August 13, 2013
Another awesome night for sailing the Monterey Bay out of Santa Cruz. This night the wind was particularly steady coming from the East. We decided to sail Course 8 which is: Start, Blacks, Mile, Gov and end at the start mark. We decided on a 6:10 start, but extended to 6:15 when it was apparent Pacific Spirit was coming out of the harbor and would be late for the start. On Pair A Dice, we decided on a Starboard tack start, right at the pin and timed it perfectly, with DIver Down in hot pursuit. Iris had a great start and did an excellent job of keeping ahead of us all with the 2 minute head start given the 27's. Iris was first to round Blacks and start toward Mile, with PAD second and Diver Down following. WIth the strong easterly blowing (18 to 20 knots) there was definitely a weird chop in the water which was really slowing the smaller boats down, but Diver Down just seemed to glide right through the waves. About 2/3 of the way to Mile, DIver Down rolled us to leeward and just kept on going. Miraculously, Iris was maintaining their lead over both PAD and Diver Down. Diver Down rolled by Iris on the way to GOV and rounded GOV before both Iris and PAD.
On the way back to the start mark, we all seemed to use different tactics. Iris and Diver Down sailed further toward shore before tacking back out. PAD, after rounding GOV immediately tacked back outside. Ultimately, DIver Down tacked back out and stayed on port tack clear to the layline to start mark. Iris tacked over early and PAD tacked just before the layline to the finish mark, hoping for a lift that would carry us around the mark. Though we did get lifted some, we still had to tack to clear the mark. Diver Down won this one hands down, with PAD second and several boats crossing in quick succession after us. Aeolian, Pacific Spirit and Iris.
RULES, TACTICS AND TUESDAY NIGHTS:
We are getting quite a turnout for our Tuesday nights. It is really great to see everyone bring their game up and getting more competitive. Since there are many of us that enjoy both Tuesday and Wednesday night sailing, it is important to differentiate the difference between the two nights. Wednesday night is party night and is definitely a HOOT. All the boats are out in their splendor, and alcohol is everywhere. Though rules are generally followed such as starboard vs port crossing rights of way, there is little reason or care to observe all of the rules. On Wednesday nights, if you round a buoy the wrong way or can't quite make it, just sail on: nobody is keeping score. You cannot get a less challenging start than a rabbit start like on Wednesday nights. Generally, there are some boats that take the race seriously, but most boats are there for the event rather than a race.
Tuesday nights, though very fun, are meant to be more educational. What better way to learn how you are doing than to sail against similar boats, complete with a start line and everyone observing the rules. Like Wednesday nights, there is no committee boat and protest panel. We are all on the "honor system". You know when you are "Over Early" or if you didn't round a mark appropriately. If a mark is touched, we do our turns even if there is no protest panel. It does no good to cross the finish line earlier than everyone else if you did not follow the rules. Despite best intentions, some of us infringe on the rules and "in the heat of the battle" neglect to take our turns. I am guilty on this count resulting in disqualifying my boat for the race (see Mea Culpa on this blog a few weeks ago).
I know this area of rules and lack of knowledge about them keeps many boats from participating actively, even on Tuesday nights. I am seeing multiple Catalinas that are out on Tuesday nights, nowhere near the start line and not even following the course. These may be the boats that lack knowledge on the rules and "don't want to get in the way of those that know the rules".
There are many books and articles in sailing magazines about the finer nuances of the rules. But to get started there are just a few you really need to know and observe. The primary rules, used in almost all racing are in section A of the rule book- Right of Way when two boats meet. Rule 10 says a boat on Starboard tack has right of way over a Port tack boat. THis means the port tack boat must YIELD to the Starboard tack boat. Rule 11 Two boats on the same tack overlapped: the windward boat shall yield to the leeward boat. Rule 12: same tack NOT overlapped: the boat clear astern must yield to the boat clear ahead. This means if you are overtaking a boat, you must keep clear of the boat ahead. Rule 13 says that any boat that is in the process of tacking must keep clear of other boats until it is hard on the wind. Above all of the rules is the primary rule: avoid contact at all times. Whenever boats collide, there is someone breaking a rule. This gets interesting on Tuesday nights because there are no protest panels. As stated earlier, we are on the honor system, just out for some fun sailing and to LEARN. If any right of way rule is broken, the proper thing to do is to take a two turn penalty (two 360 degree turns) as soon as is possible when clear of other competitors.
We will see you next Tuesday.
Barry L Keeler