Thursday, May 28, 2009

WNR Race 5: 5/27/09

The story for WNR this week is simple: there was no wind. Fortunately, those of us on the win-by-leaving-dock program had plenty of food & drinks aboard.
So as the fleet left the racing area, we came upon a motley crew of like-minded sailors...
Formed a raft and enjoyed the sunshine. It was all great until a powerboat wake caused a little bit of rig knocking and we had to send a man aloft to inspect everything.
In the end, it was fine and a good time was had by all on the water, despite the lack of breeze. We'll do it all again next week. Hope to see you out there!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Miles River Race

From St. Michaels 2009
The Annapolis to Miles River Race turned out to be a beautiful day for sailing.  A nice ~10 kts. out of the south stayed steady all day and the current was with us down the bay.

We had four Albergs out on the line: Argo, Windswept, Laughing Gull and LinGin.

One thing that was key in this race was to recognize that the current was pretty strong and it was sweeping us over the starting line.  Unfortunately for T.C. Williams and Argo, they were victims of this and wound up OCS (On Course Side) and had to loop back around (against the current) and start over.

Once started, we all headed for the deep water in the channel and worked our way down the bay.  I've race enough against these guys to know not to give them an opening, so our goal on LinGin was to do our best to stay in the deep water while keeping near the fleet so they couldn't get any leverage on us and slip by.

We were successful in doing this, but there was a moment of great concern that took place as we rounded Bloody Point and headed up into Eastern Bay.  We knew we need to sail 75° to get to the first red mark we had to honor and I looked a my digital compass (TackTick) and it showed 75°, but oddly enough only one J30 ahead of us was going the same direction.  I looked up ahead there appeared to be a mark where we were headed.  Why was the rest of the fleet heading much higher than us?  Didn't they have the same course?  Scramble...scramble...check race particulars...yes, they did have the same course here...note that Argo is now around and heading toward everyone else....!!!  We decided that the wisdom of the crowds was at work and headed up with everyone else.  Shortly thereafter the J30 did the same.  

A little while later, I recognized the problem.  Somehow we had changed the mode of the TackTick to "Tactics", which changes the information it shows.  Coincidentially the number it happened to show was the number I was expecting to see.  Luckily we figured it out before anyone passed us. 

From that point, it was more of the same: keep in front of the guys behind us and don't make any mistakes.  Thankfully we had a smooth spinnaker set and take down as well as a good mark rounding. 

We were happy to take the gun.  Next year, we need more A30's out there.  It's a fabulous race and the post race party and facilities in St. Michaels are great.  I highly reocmmend it to everyone.

I can't seem to figure out the link to the results.  You can get to them at CBYRA's website and clicking on "Results".  Here are the A30 results.

Division: Alberg30 (4 boats) (top)

Pos Sail Boat Skipper 1 Total
1 244 LinGin Tim Williams 1 1.00 1
2 247 Argo T.C. Williams 2 2.00 2
3 562 Windswept Lanny Helms 3 3.00 3
4 197 Laughing Gull Jonathan Adams 4 4.00 4


(1) Scoring System is ISAF Low Point 2005-2008

LinGin #244

Thursday, May 14, 2009

WNR Race 3: 5/13/09

The evening of 5/22 brought a gusty southeasterly breeze at about 15 knots (with some puffs higher). Temperatures at WNR start time were in the 70's and the racing conditions just don't get much better than this. Unfortunately (for me), my neuroscience final exam was at 8:30 AM on 5/14 so it was not a good night for me to be out racing sailboats. In anticipation of a night spent studying, I corraled my regular crew into representing the fleet in my absence. However, after a solid day spent studying, I decided that I could afford to take a break for a couple hours and go along. However, I also decided that I would forego the driving responsibilities in the interest of getting my crew ready so that they could participate in future races in my absence. Therefore, I had Mike Meinhold take the helm and all I did was make polite suggestions to everybody from the companionway (well, that's mostly what I did anyway...)

The start was highly boat favored there were at least 2 boats who were caught barging and had to peel off. We were a bit late, but we got a decent start at the boat with clear air and I said to Mike that clean is better than on time. We tacked a bit early for the layline to the cone, but it wound up being fortuitous as we were able to watch Brian Palmer go too far on port until he ran aground at which point I politely suggested we should tack before the same thing happened to us. I was able to get 2 choice photos of Brian trying to unearth himself:
I guess they thought dropping the jib was going to help them get off more quickly?
Note to self: don't sail past the Back Creek channel. It gets mighty shallow in there...

Well fortunately we did succeed in avoiding Brian's fate, but unfortunately we were inside the starboard tack layline. No matter, we proceeded ahead and were close to Harry at the last cross. He did manage to hold us off at the mark, though, and the 2 extra tacks slowed us down as well.

We elected not to use the spinnaker on the way down due to the puffy conditions and the fact that we were making hull speed anyhow. Tim Williams did use his and clearly it worked to his advantage as he managed to pass TC who led at the first two marks to take the bullet. Harry came 3rd, we came 4th and Brian (after extricating his keel from the mud...) came 5th. I will let Tim comment on what he thought was particularly fast getting around the course, since he won the race, he clearly knows better than I do. I am sorry that I didn't get a picture of him broaching after he came around the windward mark. It was time I will not be so slow on the shutter...

All in all, it was an agreeable night on the water, with fresh breezes, agreeable temperatures, and even a little studying squeezed in between. Thanks to my crew for driving and operating the boat so that I could study! And for those of you who are curious, I did manage to pass neuroscience. I did not achieve the 90% that Don C suggested before, but I learned a ton, and I actually really enjoyed the subject...maybe because I got to do some sailing while studying it. Maybe I'll become a neurologist...who knows?

WNR series results are online at:

We will do it all again next week at 1835. Don't be late! (Actually, I will be out of town next week, so y'all will have to enjoy it in my absence...)

What a great crew, huh? Note the barbecue. That is the extra secret sauce on the S/V Calliope program...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

First White Sail Award Winner

Congratulations to Larry Morris for winning the inaugural 'white sail' award at last weekend's MRSA spring classic. The competition was fierce between Larry and John Maliszewski, but ultimately Larry, with crack crew Mike Nikolich, prevailed and took the division. It was clear on the water that Larry has adopted my motto of 'Win by leaving the dock' as he was clearly still mid-stream in a window repair job and sporting some nice blue tape and protective plastic over his port lights.

Thanks to both Larry and John M for participating in the White Sail division. I hope you folks make it for the Miles River Race as well!
Click the picture and you can see the snazzy new portlights...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

MRSA Spring Classic

4 Albergs showed up for the first of what we hope will become an annual Magothy River Spring Series. This year's event was abbreviated because a number of previously committed skippers had schedule constraints. Unfortunately for the fleet, Andrew Cole had mechanical problems and had to get towed into the yard on Saturday morning. Also sadly, Jonathan Adams had a serious illness in his family and was pulled away from sailing to attend to that. We all hope that everything ends up okay for the Coles and Adamses. I got coerced into the breach when Tim Williams got tapped for an unplanned lacrosse coaching contingency so I found myself packing my neuroscience books onto LinGin (#244) together with 2 of Tim's regular crew members (Glen Becker and Garrett McWilliams) for what turned out to be a pretty epic day of sailing. Larry Morris (Solstice #501), Lanny Helms (Windswept #562), and John Maliszewski (Tatus II #262) rounded out the fleet of four boats. This was not quite the turnout we had hoped for, but considering the aforementioned unplanned contingencies and the fact that it was Mother's Day weekend, not a bad turnout, all things considered. Larry and John had both pre-registered for the 'white sail' division which looked like a wise choice with the breeze forecast to be in the upper teens.

With a brisk southwesterly breeze of around 10 knots at start time, the course was set up for DHA 2 laps with port roundings. The beat was relatively close to square for the start of the first race, but with the boat strongly favored, everybody decided to head to the boat end of the line. This made for some sporty jockeying for position during the pre-start and I have to be honest, we on LinGin got a little bit schooled. However, Glen showed some serious helming skills and we managed to salvage a not bad start with strong speed of the line and room to leeward we footed out from under Larry who had started close to windward of us (in fact, he had rolled us at the gun with greater speed). Lanny was on our lee bow and was pretty punched out in front, with us struggling to hang in his upstream backwind. By footing below Larry we were eventually able to shoot the return off our main into his course and he decided it would be better to tack than continue to hang in that position. Once he tacked, we decided to go as well as the breeze had entered a left phase and port was now the lifted tack. Lanny went as well and set up to windward and ahead of us. This was not ideal but we didn't have to put up with it for very long as the lifeline that he was leaning against came loose and he fell in the water! Fortunately, due to (I am guessing) his strong grip on the tiller and some quick crew work, he got back aboard, but not without getting mighty wet! He said later that the water was refreshing! After all that, we came into the top mark in the lead by a few lengths. Our layline call was made with surgical precision (and a healthy amount of luck!) as we laid the mark by only about one foot. It was shifty at the top, which definitely made it challenging. But once again, Glen's helming skills really came through as he scootched us around clean. Tim had better be watching out or he might get replaced as helmsman on LinGin...

The run turned into a fairly tight reach as the breeze had stayed pretty far left, and each puff seemed to be a stronger lefty. We elected to go with a 'stay high and come down late' strategy which worked well as we went into the early-and-clean douse with a comfortable lead over Lanny. After the rounding, it was not quite a close hauled course to the next mark (A, which was the start line pin). On LinGin, we were confused to see Lanny tack away to starboard and head left which we couldn't figure why he would do that as he would miss one of the marks of the course. When we got to the A mark, we tacked immediately to reconnect with him and realized that indeed he had sailed the beat to the wrong side of the 'A' mark. He later retired, but for the time being we decided to make it a race anyway. When we reconnected, we had a close crossing with him on the first cross with us narrowly ahead on starboard. But by the time we came to the 2nd cross, he was in a strong position and able to force us to duck. From there, Lanny did not make any mistakes and kept himself between us and the marks, sailed the boat fast, and held on for the bullet. It was a good race and a lot of fun.

During the lunch break, the breeze started building and I would say that for the start of race 2 we had a strong 12 with some puffs of 15 or maybe a little higher. This time, we had no pre-start comms malfunction between tactician and helmsman. Glen took the bull right by the horns and got us a great start at the boat going full speed ahead. It was masterful work on his part executing a textbook Vanderbilt timed run. We all felt good about having a strong start. The first starboard tack was a short one as the left-shifted breeze had turned the course into very nearly a one-tack beat. We crossed the fleet on starboard then set up on the left hip to protect the left side. We were struggling to keep the boat from being overpowered as the freshening breeze put us on our ear several times. There were a number of discussions about how best to handle the gusty conditions with the #1 and full main we were marginally overcanvassed. Garrett did a great job playing the main traveler though and Glen was starting to develop a feel for how to keep the boat driving in the gusty conditions. Clearly he was doing an excellent job as we came to the last cross of the beat close behind Lanny who we had to duck on port. Lanny is a fast helm in heavy breeze as we all saw last fall at the Canadian regatta, so it's again a testament to Glen's helming skills that we hung on so well. Unfortunately for Lanny he had tacked just a bit too early for the layline and he also was rolled by one of the PHRF boats which forced him to double tack at the mark and this was enough for us to squeeze in front of him.

Despite a significant spinnaker malfunction on the run, we managed to hold onto our lead position coming into the bottom mark and this time there was no splitting. We hardened up past mark A with Lanny a scant 3 lengths behind us. The 2nd beat became a drag race between us and Lanny with Lanny pulling even during the early part after rounding mark A but on LinGin we did not give up. We refocused on our main trim and on Glen's helming and after some adjustments we held our own and then we were able to pull ahead by a couple of lengths. By this time, we were shooting our main return in Lanny's direction, but in the left phase one-tack-beat, there was not much he could do to avoid our jetwash. By the time we got to the layline, he was 3 lengths directly astern and we were seeing clear ahead to a bullet of our own. As we came to the layline there was a huge right shift that had us overstanding by a signficant amount, but that was okay as we were on the same ladder rung as Lanny anyhow. After the mark, it was a fairly uneventful run and final beat to the finish with LinGin taking the gun this time. With racing for Sunday canceled, we made a hard left and headed home.

Larry and John also saw some close racing in the white sail division with Larry ultimately prevailing to take the first of the white sail trophies. I haven't received it yet (it is supposedly in shipment). But I will make sure to present it at the first available opportunity. It was good to see some people come out and compete in the white sail division and I hope that we will have some more 'white sail' participants on the line for the Miles River Race for memorial day.

Overall, it was an excellent event. It was a real treat for me to get out and sail on another boat, with new people. I can't say how much I enjoyed sailing with Glen and Garrett. We had an absolute blast all day on the water. I just wish that I could have been more social but with the neuroscience final coming up on Thursday I was pretty distracted thinking about that... Thanks to Larry Morris for doing the organization for this event. Thanks to everybody who came out and sailed. For those of you who could not make it, truly you missed one excellent day of sailing. I hope that some more of you folks who live up on the Magothy will put this event on your calendars for next year, come out and join us for some great racing put on by MRSA!

I will post results once they have been put up on the MRSA website. As of now they have not yet been posted.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

First White Fleet Award Art Work

The first White Fleet award will be presented at the Alberg 30 Spring Series this coming weekend. I just wanted to give you all a preview of the art work for the award. The award will be a pint glass engraved with the following design. The prize will be contested according to the rules laid out previously in e-mail and on the previous blog post. If you are interested in competing for the White Fleet award, you need to inform me by Midnight on Friday, 5/8.

White Fleet Award

Andrew, Tim, Mike M, and I have been discussing for several weeks the
idea of introducing a 'white sail' award. The idea behind this award
is to make racing relevant to everybody who is a member of our
association, not just those who have the experience and resources to
recruit a full regular crew for a consistent racing performance. I
want to see people out racing even if they are shorthanded, have small
kids as part of their crew, or are just not comfortable using the
spinnaker for whatever reason. To this end, we are going to be trying
out a new 'white sail' award this year. The conditions are as follows:

1. For each event, we will have one individual white sail trophy which
will be engraved with the event name and date. It will be something
nice, but also utilitarian. Currently I am planning on using either
pint glasses or highball glasses. The idea is that you would be able
to have a series of them for the whole year.

2. Only one 'white sail' participant must register in order to win the
award. This means if you are the only white sail participant, you will
get the award.

3. If more than one 'white sail' participant registers, the event
winner will be determined using the low point system. Weekend events
will be scored as one event. For example, Oxford race and Hammond will
be scored together. Tiebreakers will be applied as prescribed in the
racing rules, or at the judgment of the racing commodore if the racing
rules are insufficient to break a tie.

4. At the end of the season, the overall 'white sail' winner will be
determined using a high point system. The person who wins the most
non-spin trophies through the season will win the overall award. This
person will be recognized at the annual dinner with a new, perpetual,
white sail trophy that we are going to commission this year. It is
going to be a nice trophy.

5. Registering as a 'white sail' participant requires that you notify
the racing commodore by e-mail of your intention to compete as a
'white sail' competitor the day before the regatta begins. You must
still register with the regatta's organizing authority as all other
competitors. The 'white sail' award is organized solely by the A30
associaton and so it has nothing to do with the regular regatta awards
and organization provided by the hosting club. You just have to
register for the event as usual, then notify me that you will be
competing for the white sail award.

6. We will have one 'white sail only' event which is going to be a
race from Swan Creek to Baltimore the weekend of the Orioles cruise
(7/11). This will be a non high-point event, but we may make it a high
point race next year if it is a success. Details and the NOR will come
out when I can make time to write them. This event will be
incorporated into the summer cruise and the orioles cruise.

7. You may compete for both 'white sail' and regular awards, but not
at the same event. If you declare as a white sail participant, then
decide to use your spinnaker, you will be ineligible for the award and
will not be allowed to compete for future white sail awards in the
current season.

Please feel free to ask if you have questions. As this is a new idea,
we welcome your feedback.

WNR 4/29/09

There was a brisk but moderating east-northeasterly breeze for the start of WNR on 4/29. Initial forecasts were for about 10-15 knots but at start time we were clocking numbers around 10 and high single digits. During our initial pre-start analysis, the consensus seemed to be that starting on port at the pin was going to be the way to go. In fact, it appeared that it would be difficult to even lay the line on starboard because the breeze was so far left. However, due to tactical considerations (we did not want to be forced to tack by starboard tackers coming across the line after the start...) and because of a significant right shift that rolled through during the start sequence, we decided to start at the boat and see how that worked. TC started with us over there and just before the start another big lefty rolled through which forced us all to tack, and found us on the unfavored end of the line. Coming out of the harbor, we were looking for the strong righty as we wound up over by Bembe beach way out in the right corner. The big righty never came, but eventually we got about 10 degrees which was enough to convince us that we should bail out and head back left. Coming back out of the right corner we were actually looking pretty good relative to Tim and Harry who were on the far left, and Brian who was in the center-left. Unfortunately for us, though, as we came out of the right, we got a progressive left shift, which drove us down below the layline. Complicating matters was the fact that the other fleets were starting to return from their mark and inevitably they were passing us close to windward, giving us a big wind shadow with each passing boat. In hindsight, we probably should have taken a higher lane back out of the right corner, but that is why it is called hindsight, I guess.

At any rate, we decided to take a hitch back to the right and got forced back over by a catalina 27 that we couldn't quite cross. 2 bad tacks later and we were well deep behind everybody else. By the time we got back to starboard, we were just on the layline, but those boats coming downwind just couldn't resist the temptation to continue passing us close to windward and with each wind shadow the layline got closer and closer. We did eventually make it and very nearly managed to pass the mark without hitting it. However, it was not to be and as we went by we just kissed the mark. After completing the rounding, we did our full 360 degree penalty, including a gybe and a tack, even though we were deep in last place. From then on, our race was not very interesting as we had to complete it by looking at everybody else's transom. Tim won the race, followed by Brian Palmer, TC, Harry, and finally us. Series results are available at:

On the positive side, it was a nice evening on the water, the forecast rain did not materialize, and we all had an enjoyable time. This week is a bye because of the J24 worlds. Next week we will be back at it. Look forward to seeing you then!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

May Mainsheet Column

Hello again Albergers! Once more here I am in your mailbox.

By the time you read this, the NOOD regatta will be in the books. But you can go back and read all the play-by-play reports at the Alberg 30 racing blog where we will provide daily updates on the racing. I can't say for sure who will win, but it is shaping up to be an extremely interesting event. The Alberg 30 fleet appears to have 8 or 9 boats for the event, with at least 2 entrants competing in their very first NOOD regatta. Notwithstanding the economy, the fleet continues to see fresh faces on the racecourse, a very positive thing! Second, I want to recognize Harry Gamber who I believe (and I'm sure he will correct me if I am mistaken) has raced in EVERY SINGLE NOOD since the first one I believe back in 1984. That means this will be Harry's 25th NOOD regatta, certainly an Alberg 30 record, probably a NOOD regatta record as well. Rolph Townshend continues to contribute to the racing fleet notwithstanding his retirement last year. Towney has stepped forward to lend his treasured Skybird, a boat that has probably taken home more silver than any other in the fleet (certainly during the time of my involvement with the class), to a new Alberg 30 fleet member from DC who wants to race the NOOD but is unable to do so because of the logistics of moving an Alberg from the Potomac to the Chesapeake.

Our next event following the NOOD is the Magothy River Spring Series on May 9-10. The first day is organized by the Magothy River Sailing Association and the second organized exclusively for the Alberg 30s by PSA. This is a great opportunity for those of you who are up on the Magothy River to get out and do some racing in a great fleet for a great price. Larry Morris is the head honcho on this event, and he will be providing information about registration and other logistical issues post haste. This event will count as three seperate high point events (two Saturday, one Sunday) so for those of you up on the Magothy, please come out and participate. You do not have to be a crack racer to enjoy racing in this series, there will be a crack party on Saturday evening to enjoy as well. As always, if there is anything you need, please don't hesitate to call me or Larry and we will do whatever we can to help you get out on the water and have fun!

After the Magothy River Spring Series, our next event is the Miles River Race on memorial day weekend. This is always a great race, starting off Annapolis and ending in St. Michaels. The race once again ties in with the Memorial Day cruise over to Wye River. If you are heading over for the cruise, I hope you will register and start the race, the added participation helps our high point qualification each year and the party in St. Michaels is worth it. This is a great event with a long-running association with the Alberg class. Miles River Yacht Club will host a wonderful party on the lawn after racing on Saturday evening with a band. I hope everyone who is able will consider racing this event.

On another subject, I want to talk about trophies. I am looking for the Tyro trophy and the Novice trophy. Neither trophy has been awarded for the past several years notwithstanding a host of suitable recipients. To the best of my knowledge, neither of these trophies was awarded in 2002 when I joined the class, and according to the 2008 handbook, the Tyro trophy has been awarded only once since then (2004). With the influx of new faces into our fleet, we should be recognizing their achievement. It takes most new Alberg owners a number of seasons to reach the top of the class, but we need to recognize the outstanding efforts our new fleet members make in order to continue to encourage racing in the Alberg 30. If you know the whereabouts of either of these trophies, please contact me so I can make sure they get awarded at this year's annual dinner.

Also on awards, as an experiment this year we intend to introduce a series of non-spinnaker awards. At each event, we will have a trophy for the top overall finisher that sails without a spinnaker, as well as a season long non-spinnaker award to be presented at the Annual Dinner. Sometimes experienced crew is hard to come by, sometimes crew are unable to attend a regatta at the last minute, sometimes you just want to take a weekend sail with a bunch of other Albergs without having to jump around the boat throwing sails up and down. Whatever your reason, if you'd prefer to race without a spinnaker and state your intention to do so prior to the first day of the event, you will be eligible for the award. We want to recognize everybody who is interested in racing their boat, and establish a spirit of gentlepersonly competition among the boats that elect to race non-spinnaker. The only thing prettier than one or two Albergs sailing together is a whole flock leaving a start line together. A few of us are working up a set of criteria for the award and will publish them shortly. We plan to award a non-spinnaker trophy for the first time at the Magothy River Spring Series and for each subsequent event for which people decide to compete under this designation (even if there is only one competitor). I cannot tell you what exactly the trophies are going to be, but I promise that they will be nice.

Finally, I just want to say that I really agree with what Jonathan said in his column about development. I think it is sad that not more people consider their personal impact on the bay that we all love. I think if we all did something small to make a difference in the quality of our environment, the net effect would be a huge improvement. Thanks to Jonathan for bringing this to our attention!