Thursday, June 18, 2015


Catalina Tuesday

June 16, 2015


All predictions were for gnarly winds from the northwest, so I was quite surprised to see the flags blowing lightly from the South when I got to the harbor.  I was sure we would need the 135 for tonight, but the 155 was what we had on as we ventured to the open ocean.  Alas it was the right call.  By the time we got to the start mark, it was a steady Easterly blowing.  We decided to call course 11A1 for the night: start, Blacks (P), Gov(P) and finish to port.  We gave a 5 minute horn and everyone set up for their start.  On Pair A Dice, we wanted to be on starboard right at the mark.  

Alas, Pacific Spirit nailed the start and we were about 30 seconds behind them.  With our 155 flying, we were able to point a little higher than Pacific Spirit, but they rounded Blacks ahead of us by about 30 seconds again.  Pair a Dice rounded Blacks just ahead of Perfect 36 and we all marched off to Gov.  Pacific Spirit sailed in closer to shore with the thought that a building Easterly usually filled in toward the beach.  On Pair A Dice, we rhumb lined it to the mark with the pole out on port first then jibing over with the pole on starboard. By jibing the pole onto starboard we were able to avoid the waves on our bow and took them on the beam.  With the added speed from not fighting the waves we were able to sail clear of Perfect 36 which was threatening to steal our wind.  Ultimately Pacific Spirit rounded Gov about 2 minutes ahead of us, accentuating the point that maybe their stint to the beach was the right move. 

After rounding Gov, Pacific Spirit took a stint outside then tacked back over inside again.  On Pair A Dice, we noticed the wind was building more as we moved outside.  Additionally we were on the longest tack to the mark and sailing closer to the mark.  We watched closely to be certain we didn’t sail into lighter wind and a transition zone outside.  We sailed out to the layline for the finish mark as Pacific Spirit passed us on the inside. Pacific Spirit rounded the finish mark about one and a half minutes ahead of us, then Perfect 36, Kicks, Aeolian, Toad and Thalasia. 

The Dance of the Start:

Races are frequently won and lost at the start.  A great start puts you in the lead and all you have to do is protect that lead.  Starts are very challenging and it only comes with practice.  The reason I call it a dance is because you are interacting with every other boat at the start.  Quick reflexes and quick decisions are critical.  Having an uncanny ability to judge time and distance also helps.  How much time will it take the boat to cover a certain distance?  If you really want to improve your start, get out with your crew and practice passing a buoy and getting back to the buoy by a certain time.   This is a minimal exercise, but critical.  If you can’t nail a start with no competition, you don’t stand a chance with other boats involved.   

Taking time to assess the situation before the race is critical to a good start.  On Pair A Dice, we follow the following process and rules.

-Light variable wind=do not get far from the start line!
-Determine favored end of line: Luff up head to wind and the end of the line the bow is pointing toward is the favored end.
-starboard or port tack start: Port tack starts are very risky since you have no right of way, but can pay off with huge gains when done well.
-Critical: Do not do any big moves at least 30 seconds before the start, even more time in lighter wind. 

Most experienced sailors will time the line and broad reach by the preferred end of the line sailing away from the start area. Then then time their tack and approach the line on a broad reach.  This allows them to run the line while waiting for the clock to run out for the start.  Keep in mind, it is better to be early to the start than late, though be careful that you are not stalling at the start.  You want to be up to speed and sailing at the start. 

What’s with the course numbers on the course charts? 

Why in the world are there courses numbered 11A1?  I have been putting these cards out for 3 summers now.  Each summer we come up with new different courses.  I keep all of the courses that were on  each of the previous cards so if someone comes out once every 3 years, the course numbers will be the same.  The newer courses have the unusual numbers like 11A1.  These courses will always be clarified over the radio on channel 69. 

Next Tuesday will be the 23rd.  Barbecue Tuesday at SCYC will be the following week on the 30th.   

We will see you next Tuesday. 


Sailing Pair A Dice

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