Sunday, July 18, 2010


David Sincox photo

Another super sketchy forecast for 1d racing, but we got in 2 races without much delay. Even got to go swimming! Predictions were all over the map: Sailflow said 4-6 W, NOAA said 10-15 E. Onboard was Jacob, Katie, Niki, and the last minute addition of Steve Schwartz, plus his little boombox and the most stuffed cooler of all time. Sailed out in about 8kts NE, then parked it up after an abandoned Etchells start. All of our latecomers were welcome: we had a great brunch of blueberrys, zucchini bread, Steve's still hilarious, and his Phish filled Ipod played what I believe was 1 long song for about 45 minutes....

Finalled filled in aroun 105 at 6ish, and we got a decent enough boat end start and led the rest of the race (iirc) We played around with our new light air modes. Tried 1/2" shim behind mast, around 200 on lowers but with a slightly tighter headstay to see if we could trade some point for more speed. Still pointed high, seemed faster than other boats. I think we were slightly better off last week with the headstay at our "3" setting, which translates to around 49.5" after a remeasure. This week we were at "2.5" on our turnbuckle, which is probably around 49.25". Second race we won the pin, but had a tack too late in the sequence so started slow, but were able to accelerate nicely with eased sheets and saggy headstay, trimmed on and pinched of 249, which is a tough boat to outpoint. Extended and won at an upwind finish.

Things that worked well: tune was good, I felt pretty good on the helm. In light air we've been really rolling the boat hard in gybes and tacks, which feels great and is hopefully fast. In light air gybes I've been coming out hotter, which we learned on our Etchells field trip this spring. We had a ton of info feedback from the crew yesterday, and got good at calling pressure and competition.

If we get more of this light air with flat water, I'd like to try even more shims behind the mast, as our main still looks a big deep. We talked about trying it in race 2 yesterday, but the chop had come up and Jacob liked the depth for accelerating. Worked well to get another bullet at an upwind finish. Croquet in park followed by Raiders of the Lost Ark in another park. Good day! Nice way to destress for the continued Mac race workweek.

Continued experimentation with shims aft+soft headstay seems like a good idea for working on light air speed, but I don't feel like we're deficient in what used to be a weakspot for us. Hopefully we don't forget how to work in big breeze and waves, which has been hard to get this year.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Shields sailing 7-7. 7-10

2010 so far is the year of bizarre sailing weather in Chicago, it's been all storms, light air, massive air etc.

This last week we went out for the beercan race, which was quite honestly the strangest bit of sailing I've ever done. We had me, Niki, John H (from Etchells and Farr40) and Niki's newlywed friends Dan and Liz. Kind of an eclectic mix, as John spent a lot of time as a pro sailor, and is always focused on speed, and Dan and Liz have both done some sailing but no racing, but it worked out really well for us, and we had a blast.

The oddness was all in the weather. Once we got out of the harbor it was about 15kts ENE, then we started our sequence and it was 5kts NW, we got our best pin start ever (shame its on a beercan) with 130 way down the line. Upwind we were laying the mark on port, then on starboard (no turns) we rounded, and started looking around for weather. There were lightning storms to the south. And the north. And uh, also to the west. All with rain and thunder, but our little corridor off Belmont was clear. On the run we saw NE breeze die, and about 30seconds later fill in to a strong SW. Feeling a bit lucky to have made it that far dry, we chose to retire after the leeward mark, as it looked like rain coming. We made it to the dock just in time for some monster puffs to roll through the harbor and _almost_ made it in dry. The weather was really spectacular to see, and I'm glad we went out (and then came in pretty quick) The crew mix was a blast, as Dan was really into trimming jib, and John was coaching him the whole time. I don't think we've ever had a beercan thats required quite so many adjustments, but we managed to balance it out with copious visits to the cooler. What a fun strange night!

Series racing on Saturday looked unlikely again, as all the forecasts had 3-4kts out of the west. Given our record this year (3 out of 8 scheduled races) it's easy to be pessimistic about sailing right now. Nevertheless we had a good crew lined up; me, Niki, Katie, Jacob and Jen W. Once we got sailing the breeze seemed g reat, being about 10kts WNW. As we sailed out the RC the breeze dropped and dropped though, and once we made it to Carrier (who was about 4mi offshore) there was little breeze to speak of, and what there was shifted around like crazy.

Eventually though, the breeze settled in to around 130 deg at 5 kts, and everyone started chomping at the bit to go sailing. Big pin favor so we tried a port tack start, but got hung up with 130 who was trying the same. Ducked a bunch of boats and made it far right, which seemed like better pressure. Crossed back ahead, but then fell into a hole on the left side, and then made it worse by doing 2 tacks trying to escape. Sailing to stbd layline it looked like we were behind the lead pack of 67, 196, and 45. gained a bit on the way and were able to leebow 196, and looked solid on layline... until we werent. Followed them on a tack out right, and got back on layline, and again slid down. Took us a while to figure out there was a pretty dramatic S-N current running, which was proved by the markset boat drifting into the mark! A couple more tacks and we finally made it around, behind 67 (go guys!) and just head of 45 and 196. had good speed downwind, and made up lots of ground on 67. in the final third of the run, we got to try something neat: we were on the port layline, 67 was just ahead and on stbd, soaking to stay ahead of us. We put the pole on the headstay, and ducked their stern, then layed it down while they gybed, putting us inside and ahead on the layline. Always wanted to try that! After rounding with 67 tucked behind, we saw a cool DW luffing match between 196 and 45 coming into the mark, which turned out to be not so good. Sailing upwind, we couldn't figure out why 196 sailed past the mark. As it turned out their bowman had gotten hit in the head, and was out cold. Skip from 39 is a doctor, and sailed alongside. Last we heard Chris was getting released with clear tests. Great guy and we all hope he's back out there soon.

Race 2 we wanted the boat, and were there, but had started a bit late as 196 luffed to shut out 45 just ahead of us. Here we discovered a new mode for the boat. Sailing with a ton of rake, with a pretty tight rig made us point like crazy (duh, but this is the first time we've ever been pointy in light air) and we able to lift over 196 without too much trouble. Tacked on them and sailed out to the stbd layline with them tucked underneath. Called the current right, with a couple tacks to lay, and extended for the finish.

Settings started at 49" headstay, 800/200 shrouds, then when the breeze came up in race 2, we tightened up the lowers. Good day racing, as we figured out a lot about light air, which has been an 88 weak point. I took a camera with, so here are some photos:
edit: David Sincox photos below: