Thursday, June 29, 2006

Spring Series 2006 Race 8 Race Results

The data and analysis for the race is posted here for the Spring Series Race 8.

We left the dock early, wanted to get a bit of tactical practice in before the race. There was wind all day up to the point when we were ready to go out. I knew the forecasts and knew there would be wind but not sure what time it would come. I saw the forecast for a dying breeze just before race time and the pick-up during race.

The 2 long blasts let us know the race was postponed for up to 45 minutes. Off in the distance I could see a large band of dark which was the wind coming in far out. The crew were not all in favour of my observations some had doubts. The wind came up in a big way and in a hurry. The cell whipped winds around 180 degrees from what was expected and some boats were caught off guard. Everyone scrambled to figure out whether to start the race on a spinnaker run or reach. I chose the reach. The wind was going to shift based on the patterns I was seeing.

In the end the reach was the correct decision. The wind on the first leg lifted about 30 degrees pushing us right to the mark. The boats that launched found themselves in a mess when the wind changed. You could see some of the spinnakers collapsing and crew scrambling to try and raise the jibs.

The NOOD regatta, definitely made an overall improvement for our boat speed. We were neck in neck with our competing J-24 in the fleet at the first mark and halfway to the second. We lost ground when we got caught in some dirty air and did not tack below to find clean air. I have written about the importance of finding clean air. I got caught up in the boat to boat excitement instead of focusing on the overall tactic of clean air. Lesson to be learned.

The overall standings came out last night. Gray Jay was 7th overall. We did not compete in the Spring Series but overall last year we were 5th. Chalk it up to a learning curve and new techniques. The Summer series I am hoping to start crawling up the standings.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Racing in the NOOD

Back from NOOD Toronto. What a great experience. We did absolutely horrible in every race and made just about every error and mistake you could make in a race. On the positive upside it was a fantastic learning experience. It is reminiscent of my J-world course. 4 days of intense sailing (including time on the water there and back from the regatta).

The most important thing I learned at the regatta (besides how to get back to port before the free-pour of Mount Gay Rum was over, was how to handle the twist on the main and properly trim the J for maximum power.

I had a discussion about sail trim with the person who got me started in racing. When we raced together he had a Tanzer 26. He said (about main sail trim) that he found you could set and ignore the main. That may be good on a Tanzer but not the J.

The Jay is so sensitive to minute adjustments on the traveler and mainsheet as well as the jib. The function and communication of the trim team (helmsman and trimmer) is extremely vital to boat speed.

When the helmsman trims the traveler more than an inch or so it requires the trimmer to re-adjust trim on the jib. Likewise if the trimmer adjust the jib it affects the main.

On the 4 hour sail back on Sunday I put the tactician on the helm as much as possible and I became the trimmer (again). It was great. I had been on helm so long that I forgot what a challenging and exciting position the trimmer has. This was my primary position when racing the Tanzer.

The time also allowed me to focus on micro adjustments and combinations to trim with both the main and jib to see where the optimum settings are for speed and acceleration. During the race we had a little coaching from another class racer who avoided all the cliche clique that comes with some classes and offered us some advice when they saw us struggling. It was welcomed and implemented.

The advice was to set the mainsail at the black band on the mast. I had seen the bands in articles and measurements but there was no in-depth information as to how to use the information just the information itself. It reminded me of why I set out to create this blog in the first place. I searched for a resource on the net that provided in-depth information for varying levels of sailors that wanted to race. I found that the majority of the sites were on a particular class boat or discussion group or they were extremely basic and referred only to sailing or cruising. I think it is important to share information which will help someone else become a better racer. After all even if you are racing in the same class or fleet it can only improve your game by keeping you on your toes.

I will be posting the NOOD race results and analysis as soon as I can.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Spring Series 2006 Race 7 preparation Stage 1

Weather looks awesome tomorrow. We should do very well. Most likely a little over powered on the gusts. Forecast is for average winds at 15.3 knots and gusts up to 25-28 knots. There are thundershowers expected at some point tomorrow. Not sure when yet.

Winds will be South Southwest. Thursday looks good now too. Looks like the weather has shifted and it will be blowing hard all weekend.

Monday, June 19, 2006

NOOD Regatta preparation

Had the opportunity to take Saturday as a "Fathers Day" bonus. I was able to get down to the boat early and do some needed work on the boat in prep for the regatta.

I moved the winches forward, which were set way too far back near the traveler bar to effectively tack. Filled in many of the left over holes. Tried to pick up the new windward sheeting car for the traveler (West Marine seems to have lost a skid, with the shipment on it!).

The wind on Saturday was fantastic. Best sail of the season so far. Big gusts approaching 40km. Biggest problem was the stays. I have not been tuning the rig weekly as I usually do (mostly due to lack of wind). The upper shrouds worked their way loose with the increased loads on the mast. Had to drop sails and tighten and tune rig on the water.

Got about 7-8 hrs of heavy sailing in before heading in for night. Heading to the NOOD regatta, Toronto this weekend. It will be our first class event. Not expecting fantastic results but looking forward to it as an entry into the class racing circuit.

I will be sailing the boat down to The National Yacht Club on Thursday. Planning the trip over. Prelim indications is light winds for the trip so it could take somewhere around 4-5 hrs to get there. I have to make it by 7:00 pm in order to meet the registration deadlines. Filing forms etc...

The weather outlook is good for Wednesday and weekend.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Spring Series 2006 Race 6 preparation Race Day

Man the racing fleet must have pissed somebody up there off! To date this has been a brutal race season. 2 of six races have been completed. But last night on the water was like being in an episode from the twighlight zone.

All day I tracked weather, checked the forecasts...Again and again. Left at 1:00 to go down to the club....Flags were still flying. Winds out of North as predicted. Yes even a little rain as predicted. Wind direction at the bluffs was not the same as the rest of the surrounding area but I cleverly figured that out (see previous post), but the wind velocity was as forecast.

Awesome I thought to myself...This is finally going to be a great sail...A good race. Coming down the hill you can almost see across the lake to Youngstown. The water looked patchy. There were a few boats out and sails were flying.

After turfing about 50 lbs of excess weight from the boat the crew came aboard and we went out to practice. A little bit of wind. Things will pick up I thought. On our way out a boat still in slip shouted..."Let us know if there is any wind out there"....To which my reply was "we are going out to make a sacrifice to the wind gods!" Out into the channel we went to a sea of calm.

Not a breeze anywhere. We motored out to mark 1 where we sunned ourselves like a herd of iguana for a bit waiting for the fleet to come out...Hoping that the wind would pick up. We watched the committee boat come out with the fleet trailing. Some did not even bother to hoist even the main...Sail covers still in tact. The announcer on VHF-WX2 droned the wind conditions at various points close by. Toronto Pearson airport....Wind East 8 knots.....Toronto City Centre Airport wind East 4 knots....Etobicoke wind North East 4 knots.

The race was postponed 45 minutes in a desperate attempt to find wind.

After an agonizing period of slowly sailing drifting back and forth, the horn blew 3 long blasts. The fleet scattered like cockroaches fleeing from the click of a lightswitch.

Fully rigged and nowhere to go the crew decided to fly the spinnaker and just keep cruising to see if we could actually make it in. At about 9:00 (the usual finish time for the race...The winds picked up. By the time we got back in the club and de-rigged the wind was gusting nicely.

Take a look at the flatline from 7-9. What type of sacrifice to the wind gods would be appropriate? I was thinking of a full bottle of Appletons VX into the channel as we made our way out the course next week would be a good start!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Spring Series 2006 Race 6 preparation Stage 2

Geographical Effects on Wind

The overall purpose of this blog is to keep an online reference (mainly for my own sake) of all my races, theories, learning links, thoughts and strategies with the hope that it wouold create a database that I can reference and continually analyse.

This season has been about learning the wind. Checking the forecasts for today, the indicators pointed to a definite North wind. But looking at the wunderground weather stations of my area the wind is coming SSE for only the Bluffs area.

This really hammers the point home about Geographical shifts and how much attention needs to be paid to them. We have entered the NOOD regatta at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club on June 23, 24, and 25th of 2006. Our disadvantage will be that the sailors who sail the area will have much better knowledge of the wind patterns then we will. In an effort to try and minimize that disadvantage I will start tracking the regatta location winds and see if I can discern any noticable patterns.

Winds look great for today's race. I will keep tracking till I have to leave and see what the winds are doing and to check on the city effect.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Spring Series 2006 Race 6 preparation Stage 1

The forecast is predicting some good winds for tomorrow's race. Initial indications are a persistent shift from ENE to NNE over course of 3 hrs during the race. If the model is correct then the winds should reach about 10.25 knots or higher. Wind gusts will most likely be a factor as well.

Lots of wind the last couple of days and there is a large weather system to the south (Florida) passing up the East coast which could bring a bit of residual wind and weather this way for tomorrow as well.

Tactics tomorrow should be medium air tactics. Focusing on the start and the upwind beat. I think the course will be (orgin 1) 3:1:3:1.

With the wind at this angle it would be wise to head down farther towards the bluffs before tacking over to the mark. From previous races (like last week) it is apparent there is more wind compression and pressure closer to the bluffs.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Spring Series 2006 Race 5 Race Results

The data and analysis for the race is posted here for the Spring Series Race 5.

The wind was a dying breeze and light at that. Initial reports indicated that the breeze would die down around 8:00 pm. A later forecast said the winds would hold steady through the race. Sometimes first instincts are always the best.

Speaking of which...heading out onto the course I constantly check the windex to see where the wind is coming from and periodically go head to wind to check the true wind angle just to see what is going on. All the way out last night I kept telling myself it was a 2:1:2:1 race based on the wind. Last year I was right the majority of the time and would be the first ones around the mark setting up.

We got out to mark number one and watched as the committee boat set up in a very awkward fashion. I could not quite put my finger on what they were doing. The course was set 3:1:3:1 and we proceeded to race the course (let's just say it was not one we want for the books. Pretty much went bad from the start. At least it is out of our system and we can't get any worse then that...only better!).

Looking over the race data and wind data and plotting it in my race notes diagram it is very apparent that the course should have been a 2:1:2:1 course. My instincts were correct. The last leg on the diagram shows a huge shift to 0 degrees. i did not put the windshift arrow on.

Let me know what you think, should the course have been a 2:1:2:1?.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Spring Series 2006 Race 5 preparation Stage 2

From the available weather forecasts looks like it might be a dying breeze starting at 14 kph (7.6 kts) at race time dropping to a whopping 3 (1.6 kts) kph by 10:00 p.m.

So upwind tactics and downwind tactics will be plan for a dying breeze and stay middle of the course. On the downwind leg this strategy will pay off particularly well.

looks like the course will be (1 starting) 2:1:2:1 if the winds keep up S or SSE.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Spring Series 2006 Race 5 preparation Stage 1

So far a favourable weather report. I am pretty sure we will not get rained out tomorrow. I have, just in case, offered my daughters kite to Ehecatl in the hopes that he will allow us to complete more than one leg of a race this year.

The official forecast:

Winds: ESE at 16 kph

Wind Gusts: 32 kph

I played baseball obsessively as a kid and learned one key truth. Baseball players are superstitious. So to avoid jinxing the weather I will refrain from my normal analysis of the weather and change my approach. I will look at the forecast again tomorrow before going out.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Spring Series 2006 Race 4 Race Results (not!!)

Turns out the race was cancelled yet again. The storms started pretty much as predicted about 5:00 pm. There were large storm cells that brought tornado watches to Surrounding Toronto areas. The cells were rumbling and flashing on the bluffs behind us as we prepped the boat to go out. Once the race was cancelled, and the rain cleared it looked as though it was safe to head out for a sail (since the boat was rigged any way why not!).

Got out into the lake and watched as a rather large cell started heading towards us spitting large bolts of lightning into the lake. We kept a close eye on and caught some good wind on the fringe of the cell for about 15 minutes.

Storm passed and so did the wind. Motored in to shore and hit the clubhouse.

There is always next Wednesday!