Monday, October 10, 2011

End of 2011 racing season

Racing's over for the year, but what a great way to go out.  We had 3 races Saturday, and it was the best day of the whole year.  About 75 degrees on the water, generally on the light side, but sunny and flat and comfortable.

We really wanted to come out strong after the previous race day, and did a lot to prepare.  Last week we did quite a few things wrong, and a big one was how our jib was setting up.  Since we started sailing with more rake this year it's been great for speed and heigh in light air, but we've been running out of jib sheet when fully trimmed.  Lots of east coast boats have had their clews raised to compensate for this, so I tried it as well.  Turns out I marked the new location totally wrong, so all last week our recut jib couldn't get enough leech tension no matter what we did. Instead of cutting it again I decided to play with tack height instead.  So Niki and I went out thursday for a sail check, mostly to look at the new Quantum jib just to see it, and to figure out what tack heights work for what rake with the North jib.  We did a couple hours of pleasure sailing/sail tested and came up with 3 tack shackle loops for different rakes.  The tack loops are soft shackles that go from a small d shackle on the deck up to the sail, so our actually tack height is plus 1"

Rake    Tack Loop
48"       5"
49.25"  7"
50.5"     8"

Below is the Q jib  (3 races) and the North Jib @3 years.  I like both sails.  The N jib is obviously a bit blown out, but I think even new it's a bit fuller than the q.  The q can be sheeted harder, looks a lot flatter and is lighter weight than the North.  Our sail test day let us go into race day with the old North jib still feeling fast. 


For Saturday we had Andy H stepping into the main/spin position,  Doug B joining us for the first time on jib, and the return of hangover Jocelyn to pit/compass, and Niki up front.  Everyone did awesome considering that it's been years since we've had Jocelyn out and it was Andy's second time in the #2 spot. 

We did a bit of an experiment with rake, and sailed at 50.5" the whole day.  It worked really well, and even in the big puffs (which were big) the boat was still able to depower.  I think I'm going to try more rake in breeze next year to see how it goes.  So long as it's not choppy I think you can get away with it.

Race 1 we led all the way around the track until... the incident.   We were holding a 10-15 length lead, and seemed pretty untouchable since both 150 and 196 were dead asten, and we were practically fetiching the mark on the 2nd upwind.  Then this amazing shift and new breeze came through, and all of a suddent we were pointing 20deg high of the mark, and sailing in about 18kts.  We were just blasting along, extending on the other guys, and watching them luff each other behind us.  Then I said words I promise never to say again "This is definitlely going to hold, forget about covering and putting some in the bank, lets just blast at the mark"  We did just that, and were full hiked just flying along, when all of a sudden things got ugly.  First the breeze dropped, and we all flopped to the low side.  Then the breeze went left 90 degrees relative to the other guys, who all of a sudden looked pretty good.  We did about 4 tacks in a light and shifting breeze, struggling to make the mark while the 2nd and 3rd place boats just flew along.  We all reached the mark at about the same time, and I called for a gybe set (mistake 2).  We had a horrible set, which is not surprising considering that even Niki and I have done exactly one gybe set this year, and no one else had done one on the boat, ever.  We botched is, and were third around the mark.  We were able to pass 150 who set up too low to carry the chute, but watch 196 sail high right into new pressure under jib alone, while we eventually had to drop the chute and play catch up.  They made a great call going jib only, and we finished 2nd.  It was a well sailed race, but I really learned a lot about decision making:  no matter what stay focused on covering, and go blast reaching on your own time!

Race 2 I honestly can't remember much of, but we won.

Race 3 was a tough one, and we started weakly, and the top 3 boats stayed really close.  With trying to beat 196 to take the C series, and having 150 out, it was incredible racing, and we really had lots of tough calls and close crosses.  One of my favorite moments was rounding the last weather mark, of the last race, of the last day.  We had 150 just ahead, and 196 just behind.  We set a little bit lower than Kevin, and were able  to slide down inside. Meanwhile 196 is going low and trying to do the same thing to us.  Andy did a stellar job keepign the boat moving, and Doug was spot on keeping the main alive.  Niki was finding tiny, and I mean like 10' wide, puffs for us to sail to, and Jocelyn was keeping our air clear and making sure we stayed close to both boats.  I don't think I've ever moved the tiller less on a run, and we worked weight hard.  Any of the 3 boats could have won that race, and it was a crazy nailbiter all the way until the the final gybe, where we slid through Garys bad air into a great left shift with a puff and extended for that oh-so-sweet final gun.  I was really proud of my team that day, and we had a great last day out.