we planned to tack onto the starboard tack layline. We were surprised when A tacked over very early and easily crossed us on port tack heading closer to the wharf. Our impression was that this was a huge mistake since the wind was obviously stronger outside. We finally tacked over onto port tack and we knew we had screwed up. Right after we tacked, we figured we had layed wharf perfectly, then the shift came and we kept getting headed further and further and further. We did not feel it was appropriate to tack on this header since it was not enough to clear the mark. While we had waited to go inside, Aeolian had arrived in this huge shift in time to capitalize on it and got lifted around wharf way ahead of PAD and PS. PAD was a distant second (behind A) around wharf and Pacific Spirit was close behind with Diver Down in close pursuit. As we sailed toward Mile, PS was camped on our wind, but we shook our reef out and managed to gain an inside overlap on PS as we approached Mile and were able to round inside of PS. On our approach to blacks, PS had worked their way to windward of us and DD had sailed to leeward of us and then things got very interesting. DD swung wide on the mark and since we had overlap at the 3 boatlength zone and were entitled to room at the mark, we ducked inside and rounded just inside of DD. PS ducked behind both PAD and DD for the rounding. PAD got a quick tack in and sprinted off toward the start mark with DD right on our starboard hip and closing. It was a very exciting finish with Aeolian WAY out in front followed by PAD and DD less than a boatlength behind our bow and PS taking a fourth.
“A” played the shift perfectly on their approach to wharf and PAD waited too long to tack on the header. If PAD had tacked sooner, even if we had to tack again, we would have at least been sailing TOWARD the mark, rather than away from it.
When approaching marks ALWAYS do everything you can to have an inside overlap at the 3 boat zone. This allows you to squirt out ahead of your competitors after rounding the mark. If DD would have been able to break the overlap at “the zone” on blacks, PAD would have had to follow them around the mark, rather than cut inside. It would have been very hard to make up this deficit in the short distance to the start mark.
Racing Rules of Sailing:
This section is not for the experienced racers, but there are some basic rules that you need to know when racing. The primary rule is starboard tack boat has right of way over Port tack. With two boats on the same tack, leeward boat has right of way, and a boat being passed has right of way over the passing boat. Always avoid contact with other boats.
As noted above, when approaching a mark, the zone is 3 boat lengths from the mark (boatlength determined by the first boat to the zone). A boat with inside overlap (any part of the inside boat breaking the plane of the stern of the outside boat) must be given room to round the mark INSIDE of the outside boat.
People often are confused by penalty turns. Any infraction of the rules involving right of way with another boat requires a 2 turn penalty as soon as is possible, but not in the way of other competitors. Any infraction where a mark is hit requires a one turn penalty, once again as soon as possible, but not in the way of other competitors.
This is a quick review, but it behooves all racers to have a rule book and to study it.
I am looking forward to seeing you all next Tuesday.
Barry L. KeelerSailing Pair A DIce