Tuesday June 24, 2014
THE NIGHT OF SHIFTING WINDS
Talk about changing conditions! As we left the harbor, it was apparent the wind was going to be light, so we swapped out to a larger head sail. What was the wind going to do? By the time we got to the start mark, there was a light Easterly blowing, so we were trying to come up with an East wind course. One of the boats out toward Mile reported great Northwest wind out there. We could not find a proper course, so once again came up with an impromptu course. Start to Mile and back to start. It seemed like it was going to be a very short race as we sailed out into an increasing wind.
With an excellent start and a larger headsail, Sailing Pair A Dice broadened the lead over the rest of the boats. We rounded Mile comfortably in front of the fleet and headed back toward the start/finish mark. Little did we know that we were in for yet more wind shifts. As we approached the finish mark, the wind seemed to die and all of the boats seemed to be compressing and getting closer to us. This was not going to be a slam-dunk after all! With a very light easterly starting to blow and a current fighting against us, we tried to round the finish mark and failed. We tacked again as the other boats were getting closer and attempted a second rounding of the mark. The current once again tried to sweep us into the mark. Finally, on the third try we successfully rounded the mark just ahead of the other boats that were sweeping in on us. Next to round was Blue Ribbon just ahead of Iris who was just ahead of Sea Quake (C&C 29) then Pacific Spirit. I think all of the boats fought the same battle trying to round the finish mark with very light wind with a current fighting against them.
There were several things that occurred during this race that worked in Sailing Pair a Dice’s favor. There is no denying that a larger jib in lighter wind helps. Bruce Vessey was our skipper and he did a masterful job at setting us up for a perfect start, despite all of the competition on the line. As we sailed toward Mile, there were some boats to windward but behind us. There was temptation to tack over to stay between our competitors and Mile which is a normal tactical move. This idea was negated by the fact that we were sailing into more wind the further we went out. The old “sail to more wind” rule trumped other decisions. As we attempted to round the finish mark, our error was not staying on our tacks (in light wind) long enough to get momentum up. Sometimes being impatient, and tacking too early in these conditions can work against you. We gave a lot of our lead up to competitors with our impatience and tacking too early.
We had a great barbecue at the club, with over 40 people gathered discussing sailing and strategy and enjoying great food and companionship.
Barging Part II:
In the last blog, I bloviated about barging. It is absolutely true that barging is a risky move which often doesn’t work out well. If you can work it out so you approach the line on a beam reach, you are going faster than boats on a close reach. Being faster means you can squirt out ahead of competitors, so it can work to your advantage, but you must know the rules and abide by them. When can you barge and have it work out? Obviously in a reverse PHRF start, the line can be nearly empty so you can be successful barging. Frequently, competing boats will approach the line early and must run the line so they are not over early. This can leave the door wide open to cross right at the preferred end of the line. The important thing is to know the rules, realize when you are wrong, accept your position and act accordingly.
I mentioned the importance of weight a couple of postings back. Why is weight or the lack thereof important? If you had to pick up 100 pounds and carry it 100 yards, it would require a bit of energy. When we are sailing, we are trying to harness the energy of the wind. Obviously, if there is a lot of wind, excess weight is not as critical as in lighter wind, but it still requires energy to move the excess weight. Tonight, It was interesting watching the boats round the finish mark and seeing the lighter boats accelerate in the light wind and pass the heavier boats.
So how do you eliminate weight on the boat? Obviously, any tools not currently needed can be removed and any other things not needed can also be removed. Always remember: Boats are not meant to be storage lockers! Are holding tanks empty? The crew on the boat can also be displaced for proper heel. Getting people out of the cockpit and up on the rail can be a tremendous help.
See you next Tuesday.
Barry KeelerSailing Pair A Dice