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First recorded activity by BoatBanter: Feb 2007
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Default Race Debrief... winter series 12-2008

On Saturday Dec 20th, the winds were forecast to be 6~9 knots W~NW and
clocking around to E. What really happened (and on the boat, we
thought it probable) was that the wind did clock around but died as it
did so. The first beat of the first race was the best wind we had all
day. Completed 2 races though!

Due to a bit of jostling the roster, we had only 3 people sail
yesterday. I (Doug) wanted to play as the bowman, so I could see
firsthand what is going on up at the front end during an actual race.
Bill D took the helm, John J was the trimmer/pit/tactician and
troubleshooter. We worked together like a fine clock.... well, maybe
like a not-so-fine clock, one that tends to drop a few minutes here &
there, and on rare occasions runs backward while making loud grinding
noises... but hey we had a lot of fun!

There were fewer boats out, so the RC decided to put all spinnaker
boats together in one class. We had 3 competitors, a San Juan 30, a
Pearson 31m2, and a C&C 34xl. The first race we set up for a starboard
tack close reach to the RC boat at about 1 min 30 to go... we slacked
a bit so as not to be early, had good timing as the rest of the fleet
on starboard tack & to leeward charged in and arrived at the line
early. We accelerated into the gap and took a very good start right at
the RC boat. Immediately we were able to outpoint the fleet.

Unfortunately the other boats with longer waterlines managed to get to
the mark ahead of us; but not by much. The spinnaker set was a bit
slow, but clean. One problem we have is that the tack (front bottom
corner) of the spinnaker has to come out of the companionway, over the
lifelines, and under the jib to get out in front of the forestay & let
the sail fill with wind. It tends to get stuck along the way and needs
a bit of helping. This is harder to do with only 3 people.

We had pretty good downwind speed once everything was set, but again
the bigger boats tended to run away from us and the downwind leg was
too short to make up the time. We also kept closer to the rumbline
which I think helped on this leg as the wind pressure held; but the
last upwind leg to the finish was again fairly short, the wind had
clocked a bit further favoring starboard tack even more. It wasn't
exactly a parade but we didn't have much chance to put any moves on
them, either.

The 2nd race was a bit more up-n-down. A mass scramble to sieze the
boat end at the start left 2 boats circling back, including the San
Juan 30. We were a few seconds late but right on the windward (RC) end
of the line, unfortunately looking at 3 boats to ahead & lee-bowing

The last one in line was a Beneteau 36.7 and owner/skipper Exxx Pxxxxx
was eavesdropping as we said, "We gotta get outta here, look at the
exhaust fumes we're getting!" He tacked just as we were starting our
own tack, fortunately the crew was flexible enough that when I (ever
the front-seat driver) called out "No, no, we need to keep going, he's
tacking right on top of us!" the boat shot straight forward like an
arrow. Exxx looked back with a grin and I said "Thanks Exxx, any time
you need help with tactics just let me know!"

Anyway, we got the windward mark just behind C&C 34 and Pearson 31m2,
well within striking distance. The big C&C had spinnaker problems, we
kept hugging the Pearson, and the San Juan 30 came up from behind. We
gave them a bit of a luff to clear our wind, then we arrived at the
leeward mark with them just overlapped to the outside. We held the
spinnaker until literally the last second, did a perfect douse-n-round
and looked back to see the San Juan 30 breathing our exhaust fumes and
falling back.

The next windward leg was a bit of a hunt for wind and we lost ground
on the Pearson31. We arrived at the 2nd windward mark and got ready
for a set early on the starboard tack lay line. The spinnaker was
jumbled from our previous port-tack leeward takedown and in getting
the tack out, the sail blew all over the cockpit. Good thing Bill can
steer by feel!

This spinnaker set was quick & clean, we should have gained a lot. We
probably did but the dying wind took it all back. The San Juan 30 went
far to the right, probably gaining a bit from the river current as
well as sailing a hotter angle. They passed us and went around the
leeward mark with about a minute lead on us.

Now the wind had clocked even more to the NE, died even more, we were
all sitting on the low side and trying to THINK the boat along. It
took forever to put the leeward mark astern and it was obvious we were
fighting current. The San Juan 30 again went out in the middle of the
river but stayed moving well. We tried to point very high and not have
to tack a 2nd time, the result was that Pearson 31 went from far back
on our windward quarter to about 20' abeam & slightly ahead as we
crossed the finish line.

Unfortunately between the lack of wind and the current, we
miscalculated and hit the finish buoy, giving us a DNF for the race.
This goes on the list of mistakes to avoid next time! Another lesson
is that in short races, we don't get much time allowance!

It was really a LOT of fun.

Fresh Breezes- Doug King
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