BBS 2009 – Day 1, Race 2

Race #2

We sailed back to Starting Area CF, the meteorological situation were:  winds 12-15 knots, currents: 2009-09-10  14:46 PDT   2.14 knots  Max Flood; 2009-09-10  17:26 PDT  -0.00 knots  Slack, Ebb Begins.  The second race for Division D started at 15:00 promptly so we were at max ebb current.  We were 15 seconds late to the line in the middle of the pack, Kuai, who started on the pin end had good speed off the line, catapulted out of the starting line and port tacked everyone at the starting line.  Kuai shows momentary brilliance in specific maneuvers but cannot sustain their drive to place well in the fleet.  They have a relatively new crew and it shows.  Back to the race, Tupelo Honey took over the lead for the fleet and tacked over to port once she felt she is in optimal tack line to Alcatraz, we follow suit soon there after.  The entire fleet except Petard headed for the cone of Alcatraz for tidal relief.  Once the fleet reached Alcatraz, each of them tack closer to the cone in order to stay out of the Alcatraz wind shadow but still remain in the tidal current shadow.  For some reason, Hawkeye and Bodacious bang the corner hard and sailed past Alcatraz into the north side of island where they must have encountered adverse flood current coming into the north channel – they lost considerable grounds after they tack back.  Our pointing and speed was not to par against Tupelo Honey, but at the same token, we were in much better position than the rest of the fleet that sail further to the north.  [ : : Tactical note: when deploying the Cone of Alcatraz, there’s no need to sail past the mid point of the Island as you get headed as well as becoming exposed to flood current coming into the north channel, which is purportedly stronger.]  As we approached Alcatraz, we experienced dramatic wind shifts and called to tack out to steadier pressure then made another hitch to windward of Alcatraz for a little more tidal relief before tacking to cross the channel to San Francisco shore.  Kuai for unexplained reason tacked twice on the southern cone edge and lost considerable grounds against Bodacious and Hawkeye and is now trailing the fleet.  Their tactics seemed a bit random.

Screen shot 2009-09-10 at 9.01.11 PM

One thing to note regarding the crossing for the cone of Alcatraz is our tracks.  It appears from the crossing track, that the adverse current is primarily just by Alcatraz and the mid channel.  If you note our track getting a 15° lift to the west, it is not so much due to wind shift as much as lesser flood current once past the mid point of the channel.  This perhaps can be explained by the fact that by this time, the South Bay is pretty much reached high tide and has a standing wave characteristics, but the North Bay is still not reached high tide due to greater area and multiple tributaries that can absorb the current.  Suffice to say, this is a bit of detailed tactical knowledge that must be remembered and applied in the future.  When we approached the SF shore, Petard who crossed the channel right after the start and did not use the Cone of Alcatraz for the crossing is right up there with us – in other words, they did not lose much ground and can be said to even gained as they were rated slower than us but were near par with us much better than Kuai, Bodacious and Hawkeye.  This is another interesting finding for future reference during max flood situation while racing in City Front.

Tacking in the City Front, Tupelo Honey gained considerable distance  against the fleet.  At St. Francis Buoy A, they were nearly 300 meters ahead of us.  Nonetheless we perservered and worked our way up wind.  One thing I know about sailing in this area is there’s is always lifts near Chrissy Fields.  It is a difficult area to sail because of 20°-30° wind shifts and velocity puffs but being the inside boat is always advantageous, so for the last tack to set up for the mark, we headed in to Chrissy Fields deep and tacked only to clear Anita Rock and the shore.  By the time we crossed tack with Tupelo near the windward mark, we were only 40 meters behind Tupelo.  We tacked to set up the hoist and rounded the weather mark second with the rest of the fleet following by considerable margin.  We gybed immediately after the mark while Tupelo continued on starboard gybe for some period then gybed over to cover us.  Given the flood current, we went out to deeper water to catch the flood and was able to find some and gybe to starboard and begin to see the pay off.  We had lost some distance to the mark when we gybed out to the current, but when we gybed back in the current, we took back the lost ground and then some.  So much of the tactics is a matter of deferred gratification, one needs the discipline and courage to stick by your assumptions and live with the consequences.  It’s about understanding WHY we do things rather than learning by rote as it has proven time and time again in my role as tactician for this BBS.  Sometimes, the theoretical reasoning pans out as expected such as here; Sometimes, it doesn’t as was the case in the first race at Angel Island.  Back to the current race, we were able to gain much ground and it is now looking like a match race as the nearest competitor is nearly over one kilometers back as we approach Blossom Rock mark for the leeward rounding.

We rounded Blossom Rock ahead of Tupelo in actual time and tacked to head towards the SF shoreline – recalling the earlier leg for Petard when she sailed to the City Front while the fleet headed to the Cone of Alcatraz.  We traded tack with Tupelo Honey all the way up the City Front exchanging leads back and forth a number of times.  On the last rounding while we rounded in front, we gybed out to current while Tupelo stayed on the starboard gybe.  This was a gratuotus move and costed us some distance – even though the final outcome is already decided – we were not able to make up our handicap for most of the last windward beat, but a moral victory would have been nice.  So we scored another second place for the second and final race of the day.

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