Sunday, March 12, 2017

2017 First Spring Regatta

The First Regatta of the 2017 Spring Series had 5 boats line up for the start. Lil' Girl, Z-Cat, Starnette, Sirroco, and No Lizzard. We had good wind (5 to 10) from the south. The course was set up with a windward mark in the bowl near Island E with the start line at K. Another mark was at D near the boat ramp on the north side of the lake.

The first race was K to E to K, port rounding.
The Second was K to E to D to K
Third race got really interesting ; K to E to K to E to D back to K

Starnette tore a sail before the first start. John's narrative below will explain. No Lizzard's captain had a hard time getting a good start in the 2nd and 3rd races. George Yerger from Greers Ferry smoked all of us sailing Sirroco, winning all 3 races on corrected time. In the second race, on corrected time, Sirroco nosed out Starnette by only 8 seconds!!!

The Results for the Regatta: first honors to Sirroco, then Starnette, Z-Cat, No Lizzard, and Lil' Girl.

All in all, some good racing and a bunch of fun.

The following is John Bowmar's view of the racing.

Ahoy Mateys,

We tried to prepare Starnette as well as we could for yesterday’s first sailing race of the spring season.  We had cleaned her bottom as well as we could, even though we had problems getting to her belly (mid section) because of the prop and the floating bottom- scrubber.  We also did not have the time to clean her keel which requires a long pole and a squeegee.  We decided to go with the mylar laminate sail up front, even though she was well used.  Roller furling systems on the front sail do not accommodate sail change easily, they are not designed for this and the connections are tricky and easy to drop in the lake when making change, so we decided to put the sail on in the dock and roll it up, ready to deploy.  Sailing out early for some practice we did some sharp 360 turns in both directions in an effort to knock off some of the time-delaying and drag producing gunk attached to the keel.  As we went through the various maneuvers things were going well until, on one tack, the foot of the sail caught on a stanchion and ripped, about a one foot diameter hole appeared.  And we had not brought any other sails out with us, trying to keep the weight down in the boat.  A few coarse words were heard on board. 

So we had to high tail it back to the dock, hoping we could still make the first race.  The sail change was not without its SNAFU’s but we managed to get back out pretty quickly and, rounding the point, saw that the first race had just started.  We got to the starting line five minutes late and never really had a chance in the short upwind-downwind race which was over in 30- 40 minutes of racing, although we did make up some time on the fleet……Dead last, a seeming inauspicious start to the spring racing series.

The second race gave us very good winds straight out of the south at @ 10 mph with gusts to 12-14.  Since we had changed to the small jib this was great news and Starnette got to the start line first in the upwind, pin position on the line.  And we never looked back, rounding first at all the marks and stretching out on the upwind legs.  Downwind, with the smaller front sail the trailing boats had advantage with their larger foresails, but we managed to maintain a good lead, except for one boat.  George from Heber Springs who is an avid racer, competing in national regattas in the Catalina 22 class, had brought his Cat 22 down and always sails well, having his boat super ready to compete.  The boats bottom is slick as a cat’s rump and she has new sails that he rolls up in a tube, to keep their perfect wing shape and form -- for maximum power.  He was hanging in with us and finished about three minutes behind, which probably gave him the race win after applying the handicap adjustment. 

In the third race we once again got the start after Eddie hit the line too early and had to feather up, head to wind, in order to not cross early.  This was the longest race of the day, two shorter upwind legs, then a long downwind run, then back to the start line for the finish.  Once again the fleet held to us in the first and second legs, closer than we liked, but in the third, upwind leg, through a narrow slot that creates a Venturi effect to increase wind pressure, we hit the wind shifts pretty well and had settled in to the groove, just trying to go fast.  And we really stretched out our lead to round the windward mark well ahead of everyone.  Fortunately the wind held on the long downwind leg and the fleet had hardly gained anything by the time we rounded that mark.  The last upwind leg went well, with our having to make only one tack, and we were able to finish the race as the fleet was just rounding the downwind mark about a half mile back.  Our finish was (I think) about 10-11 minutes ahead of the next finisher, good friend George.  On board we considered this a win, even though the number crunching handicap may say different. 

We are still learning the boat and noting the tweaks we want to make to try and gain speed, and we need more practice time to improve our skills.  But crewmen George and Mark really put out an effort that was above and beyond the call of duty to help mightily in trimming the sails, running the pole, and spotting wind shifts and gusts, all to improve our performance. 

The lesson from this race?  When you are going out to race, always carry a spare front sail if you have one, damn the extra weight. 

Fair winds,

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