Monday, August 31, 2009

Speed Testing photos

Sunday, August 30, 2009


It kind of dawned on me yesterday that our season is nearly over. Shields fleet 3 has only 1 more day of series racing, which always seems like not nearly enough time on the water. Thats kind of sad, but the good news is Peanut locked up the season championship yesterday with 3 races to spare. We currently have 18 points, dropping our two 4's, 150 is second with 44 dropping 2 12's, and 130 in third with 47 dropping a 9 and an 8.

I started the day pretty nervous, as all the forecasts seemed to be saying things like 20-25kts, and even called for a 7 ft waves at one point. 7 feet?! I've sailed in that only a couple times and it's tough for the RC to stay put, much less Shields to move around. If racing was called it's not exactly the end of the world, except our crew was travelling pretty far! Brian Shaw came in from Urbana, which is a couple hours away, and Bam came in from New York! We had a backup plan (see the submarine at Science and Industry museum) but it would still suck to fly into town for less than 24hrs, to race, and spend the day on shore. All was fine in the end, and the forecast was quite a bit lighter than 25kts. The pumping station met cam said 23, but I don't think I ever felt more than 16. The waves were big and weird, but not more than 4 feet.

First race started with a man overboard, which thankfully was resolved quickly and safely enough to be kind of funny. We tacked onto starboard with about 45 seconds to go, and in the tack Brian did a backflip out of the boat! He held on to the mainsheet, slid back behind the boat, and all I had to do was give a tiny luff to slow down and he was back on board, and got right into position. The front 3 crew were kind of yelling at me for going slow, and didn't even notice he had been in the water until someone said something like "why are you all wet??" Heh. Ok. We had clear air all the way, but got a bit right of phase and 63 and 150 looked good out left. Luckily we were just enough ahead that we converged at the mark and both boats had to duck us lest they foul by tacking inside 3 lengths (they would have had to leebow us which is a dicey move inside the zone) We only gybed once on the whole run, and exteneded a bit. At the leeward mark we were expecting a course change, but didn't see a boat with flags besides the RC boat. This later turned into a protest, as the first four boats that rounded (88, 150, 63 and 90) all didn't see a change flag/boat, but the next 4 say they did. I believe them that they did, but hope they believe me that we were looking, and didnt! We rounded the original windward mark in 1st, and finished first. The protest pretty much sucked as we didn't even hear it until 530, when it happened I didn't even have to say a word though, as it was thrown out as invalid (the protesting boat needs to fly a flag, and inform the protested boats as soon as possible) but I will say it was kind of nice to hang out with the other sailors for a while as everyone usually takes off after 1 drink. Upside to everything! If the jury had heard it, I think they probably would have thrown out the race as the leading group of boats all believed in the original course, and the trailing group said they saw a course change. It was argued that the SI's allow for a change of course without a signal, but reading that rule show it isn't relevant, as it only allows for changes of 5 degrees or less, and even then will use the original mark, which is the one we rounded anyway. I'm not certain, but I believe that mark only really allows for a slight reset of course for things like mark drift or an obstruction requiring a move of the mark. Not a situation anyone is really happy with, but i suppose it's interesting to see how the mechanics of how protests work (or don't)

Next race we made a mistake again going right, and probably tacked too much the first beat. We rounded in 3rd behind 63 and 150, and made tiny gains but not enough to catch up. Rounded the leeward mark in 3rd again, and got left but was covered by 63, while 150 continued right. We escaped 63's cover by tacking while they were working on the spinnaker pole, which is definitely a nice little trick to remember for later. With clear air we headed for the mark, and got the gift of all gifts, as a 20 degree lefty came through, but only for us and 63, and we took 150 lead away. On the run though, while we were chasing down 63, 150 got ahead of all of us by going to the good side of the course again! One design racings pretty sweet sometimes with all the lead changes. We stuck it out and got left of them again, and while 150 and 63 fought it out we passed both, but then got passed again about 50 feet from the finish by 63, we were second followed by 150. An exciting race for all, and it's nice to see the 63 crew gelling for nationals.

Next stop is Nationals, and after having the nat's crew together yesterday I feel pretty good going into it. We're taking the next couple regattas (fall, and Sheldon Clark) off to do other things, but after Nat's theres one more day of series racing. I really feel like this has been the best season of Shields racing I've ever had. In a nationals year everyone steps up their game, and it's showed in super close racing. We've had a good time, and enjoyed having the boat ready a lot earlier than last year! Lots of great crew has come together and I think it's been a ton of fun. Thanks guys!


Notes on tune: We were at 48" on the headstay, which seems to be a decent compromise between getting sag in the light and flat spots and being able to tighten it up. The big tune trick I think is in the lowers. We were pretty slack on lowers, which is on purpose to put sag in the mast, which powers up the boat some. My big idea on tuning this boat is to power it up until you cant hike it flat. It's great but requires a lot of effort from the crew. They don't seem to mind me calling hike all day though. Driving wise I was pretty bow down, and never let the windward telltale lift, preferring to be punching through waves rather than pinching over them. The funny thing is that while our bow might point lower, we can climb higher than all the other boats. Thats one lesson that I read all the time but is still hard to do all the time: go fast to go high, which means keeping the bow down to get the boat up. Still weird to me but it works.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A bad day on the water beats a good day on land...

...but a great day on the water is pretty sweet! I had a really lousy week; lots of little disasters, getting sick and tough hours at work, but that all went away when we got sailing!

Day started well when I found a diver who could wash 88's bottom Saturday morning. We've been really lax about it this year, and haven't cleaned it since June. Diving was not something I was looking forward to as I've had a cold all week, but a friend on the dock happened to hire a diver who didn't mind one more boat. Nice!

Crew was tricky as we had a late cancellation putting us at 4, which is certainly sailable but a little light. At dinner the night before we recruited Katie, Niki's sister, and then in the morning Mike Gillam (spelled right?) was looking for a ride as 90 was taking the day off. All of a sudden we're at six! I've wanted to try 6 for a while, as it turns out it's crowded but fast (more later)

The forecast was for 15-20 out of the north, which meant waves, so we were set up the same way we were Monday; straight mast, moderate sag in the headstay. As the day went on, we actually powered the boat up more, and we were probably about 200lbs on the lowers. Seems weird until you remember that we had 6 people, all hiking hard. I'm learning it's really important to keep putting more power in the boat until you can't hike it away anymore. All day sails were set pretty well: jib was a hole foward, but eased to the spreader tip except in the flat. The main was set with a good bit of twist, but was played all day. The breeze was down to 8kts at one point, but the RC was reported 20's at the end of the last race. The waves started at 2-4 but on the last race I really think there were a couple 6 footers. Going upwind meant there were some huge slams, but man was downwind _awesome!_

First race we attempted to start at the boat, but got shut out by 150 and had to gybe around. Woops! 130 led the way, followed by 150 then us at the top mark. We were able to pass them up when they had a certain incident. I won't say what happened, but they were offering to sell people shrimp at the bar later... The next upwind leg we made big gains on 130 by playing the last third of the beat real close. I like doing that as it's hard to call laylines in big waves, and lots of other boats overstand or end up doing extra tacks. Downwind we were pretty close to them, and might have caught them if we had gybed on them towards the end, but another brainfade on my part and they finished just ahead. Good racing with 130 and 150 on that one, and it really looks like people are getting psyched up for Nationals.

There was a goofy aborted start where the wind dropped to like 8kts, went left 40 degrees, and we were all starting on port aimed right at the mark! Glad they stopped that one....

Next start was us at the pin, which had been favored up until the last 2 minutes before a right shift came in. Lucky for us 150 took 196 and 130 over the line, and they all had to restart. We made a mistake by not covering all the way right, and ended up in 2nd to 150. The next run turned into a reach, and we were able to make up ground on them by keeping the boat flatter and using the waves a bit better. With 6 on the boat I had Katie be our wave-tician, and we worked out a great dialouge on when to surf, it was really helpful having someone eyes-back saying "your stern will lift in 3, 2, 1" and then we'd put the bow down and really get some wave help. 150 had a bad rounding and we were able to halve the distance between us, then we got left of them, and when we crossed again upwind we leebowed, sent them right, and the next cross we were about 5 lengths ahead. We were the only boat to fly the kite on the run, and exteneded for a very satisfying win. Again, waves were key on the run.
our big crowd
Sailing with 6: this was a big help, as we were able to get 5 bodies (I can only kind of half hike) hiking hard, and it gave us some crushing upwind speed. Other boats were depowered to deal with the breeze and we could keep the bow down with full sails and were really fast. Oddly, we werent the heaviest crewed boat, at around 910 (other 5 crew boats had more), but having more bodies means the same weight is more effectively hiked. Sailing with 6 is a clear advantage in breeze, but I'd like to try it in the light to see if it hurts. My thoughts on this are that 6 should probably be illegal, as it is so much better in breeze, but it's crowded and I think isn't in keeping with the character of the boat.

Really fun day of sailing, learned a lot and had great racing with good competition. We now have 19pts for the season, and I think second has 47. Next week should be good as we've got Bam coming back to town for some Nationals crew sailing. Looking forward to it!

Mark Passis (63) and Steve Schwartz (90) were out on Marks lovely new powerboat, and they got some great snaps on the Shields fleet on the last run, here they are:

The purple spinnakers have really grown on me...
150 going jib and main, new Q sails
Great shot of 130. Usually waves that feel huge on the water look tiny in pics, but not this day!

A neat shot, we were fully powered up going ddw with lots of wave help
196 going upwind. I like this photo with the e22, 196 center and the backdrop of Shields. I think they could power up a bit and go trav up.
Pretty, but wheres the hull?

Monday, August 17, 2009

What happened to the last month?

88 at the Verve, thanks Richard Winters!

We have in fact been racing and sailing for the last month, it's just been pretty hectic with work/travel/actual sailing to spent much time writing about sailing! Here's a run down of the last couple Shields 88 events:

July 29th Beercan: This was a good one as it was only Niki myself and Brian. Shields were originally sailed with 3, and I feel it's more fun for everyone as all the crew roles are busier. We had about 8kts out of the SE, and 90 and 150 to sail against. We had a good start at the boat, with 150 a couple lengths down and 90 left of them. We covered 150 going right, and stacked up under the stbd layline, with them to windward and behind and 90 sneaking inside. 90 had only 2 sailors and 1 guest, so they had even more to do, but they did it will, at least until the leeward mark when we were able to pass them in the douse. We held on for the win, but could have been thrown out on a violation of beer rules (you must drink 1 per leg on beercans) but thankfully the organizing commitees and judges (all Todd H) shot that down pretty quick.

Niki and I went to Michigan for the Harbor Springs UGotta Regatta (I think thats the name, it's not quite clear) and had an absolute blast! We were sailing on Inferno, a local Farr 40. It is both cool, and a little worriseome, when a big boat asks me to be tactician. Cool, as it's definitely my favorite spot on the boat, worriesome because that means theres no one better! The long and short is we had fun, but our patchwork crew did not exactly rock the big breeze we had for 2 days. The first day was nice, as it was around 10kts, and we were always close, and were sailing about the same level as Heartbreaker, which is a pretty good local 40. Also... interesting... was Niki finally got to see some sailing manouvers that until now had been mostly theory for her, such as broaches (one for about 3 minutes) and shrimping (my first as well) LTYC is a great club, and I can't wait to get back up there as the regatta, the sailing and the people are all excellent. And I made the local paper!
Beercan August 5th

My dad got me started on sailing a looong time ago, and was excited when I got active in racing about 10 years back. Nevertheless, no matter how hard I tried I could never get him interested in racing until we got our own boat, when he came out, drove an entire beercan and had a ton of fun. Nevermind that we were the only Shields sailing, he won a race and was happy, at least until he found out he left before he could collect his prize (rum). So it is only natural that we do it again, this time with other boats.

My dad and his friend Marco (who used to sail together in the 70's and 80's, and also who both worked on the woodwork on 88) came out prepared with beers and enough snacks to feed us for a Mac race. I drove the start, Marco drove upwind, and my dad drove down. We had some close racing with 130 and 67, but ended up getting across the line first. Go old guys!

After that we treated them to CYC's excellent beercan dinner, a couple beers, and yes my dad got to take home the rum. Nights like that really make boat ownership worthwhile.

Verve Aug 8 and 9th: We had quite the mixed up crew for the Verve, on day 1 it was me, Niki, Brian Shaw, Bob Willis (Jacobs friend and 3rd at Olympic windsurf trials!) and John Schwartz (our friend from 130) Day one we sailed pretty well, but let 130 get ahead on the last run so we finished 2, 1. Day 2 was match race between us and 63, who did well enough to snatch the lead from us on the first run while we put holes in our chute, but we took it right back at the round to finish that days only race in 1st, for the Shields class win. It was pretty windy, but it was a good chance to get more comfortable in breeze. Unfortunately a lot of our fleet couldn't be there or broke stuff so turnout was low. Still fun times.

Aug 12 beercan: It was me, Brian Shaw and Mike, and my friend Jon who just got back from Afghanistan. Pretty good time for having no other boats out, although we ran out of beer, but we made it back in before a mutiny (not the T10) could occur. I think Jon would have protected me though, as he doesnt drink and would probably enjoy showing off his army talents.

Practice August 17th; Awesome! It was us and 130 doing upwind speed tuning, with Bill Hardesty of Chicago Match Race Center taking photos and coaching from a chase boat. The weather was fluky, light and rainy, but we still got a lot out of this session. Most notably:

1) our sails were generall setting up fuller than 130, which gave us an edge powering up out of tacks, and in waves, but 130 was faster once at speed.
-this looks to be mostly due to backstay tension, and prebend. 88 is at the extreme end of the Shields mast step rule, meaning we're at max rake/minimum prebend. The rake is fast in heavy air, and the lack of prebend is good in chop, and once its windy enough so the boat is powered we've got enough backstay on to open up the leech of the main.
-The solution for us is something we tried a while back, but didn't like in chop, and that is to add prebend via chocks behind the mast. I feel like I have a good idea how this will work out for us, and look forward to a flat, light day to try it
2) at the tuning guide numbers, our mast sets up funny. In light air I'm usually 2 turns off of the tuning guide tension on lowers, which is so slack as to not register on the tuning guide. I've gone as much as 500 lbs (plus 1 turn off base) in heavy air. I make these calls based on how the mast sights when going upwind, and I think it works well. At the tuning guide setting for lowers, 300, we have a bow to windward between panels 1 and 2, which aint good. Seeing photos (and getting someone like Bill to consider it) confirms that we're on the right track with our mast tuning.
3) active bodies in tacks and gybes are really helpful. on 88 we use our weight to initiate and power through tacks and gybes, and when Bill had us do a 360 and a couple tacks you could really see the difference. Our fuller sails helped, but I think this was the biggest difference between us and them.
4)He who keeps the boat moving in light air wins! We should all know this one by now, but I always find a reminder helpful.

I think we all learned a lot from our first multiboat practice session, and look forward to next week when we'll be doing tacking and gybing drills, and some _very_ short course racing. It was really nice of Bill to come out and share his skills. I'll be seeing him again tomorrow for match racing practice at CMRC. It's free right now, and if you're racing in Chicago you really need to try it. The eye-opening I got the first time I did it got me thinking that this is going to be my own next big kick as a sailor, as it's a lot different than fleet racing. Anything less than perfection in boathandling will cost you, and you experience more boat vs boat action in one practice race than you might in a whole season! I'll try and get some photos and good notes for the blog tomorrow.