Thursday, September 29, 2011

Final beercan 2011

The crew of 88 got together for one last go round, and it was a really nice night to bundle up and sail with friends.  We didn't do
any match racing, or beat up on the phrf boats, but did do 2 laps pretty much in the dark.

Because I'm me,  we rigged up an 6:1 adjustable jib tack to play with the cut clew jib.  Turns out not all is lost, we just have to run the tack pretty high when we're running lots of rake.  I think the magic number is going to be around 7.5", which seems crazy but the jib actually sets up ok. Compared to the first tryout the sail looks a lot better, before the tighest we could get the leech was about 15deg open!

Andy, Katie and Jacob.

We have one more race on october 8th (!) which is the final day of RYF racing.  Hoping to get another shot at racing with the recut jib and we'll see how it flies.

Monday, September 26, 2011

C series day 2 (can't win em all)

C Series 3 and 4 this weekend, under strange and occasionally terrifying conditions.  The good news is we clinched the season (up until the end of the first race there was the unlikely chance that CYC would get 3 races per day for the rest of the year, and if we DNF'd all we could lose first) The bad news is I almost had a perfect season driving, and we got two 2nd places to a very well sailed 196.

The weather was pretty sketchy, not in terms of wind but due to storms.  On the way out to the course we saw lightning to the west, north and south, as well as multiple waterspouts (!) several miles away.  Wind was around 5kts, but with considerable chop.

Day got off to a bad start waiting around for the storms to stay or go, and it made things a bit tense on the boat.  We had some trouble getting tuned up, as we made the call to not change from our beercan main before sailing, as well as having had the clew of the jib recut (heard e coast boats do this to get keep the 2:1 from 2 blocking)  Never did get the main feeling right, and I think we messed up the jib by making the change. Oops.

First start was almost great, as we'd won the pin on port tack, and looked good until I asked to make sure we were crossing and heard "yes" "no" and "!" all at the same time so crash tacked only to realize we tacked directly in front of the boat we were concerned about.  One thing I need to get better at is coming back from tough spots, and even though we were leading the race at this point I have to say I was pretty rattled and had visions of fiberglass repair in my head from that point on.  We regained the lead briefly, but lost it again to 196 who sailed incredibly fast and didn't do anything dumb.

Second race we started poorly, and pretty much followed 196 around to watch them win by a very comfy margin.  They did great, and really moved up and downwind.

Learned a couple things.  Most relate to preparation/planning and attitude.  We have the most fun when we push ourselves the hardest.  Doing things like slacking on the bottom (hasn't been cleaned since July) and racing with the wrong main and an untested recut are out of character for us, and it made the day kind of frustrating.  Some people seem to do best when they stop caring and race "for fun", ie not to win, but I don't think that works for our group.  Lesson learned there!  One more race day and one more beercan, so can go out again to close off the season properly.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Peanut goes PHRF

While we were planning another match racing beercan,  the wind (it was 15-20) the start (another downwind) and the crew (we had 5, and despite best attempts cannot divide by Andy) combined to make it seem fun to go play PHRF and start with the big boats in Spin 1.

A nice bearaway start saw us mixed in with Eagle and Norboy, who quickly left us behind.  We had GPS running, and (in knots, har har) it turns out we go 5-7kts downwind in this, and around 5.5kts upwind.  We did 2 laps, and it was a gorgeous night;  clear sky, not too cold, all the planes in the sky lining up overhead.  Really pleasant sailing, and it turns out our PHRF rating IS as ridiculous as we thought as we beat the next boat by 4min corrected (and a few big boats over the line as well)

Above is a Dave Sincox shot of the lonely little Shields out for one of the last races of 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sheldon Clark Win

Today we sailed 3 races with 3 wins to take the Sheldon Clark regatta, as well as the Nutting Cup (hee hee) which is a combined score from the Memorial Day (1) regatta and todays SC.

It was originally another ho-hum forecast, but last night and today it got bumped to 15-20kt with 2-4 chop.  I was both excited and nervous about this.  We've always been fast with more breeze, and big breeze is fun, but we hadn't have much practice at all in it, so would be going in a little rusty compared to the other teams who had big air for the Verve Cup last month.

Lots of good racing today, with us, 45, 196 and 150 out.  Although it was only 4 boats, they were the top 3 boats from the season, and Kevin, who's always fast.  We did well at starts and had decent speed, but we all were a little clumsy at boathandling, especially downwind.

Tuning was 48" on the headstay, 800 uppers, around 250 lowers.  We felt fast in the first race (~18kts with monster waves) but felt a bit sluggish once the breeze dropped to below 15 I found the boat hard to drive, wanting power.  I think I should have gone to 48.5 on the headstay, even with the chop, as the main was plenty deep at 48", and I could have used more helm/rake.  It was me, Jacob, Katie and Niki at ~600lbs total.

Jacob had the GoPro camera out, so I'm really hoping to have some cool video from today.  Some of the waves were real monsters!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Battle of the ratchet blocks update

After a summer of sailing with 1 Harken Ratchamatic and 1 Ronstan Orbit ratchet, we've got lots of feedback on both designs.

It's been a really light summer for racing, so both blocks didn't really see much in the way of wear, but they both look about the same as when installed.  This includes Ronstans dyneema link soft attachment.

Holding power: the Ronstan is defintiely grippier on our 8mm New England Flightline spin sheets, in fact it's a little bit too grippy in really light air, which is our principle problem with it.  The Ronstan is switchable, so in theory we could turn off the rathet, but in practice we did that once, although it disengaged my accident at least one time.  The rest of time, the ratchet engages with too little load, and holds on too tight. This was moderately annoying in light air gybes, but caused a few very slow takedowns when the rathet would grip the sheet while we were trying for a port douse.

The Harken's auto engagement is adjsutable, but we left it in whatever the stock setting is and had no issues with the holding power.

If we were in a heavy air venue, maybe it would be different, but for now I think the Harken is the better choice for spinnaker sheets on the boat.

We're going to swap the Ronstan ratchet into our 2:1 jib sheet system for another comparison.  I think it may fare better there, as it does have more "grip" and the extra snagginess will be less of an issue on the jib since its both higher load and less travel.


Another really fun night of competition and practice between 88's crew.

We borrowed 63 a little tentatively tonight, as the forecast was for 15-30kts out of the NE complete with small craft advisory.  When we got rigged and sailing it was actually a wonderful night, around 8-12 but with some odd angle large swell.

A downwind start had me completely lost as to the right call, but Jacob had no problems.  We were caught out above the line, and Jacob sailed from course side @ 1:30 or so, luffed us up and had his pick of timing as to when to start.  In talking with him after it's clear what to do now: Jacobs plan was to sit on starboard, below and outside the pin layline, then sail up and enter clean.  After he saw us high of the line though, it was an easy call to sail up and sit below us.  Quite a learning move for me, and Jacob executing perfectly.

Downwind I was looking forward to practicing the wingonwing sailing, and I felt we were a touch faster downwind doing it, but not by enough to pass on the .6mi downwind leg which was mostly stbd.  Seeing this, we gybed and went to a 2 sail reach, and then gybed back about 10 lengths separated as Jacob matched our gybe but not our angle.  I was hoping that coming back with waves (due to the odd angle) would be faster. It worked (barely) as we came back with a piece of 63 who was still on port and low, and were able to force them to gybe into a nice fat overlap.  We held them to port layline, and the second that Jacob went up for separation we gybed and led in easily.

After the bottom mark we tacked to match Jacob, and couldn't quite hold on to our good position and had to tack away, but it was into much better pressure and angle and we had a huge lead by the top mark.

We switched drivers and put Katie on helm, and had a nice downwind run included a circle to clsoe things up.

On the upwind we gave it away a bit with too many tacks, and ultimately leebowed 63 badly, and they were able to sail us past the finigh so that we had to go gybing.  It was textbook good sailing by 63 once the boats were close.

I really got a lot of of this night, picking up good starting and boat on boat tactics. I feel that the boats are relatively even in heavy air, even though we have 88 better tuned for the light (according to a month agos) racing.  I might have the edge driving and trimming up, and Jacob is better on tactics, starting and position.  Good recipe for improvement, as I think we're both learning and getting better, as we race hard on beercans but still want to keep things close so we get lots of action.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

C Series 1 and 2

It had been quite a while since we'd taken Peanut out, so much so that when we got out to the boat we found it was struggling to do its submarine impression: the waterline was completely submerged and the floorboards were floating!  A long slow bail out, and then a long slow trip out to the race course.  There was bout 4kts out of the SE, but for some reason we were racing 5 mi off shore, so starts didn't hapeen until 1130ish.

We had 4 boats to race against with 130, 196 and 67, so they combined us with the luders.  We wanted to get right asap, so we were going to start at the hopefully less crowded boat and tack, but then had 67 below and a luders parked right in front of us, ack!  We got free, go to the right but ended up following 130 around, who really stuck it to us for the first 2 legs. Heading into the leeward mark, we saw them sticking it super low downwind, with a very difficult turn ahead of them, so took the chute down early and set up outside, only to shoot between them and the mark as they couldn't quite pull off "wide the tight"

Next race I wanted to try a port tack start, but 130 was right at the pin, so we had to duck, then leebowed (Jacob thinks rather closely) another Luders!  It was  a bizarre race, as for the longest time it was us, then the red luders, then the shields fleet, then more luders.  Guess they're  quick in light air?  Halfway through the race the boats other owner Niki wanted to drive so we switched and I went on the bow.  It's really nice up there, and I spaced out a bit staring at the sky, while Niki learned about sheet pressure with Jacob.

We now have 12 points,  with second place @ 36.

Hoping to have some cool multimedia from Jacob, as we're trying a GoPro camera with a GPS overlay from Jacobs crappy phone.

In the meantime, heres the happy crew of 88, at least half of which is a tad hungover. Video below,  I wish you could hear commentary on the "holy cow we have to leebow a luders?"