Saturday, June 25, 2011

Small breeze big fun a series 3 and 4

Today was a lousy weather day: no breeze in AM, peaked at like 8kts, but still a great day for sailing. We won both races, and more importantly had a hoot and learned a lot as a team.

Had me driving, niki at bow, kate on main/spin and andy on jib.

First race we got a good start, but didn;t quite have upwind speed down, and rounded 4th. Took advantage of a giant righty and gybed after rounding, passing 3 boats nearly instantly. Ended up rounding 1st at bottom, and held on to lead.

Tune wise we felt fast: had new Quantum jib up, which is super flat and awesome in light/flat conditions. Couldn't really get main working though, and it was tough to fly top telltale without easing main too far or pulling on too much backstay, so after first race I added a whole toggle (2") to headstay, and then shortened it just a bit (for a total length of 50.25.

Started next race at what was the favored boat end, only to see a huge left drop in and make us last. We tacked out, and realized an incredible speed and height advantage. The extra rake meant the mast had more bend to it, and the main finally (after years and a recut) looked good. We extended and extended and finished with the crew mixup that had me on bow, Katie driving, Niki trimming and Andy on tactics.

Learned a lot today;

Cleaned the bottom, and even though it's only june we had serious agriculture going on down there. I hadn't cleaned it all year, and I think it made a big diff.

our max legal partners and step really need more headstay than I thought. We were inches longer than usual and it was insanely fast upwind. Had 50.25 on headstay, and a 1/4" shim behind mast and could do no wrong.

With people in new positions we worked on trim a lot, and found some fast settings, especially for tacking. Andy was easing the jib after tacks well outside the spreader, and then doing very slow (depending on breeze) trims as speed built. Same thing on main, as Katie realyl got the hang of tackign the boat.

Downwind I really like the "top/middle/bottom" type of communication, and we felt quite fast doing it.

We now have 5 points, and are in first, with second having 11.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A series 2

Bizarre, strange, weird day of racing! Super light and shifty, and I think we only led the race for a combined 400', but at least they were the right 400' and we won the days only race.

We started one race, which turned into a reach to the mark and was thankfully abandoned. The second start was squared up a bit, and we got a good position but slow start, and had to bail out to the right. At this point it was the "windiest" at around 6kts, and we felt good out right until one of the days many shifts came through, and put us behind 196 and 45 at the top mark, with 63 just behind. We gybed out from 63 and happened in some lucky patches of puff and angle and passed 45, and in doing a few more gybes over the top of 196, I think we actually passed them for a bit, but then overdid it and overstood stbd layline a bit, and rounded behind 196, and ahead of 45 (who gave us room although they didn't have to) Then things got weirder, as despite rounding 4 lengths behind (but with a tighter rounding) we got wound up hard inside 196, and actually went from straight astern to 2 lengths ahead. 130, who came from nowhere to get inside of us after the rounding, then charge on by on the inside, while 196 had lots of pace outside, and then we were in third. (!??) 196 tacked and crossed us to go inside, while we continued out right with 130. This proved good, as when we tacked back we crossed both 196 and 249, who had apparently come from way deep to be close to the leaders. Once we approached stbd layline we tacked, and got tacked on by 130. Then things got weirder, as the breeze dropped to nil on the water, with a tiny bit up top. In essentially zero kts, we were all stacked up on the stbd layline (130, 88, 196,149) to what was now a shortened windward finish. We made fwd progress of about 4'/min for a while, until there was a tiny bit of breeze to work with. We ended up passing 130 incredible slowly, and ghosted over the finish line within about 30 seconds of what we figured the time limit to be. Quite intense racing, despite the snails pace, especially watching the RC boat guys watch the line, while one of them frantically looked at the GPS for timing. Today gave me a huge headache, but points is points! The finish order was us, 196, 130, 45, 249, 67, 63

We had me, Niki, Shawn O and Andy H on board today, which worked pretty well. I wish we'd had more time to practice in the AM as we had Andy in a new spot today, and Shawn usually sails big boats. Every one did great though, and I picked up some important skills for the super light air.

Tune: we were underpowered all day, which was no surprise, but I'm wishing I'd tuned for a flatter main, either with shims or headstay, as we had lots of trouble getting the main to look decent and fly the tells.

Trick of the day: when we were drifting at the finish, we were able to pass and extend by doing the following:

being really patient with everything! it's a frustrating stupid condition, but you have to stay cool

not steering! we figured out how aggressive the trimmers had to be, and how minimal I had to be. We were trying to beat/reach in 0.01 kts, with lots of chop, so the boat wants to turn in the wrong direction most of the time. The solution is to keep the tiller more or less centered, and do huge eases/trims on both sails to change heading. We passed 130, probably, going twice as fast (still slow) by doing this, and didn't get hurt the way some boats did (there were boats doing 360's, and tacking, all while ttrying to go straight)

downwind: we experimented a lot with how hot of an angle to exit gybes on, and really found a sweet spot. Shawn's also really good at communication in terms of sheet load/angle so we were able to keep the boat going faster and lower than everyone else. I think I've settled on how I like to get feedback from the spin trimmer: using top/middle/bottom to express where the boats heading relative to the sheet load works well for me.
weight low: in every way. We had Niki underdeck and forward (under the spin for fly relief) and everyone else was in full hike... to leeward.

The racing wasn't by any means great, but it was still a really intense day on the water, and fun. I think 5 different boats led the race about 8 or 9 times!

This week we're hoping to finally beercan, and are setting up some competition in an Etchells skipper who's borrowing a shields to take friends out with. neat!

Monday, June 6, 2011

A series 1

Jacob and Kate took the boat out this weekend, as Niki and I were out of town. Below is Jacobs report:

A crew of three took Peanut for a ride in the first A race of the series. After a few last minute cancellations, Katie, Ian, and I worked out the crew work so that Katie trimmed main upwind and ran the bow downwind, Ian trimmed jib and spin, and I held onto the tiller and trimmed main around the corners. This setup worked pretty well and everyone had something to do throughout the race.

We sailed out in a solid westerly at around 10 knots, but when we reached the course, the breeze was already dwindling. The Race Committee tried to start a race in marginal conditions, but changed their mind after a few minutes into the sequence. I took a half turn off the lowers and two turns off the headstay when it looked like we were going to sail in the super light conditions. We waited under AP until a northerly filled in. I changed the rig back to base settings after it filled in.

The new breeze initially filled at around 10 knots, but got lighter as our start approached. The boat end was favored and that's where I wanted to start, but I was focusing on keeping boat speed up in the pre-start for the light air and Mike pushed me down the line a bit. We had a good start about a quarter of the way down from the boat, but Sam had a good start at the boat. Lu had a down-speed start and split off the the right side after the start. The rest of the fleet continued to the left. We had a boat speed problem on the first beat in the light air. I noticed a lot of weather helm, especially for the little breeze we had. We could have trimmed the jib harder to correct this, which we did on the second beat. I think that sailing the boat flatter would have been interesting to try. Sam was able to roll over the top of us to a significant lead. The breeze clocked right slightly, so Lu rounded between Sam and us. Lu pulled away from us slightly on the downwind and the breeze started to build back up to around 10 knots. On the second beat, we trimmed our jib harder and set out for the right side of the course. We didn't seem to have a boat speed disadvantage this time, which was probably a combination of jib trim and increased wind speed. Sam played the right side and Lu went left initially. In our first cross with Lu, we might have gained slightly, but he continued out right, past the layline and we were able to tack slightly in front of him as we reached the starboard layline. He trailed us closely on the the downwind and some interesting traffic with an approaching T10 made for a close finish, but we were able to finish second. Sam won the race with a comfortable lead.

With an imminent thunderstorm, the Race Committee decided to send the Shields fleet back to the harbor after the first race.

I think that our weaknesses were a less than ideal tuning setup for 3-7 knots and the battery on the compass was dead, so the shifts were tricky to pick up. I thought that our strengths were in the second half of the race. We were more competitive in terms of boat speed and capitalized on a tactical opportunity to pass a boat. All in all, we had a pretty fun day of racing.