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GHYRA Day TWO (RHYC Open): Summer Sizzler

Back to short course racing on the bay for this day.  Crew was:

Foredeck: Four Hands

Pit: Lazy Sheet

Foresail trim: Mark E (from Sandpiper)

Mainsail trim: Tom S (from BSBC)

Helm: Kiwi

Tactics:  StarPort

It was a particularly hot and swirly day, and before the details, we can sum it up as a day when things just didn’t go our way (contrast that with Saturday!)  But it was great to be out on the water, eating a slice of humble pie after besting Top Gun three times in a row.  (Recall, we had only every beaten them twice before this streak).  And it was great to sail with Tom (who has a keelboat and has raced dinghies, but had never raced a keelboat — either he’s hustling us or a really quick learner) and with Mark E from Sandpiper who will feature in a much better story later this week.

Race one

Course 14S-7-1-14F

We were expecting zephyrs all day, but the day began with some breeze so with smiles on our face we approached the start line.  Start was okay, we tacked for clear air.  Once we tacked back we learned the left side of the course had paid off for the others.  Hoist was solid, quick jibe to avoid a hole and now we had some ground to make up on our rivals.  Some of them were in the hole so we headed toward the Hamilton shore.  Just as we felt we had caught up to Battlewagon and Remarkable, the wind died and shifted.  We doused, thinking it would be upwind sailing to the mark.  That was true eventually, but not yet.  So, we hoisted again!  Five minutes later, we doused again and finished the leg on the #1.

Around the mark we went and up went the kite again!  I don’t know how Les had all the lines working, but it was a thing of beauty.  One thing about coming from behind, is you get to see where all the other boats are falling into holes and so we went the other way.  It was looking so good for a while as we thought we might be able to ride our spinnaker to the finish across the bow of all the others.  Mother nature snickered at our confidence, though and the wind died and shifted, so down came the kite and we drifted.  Each time we tacked to fill the jib, the wind backed 100 degrees and we had to tack again.  Finally, after a very painful interlude (during which our main rivals finished the race), the breeze became consistent and we finished near the back of the fleet.

Race two

Course 14S-7-14F

After a long pause the sea breeze began to build, the race committee set a short course, and we prepared for an eventual veer, wanting to take the headed (port) tack early in the leg to take advantage of the lift.  We did this, but weren’t quite able to fetch the mark on our starboard tack.  Battlewagon pushed out further to the right before tacking and were able to round ahead of us.  Once again the wind on the left was stronger, so we found ourselves behind.  Solid hoist, run and douse but not enough to overtake, so we found ourselves near the back of the fleet once again.  At least now we were sailing and the east breeze helped cool us down.

Race three

Course 14S-7-15-14F

Okay, we had been warned that the race committee might combine fleets for the start of the last race and we heard them saying something about this over the radio.  That meant we would be in start #2, right?  We got ourselves lined up, aiming for the pin end on starboard with boat speed.  Execution was great, we shook free of traffic, pushed Serious up (but not over the line) — their skipper responded “Seriously?”, which gave us a chuckle — and nailed the start.  A quick look over our shoulder and there is our entire fleet watching from below the line, laughing and calling us back.  Oops!  But we gave everyone some much needed comedic relief on a frustrating day.  The remarks we got were “great start”, “Ha, now we know your plan”, and my favorite “you guys looked so fast” (sailing amongst the slower boats)
Five minutes later, for our real start, we had used up our charm, and ended up right behind the slowest boat in our fleet.  A quick tack away and then back onto starboard and we were out of their bad air and flying.  Approaching the windward mark, we tucked in just behind Battlewagon, rounded and hoisted.  Their hoist wasn’t strong, we had a chance!  But somehow our spinnaker got tangled in the genoa while it was being furled.  It took a while to diagnose — halyard on the wrong side of the forestay — and then we had to do a partial douse, re-route the halyard and then hoist again.  The whole recovery was pretty fast, but not fast enough.  Such is sailing life.
Alack, this was not our day!

Flag Day

Six of the lads in blue represented PERSPECTIVE last night to celebrate the season at RHYC.  We laughed at the Ukelele band’s songs, enjoyed a pint together and agreed that it was better to be indoors than on the boat on a dark chilly autumn night.

The highlight came when the flags were awarded:

  • Summer Tuesdays: third place
  • Summer Thursdays: second place
  • Overall: second place!

And here’s the software:

Best Crew on the Bay

No, this is not a race report.  Alack, this is the story of how six gentlemen stripped PERSPECTIVE of her sails, running rigging, standing rigging — in short, all her glory.

Never had I imagined that five of my friends could be so cruel to a boat that has treated us so well.  But it was clear they took joy from the task: flaking sails with glee; coiling shrouds with an eerie, menacing look in their eyes; stowing spreaders with a hint of good riddance; hefting the mast onto its rack with finality and relief.

Who am I kidding?  It was a sad, sad evening.  The weather was warm, a light breeze began to build and tugged at our hearts….do we really have to do this? can’t we hoist sail one more time?

But the best crew on the bay sunk into the task with simple determination and well choreographed synchronicity that had everything neatly stowed before sundown, and we raised a pint at Pluckers to tales of highlights of a great season gone by.

Here’s to you Skootch, David, Lazy Sheet, Gadget and Afterguy.  Couldn’t have done it without you!

And here’s to next Spring.  CLEAT THE GUY!

Summer Series Results

Final results have been tabulated for the summer series, showing as follows:

Tuesday:  Third place (one point behind Battlewagon)

Thursday: Third place (tied with Take Notice Again)

A chance to add to our collection of Blue Flags!

Overall, combining the two nights, we have a second place finish, behind Battlewagon.  Not bad!  (Note:  when you count the number of nights that we competed against Battlewagon head to head, we beat them 12 times, and they beat us 6 times — we just missed too many races)


What I’m learning from the Olympic sailing

Not much coverage on the networks, but you can watch complete races online, courtesy of  Here are some things I’m learning:

  1. Don’t paint the corners.  Swedish laser went all the way to the layline before tacking.  First lap it worked beautifully.  Second lap she got knocked severely with 10 boat-lengths to the windward mark.  Cost her the race.  To do this, we have to get even better at tacking, since sailing up the middle of the course means putting in extra tacks.  Crisply done, we can tack without losing significant distance — a worthwhile trade-off against an unfavourable knock.
  2. Heat and burn downwind.  The little boats are steering and trimming constantly downwind.  They head upwind, accelerate, steer downwind, decelerate, and repeat EVERY TEN SECONDS.  I think that means we should do it every minute.  That means the guy is always active in the downwind leg:  head up (pole foreward, trim sheet, gain speed), then head down (pole aft, ease sheet, gain VMG), repeat.  That would mean that the guy isn’t cleated:  its got  several wraps on the winch and a handle ready.
  3. Watch your boat widths.  Roundings are won and lost by closing the door on others at the windward mark.  Getting into this position (often by a boat-width) routinely translates into several boat-lengths of head start on the next leg, and most importantly — clear air!  As a result, one boat width can turn into ten boat lengths of a lead by the next mark.  To do this, we have to plan our approach to the windward mark before we get to the layline, probably one tack beforehand to position correctly for advantage at the mark.