Friday, June 7, 2013


While I was gone on vacation, I understand there were some exciting times. On one Tuesday there were 35 knot gusts and sailing Pair a Dice had only 2 people sailing the boat. Thank God they were excellent sailors. On the same night Tres Santos blew out their main sail. I really appreciate the dedication people are showing to our Catalina Tuesdays.

The night of June 4 showed consistent winds between 13 and 18 knots from the northwest, with no hint of an Easterly filling in. I had reservations for Johnnies for all of us at 7:45, so we couldn't use a long course and chose course 3, with a 6:10 start time. With Homer's suggestions and talking to at least one other boat owner, it is apparent that many of the boats are operating without timing devices. We have decided to implement a horn system similar to the horn system used in normal racing along with a count down on the radio, so everyone will know the time of the start. We will perfect this with time, but the intention is to give one short (2 second) blast on the horn (with count down over vhf channel 69) at 5 minutes, 4 minutes and at the start. There will be a long blast (4second) at one minute before the start. This will be an immense help to boats without GPS or time pieces.

Once course 3 was decided and agreed upon, we decided on a 6:10 start time with the 27 given a 1.5 minute head start. Since I had Fred Molnar (an excellent sailor) on board, I put him on the helm. We somehow ended up on a Port tack at the start ahead of everyone else. We sailed for a few minutes on port tack and Fred called for a tack over to the outside. I noticed that every time we got into a consistent header, Fred called for a tack. We rounded Wharf just ahead of Aeolian, then it was the long slog to Blacks with Aeolian hot on our tail. We finally rounded Blacks just ahead of Aeolian and continued to the finish for another win.

At Johnnies after the race, Dave, who was on the 27 asked me point blank: "why did you tack outside? Everyone always stays inside as long as is possible." I referred him to Fred who was on the helm. As an aside, Dave is also an excellent sailor, he was fordeck on Moorgasm, which took fourth in the nationals last weekend in the Moore 24 nationals (congratulations!!!). This regatta was a very competitive 31 boats fighting it out. In short, THIS is what I appreciate about our Catalina Tuesdays. What other venue is available for people to go out, compete, then discuss tactics afterwards: What a learning opportunity! Discussing tactics after the race with top notch knowledgable sailors, and the price of admission? being there!

The real world of sailboat racing;

Ultimately, everyone moves from the casual racing style we so enjoy on Tuesday nights and endeavors to compete in a real regatta, put on by the yacht club. This is not such a huge leap, but you do need to know the flag system used. After spending this last weekend on the committee boat for the Moore 24 nationals and Santa Cruz 27 nationals, I acquired a little knowledge on the flags used in racing. The sequence goes like this. At five minutes before the race, there will be a horn blast and the class flag goes up. This flag designates what class will be racing: delta (D), Foxtrot (F) etc. These classes are all designated in the Sailing Instructions (SI's) for the race. You need to know what the FLag that represents your class looks like. When it is raised, your class is in sequence. By this time, there should be a course flag designated. Courses are layed out in the SI's and are designated by number flags: course 1, 2...etc. At 4 minutes before the start, the P flag goes up on the committee boat, with a short blast on the horn. At 1 minute to the start, the P flag comes down with a long (4 second) horn. At the start, there is a horn. Believe it or not, with a few races under your belt, all of this becomes second nature.

See you next Tuesday.

Barry L Keeler





1 comment:

  1. I just want to comment that though Pacific Spirit missed sailing on June 4th due to maintenance work, we beat the fleet by a healthy margin on May 30th. We took the lead at the start and headed outside as the wind was dying inside. The rest of the fleet got hung up at wharf, while we had already rounded and were well on our way to mile. We rounded Blacks and headed back to the start well ahead of the fleet. The truly unusual thing about this was that our usual helmsman, Jeff Thayer, not at the wheel, being laid up with a back injury. Instead, I was at the helm, and I do not consider myself a great driver; but we had a good start, lucked out with the wind, and were able to keep her moving. Needless to say, our crew really enjoyed the race!