Friday, September 27, 2013


September 24, 2013

Talk about a carbon copy of last week: Winds from the north in excess of 20 knots with no signs of backing off, clear and sunny. The choice of coarse was simple: course 13 again. We had Andiamo, Free Spirits, Diver Down and Katrina in the mix. After delaying the start by 5 minutes to get everyone to the line, Andiamo and Diver Down were in battle at very close proximity to each other and the start line. PAD and Free Spirit sailed out of the fray and crossed the line on port tack. It appeared that Diver Down and Andiamo had the lead and went inside where Diver Down was successfull in blanketing Andiamo. Diver Down finally tacked outside as we tacked inside. After crossing us, Diver Down rounded GOV just ahead of Andiamo, and PAD followed and we were off to Mile. PAD was able to get the pole out and we were able to close the gap on Andiamo and round just ahead of Andiamo, but still behind Diver Down who was waterlining all of us. As it ended Diver Down was ahead, Pair a DIce was second, Andiamo was third and Aeolian was fourth with the sun setting just as the race was ending. There was an awesome barbecue at the yacht club after the race with many people participating.



Section A, section 10 of the racing rules of sailing is straightforward with little room for misinterpretation.

section 10: opposite tacks: Starboard tack has right of way over Port tack.

Probably the most common rule employed in sailing is starboard, vs Port tack boats. In heavy winds it is also the most dangerous if not followed since the boats are moving in opposite directions and serious consequences can occur if miss-haps occur. For this reason I want to share what I have learned about these situations.

The setup: You are on port tack and you see a potential starboard tacker on a possible collision course. The obvious question is: will I be clear ahead, behind or collide? Everyone knows to watch the ranging of the other boat. Few people know that you can have someone on your bow screaming "go for it, we've gottem cleared" and someone on your stern screaming "dip them, we will not clear!" Both observers are RIGHT!, you are set up for a classic "T-Bone". Another factor is waves. I have seen perfectly makeable crossings messed up by a boat wake slowing you down, so MIND THE WAVES when considering crossing situations.

The Dip: If the observer on the stern indicates you must dip, you must plan your dip. At least 4 boatlengths away, you should bear off aiming for the midship of the boat you are dipping. Preferrably, your crew should adjust sails for the new point of sail IN UNISON! If the Jib is eased WITHOUT adjusting the main, you will round up right into the boat you intend to dip, despite your best intentions. When I know I will be dipping another boat, I like to wave them on with my hand (the other helmsperson WILL have their eyes on you). This clears up any confusion indicating "you cross, I will dip!". I will also do this if I am on starboard IF I want the port tacker to cross, I will indicate and go ahead and dip. Done correctly a dip yields very little, since if you come very close to the stern of the other boat, you get a momentary lift from the wind coming off the dipped boat. You harden your sails up and continue on. If the dip is not set up properly with the proper "bearing off" ahead of time, there is no indication that the port tack boat is actually going to dip. In greater wind, this is extremely dangerous. An aggressive Starboard tacker adamantly exerting his rights could be "dead right" if the port tack boat doesn't yield. Waiting for the last moment to make your move can also be disasterous if both boats move unexpectedly attempting to dodge each other at the last moment.

Even the Americas Cup racers had their problems with crossings. The Kiwis almost capsized their boat Saturday a week ago when they were coming in on port and the skipper "crash tacked" without communicating to his crew. His crew probably thought he was going to dip, and he crash tacked instead, screaming "HYDRO" as the boat nearly went over, proving once again the importance of communication, even at the top levels of racing.

Tuesday nights are intended to be fun and educational, bringing all of our skills up to speed. We have many participants that range from rank novices that know little about sailing (let alone racing rules) to some of our finest sailors in the area. It behooves everyone to know who we are sailing against and with. Mistakes do happen as in my own "Mea Culpa" earlier this year. Lets sail and learn together and always keep in mind that when the wind gets up like this last week, consequences of errors can be much more severe than in light wind.

See you all out there this next Tuesday.

Barry Keeler

Sailing Pair A DIce

1 comment:

  1. A a port tack boat planning a duck I like to tell the other boat "Hold your course!". That way they know you are aware of them, and have a plan of action.

    Rob C27 Iris