Thursday, May 25, 2006

Spring Series 2006 Race 3 Race Results

Just finished the race results and analysis for last night. Added a few more graphs and changed some of the data around to work a bit better and more concise.

An excellent effort by all crew. This was the first race of the season and with a crew that had not raced together yet. I will mention the mantra that I tried to express last night. Sailboat races are won by the crew that makes the least mistakes. All crew...Even skippers...Make mistakes. The key is quick recovery. Last night we made more mistakes then the winning boats, but overall we had a super race. Excellent start and awesome first leg. If the course was not shortened and the wind held we may have been able to make some more ground and place better...But there is always next week!

I think I have refined my pre-race data gathering sources. I am finding Wunderground as an invaluable source.

Biggest issue last night was knowing where the mark is or the next mark. I found that we spent the majority of the legs with everyone in the boat straining to try and find sight of the mark. It was not a course that is sailed often. From what I am piecing together (local knowledge gathering) the course usually occurs late summer and early spring races. Lucky if the course is run twice in a year.

The solution to the problem is to create a "plot the mark" day and go for a pleasure cruise and plot the marks into the handheld GPS. This, albeit the easy way out, is a backup solution. I will create a version of the on-board laminated course that includes relative bearings to each mark from each mark. This will quickly get us a rough bearing to follow instead of blindly following the pack and hoping to catch site of the mark.

Couple of technology challenges last night. New equipment, mast position altered and some minor modifications on the boat over the winter coupled with having to shake off the off-season dust made it challenging. Good to be back on the water.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Spring Series 2006 Race 3 preparation Stage 3 (Update)

Winds are starting to back to South. Wide view of weather system shows south winds coming in From Buffalo across the lake. It is amazing to have all this data available at a glance. I will however need to get wireless connection at the boat so I can track this data on race days.

The bluffs are very protected and I can barely get a phone signal. The club however does offer a wireless connection.

Looking at this larger system I can see why now that when the winds are forecast from the South that sometimes they end up as West Southwest. Looks like a South wind can channel along the lake and the shoreline landscape seems to effect the wind and cause it to turn direction.

Wunderground stationmaps are a wonderful thing.

Spring Series 2006 Race 3 preparation Stage 2 (Race Day)

Following the forecast looks like the wind will shift with backing winds to the South around Midnight. Westerly prevailing. So possible dying breeze and persistent shift to South during the race.

Southwest winds always mean it's a toss up at as to which bouy we start at. I am going to lay my money on starting at 2 and a course of 3:2:3:2 for today. We'll see how it goes.

Will be tracking the wind today till the time I leave. Hope to get out early and do some tests with the new compass and get some practice in.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Spring Series 2006 Race 3 preparation Stage 1

Official Wunderground weather report for Wednesday race night is as follows:

West winds 5 to 15 knots becoming southwest and diminishing to 10 knots or less. Waves 1 to 3 feet subsiding to 2 feet or less.

Wednesday Night
Southwest winds 10 knots or less becoming south. Waves 1 foot or less.

Last few days there has been a nasty low that has been driving in the cool North winds into our area. From the satellite shot, it looks as though there will be a high in the area which will calm things down somewhat. I am putting initial money on about 10 knots. I checked the almanac for the last 5 years. Temperatures are pretty normal for that day and same as what the forecast calls for. The interesting thing is that gusts for this day are pegged at 35 km/h to 54 km/h. So given the last few days I will not dismiss gusty conditions. Will post the tracking of the high tomorrow to see where the jetstream is taking it. It could change quickly to a NW wind condition and gusty if the systems do not move quickly. Tomorrow should be a good indicator of weather for the race. Will have my brother in law on-board who has not raced yet. Think he will enjoy it. It will officially be our first race of the season and only one or two max races left in the spring series so I think I will concentrate on summer series as our main races this year, along with regattas and CORK.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Frostbite is Right!

It is the long weekend and nothing better than to check the forecast and see that it calls for a partly sunny day with winds blowing like stink. Call whatever crew is available (being a holiday weekend and all...And most people are snug in their cottages, and head down to the boat.

Forecast is calling for winds NW 25 knots increasing to 30 by noon then diminishing to 20 knots in the afternoon. Nice wind! We reached the dock and it was howling. Winds were as predicted about 30 knots. I put on the usual marine forecast as we were hanking on the blade jib and getting ready to ride the whitecaps. The winds seemed pretty harsh for the shelter of the club. We ventured out into the channel to start our awesome day of sailing when as we rounded the corner we got hit from a freezing blast of air that was probably hitting the 40 knot range. The boat (without any sails) heeled as if we were under full sail in a 20 knot wind!

That was my first clue! We got out into the mouth and looked at the waves, all the while the weather forecaster was repeating in French then English that the winds were gusting up to 75 km/hr (38 knots). At this point I still thought we were good. I have been out a few times now in 30+ knots and the boat was great.

Just after clearing the lighthouse I decided to head to wind and put up the blade jib to test the crew resolve and how the boat would handle in the gusty conditions. (being fresh from off-season and all sometimes it is best to work up to the 30+ knot winds). The gusts were hitting so hard that I could not even head-to-wind to raise the sail, not to mention the cold North winds were just biting cold. 10 minutes into the motor out I thought my fingers were going to fall off from frostbite.

That was my cue to tell the crew we were heading back to drink in the warmth and comfort of the bar. I did not hear any complaints.

Quick peak at the weather for Wednesday race looks really good. Sunshine, 18 degrees (Celsius). No wind indicators yet but from the long range patterns it looks as though it might be somewhere in the 18-25 kmph area. Will be updating daily to see if I can formulate a plan.