EASTERLY WINDS AND CROSSES
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 16, 2014
It sure looked light as we were leaving the harbor. I thought maybe we had finally been left flat with no wind at all. We motored out to the start mark and just as we got there we looked toward the East and saw wind on the water. It seemed like within five minutes our chances of having a major float-fest were diminished by the building Easterly. It was great to have Chris on Odonata (Santana 22)out for the fun. We decided on a course not on the chart: start to blacks (port) Gov to starboard and finish to port with a start at 6:10. With the light but building Easterly many of the boats had to motor to get to the start line on time.
On Pair a Dice, we were a little late to the line and a few boats that came in parallel to the line sprinted across the line ahead of us. If we were 50 yard further toward the line we could have called “barging” and forced these boats off. We were toward the back of the fleet as we made our way to Blacks. Finally, we tacked over for clear air. As we all rounded Blacks it was a long downwind run to Gov. Odonata set their spinnaker and we all picked our way through the kelp fields. Those of us with whisker poles set them for the run. Their seemed to be little difference in wind between outside and inside. Odonata went further out which worked well for them as they were first to round Gov with Homer right behind and Pair a Dice hot on their sterns. Homer left room for us at the mark and we immediately headed back outside as all of the rest of the boats took the inside tack toward the beach. It was clear to us that Odonata was clear ahead of us as they tacked back out toward us, even though we were experiencing a huge lift the whole way back to the finish mark. Even Homer cleared us well ahead. After Homer cleared us, we tacked over inside as none of us wanted to sail too far from the mark. When we crossed again we were slightly ahead but leeward to Homer as we sailed to the mark. We scalloped up so we were lee-bowing Homer. At the correct time, we over sheeted our mainsheet to slow him down even more. Pair A Dice was first over the line with Homer’s Blue Ribbon followed by Odonata, Sea Quake (C&C29) Pacific Spirit, Makana and Iris with Aeolian and Emeritus following.
It was a beautiful sunset and the usual fun gathering at the Crows Nest discussing sailing and tactics.
It is inevitable when boats sail in close quarters and in tight races that there will be crossing situations. There were at least two crossing situations that occurred this night. Nobody is going to intentionally crash boats on a Tuesday night race, but it is important to develop a few techniques in crossing situations. A proper duck really does not give up much distance to a competitor. The techniques that must be learned are: determining if you will clear a boat or need to duck, letting a competing boat know your intentions, and finally setting up for a proper duck.
Most sailors know if a boat is ranging or moving backwards against the background, you will pass clear ahead. It is possible for a person on your bow to observe a boat moving backwards and a crew on your stern to see the boat moving forward against the background. This is why it is critical to judge a crossing situation from the stern of your boat. When you judge that you will not cross you need to initiate ducking maneuvers. Acknowledge the competitors “starboard”hail and start to turn toward their stern actually aiming for their midship. It is important that at least the main is travelled down so you are able to dip and not get rounded up into the other boat. If played correctly, you should take the stern of the other boat very closely and enjoy a lift from the disturbed air from the other boat.
As I say, nobody is going to wreck their boats intentionally, but if a starboard tack boat must steer to prevent a collision a two turn penalty is usually expected, however most SI’s now call for a one turn penalty. In a real race, if penalty turns are not taken on the course, expect to be protested and experience standing before the protest committee.
See you next Tuesday.
Barry L Keeler
Sailing Pair A Dice