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Old 16-08-2008, 18:45   #1
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Too Busy Sailing!

Plenty of sailing going on and no time to post about it - LOL.

Last weekend we moved Pemaquid - my friends J24 - from CSC on the east side to Raffles marina on the west side. John has entered Pemaquid in the Western Series race starting today and running the next 3 weekends. Looks like we have at least 46 boats entered!

Welcome to the 11th Western Circuit Sailing Regatta 2008

We left before 5AM and motor sailed most of the way. Sailing conditions we OK and we should have done more sailing but the 3 on board liked the 5 1/2 kt speeds and the GPSs prediction to finish in less than 8 hours - LOL.

It often takes 10-12 hours under sail alone so we we not purists but happy.

Yesterday we practiced in the morning. It was the first time all 5 crew were together. Conditions were strong and building. We started in 15 knots and finished in 18 knots. Good fun. We did some pointing exercises to see how the rig could be further tuned and did a spinnaker set and then about 10 gybes. The bowman was looking a bit green after all that.

We then rushed back to Changi for the club twilight race. We got three boats out in really crap conditions and did a half a lap of drifting before the race director put us out of our misery and shortened the race. In drifting conditions Relax Lah! does well and we ended up first on handicap and second overall after a total crap start.

The race started about 5 minutes late and in the drifting conditions we were right in front of the line on time but with the delay we were 5 minutes early. We ghosted out past the end of the line with a strategy to tack back and duck under the outer mark.

When we tried to tack we ended up stalled in irons and couldn't get the bow around - LOL. We ended up gybing through 270 degrees and being 3 minutes beind the rest. We caught them big time after turning downwind at teh furst mark and then we all ghosted back to the club line.

So now it's 8:40 and I am off to the races!

Wish us strong winds and good position!
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Old 16-08-2008, 20:00   #2
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Good luck Dan! Sounds like fun
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Old 17-08-2008, 19:41   #3
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Well day one of the Western Circuit didn't go completely to plan. We got on the water about 11:00 just in front of a huge thundrestorm.

All the boats were out and the delay flag was raised. We tacked back and forth under main alone and sat out a giant thunderstorm that completely soaked averyone and capsized at least 3 cats that I saw. We must have had 30kts at times. Good fun.

The races finally got underway starting around 12:45 - about 45 minutes late. They were staggered starts - classic boats, IRC cruisers, SB3s, J24s and cats.

Flavor of the day for us was 3 X 2 lap winddward/lewards. We had 3 great starts and based on last year's results were hoping for 4s or 5s this year aftre doing 6s and 7s last year.

The first beat was great and we basically followed the hot shot boat up the course. We weren't great on the lay line and got skunked on the inside by a boat or 2 and the first spinnaker set of the day was mediocre. We had a good run and a clean douse although we again were wide on the turn.

A better second lap - one clean pass on a boat. The second set was better and we chased the fleet down for a 4th. This was a good result for us and we were well pleased. We know we can do 4ths and we know that the boats that beat us are all very experienceed. The guy in front (on all three races) competed at the worlds. He smoked everyone.

A quick sandwich and some hydration and we prepared for race two. The winds were still 10-15kts and we were having fun.

The top mark was crowded the second time. We turned the lay line too early in our enthusiasm and ended up below the mark with the pole half set and had to do a short tack. We totally blew it and from a good position we gave the race away. After regrouping and getting the spinnaker set we never could make up ground and ended up dead last - a good race to forget.

The 3rd race still confuses me. We had a great start, even though we were not at the favored end as the wind had been shifting through out the afternoon and there was no a pretty big bias on the course. 3 boats had a recall for early start but we were clean. We were in 3rd place at the top mark but we knew we had taken the long way by staying left. Had a decent run - not spectacular but onthe second beat we started getting caught by boats that had restarted.

Not good at all. At the top mark we were in 4th and set the spinnaker. One of the faster boats had had a restart and they rolled us shortly on the run. Then a second boat caught us and passed us. Not good. 6th place out of seven. We gybed to port and got good boat speed and took the position back and were on a good line for the finish, however the right side was favored and we were on the left. We stalled out and the 6th place boat got us with 30 meters to go. 6th by less then a boat length.

So 4th, 7th and 6th. Not very pleasing. The good news, we think is that it boiled down to drivingthe boat and not the boat speed itself. We just need more time on water and more thought about course management. We know we can do 4th and in fact everyone had a good first race. It was criminal to miss the top mark in the second race and it was completely nuts to give away an assured 4th place to 3 boats that had to restart.

I also think we are slow on the run and so I will be doing a lot of research on this in the next week or so. We shouldn't be getting passed on the run.

Next week is a passage race so that should be fun and week 3 is another set of can races.

Having way too much fun!
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Old 26-08-2008, 07:47   #4
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Day 2 Results - How not to go downwind

Day 2 was designed as a passage race but it turned out ot be some weird 3-leg diminishing sausage course. 5 mile beat, 5 mile run, 3.7 mile beat, 3.7 mile run, 2 mile beat, 2 mile run. At the bottom of each run was an offset mark of about .5 mile. All the beats are against an incoming current of 1.5 to 2.0 kts.

Very stupid. Additionally this race was pretty much all the marbles. In last week's 3 races the winner earned 1 point second 2 points etc. 3 races and best score is a 3. Worst is a 21.

This week 1 race points are doubled. Last place is 14 points. 2 races this coming week - same as week 1. Of course we are oblivious to the point system at this point...

Anyway building on our learnings from last week we decided the rig was too loose and we aren't sheeting hard enough. As conditions change we have to react faster to tuning the boat. And for Pete's sake stay in the middle!

We had a great start but another change this week was PY, IRC and J24s all started at the same time. Last week we had our own start.

We decided to stay as upwind as possible without getting flattened. There was a 42 foot Swan and a TP52 hitting the line with us. We definitely didn't want to get crunched.

We ended up as the 5th boat on the starboard tack. Pretty good except next to us was a monster boat. We let her accelerate and made a short tack to clear air - Note to self get the hell upwind of everything bigger short of hitting the committee boat.

After the second tack we started identifying our class. Good news! We had good position and we were following the 800 lb Gorilla of J24s here (Angel). We followed her and while we were pointing as well we did not have the boat speed. We stayed in touch for about 10+ tacks - about half way up the first 5 mile beat. Then she was a mile or so ahead. I put her at 15-20% faster than us. And we were doing well.

We were pacing all the other boats and we were crossing and uncrossing with probably the boat we should be competing with (Jock). Each tack or so one or the other gained the advantage. Quarterdeck was behind us and closing. She was about 4 boat lengths behind and we we both on Starboard tack.

We tacked they tacked and then - Scream! (girls on board) - Kawahaaaammmm!!!! - We looked back and they tacked right into a starboard boat - a big one - that we had timed our tack to pass behind. Lot's of screaming some gear trailing in the water but thankfully no one hurt. Then they keep sailing and they are now bearing down on us. The skipper has a bit of a dazed look on his face so we start shouting for him to do his turns - we didn't want him anywhere near us.

He finally gets the clue and does a 360 - He was supposed to do a 720.

After that we got back to focusing on Jock. We decided it was lightening up and we adjusted our rig settings. Good call. We got speed and pointing ability on Jock. We eventually beat her to the top mark by about 6 lengths. We were in 3rd place! The other boat Juno is the 400 pound Gorilla. The only way we beat her is if she makes a mistake. Angel can make a couple of mistakes and we won't catch her. We were a couple of minutes behind Juno. Not bad after about 2 hours of racing.

Then we decided to rewrite the book on downwind sailing. tearing out chapter after chapter of good advice. Basically we sailed 60 degree reaches for some damn reason. We had 5.5 kts boat speed in fading conditions but our VMG was between 4 and 4.2 - Duh...

Everytime we crossed the centerline the bad guys were closer. Until they caught us... one... by... one... and in our paralysis we didn't let the cluebird land on our shoulder and change our tactics. We did repass one boat. Who passed us again... We ended up losing 3 places on the downwind - total idots.

We tell ourselves all is not lost - we'll get them in lap 2 but after about 3.5 hours of racing the committee decided that their course was stupid and shortened the race to one lap. Realization dawned on us as we approached the bottom gate that no one was going back up wind... Rats....

Notes to self -

1/ If you are doing something different than everyone else it is because you are the smartest or the stupidest - you have to figure out which.

2/ When saililng downwind it generally helps to point the boat downwind.

3/ When you round the mark in 3rd place and out of touch with 2nd and 1st - you play defense. We were acting like we had a point to prove. We should have watched the other boats - especialy Jock who went right - and covered. For Pete's sake they had to pass us!

Oh - well hard knocks and hard lessons.

PS - Like the groovy team shirts I designed and had made? Like, how could you lose with shirts so cool - LOL...
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Old 01-09-2008, 05:03   #5
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Day 3 - How not to start and set a spinaker

Day 3 was 2 windward leward races of 2 laps each. Basically a repeat of Day 1 with no 3rd race.

Conditions were great for a 1:00 PM start and we shot the line, shot the course, shot the wind (18 knots) and were all ready to go.

Because we were so well prepared the race committee decided to up stumps and move the line back, extending the course. Couldn't have the fleet start in great wind, could we? After a 45 minute delay the wind had dropped to 13 - still good for a race.

I think our bowman for Day 1 and Day 2 didn't really like the job and made an excuse to not be there. We found a replacement in Dominique, the 15 year old son of one of our members who recently bought a J24 but couldn't make this series. Dominique had no experience on the bow and we knew he would be spying but we welcomed him aboard on Thursday. Also on Thursday the skippers wife - who bumped a guy off the boat - decided she couldn't sail either so we added Scotty. Scotty has sailed J24s and had experience on the bow. So we put Dominique in the pit and Scotty on the bow. Paola got promoted to mast from the pit and did a great job - in the end she was "managing" the front of the boat.

We got out and did one bear away set a few gybes and got everyone settled in postiion. We had a decent start in the first race and turned the top mark 3rd. Unfortunately that was about as good as it got. We decided 30 seconds to the top mark that we would gybe set and that blew the crew away. We wrapped the spinaker, never got the pole set and took 3 minutes to untie the genoa halyard from the foreguy and topping lift lines - LOL. The run was awesome though. We we in 10-14 kts and almost on a reach. We almost broached once and the boat was very fast. But so was everyone else.

We got passed by 3 boats during the set and never recovered. We ended up 6th outta 7 ;-(

On the last race the wind had been shifting right all day and dying out. We measured it at 8 kts at the start. They also moved the course again because of the shift.

We decided that the right end of the line was where we wanted to be and unfortunately ended above the line and right of the committee boat. A very bad spot. At 5 minutes we started driving for the line - well drifting actually - from where we were was upcurrent and downwind to the committe boat and the line. We ended up crossing the start line 3 1/2 minutes late - ouch.

The good news is that the other racers didn't seem to adjust for the dying conditions and unbelievable to us we passed 2 boats on the beat. We got rolled by one of them down wind - our crew did very well on the sets in the second race - but we still don't shine downwind yet. We started the second lap in 6th, passed one boat on the beat and held her off for 5th upcurrent in probably 3 knots of dying wind.

Not bad considering starting 3 1/2 minutes late - LOL.

We had a fun series, unfortunately 6th overall but we learned a lot. We didn't repeat mistakes but we definitely made a few.

We know we are faster than 5 boats upwind. We need to consolidate downwind rather than trying to be tricky until we learn how to go faster downwind. We need a steady crew on foredeck, we gave a lot away at the turns both top and bottom.

And we made some huge driving and tactical blunders throughout the series.

It's OK more racing to come!

Photos

Western 5 - Here's a shot of our "new" crew between races with Scotty on the foredeck and Dominique on the rail.
Start1 - We got a pretty good start in race 1 (sail 80)
run 1 - Quarterbeck in foreground blue spinnaker, Jock in background blue spin - ours is white in between and way back
Bottom mark - We approach the bottom mark with white spinnaker set - Quarterdeck has rounded and we actually made some time on Jock (sail 3)
Bottom Rounding - Same leg spinaker doused and genny set. You can see how much we give away at the can - that Laser SB3 ended up taking us on the inside - Jock has rounded and tacked.
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