Feb 27, 2015-Adventure in Paradise-Beer Can 101
wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Lets Move to Leeward
We have some low key racing here in La Cruz on Wednesday nights. Usually only a few boats come out and the marks are often just GPS waypoints but we use these races as practice, and the sailing has been fun, even challenging sometimes.
Take last Wednesday for example:
We had very little breeze at the start, not much at all, but we had the whole crew move to the leeward rail to keep the boat heeled over and we could move and we started well, on starboard, at the pin end. We covered Gypsy, our main competition, and we were leading after the start. It was light, but we were moving well.
Ahead, inshore, we could see a convergent zone which constituted a big hole to sail through, and we saw more wind outside. Which way to go? The boats in the class ahead went out, but we felt that inshore would offer some tide relief, so we stayed in, even though the wind was pretty flat there. Our main completion on this day was Gypsy, a very well sailed older Colombia 52, which in these conditions, was plenty fast. They started with us, and were now just behind, and we watched them closely. If they went out we'd have to tack out to cover.
So here we were, 1/3 of the way to the weather mark, the boats outside had breeze but bad tide and weren't moving all that much, and we were struggling in light wind, but Gypsy, behind us, stayed in too, confirming our choice. There was some tension aboard as we watched the situation develop.
There was breeze ahead and we could see the whitecaps, but would they come to us first, or the boats outside? Finally, abeam Point Blanca we broke into the new breeze and Wings heeled over. Now this was sailing! The boats outside were fighting the tide and weren't moving, but we were. All of a sudden we were leading the race. I called for the crew to hike the boat, and everyone moved to the high side. Eddie, our foreword hand, started getting the kite hooked up.
Next came our big foul up. These races don't always have a windward mark to sail round, just a GPS waypoint, and we have been having a problem getting right exactly to the mark on the GPS. Tonight was no exception. We sailed right past it before the navigation team decided we had missed the turn. Gypsy, behind us, turned exactly at the mark and now they were already headed home.
We spun around, set the kite, and headed after them, but 200ft is a lot of ground to make up. They were ahead and moving.
Then there was the convergent zone which we had to sail back through. Gypsy dropped their kite and sailed through under genoa, and we tried to make up the lost ground by keeping the spinnaker up. It didn't work. They moved through the dead spot and then just picked up their skirts and left us. Every time I looked at them they were farther ahead. We dropped our kite too, but it was too late.
So... we finished second. Not great, but a good practice.
What did we learn?
Good navigation is essential.
When you are behind, don't go for flyers.
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz