Thursday, May 2, 2013


Another beautiful night of sailing and our first night with a good East wind blowing!  It seems the blue course cards are working out well.  With the stronger wind and Easterly direction, it did not take long for a unanimous consensus: Course 8 (start, blacks, mile, gov, finish).  Since there were 10 boats out and two 27’s, I thought it would be appropriate to give the 27’s a headstart.  The PHRF difference between a Catalina 36 (150) and a 27 (210) is one minute a mile.  Since the course was just over 4 miles, I started the 27’s 4 minutes earlier than the rest of us.  PHRF adjustments are a touchy subject and I have heard many  divergent opinions. My desire is to keep everyone involved, and I feel PHRF adjustments for the 27s will keep them in the game .  Though I gave the 4 minute head start, only one of the 27s took up the offer.  The other 27 started with the rest of us.  It is important to listen to channel  69 for course number and start time.  Please offer opinions below (comments)on how to deal with PHRF.

Even though there was enough wind, the chop on the water made it very difficult to keep the boats up to speed.  With normal swells, you can alter the boats angle and avoid taking the swells straight on, but this night had swell coming from every angle.  The start was very interesting with most of the boats hitting the line right on time with speed.  Steve and Leslie on “Free Spirit” nailed the start, right on time at the pin.  The fact that so many boats nailed the start so well shows that we are all bringing our game up.  It was an interesting beat to Blacks with most of the boats rounding very close to each other.  We were all in pursuit of the Catalina 27 with Donna and Rob Franks leading the way.  The run to Mile seemed to offer even more chop to all of us.  Pair a Dice was able to squeak a small lead over Aeolian, with Aeolian using multiple tactical moves in an attempt to pass us, which they finally were able to do just before we rounded Mile.  No Name 27 was in the lead, with Aeolian the second to round Mile. Pair a dice was third and Diver Down and Pacific Spirits followed in hot pursuit. 

Then it was another run to GOV.  No Name was doing an excellent job of maintaining their lead, but we were all chipping away at their advantage.  Pair a dice was able to come up harder on the wind right after the rounding at mile, which allowed us to sail to windward of Aeolian which we finally passed by stealing their wind.  We watched with interest as No Name rounded comfortable ahead of us to see how the inside track was working for them.   Pair a dice rounded just ahead of Aeolian followed quickly by Diver Down and Pacific Spirit.  Diver down, Aeolian and Pacific Spirit all tacked out shortly after rounding gov, while pair a dice sailed for a short distance toward the beach since we had some fishing boats to clear.  We sensed as we went outside, that there was more wind and we were getting a persistent lift the further out we went.  Its not normally a good idea to “sail to the corner”, but with the lift we were in, we felt it would be an error to tack, since it would turn our lift into a header.  While we were sailing outside for the lift, Diver Down tacked back inside toward the beach and Aeolian split the difference and tacked toward the finish buoy about halfway to the layline.  No Name, having sailed more in toward the beach, was closer to the buoy and sailed out to the SB tack layline, ultimately on our same line after we finally tacked over.  We were closing in on both No Name and the finish buoy, with all of us on the rail.  We were so close to the buoy, I felt we had a comfortable second,  even though our helmsman was telling us Aeolian was coming in fast on port.  With our starboard advantage, I felt even more certain we had a second.  Just as we were approaching the mark, Aeolian appeared and easily cleared our bow and tacked over to cross the line just ahead of us, and just behind No Name 27.  I believe Diver Down came in fourth and Pacific Spirit right after them.  This one goes to No Name 27 with Donna a Rob Franks.



A large part of this course involved beam reaching.  As always in these situations, you want to be the boat that is to windward of everyone else.  Aeolian played us perfectly just before Mile, heading down like they were going to pass us to leeward, then darting up to windward and stealing our wind for the rounding.  Keep in mind when playing these games that the leeward boat can luff the windward boat up at will, if being overtaken be a boat to windward.  Also remember that the more you tangle with another boat, the other boats in the race will leave you in the dust, so if you get into a luffing game try to divorce yourself from the other boat as soon as possible. Your crew should be trimming sails aggressively if you hope to get past another boat.  When maneuvering in these situations, each turn of the boat requires immediate adjustment of the sails by the crew.


Headers make you sail further from your destination and Lifts allow you to sail closer to it.  Obviously a header on one tack is a lift on the opposite tack.  This is all very elementary to the racing sailor.  It is a little more difficult to ascertain whether you are being headed or lifted while steering.  The helmsperson who is constantly studying the telltales, should also note either their compass heading or landmarks ahead to determine any shift in wind direction.  It goes without saying that if one boat is lifted and a boat on the opposite tack is being headed, the lifted boat will rapidly achieve a large lead over the headed boat, so this is critical to racing performance.  Also, keep in mind there are “persistent shifts” and “oscillating shifts”.  The persistent shifts can be new weather systems coming in, or due to land masses.  Oscillating shifts, shift back and forth.  If you can time these shifts and anticipate, you can get very far ahead of your competitors. I have known sailors who could look at the water and ascertain whether a patch of wind was a header or a lift before we even hit the wind.  This is a talent that still eludes me.

See you next Tuesday!

Barry Keeler

 Sailing Pair A Dice

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