Shields 88 hit the course after 4 missed races today. It was a very challenging day, but we felt better at the end of it and have improved as a team.
The conditions were tricky, as it was anywhere from 12-25kts of breeze out of an usual direction at WNW. We were tuned to our tight setting at "1" which translates to 48.25" on the North tuning guide swing forestay lenght. The first race was in 12-18kts, the second and third had fairly wild puffs with shifts up into the 20's.
The second race was... interesting. We led the first leg after a bad start, had a bad douse on the downwind and then elected not to go chute up on the second downwind as we had about 10 boat lengths of lead. This was due to not getting chute down cleanly after the first run, and having lost a spin sheet under the boat. We had hoped to hold off Shields 63 who was in second, but they went chute up (only boat, good for them) and managed to claw away at our lead, passing us in the last third of the run. We considered luffing them out to clear our air but didn't, which was a mistake. We regrouped for race 3, ran a new spin sheet and won with a nice margin.
The second race was a lesson in compounding errors. A bad douse led to not having a chute, which led to a bad run, which led to a loss. Additionally, sailing without a chute caused some significant gear breakage which has been unusual for us. Sailing dead downwind with a jib is slower than with a chute, so the loads are higher. Additionally, we sailed fairly sloppy and forgot to the basics that come with a downwind leg ( ease upwind controls). If we had eased the jib halyard, backstay, cunningham, outhaul for the run,we probably would have won as we only lost by about 2 lengths, but we also would have prevented some breakage that made us sail more conservatively and could have been worse. We sailed the run with the cunningham still on, which took all the load off the booms tack pin. That let the boom rotate on the run, which twisted apart the gooseneck's stainless strap fitting.
As you can see, the toggle has twisted apart and begun to crack. This was pretty spooky to find right before the 3rd race, but seemed OK to sail on so long as we kept the torque off the toggle. We resolved to use no cunningham, limit manouvers and put up the chute on the run. This saved the part until we could get back to the mooring. Every time we go jib only on the run I always regret it, and this time it cost us in metal! We will fix this break up, perhaps with a solid piece or better yet will just sail clean and take care of the boat.
We tried 2:1 on the gross tune mainsheet, and believe we have found the upper limit. We were actually able to trim it in, but the problem was in easing as the load was quite high, so it took lots of effort to release the cleat. I had trouble with this at the top mark roundings. I think for 15kts and over we'll go back to 4:1.
We got a 1, 2, 1 for the day, which has us in second place. Full team next weekend so hoping for big air again to stretch the boat's legs a bit.
Zen thought from today; we believe we had the oldest sail invenory on the course, with our newest sail being our 2012 main, and our oldest being the 2008 chute. If you're going to beat up your gear, at least it should be old gear!