Sunday, July 26, 2009

Racing July 25

Memorable day of racing yesterday for all kinds of reasons: strange wind phenomenon, intense racing, and the strangest start I've ever seen.

We had myself, Niki, B Shaw, Jocelyn and Bam for crew, and the forecast was SCA with 15-25kt winds out of the northwest. Getting a late start (someone needs a new alarm clock) saw us sailing out into considerably less. Once the race started it was blowing around 6 kts out of the NE. We won the pin end with plenty of speed, with 90 and 130 just to windward. As the breeze dropped we continued left with 90, while 196, 45, 39 and 63 going right, while 130 went up the middle. The breeze completely died, and we were left with no steerage or way, gently bobbing around with 90 alarming close doing the same. We watched with them as the breeze (kinda) filled in right after about 30 painful minutes. Thankfully the RC abandoned the race, which was good to see as we were almost downwind of the start at that point!

The RC hung kept us out for quite a long time (thank you) while we waited for wind. This is where it got strange, as we had some solid NE come to us for about 5 minutes, then an hours pause with 0 followed by strong SE, and all the while there were whitecaps a mile inshore with busting NW wind! The RC saw that, and dragged the course in shore a bit and we got off one heck of a good race in 10-15 NW. We had an ok start, being able to roll a couple boats on our way down the line, but fell into 90 off the line, and had to tack over and go right. We were _really_ in phase and extended on the fleet to win. Since it was 3pm, we started heading for harbor, followed by the rest of the fleet. Once we were about a mile or so in, we heard the other boats retiring, and all of a sudden started thinking about the fact that the E22's seemed to be racing. We turned back and did full steam towards the start to confirm that all the other Shields were heading in, only to see 130 gearing up with the whole line to themselves!

We didn't quite make it in time, being about 15 boatlengths away when the gun went off. It was looking pretty grim as we'd given them a huge lead, but unbelieveably we heard a second gun; they were OCS! They turned back to restart, rounded up on port just as we turned up on starboard, and right away we had a port/starboard, with them leebowing us. We ground them down, and thus began one of the longest strangest races I've ever sailing. For 5 long legs we had tacking and gybing duels as the breeze and waves continued to build. . On the first run we decided jibs were a safer choice than spins, during which I yelled for the first time ever on the boat. Luckily the crew didnt seem offended, and instead they seem somewhat amused. Ok, whatever. We extended every leg, but 130 kept pushing us hard. After a while we started not tacking to cover, instead letting them get bow out, just to try and keep them from tacking, as the boats were getting really beat up. Towards the end we were seeing some mid 20's puffs.

Crazy sail in, with plenty of those massive westerly puffs to keep it interesting. I played jib on the way in, and using the 2:1 sheets could play it, but only with lots of effort. I think in over 20 we'll use the winches, but the ratchets work very well below that. I really think we've nailed the 2:1 jib sheeting setup, and will now offer it as a package through CYR.

Notes on speed:

The boat felt pretty good with around 850 uppers and 40o something lowers. The headstay was at 48.75, and the boat was always powered up. In the first abandoned races, we were loose lowers, which felt fast.

Helpful in the big breeze was having 2 different modes, normal (jib sheeted about 3" inside spreader tip) and "roll-em" mode, with the jib at the spreader tip and the traveler down. This was very useful to slide down at and over boats to leeward.

We tried the spinnaker projection trick, pulling the pole back by hand while easing the guy 2-3'. It did seem quick, but didn't really get much of a chance to test it.

Great day, we're all pretty damn sore though.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

No racing July 12 argh!

Was all set for B3 and B4 races, and was really looking forward to racing yesterday. We had new jib, new main and spin on boat, I'd retuned earlier in the week and had fixed the helm issue (which means the boats sinking slowly, but drives great!) the forecasts were all over the place, but sailing out to the course was done in a light NE breeze and really pretty skies. Once we got out the wind died, and we drifted around watching the gradient breeze battle the thermal. Finally at about 1 o'clock, s SE breeze started up at 6-8 kts, and we were all excited to go race!

Heard signals from RC boat, so started sailing over that way only to see abandon race flags go up. Disbelief on 88, and really disappointing to see them blow off a day of racing just as the wind comes in. They offered to tow us in because of "no wind" but by that point there was plenty of it and we beat the towed boats into the harbor!

I guess we can only talk about what might have been. Kevin was out with a brand new Quantum jib, and both teams were looking forward to tuning it up against the north. In morning practice we felt fast and tight on crew work, which was a nice change from the last day of racing. Tried an interesting experiment and loosened the lowers until they were sloppy on both sides while sailing upwind. Surprisingly the mast sagged only the barest amount to leeward, but it seemed like a good change as the boat developed helm in 4-5kts, which is unusual. Would love to experiment with this more.

Hopefully we'll go out to tune up some time this week, as John S from 130 (and occasionally 88) is interested. Will try some settings and see what goes fast.