First race we got a pretty decent start, got out towards the front of the pack and then picked off the 2 boats nearby, then covered to hang on to the win. Best part of the day was surfing downwind, as huge pumps on the spin sheet was getting us on waves for 5-10 seconds at a time. Lot of work but lots of fun! Got to watch Aaron drive the boat and picked up a better feel for the ETchells in air upwind.
Second race we started ok, but the wind was down a bit, which meant we were on the wrong jib upwind, and couldn't surf as well downwind, especially the 2nd run. I picked the wrong side on the 2nd beat, which cost us 2 boats, and since the surfing was less effective we only got 1 back downwind for a 5th.
Lots of lessons learned from the weekend, and I had a really good time.
1) Not that this was news, but make sure the boats ready to go when the breeze comes up! This includes preventative maintenance (6yr old outhaul with short ugly splices) and setup (tape all shackles when i ndoubt!)
2) Sail selection is key on this boat. I thought Aaron was crazy when he made us turnaround and head back in to the harbor with 20 mins before the first start to change jibs, but we had great speed in race 4 with the heavy. In the other 2 races (1 and 5) we had the heavy up when the breeze was in the mid/low teens and were slower. Part of that was my new-driverishness in race 1, but Aaron was slower in r5 too.
3) Upwind the Etchells feels very similar to our boat when setup. Downwind is a different beast. In big breeze/waves on the Shields, the key is trim and drive the boat to keep it DDW and not rocking/broaching. The Etchells really wants to be sailed up and down waves in order to go fast. It was completely possible to go from a length behind to a length ahead in 3 waves if handled properly. I would need to go practice this driving, but really got into it crewing and had a blast pulling the boat over waves.
I really had a blast, and looking back picked up a lot of good info about the boat. If I could do it again, we would have gone practicing friday night with Aaron as opposed to dogsitting the insomniac dog from hell. I also would have preffered to switch my day of helming for Sunday, as crewing on the boat gave lots of insight into helming the boat. Although we really missed having the Shields out in the nice conditions, I had a really good time and look forward to trying again someday.