Friday, October 7, 2016


OCTOBER 4, 2016

               Talk about fluky conditions!  When I showed up to the harbor the wind seemed to be blowing out of the north, but the flag at the Nest showed a northwest wind blowing.  The strength of the wind was the other question.  Could we use the 155 or was the 135 the call for this night?  We decided to stick with the 155.  As we left the harbor, there were many boats out for the night, and the North had seemed to over- rule the Northwest breeze.  We proposed the north wind course from start to GOV and back, but others thought an impromptu course of start, Gov, Mile Finish would be better.  I was apprehensive the wind would die but went along with the longer course. 

The start was very hectic, as it frequently is at the end of the season.  Everyone seems to get there game on and are on the line at the same time.   It did not help that the line from start to blacks nearly paralleled the direction of the wind.  Twelve boats simultaneously running the line waiting to harden up to start the race. It was very crowded and Pair A Dice did not get a good start, coming off the line getting bad air from the boats that had better starts.  Our tactic was to try to sail straight to Gov  without tacking while several boats went outside.  As it ended up we all seemed to converge on Gov at the same time.  It did not help matters that there was a coast guard cutter moored to Gov getting in our way as if to emphasize the point: this is GOV buoy and we can only borrow its use for our races!  There were a few starboard versus port tack incidents that occurred at Gov which only increased the excitement.  What can be better than beer can racing in fluky 20 knot breezes in close quarters arguing right of way  with a coast guard cutter to oversee your actions?  We finally rounded Gov and headed toward Mile then headed toward Start.  By this time we were well back in the fleet, so I am not certain about the finish sequence, but I believe it  was Equinamity, Perfect 36, Pacific Spirit, Makani.  Pair a dice finished just ahead of Kicks after a long drag race from Mile to the finish mark.

Darn right of way!
Tuesday nights are the perfect time to learn about the rules and how to exonerate yourself if a rule is broken.  We all know starboard tack boat has right of way over port tack boat.  It is so easy and convenient to try to ignore these darn right of way rules  on a beer can race.  I confess, in the past I have not taken turns when I should have in the excitement of racing.   It could probably be said, we have all been guilty in the heat of the race.  Much more important than your standing in a particular race is the avoidance of the sound and ex$pen$e of crunching fiberglass. 

If you are a port boat that needs to duck a starboard tack boat, if done correctly, there is very little distance lost.  You can cut very close to the stern of the SB tack boat and get a lift as you do it.  It is important to keep sails trimmed appropriately for all points of sail, as you fall off to dip, loosen the sails and you gain even more speed. 

If you are the give way boat and don’t do so, a penalty turn should be taken.  Once again, I have been guilty of waiting for an opportune time to take a turn.  The rules indicate however, that the turn should be taken as soon as possible after sailing to an area where you will be out of the way of other boats. The rule book also says that failure to yield right of way requires a two turn penalty, but a lot of SI’s require only 1 turn.  We will observe a one turn penalty on our Tuesday nights.

Whenever a coast guard cutter is moored to Gov and we need to round the mark, please have your radio set to channel 16 to monitor how “nervous” they may be getting.  We are supposed to give them a respectable clearance.

Course Changes:
I know we often have differing opinions about a chosen course for the night.  I am certainly not a dictator that insists on calling the course every night.  I have developed the course card and made sure all boats have them for a reason:  when people ask what the course is, it is easier to give a course number rather than laying the whole course out over the radio. We have come a long distance from the time it was only 3 boats out on Catalina Tuesday.  When there are 12 boats out and the course needs to be enumerated separately for all 12 boats, it can get cumbersome especially when trying to sail a boat in 20 knot plus winds.  Another problem is when more than one person is talking on the radio at the same time.  Please use proper VHF protocol and indicate “over” when finished talking.

 It has been suggested that I should call the course between 15 minutes till the start.  If anyone has suggestions, the comments should be heard between 15 and 10 minutes before the start.  When agreement is achieved we will give the 5 minute horn.  Please, do not engage in course suggestions after the 5 minute horn. 

It was a great night for a race.  As Homer commented, “we finally had some great wind!”.

See you next Tuesday.

Barry Keeler
Sailing Pair A Dice

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