Wednesday, October 20, 2010

2010 Bruce Rankin Regatta

Skybird fends of Windswept and Calliope in a tight race on Sunday. (Photo courtesy Mike Lehman)

The Bruce Rankin Memorial Canadian Friendship Team Race Regatta went off last weekend with great breeze, excellent parties, and great company. A good time was had by all especially at the Friday night pot luck, which I described to one bystander as 'a very lucky pot luck' because there was a lot of excellent food prepared by the attendees! The sailing was great too, and yours truly did so much hollering that I ended up hoarse which was tough to explain when I had to do my case presentation at Family Medicine on Tuesday.... But I digress from discussing the racing.

Saturday was WINDY. There were some puffs over 30 and most of the day the wind was sustained in the 20's except near the windward mark where there would be lulls into the teens. There were big shifts as well and differences in pressure. With the westerly breeze, the south shore of the river seemed to have favorable pressure and angle for most of the day. 2 races were sailed on Saturday. Tim Williams won both of them going away. No spinnakers were used, which made sail selection a challenge because if you picked the #2 then once you went around the windward mark, you were underpowered. A variety of sail combinations were tried, but Tim stuck with a reefed main and #1 and that seemed to be fast. He was really able to keep the boat going even with being overpowered. I asked him and Glen about it afterwards and he said they felt like the #1 was the right sail for the day but that they had to drop the leads way back to flatten the bottom of the sail, they used a lot of reef tension to get good outhaul effect on the main, dropped the traveler down, and went super tight on the backstay. We tried using a #2 on board Calliope, but our #2 is small and the clew is high. We felt like it was not a good sail combination and we were not fast in the race where we used it. The one big loss we had on board Calliope was a winch handle which failed a float test. This would be a key problem later in the regatta.

Tactically, the racing on saturday basically involved keeping close to the south shore of the river (left side of the beat) because there was more pressure down there and fewer holes in the breeze. This was Team LinGin's tactic all day and it really worked as they won both races going away. Fortunately for us they were our teammate, but even their 2 bullets were not enough to salvage our lackluster performance and the team of Laughing Gull and Second-2-Nun were ahead of us by 1 point on Saturday.

Saturday's party was excellent with barbecue from Adam's ribs and the famous Alberg 30 bar. We had a long evening eating and drinking and chatting around the fireplace at PSA and I didn't head back to the boat until nearly midnight.

Sunday dawned bright and clear and after a breakfast of leftover coffee and apple pie and a shower in the AWESOME new heads at PSA, I was ready to take on the day! Jon and I had decided on Saturday night that we were going to focus on going fast from the time we left the dock so on the sail out to the course, we got the spinnaker up, did a bunch of practice gybes, practiced sail handling and got the crew comfortable with their respective positions. It was a good way to warm up. Fortunately we got to the starting area early, were able to get some numbers on different tacks, and figure out what the course was going to be like. With a much lighter 10-15 knots of breeze, we knew we would be using spinnakers and we felt like that was good for us. The breeze was still out of the west but was further to the left than it had been on Saturday, making the setting of the course axis a bit of a challenge for the RC. Once they got the line set we realized that it was highly skewed and nearly impossible to lay the pin on starboard even if you sailed close aboard the stern of the committee boat. We spent some time discussing start tactics because this was obviously going to be a challenge. We considered a port tack start because that was obviously going to be the favored tack, but I felt that if we did a really good job of timing the starboard run, we could do well by making a timed run at the boat, then hardening up on starboard and sailing down the line. If we could manage to win the pin we would get a favored start by several boat lengths and it would put us in control of the race. So this is what we decided to do. We spent a good bit of time sailing down the line in the pre-start and making timed reaches at the committee boat. By our watches, the line was about 1:30 on a close hauled course, so we wanted to go around the committee boat stern with that much time left on the clock. We managed to make this work out quite well in the pre-start. I thought for a second that John Maliszewski would be able to close the door on us at the boat as he was below us but it turned out he was too low and couldn't quite get there so we were saved from the barge. Then we had only Harry in front of us on starboard, but I knew that he was too early and he looked like he would not lay the pin anyway as he had not sailed close enough aboard the boat. TC was coming in from port, but he went below us so was not an issue. All looked perfect until Harry tacked at the pin. I yelled starboard, but he didn't tack back so we had to tack to avoid a collision, which was extremely close. No matter, we still won the pin, got the boat going on port, forced Harry to take a penalty and were in control of the race.

Calliope and Windswept approach a windward mark. (Photo courtesy Mike Lehman)

Beat 1 was highly skewed such that it was basically a one tack beat. Skybird was going fast and high and had a really high lane that we were not able to match. We went around the mark close with them and with Windswept. They both took a relatively high lane on the run which was also highly skewed and we never gybed. By the bottom mark, we had managed to gain the inside track and with a good takedown, we claimed the lead. The next beat was equally skewed. Windswept and Skybird would tack away to clear their breeze and we covered them all the way up the beat. As we passed the middle of the course, we noticed the committee boat had moved to the top and we thought that they would shorten the course and we would be finishing at the windward mark. This was not to be however, because they signaled a course change. Since we had assumed this was going to be a finish not a mark rounding, we were totally unprepared for the course change and had a complete Charlie Foxtrot getting around. Ultimately we got around the mark and got the kite up but not before Windswept and Skybird snuck past us.

The run was once again quite skewed and we had close racing with Windswept and Skybird. Toward the bottom, Skybird went very high and sailed pretty far from the mark, which confused us. We again got the inside track and were set to regain the lead with a good mark rounding which was all fine and good until we noticed that we didn't have a winch handle. It must have fallen overboard during the kerfluffle to get around the windward mark. Now we had a real challenge on our hands. We lost both Windswept and Skybird at the mark and we were sailing out to the left while I tore apart the boat looking for the winch handle and yelling at myself. We couldn't get the jib in all the way so our pointing was awful and we were in danger of being passed by LinGin, Laughing Gull and Rinn Duin. Something had to be done. At one point, while I was standing on the jibsheet to try and close down the leech, someone suggested that we use our adjustable jib leads to close down the leech. Bingo, we started dropping our leads to the back of the track, tacking, then pulling them forward, and this worked. We managed to hold on for a 5th place finish, which, combined with Tim's low scores, was enough to win us the trophy.

A huge crab feast after the awards hit just the spot. Thanks to Mike L for taking the awesome photos aboard Glory on Sunday. And thanks to PSA, Larry, Tim, John M and everybody else who made this year's Rankin Memorial Canadian Friendship Team Race Regatta a great success!

Close quarters on the run: Gentleman sailing at its best! (Photo courtesy Mike Lehman)

Monday, September 13, 2010

2010 NASS Race to Oxford

From 2010 Oxford Race

The NASS Oxford proved once again to me that you never know what you'll get. The race saw light winds out of the north for our start and a finish you'll probably hear me talk about for years.

Most of our fleet headed toward Thomas Point from our R2 start, trying to stay out of a flood current in the beginning of the race. We on LinGin timed the start pretty well and built a growing lead on Windswept, who was right behind us at the gun.

Laughing Gull headed to the Eastern Shore before most and was rewarded as the wind died down to the west. A tug pushing a barge forced us to make a decision a little sooner than we otherwise would have: stay west or cross over to the east?

We chose east and that turned out to be a good choice. Laughing Gull had came back east as the wind died and wound up in a huge hole with much of the other Albergs. Word is they became hot and bothered at one point and all jumped overboard for a swim. Jonathan said it was lucky the wind didn't kick up; it would have been a tough swim to catch her had she taken off.

Windswept and LinGin both got the wind first as it "filled" on the east. I say "filled" because it didn't last very long! In addition to more pressure it also shifted more to the west, giving us further advantage over those that were west of us. (We were all going downwind.)

The most bizarre (and most interesting) part of the race was the finish--and you can see this in the finishing times. As we came up to the finish in very light wind on a port tack reach, I noticed Rick Born on Windborn about 10 lengths from the finish, under spinnaker and heading parallel to the finish line toward Solomons Island.

Now Rick was an avid A30 skipper and racer when I was a kid and he was really hard to beat! For a couple of years it seemed like we were always chasing him. So, when I saw him doing that, I immediately said to my crew, "why would he do that?!" We checked the charts and GPS. No, we were pretty sure this was the right mark. Then it dawned on us: it must be the current.

The current bends around Black Walnut Point there and while many (LinGin included!) thought we were being swept into the Bay, it was actually exactly the opposite. There was a ~1 kt current pushing us into the Choptank!

We quickly gybed and set the chute and to our dismay noted that Windswept had kept a much better line to the finish line, having kept further away from the point. Here we came, ever so slowly under spinnaker on starboard tack heading parallel to the line that was maybe 1/4 mile away, trying to cross Windswept who is on port and heading, what appeared to be straight for the line.

Many times our foredeckman, who was focused on the sail, ask, "are you sure you don't want to tack and cover him?!" It was tough to trust what we knew to be true, but was difficult for our eyes to believe. We were inching toward the line and Windswept was being pushed past it toward the point at ~1 kt. There were plenty of other boats doing the same thing; some on starboard under spinnaker and other on port on a close reach.

In the end we crossed the line sideways. The current pushed us through. Windswept was swept toward the point and while we were moments before a boat length apart, it would take him the better part of an hour to get through the line. During that time, Second-2-Nun came from way back and crossed before Windswept. Lanny had a very tough race that day and we felt quite lucky that we figured out what was going on when we did.

Easily one of the strangest finishes I have ever seen.

Here are the preliminary results:

From 2010 Oxford Race

Thursday, September 9, 2010

WNR Series 3 Race 4 Recap: Calliope Rumbles

The 5 boats who showed up for final race of the 2010 WNR season were greeted with a sweet northwesterly breeze at about 12-15 knots. With the course of A2 set, we had a downwind start. On board Calliope we elected to stay away from the favored pin end of the line, instead intending to shoot for something 'middle-ish'. We felt that because we have good downwind speed it would be better to try and stay clean and keep other boats off our breeze by keeping a clear lane to windward and we felt that would be easier to do by starting in the middle. We waited till inside of 30 seconds to the start to go for our hoist because there was a good bit of pre-start jockeying for position and we got taken up by a couple of boats. Once the monkey business was overwith and people started turning down to head for the line, we got our kite up and got things rolling. It looked to me like we might have been a bit late for the start and certainly boats that had started more towards the pin seemed to be ahead of us. However, with our clear lane of breeze to windward, we were able to put our rumble on. After a few lengths, we broke our pole bridle and had to jury rig a foreguy to keep the pole under control. I told the crew that it's not a good day of sailing if you don't break something. Once we got that fixed, we rolled the boats below us and by halfway to the first mark, we were showing the fleet our taillights as it was just us, a J/24, and a Pearson 30 out in front. As we approached the mark, we looked back and saw a beautiful array of spinnakers spread out behind us:
For some reason, it appeared that LinGin, who was our closest competition, was going to the wrong mark for a significant part of the leg as they sailed far to the left of the rhumbline and they certainly gave us pause to double check the SI's to make sure we were sailing the correct course.
Coming into the mark, we owed room to the Pearson 30 on the inside. He sure took his sweet time making the turn, and we had a much more seamanlike rounding (in wide, out tight!) which put us in a higher lane for the first part of the beat back into the harbor. Our takedown was very clean and with the new long jibsheets that fit over the pole we were immediately ready to tack. Unfortunately, even though we were in a higher lane, they were to leeward and ahead and we had to contend with their wind shadow that forced us to hang in some less than ideal breeze. Nevertheless, for strategic reasons, we didn't want to tack out so we stayed on port and worked on keeping the boat rolling. After boats behind had rounded we looked back at LinGin and they seemed to have a higher angle as well as better speed than we had and it looked like they were gaining. We decided that pulling our jib draft forward might help and decided to tighten the backstay and jib halyard (during the tack). Once we started to get in close to the spider, we tacked out, cranked up the jib halyard tension, and headed back across on starboard. We had a tack snafu that slowed us down a bit, but once we sorted that out and got the boat rail-down-and-rumbling again, we had a full knot of increased speed through the water probably due to the increased jib halyard tension and better shape of the jib (draft more forward and powered up). This was satisfying as we could then hold the same speed/angle as LinGin and we felt good about that.

With the RN being a port rounding and well inside the starboard tack layline to the harbor, we decided that there was no real penalty for under-standing and tacked relatively early to head back toward the USNA annex seawall. We went all the way to the wall before tacking out to head for the harbor, leading LinGin by 8-10 lengths at that mark with Laughing Gull in 3rd about 3-4 lengths behind her. Unfortunately, we could not quite lay the can at the mouth of the harbor and so had to throw in 2 extra tacks as we worked our way in, but we still passed the can about 5 lengths ahead of LinGin and it was a close reach to the finish with enough pressure to keep the normal WNR flukeyness from stealing our victory. We crossed the finish line first for the 3rd time this summer and secured a win for the 3rd part of the 2010 WNR. All in all it was a great night of sailing, with excellent breeze, good competition, and a beautiful sunset!

Complete results at:

I was recently reminded that team Calliope has been a competitor in AYC Wednesday Night Racing for 8 years now. It has been a hugely rewarding experience and taught us many things about sailing and about building a team. In our first season, we competed with no spinnaker, a ratty cruising genoa, battenless main, and having almost no keelboat driving experience, with a motley crew of St. John's students, most of whom had never sailed before. Over the years, we have made many modifications to the boat, to the sails, to the crew, and to our style of racing. We've learned what's important and what's not. We've learned what driving techniques work and what doesn't. We've learned how to work together, and we've learned how to teach people and how to learn from them.

It occurred to me that it might be good to have a list of the top things that I think have made a difference in getting us from the back of the fleet to the front. Not that we'll stay at the front mind you, but I think we've made some really big strides, and I want to share what I think is important. For those of you seasoned racers out there, this is probably not news, but for some of the newer people, I thought it might be helpful, so here goes:

1. A clean bottom is a must. This cannot be over-stressed. It sounds obvious, but one of the big things I changed this year is I bought my own SCUBA gear and try to clean the bottom every week. It is amazing how much growth you can get even in one week. I used to use the Yellow Dick guy and I can't un-recommend him too much. I know of at least one case where an owner had supposedly had his bottom cleaned and then had an emergency haulout only to find the bottom was totally encrusted with growth. That guy is dishonest. Don't use him. My solution is to clean the bottom myself because that way I know it gets done and done right. But there are probably honest divers that can be found. Unfortunately, it sounds like Yellow Dick is not one of them.

2. Building up a good core team of committed people who may not always make every race but enjoy racing with you is so important. Once you have a core group of people who know your boat and know your style, you will really make big strides of improvement. It has helped me a lot.

3. Talking through maneuvers before you go into them is really helpful. We do this all the time on Calliope and it really helps new people, but even with experienced crew, discussing the sequence of events that's going to occur before you get to a mark rounding makes a huge difference and reduces costly mistakes. So talk about what side the kite will come down on, when you're going to set the jib, and when the gybe will occur. This allows everybody on board to think their part through before you get to the mark rounding and there's chaos all around you with other boats.

4. Always try to think one step ahead on the race course. So if you're going downwind, have your rear-view spotter look at the course and pick a side for the next upwind leg. The best time to make strategic decisions is when you have the boat settled down and moving and you can think. Don't waste this time by relaxing. Use the time to plan your next leg. If you're on a beat, discuss whether you want to gybe early or not on the next run before you get to the mark. Pick a strategy, analyze it after the fact.

5. As an owner, I used to helm all my races. This year, because of my school commitments, I had to relinquish this role to someone else because I simply could not be present for a lot of the races. As a consequence, in cases where I was in attendance, I would elect to trim or do some other job and work with the crew. For better or for worse, this has worked really well. I enjoy being able to get my head 'out of the boat' and I also feel like I can focus a lot more on getting the boat set up properly which I think makes a speed difference. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the helmsman that I have currently is at least as good as I am (probably better)... But even without a crack helmsman, if you can get a competent driver and dedicate your resources to focusing on tactics and making the boat go fast, it can help your performance. Also, you will learn something about the other jobs on your boat. As an owner and usual helmsman, it is both liberating and scary at the same time to put your boat in somebody else's hands during a race.

6. I think the importance of sails and furling systems is overstressed. Our main was built in 2002. Our kite was built in 2003. Both are stock off the rack sails. Our jib is 3 years old but was not at all fast in our first year using it. We use roller furling which I am convinced makes absolutely NO difference to Alberg racing except MAYBE in extremely light air (although we have been fast in some light air races this year). Don't worry about your sails. If they were made within the last 20 years they are probably fine. Improving your crew work in tacks and gybes and upwind/downwind driving will make a bigger difference than new sails.

7. I also think there is over-emphasis on bottom coatings, which is silly. I have ablative paint on my bottom. I have always had ablative paint. It works fine. I scrub it every week. It may wear off faster, but in my opinion it is certainly not slower around the racetrack than hard paint. I don't think that, for the speed, hull shape, and average roughness of our boats, there is any difference between ablative and hard bottom paint. So if you worry about your bottom, don't. Get it clean, but don't agonize over what kind of paint you have.

8. One of the biggest things you can do to improve is try to eliminate mistakes. Whenever we have a bad tack or sail change, I try to work through it with the crew. I ask what went wrong. We try to analyze and discuss what could have been done differently. We try to do this every time there is something that doesn't go right, and I think often we make improvements by going through this process. By eliminating mistakes, you elevate your game and you shave boatlengths off your total distance sailed. It allows you to hold lanes and keep your air clear, which pays huge dividends in the end.

9. Another thing we always try to do is debrief after every race. We discuss what decisions were good and what decisions were bad. If we did well, we think about what made the difference. If we did poorly, we look for reasons (excuses?). We replay the race in discussion and talk about where we could have chosen differently and what might have happened if we'd done it another way. By doing this we prepare ourselves for future races when we will be faced with similar decisions.

10. The last thing is we always have fun. On Calliope, we have 2 sailing mottoes: the first is when the skipper starts yammering too much, the crew should say: 'Shut up and drive.' The second is "We win by leaving the dock." If you take the attitude that simply getting out on the water already is winning and everything else after that is gravy then you are guaranteed to achieve your goal. It has worked for us.

We have enjoyed a great season of Wednesday Night Racing. I won't make either Oxford or Queenstown personally, but Calliope will be there without me. I hope y'all have a great time and I do plan on seeing everybody at PSA for the Rankin Regatta!

Friday, August 6, 2010

2010 WNR Series 3, Race 1: Worst to First!

After many weeks of lackluster attendance and no bottom cleaning, I finally was able to get it in gear and with my 3 PM lecture canceled and no commitments until Dermatology clinic at a lackadaisical 9 AM on Thursday, I bailed out of Baltimore at 2:30, picked up an air tank on the way south, and with dive gear in hand, I arrived at the boat around 4 PM with intentions to clean the bottom. It was a dirty job. I am not gonna lie. We had at least a 1/4" coating of uniformly thick sludge over the whole bottom with a particularly encrusted keel. 90 minutes later, the job was done and we were leaving the mooring.

5 boats showed up to race: Calliope, Skybird, LinGin, Asylum, and Second-2-Nun. In a reasonably brisk southerly, we started the race (course B2...finally something other than A0!) on a pin favored line with Asylum unquestionably winning the start at the favored pin end. The course was close hauled to the first mark. We were a bit late and other boats started further up the line towards the boat. Relatively early, Skybird and Second-2-Nun tacked out and started heading toward Back Creek. We felt fast, played the shifts, and managed to get to the mark in 2nd place. Unfortunately for us, we ran afoul of Lazy Ethel who seemed to think that instead of saying 'protest' and raising a flag, the way to do it was to hit us from leeward when they clearly could have avoided contact, and yelling 'contact, contact, contact, contact, contact, contact'. Clearly somebody needs to explain to them RRS 14 as well as that the word 'contact' does not validate a protest, but that only the word 'protest' does. But I digress. We sailed clear of the course, did our 720 degree penalty and since no damage was done, continued our race albeit in last place. But not by a whole lot. Kudos to Jon, Ken, and Dave for steering and trimming through a great 720 degree turn.

On the reach, we pulled our leads forward, powered up the jib and started reeling in. Once we got to the 2nd mark, it was a beat up to the E mark and we were starting off in a bit of a squall. It took us a minute to get everything situated, but once we did, we had some solid wheels. With the pressure up, we had dropped the leads back to flatten the foot of the jib and that seemed to be pretty fast. At least we were making trees on boats inland. For unknown reasons, the fleet tacked away and sailed in towards the harbor. Aboard Calliope, we were confused as to why people made this choice because the pressure seemed to be clearly better in the middle of the bay. So we stayed on starboard, put the bow down and rumbled. This tactic worked because by the top section of the beat we had passed everybody except Skybird. As we came to the mark (both of us overstood), for some reason they kept sailing high and so we just decided to power up, put the bow down, and punch through their wind shadow. I don't know if it was the clean bottom or our guts, but somehow this tactic worked. There was some discussion about proper course and 'taking us down' but clearly the proper course rule states that we are entitled to sail to the mark. It would not have been within the rules for us to take the windward boat above our proper course, but since that never happened, to my knowledge it was a non-issue. Either way, by the time we got to the mark, it was definitely a non issue as there was no longer an overlap anyhow because we were clear ahead.

The spinnaker set was its whole own fiasco (and sadly not the last one), as we had sheets led wrong, spinnaker hooked up wrong, and basically everything was rusty. Fortunately, Pat the HE-bow-man was able to manage a feat of superhuman strength and disconnect/reconnect the guy to a full kite while re-rigging it to be right. Lucky for us, he is both strong and long-armed. And it was not that windy. Bottom line: we managed to stay in front of Skybird during the set, and that is saying something, because aboard our boat it was not a pretty set. But we got-r-dun. And then we just sailed faster to the next mark. Amazing what a clean bottom will do for you.

We rounded R2 2 lengths ahead of the pack, spinnaker douse and jib set were clean and it was a beat to the harbor, except for one small detail. We had put the jib luff in the prefeeder, but not in the headfoil track. DOH! So we had a jib that was held onto the boat by the 3 corner points only. I was trimming and thought the leech looked funny until Jon the helmsman said to me 'Uh we don't have the luff in the track'. So then it was a quick jib douse and re-hoist in the track and with Skybird pressing us from behind I was a bit worried whether we could manage it before they passed us. Turns out, we did although Dave the pit man did pay a bit of a price with some skin sacrificed to the whistling jib halyard on the way down. In the aggregate, we got the jib back up just about the time skybird's bow was at our beam, with acceleration and wind shadow we pulled back ahead. In the light pressure, pulled the lead back forward to power up and put on our rumble caps. If it had taken us 5 more seconds to do the drop and re-set, they would have punched into clear breeze and been able to get ahead. Again, having a slick bottom makes some difference...

Coming into the harbor, we couldn't lay the seawall, had to dive into the field, went to the wall and tacked, forced Skybird to tack as we came out on starboard, and led them into the finish for the horn. LinGin got the 3, Second-2-Nun the 4, and Asylum the 5. Overall it was a highly satisfying race. Well sailed by all involved. I feel lucky that we managed to win it. Only my second bullet in 8 years of WNR so don't give me any crap about being stoked over it. I have to say it did feel mighty good to go from worst to first though! Honestly, I think the difference was going into the bay on starboard when everybody else went to the harbor on port for the beat to mark 'E'. But also for sure having a clean bottom helped a heck of a lot. It was great to see everybody, and I'll be out there next week! Thanks to all my crew for an awesome race and a great dinner at Davis's Pub afterwards. Hope to see y'all out there next week!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A WNR Catch Up

  • I am missing J's eloquent missives from the racing front. I cannot do him justice, but .... we need some more racing chit chat on this blog!!! Apologies but this is decidedly from the Laughing Gull Perspective.

    Check out the coverage on ( you need to sign up, but the slow connection is free. They also have a good series - "Upside down is slow" which is most amusing.

    Starting with the most recent one first as that was most interesting from our perspective...


    We were a little bit off on this race until the very end. We started a little behind the gun. We arrived at the upwind mark kind of with the pack, and then tacked over onto the South side of the course from this point on we were about 200 yards too far south. Heading int the right direction, and feeling good as we were to windward of the fleet and sailing a little large and therefore had maximum boat speed. This was great until we passed in front of Calliope on her way back to the harbor, and J (much to his credit and our appreciation) brought to our attention that we were not headed for the right mark. Aaaaack - well who knows what happened. Its not like we have not been around that mark before! So while the whole fleet headed back to the harbor, we hung a hard turn, and headed wing to wing back to the red nun. Do you get the picture - some stupid Alberg approaching the mark from the wrong side and rounding in front of a couple of J105s and other speedy boats - in our defense, we did approach on starboard.

    Anyway after that, we figured we were good and done, and we just kind of put our heads down and sailed. At some point we looked up and saw Tim in Asylum. He tacked in front of us by the Academy wall, and that was the last we saw of him. He got lost in the pack on that side of the harbor. The next time we saw an Alberg was by the finish line, and saw Harry not too far in front of us - whaaaa?! We were very surprised. Somehow J and Tim had become tied up in the mess of boats that is the finish on Wednesday night. We had short tacked up the academy side of the harbor, missing all the faster boats by the chart house. That will be the last time J helps us out! They say the harbor is a whole new race, but this is the first time we have actually come out on top in the harbour.

    One key was that we really hussled on the tacks. By the time we got to the end, the team was beginning to gel, and needed a beer!! Ray and Mike did an awesome job on the job. Mike is a motor boat guy, but ... we will convert him yet.


    I was watching this one on a motor boat - first time I have ever done that, and needless to say, the wind was great - why was I not on the boat?! Ray and Sandy from Viceroy joined us. They were in Annapolis harbor as this was the night before the summer cruise.

    Anyway First comment. Did Lin Gin run aground trying to get to the race on time?? From our perspective both Ray and I thought it looked like she came to a grinding halt out by the tripod marker. It did not seem to matter, even though they must have got to the line late, by half way back to the harbor, it seemed as if LinGin was in the lead. How does that happen?

    Interesting to see the race by spectator boat. We were out by the Bay Bridge when all the big boats turned around. it was a Jibe mark - do you take chute down first? carry it around them mark, and then take it down? T2PTV has some good footage - (Free for slow connection, but you need to sign up).

    7/14 - Albergs get a good showing on - (when you see two kids n the foredeck, that is Laughing Gull; Julien is busy hooking up the chute)

    I thought it was going to be another slow one, but the wind picked up nicely. Downwind start. I was chasing Harry thinking I was going to force him up the line to the committee boat, but he got by. I shouted at him to slow down, but you know how that goes. In the meantime, got nasty looks from some PHRF boat that happened to get between me and Harry and clearly could not understand why the leeward boat on Starboard was expecting him to get out of the way. Anyway we chased Harry all the way to the upwind mark, and rounded that with Lin Gin in the lead, Asylum right behind us, and Calliope and Skybird somewhere in the mix. The only registered boat that was not there was Argo, and TC is still nursing an engine back to health. He refuses to take our advice and take the thing out to make a mooring anchor!

    All the boats immediately tacked over onto starboard and headed over towards Back Creek. Seeing as how one can never win following the crowd, we took off for the north shore. This seemed to pay off big time. By the time we needed to do a quick tack to make the nun and the turn into the harbor, we crossed in front of Linn Gin by a boat length or two - technically I think that put us in the lead. However, anytime you tack an Alberg that is 2 + boat lengths that you give up, so Linn Gin rounded the nun and took off into the harbor.

    Coming back towards the red nun was excellent as the Farr 40s were making their way back at the same time. They were on starboard, and we cut right between two of them - close behind one, and just hoping we had enough headway to make it past the second. we tacked right on top of the second. We were close enough to talk, and I warned her I was tacking to cover, but all that got me was a good laugh from the folks on their rail.

    Once we rounded the nun and were headed into the harbor it was clear that this was going to be a spinnaker finish. Was the wind going to hold? Would we be taking the chute down the moment we had it up? We headed upwind a bit to see where things stood, and to put ourselves at a better angle going into the harbor above all the other boats - there is nothing so pitiful as an old A30 getting stalled by all the big boats stealing all the wind - we were going to be upwind of that mess. Harry had the same idea - he was heading even further upwind than us. A few hundred yards past the turn, the chute goes up, and we are headed for the finish line. AYC had called the right race course for the various classes. They had sent the really fast boats on a long course, and the A30s on the short course. We were finishing with the J105, and presumably a few other really fast ones. We were sailing through the anchorage for a while alongside a J105 that had exactly the same color chute - it would have made an interesting shot to get the old and the new together. We were not alongside each other for long.

    Typical downwind finish - EXCEPT we were right behind two big boats (105s) nose to nose for the line, and right behind us were two others fighting it out (I think for third and fourth). The moment the two in front of us crossed the line, they rounded up (so they did not hit the Eastport bridge for those not familiar with how these races end). I was spending all my time trying to get across the line with two big boats dropping chutes and cluttering things up. The moment we were called across the line - hard to port drop chute along side a J105 that had just done the same. Turned my head left, and damn those 105 chutes look big as they are heading for you. You can see this on - it felt closer than it looks there.

    Whew good fun - about time too. Finish order was Linn Gin, Laughing Gull, Second 2 Nunn, SkyBird? and Asylum?

Monday, June 7, 2010

2010 Ted Osius Memorial Regatta

I brought Rinn Duin down from the Magothy Friday night, dodging thunderstorms on my way to Lake Ogleton. In the morning I met my crew of coworkers Dustin Whipple and Tin-Guen Yen, A30 Secretary Rachel and her friend and 470 sailer Tori Graw. We set out early for a few hours of practice before checking in at R2 at 1100.

The race committee set up a 4 leg, 1 mile windward/leeward course in a light to moderate southerly and got started promptly on schedule, with the Albergs the 4th of 5 starts.

I had a poor start. We planned to come in from the left and tack to starboard on the best hole we could find, but I overpredicted our boat speed, and we crossed way last. We made pretty good time upwind . We crossed Second-2-Nun and Harry had to duck us, though he got well ahead of by the first mark rounding. We rounding in 5th place, having picked up Laughing Gull and Skybird. Then our lack of experience really started to show as the chute went up with a twist, and we struggled to get moving downwind. Jonathan took advantage of this and Laughing Gull moved up and passed us. Our foresail woes continued at the leeward mark with a halyard wrap that slowed our jib hoist, difficulty dousing the chute and then the topping lift lost up the mast!

By the time we got good close-hauled boat speed, Skybird had taken over 6th place. Mike Nikolich sailed both dowind legs without a chute. The wind had shifted westerly by this time, so had a single reach to the mark. We seemed to gain on Skybird but couldn't get close to catching her. The committee waited for us to cross, then canceled the second race due to predictions of thunderstorms.

The results below show that Tim was well out in front, but that the battle for 2nd was intense, with Windswept, Second-2-Nun and Argo all finishing within 25 seconds of each other.

Thanks to my crew for hanging in there despite our troubles. Dustin had only done foredeck once before, and was able to fix things once we figured out what went wrong. Just getting out there and around the race course is an accomplishment!

We could not make it to the race party on Sunday due to family obligations. I would be glad to hear any reports on the party, other views of the race, or any pictures from either.


Official Results of the 2010 Ted Osius Memorial Regatta from :

Pos Sail Boat Skipper Finish Delta
1 244 LinGin Tim Williams 14:11:23.0 0:00
2 562 Windswept Lanny Helms 14:16:09.0 4:46
3 484 Second-2-Nun Harold Gamber 14:16:23.0 0:14
4 247 Argo T.C. Williams 14:16:34.0 0:11
5 197 Laughing Gull Jonathan Adams 14:22:46.0 6:12
6 550 SKYBIRD Mike Nikolich 14:25:23.0 2:37
7 272 Rinn Duin Michael Meinhold 14:26:27.0 1:04