The 2011 NOOD regatta is in the history books. 3 great days of sailing in a wide variety of conditions saw 4 different boats win races. The regatta winner, Tim Williams, demonstrated an extremely consistent record, with no finish worse than 3rd. With the regatta's emphasis on consistency by not providing a throwout, there is a premium on being able to consistently place in the top of the fleet. Here is a race-by-race synopsis from my view which varied from way in the front to way in the back, so I got all perspectives.
Friday, April 29
Four races were sailed on Friday in a fresh breeze that started out over 20 knots, waxed and waned as the day went on and the last race was sailed with lulls below 15 knots and puffs in the upper teens.
Race 1: The course bearing was approximately 280 if I remember correctly. In the fresh breeze, we considered reefing but felt that we would be underpowered in the lulls, so we kept the full main and #1 jib. We dropped the leads all the way to the back of our tracks, and kept the traveler down most of the time. Cunningham and outhaul were both very tight and we maximized our backstay tension. In the pre-start of Race 1, we perceived that the line was extremely boat favored and there was a left shift on the course. So we elected to start on port at the boat. We were not the only boat that utilized this tactic as Laughing Gull and LinGin did the same thing. The tactic worked beautifully as we won the race to the top mark by playing the shifts in the oscillating breeze. Being the furthest right of the boats that started on port, we were both the furthest upwind (on the boat favored line) and the first to reach the right shift that we knew would be coming. This put us in an ideal position to control the first beat. The run was relatively square and we were sailing deep and trying not to deathroll or broach in the huge blasty puffs that came down the course. Keeping the keel under the mast was key and having a good astern lookout helped. With a relatively clean and early douse at the left gate, we again worked the right side of the course on the 2nd beat, covering our competition and being conservative. The last run was similar to the first, relatively uneventful for us although it did look like some other boats were having trouble in the puffy breeze. We got the gun in race 1.
Race 2: With breeze and course axis basically unchanged, we maintained our sail settings from Race 1. The line was still boat favored and there was still an early left shift. We basically copied our strategy from race 1. I was surprised that I think there was only one other boat who did this the 2nd time around. To me, it had worked so obviously well the first time, I was surprised more people did not catch on. But whatever, we took it and ran. Just as in the first race, there were 3 boats who started between us and the boat on starboard and we crossed all 3 of them. This time, we did not have as much a lead at the top mark as in race 1, but the boats behind us went around in a pack and ended up in a downwind fight which we managed to avoid. With a clean leeward rounding again, we went around the left gate in first and were in a position to control the 2nd beat. Our lead extended during the beat and the final run was uneventful.
Race 3: By this time, the RC had picked up on the fact that so many port tack starters might mean they should re-set the line and they'd done so. With a square line and no obvious reason for us to go either left or right, we elected to start on starboard with a timed run to the middle of the line. We had a decent start but were a little late and found ourselves in less than ideal position, receiving some backwind from boats on our leebow, and prevented from tacking by boats on our hip. Eventually we were able to work up enough that we forced the windward boat to tack and we were able to bail out in a left shift. For us, this beat was all about getting our wheels turning and trying to claw our way to the top. We went around the windward mark narrowly behind Argo with LinGin, Windswept, and Laughing Gull in a pack close behind. After the rounding we headed down hard and got the inside lane. With a better set than Argo, we managed to work even with them. We sailed the rhumbline as they sailed far out to the right. As we converged on the leeward mark, we had the clear inside lane, but the rounding was complicated by another race that had recently started and featured boats in the other fleet sailing upwind through the leeward gate. We had a disastrous mark rounding, with a delay getting our kite down taking us well below the gate and by the time we got the boat turned around, we had been passed by all but one boat. We managed to claw our way back past one boat but could not pass the pack ahead to finish this race in 5th.
Race 4: We were late getting ourselves organized for this start. By this time, the wind had died off significantly and we had decided to ease off on our outhaul and cunningham as well as dropping our jib leads forward a good bit. We were sailing mostly with the traveler on centerline and just playing the mainsheet. The line was square and by this point we were expecting the sunshine to cause a developing bay breeze resulting in a left shift going up the course. Therefore, we elected to go left on the first beat in anticipation of the big lefty. We made a timed run at the pin which we JUST BARELY were able to lay. Second-2-Nun started on our hip but we were fortunately able to extend underneath and start backwinding them early in the beat, forcing them to tack away. We went as far left as we dared without going all the way to the corner and as we came back out of the left corner, we could see that our strategy had paid off handsomely. Not only were we coming back right in a nice left shift, but we had better pressure than those on the right as well. We rounded the windward mark about a quarter mile ahead of Second-2-Nun who was our closest competitor. This time we favored the left side going downwind and actually managed to pull of a last minute gybe-douse to go around the right gate and head left again. Second-2-Nun clearly realized that this strategy had paid off on the first beat and followed us. Since LinGin was our closest competition in the regatta, we did not go as far left as we had on the first beat, electing to come back right and cover them loosely, we let Second-2-Nun head all the way to the left corner. By the time we reconnected with them, they had gained significantly but had not passed us. They were quite close to LinGin though, who was gaining on us as well. The top part of the beat was maddening as the finish boat kept moving around and I was very worried that we would be caught by LinGin before we got to the finish line. Fortunately, that didn't happen and we held on for the win.
Saturday, April 30
Three races were sailed on Saturday in a much stronger than forecast 15-25 knot northwesterly that shifted persistently further right as the day wore on. The first course of the day was set at 240 degrees, and by the end of the last race, the course axis was 020 and the pressure had dropped off to 5-10 knots. The bay breeze never developed as forecast.
Race 5: We had a terrible view of race 1 because we had a pre-start snafu with our VHF radio and while we were practicing sail handling, we thought that a postponement had been announced when in reality there was an on-time start. Suffice to say we were 10 minutes late for the start of Race 1 and never caught up. Sorry I don't have a better summary of what happened in that race, but it is what it is. We were finished in place in 7th position.
Race 6: As the breeze began to shift persistently right we felt that being on the right side was going to be the way to go. The pressure was still quite strong in general with sustained winds in the upper teens and some vicious puffs into the 20's that were still causing some folks (including us) to have trouble with downwind sail handling and occasional risk of broaching. My crew were nervous about using the kite, but we persisted. At the top of the first beat, we were in the hunt but toward the back of the pack. During the run we maintained position but a tough leeward rounding including an accidental jib drop set us back from the pack. In the end, we wound up 6th and we broke our kite halyard on the last downwind leg. Each beat of this race had to be shifted successively further to the right. So the right was definitely the place to be on the beats.
Race 7: With the breeze now shifted well to the right of the original course heading of 280 all the way to a new course axis of 020, we felt that the new northerly breeze had finally settled in and that we could expect some stability from the right shifts. Consequently, we thought that going left to get relief from the current would be advantageous. The pressure had dropped significantly and we had accordingly eased our outhaul and cunningham as well as dropping the jib leads back forward. Coincidentally with our decision to go left, we decided to start at the pin and we made a timed run on starboard tack with plenty of room to leeward and only one boat on our lee bow. We managed to obtain a good start on time and with speed and took the left side of the course along with Argo. Boats on our hip including Second-2-Nun, Laughing Gull, and LinGin all eventually bailed out and headed back right. This proved to be the wrong tactic as Argo, who had won the left side of the beat, ended up first at the windward mark, with us a couple of boat lengths behind them. Unfortunately, because we had broken our kite halyard and decided to use the jib alone, in the light pressure we were working at a significant disadvantage and were easy prey for passing boats. Fortunately, many of the boats around us had trouble with their sail handling and were not able to make up much distance because of their mark roundings. We elected to take the right gate and go left again because it had worked well on the first beat. Unfortunately, there was now more pressure filling from the right side of the course, coupled with a little more right hand shift and we were on the wrong side of it this time. So the boats on the right gained and we watched our chances to hang in this race disappear with the freshening right hand shift. We rounded close astern of Second-2-Nun and Windswept but watched them extend away from us on the run. We were able to hold off Laughing Gull for a 5.
After racing on Saturday, we all gathered to enjoy the spring rendezvous at the Bay Ridge Clubhouse. Windswept, Laughing Gull, and Calliope all were docked in Lake Ogleton, and many of our crew members enjoyed meeting folks from the A30 association and enjoying the food, drinks, friendship, and live music at the party. A good time was had by all, and many thanks are due to all those folks who helped to organize and put on the party.
Sunday, May 1
The final day of the regatta was cool and cloudy. The predicted bay breeze southerly was already in effect by the time the race started at 11 AM, but conditions on Sunday were much lighter than either Friday or Saturday had been. We expected a building bay breeze, shifting left through the day, with a strong current running down the bay and out of the river. Given the location of the course, we expected that being on the left side would be the place to be.
Race 8: Although we thought the left would be the advantaged side of the course, as we watched the S2 fleet converge on the top mark, we noticed that boats who had gone right early had done really well. We therefore changed our starting strategy from our original plan of starting in the middle or at the pin to starting at the boat and going right. In the pre-start, we perceived a strong ebb current which was going to be pushing us over the line and would make things tough for us. The pressure in the pre-start was pretty light and we were caught trying to get down to the line just to make the start. Fortunately there was not a lot of traffic at the boat and we were able to squeeze in before Second-2-Nun could close the door on us otherwise we might have been caught barging. As it was, we ended up with a perfectly timed start at the boat end with speed and 3 of our main competitors having been called over early. We were then able to protect the right side and get there first. This tactic worked great as the right gave us ground on boats that had gone left and we managed to BARELY lay the windward mark in first place. Unfortunately, just after we had laid that mark, we got into irons and Skybird, capably skippered by Larry Morris, slipped by us before we got to the offset mark. Once we rounded the offset mark, things got crowded and there was a good deal of jockeying for position on the run to the gate. Getting through the gate was quite a challenge with the current again sweeping us down course it was difficult just to get through the gate at all. We ended up going to the left gate and taking the left side of the course again. This was a bad decision as by now the current had become the dominant force in the race and the left side was highly favored because of the strong ebb current on the left. In addition, the breeze had started to shift left, making the left side even more favorable. By the time we got to the 2nd windward mark, we were well in last and our only hope to hang on to 3rd place in the regatta was that neither Laughing Gull nor Second-2-Nun would finish in the top 2 places. Sadly, Laughing Gull finished 2nd and we finished last and were knocked out of 3rd by 1 point.
Overall, it was a great regatta, 3 amazing days of sailing. Congratulations to Tim Williams for sailing a consistent 3 days of strong finishes, and to Lanny Helms and Jonathan Adams also for great sailing. I would be lying to you if I didn't own up to the fact that watching the awards was bittersweet for me. Full results follow:
Division: Alberg 30 (7 boats) (top)
Pos Sail Boat Skipper 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Total
1 244 LinGin Tim Williams 2 2 1 2 1 1 2 3 14.00 1
2 562 Windswept Lanny Helms 4 3 2 4 2 3 3 4 25.00 2
3 197 Laughing Gull Jonathan Adams 3 5 3 5 4 4 6 2 32.00 3
4 287 Calliope John Bergquist 1 1 5 1 7 6 5 7 33.00 4
5 484 Second-2-Nun Harry Gamber 6 6 7 3 3 2 4 5 36.00 5
6 247 Argo T.C. Williams 5 7 4 7 5 5 1 6 40.00 6
7 550 SKYBIRD Michael Nikolich 7 4 6 6 6 8/DNS 8/DNS 1 46.00 7