NOOD Regatta

The first race of the IRC season series took place in conjunction with Sailing World’s NOOD regatta.  WE had missed the beginning of the IRC racing season because of Timothy’s travels and our decision not to do any IRC Ocean races. So it was the first time all of us will be sailing together as a team even though most of us have sailed with each other at some point or the other, but in different roles and circumstances.  The crew consists of Chris at the bow, with Bret at the mast, Pete in pit, David Smith at mainsheet, Edda, Miha, and Joe are in the cockpit with Ted as the pit boss, Timothy as helmsman and yours truly as tactician.  After checking in and verified there’s no new amendments to the SI, we left the docks and went around the breakwater for some crew practice.  As typical when you put a new group together , it’s a little tentitive as crew work goes, it’s clear everyone knew how to do their job but the timing had to be worked out. We set the chute and practiced gybes a few times to get the crew motion choreography down.

The IRC fleet for the NOOD consists of the following seven boats:

1. Timothy Ballard
Inspired Environments 28423 IRC San Rafael, CA USA CYC
2. Brad Copper
TNT 43690 IRC Pt. Richmond, Ca. USA RYC
3. Frank Morrow
Hawkeye 50444 IRC San Francisco, CA USA US Naval Academy Sailing Squadron
4. Philippe Paturel
CIAO ! 975 IRC Halifax, NS CAN RNSYS
5. Michael (Tony) Pohl
Twisted 40046 IRC San Francisco, Ca USA ST Francis
6. Gerard Sheridan
Tupelo Honey 28908 IRC San Francisco, CA USA South Beach YC
7. Daniel Woolery
SOOZAL 60408 IRC Alamo, CA USA Richmond Yacht Club

Predicted current for the two days were:

26 June 2010 – 27 June 2010
San Francisco Bay Entrance (Golden Gate), California Current
37.8167° N, 122.4833° W
2010-06-26  05:49 PDT   Sunrise

  • 2010-06-26  11:45 PDT   4.00 knots  Max Flood
  • 2010-06-26  15:00 PDT  -0.00 knots  Slack, Ebb Begins
  • 2010-06-26  17:15 PDT  -2.07 knots  Max Ebb
  • 2010-06-27  12:21 PDT   3.88 knots  Max Flood
  • 2010-06-27  15:38 PDT  -0.01 knots  Slack, Ebb Begins
  • 2010-06-27  17:50 PDT  -2.14 knots  Max Ebb

While the number of competitors is small, nevertheless they represent formidable competition.  For instance, Soozal had competed in Key West in January of 2010 with first place finishes as well as competing in other venues.   Then again, it never hurts to have Robbie Haines as your tactician.  She also has a contingent of pro-sailors onboard like Project Manager Scott Easom and Matt Siddens trimming headsails, North Sails’ Pete McCormick on the main.  If you think about it,  Soozal is really a pro or at least a semi-pro sailed boat sailed by the owner.  The other formidable competition: TNT, a custom Tripp 43 is another well sailed boat that won the IRC division B at the 2009 Big Boat Series.  CIAO ! is a new boat, Archambault 40, campaigned by a local sailmaker Sylvain Barrielle (5 time America’s Cup crew and sails developer) to promote the boat and to create interest on the class, so we can assume they have a vested interest to get the best crew around to keep their marketing VP satisfied.  The boats that represents weekend-warrior status like us are Tupelo Honey and Hawkeye.  We generally sail a little better against Hawkeye on a consistent basis, but Tupelo Honey is a handful as Gerrard is a good windward driver and has regularly use the upwind leg to pass us despite his slower rating.  Until we can regularly beat him on the upwind leg, it’s going to keep Tupelo behind us by approximately 55 seconds each hour we sailed.

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The Great Vallejo Race, May 1, 2010

The Great Vallejo Race aboard TakeOff

The Great Vallejo Race aboard TakeOff

May 1, 2010 – Based on Julie’s request, Joan rounded up a pick up crew consisting of Trevor (Bowman), Caxton (mast), Julie (pit), Calvin & Keith (jib and spinnaker trim), and Shannon, Joan and I (alternating on main sheet and helm).  We met at the Alameda Marina at 0900 sharp and loaded up her Laser 28 with coolers filled with her famous bloody mary’s and margarita and half a dozen bottles of wine and champagne.  Add to this liquid cargo, and add the bags of food she had provisioned, you’d think we were provisioning for a trip to Hawaii, not Vallejo.  We started the motor and headed out the Oakland estuary with bloody mary’s on one hand and spring rolls on the other for breakfast.  We arrived at the starting area near the Berkeley circle about an hour before the race and hoisted the sails to get the crew settled and get used to the light wind conditions.

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sbyra 2008 w#4 cpyc

Took advantage of the crew showing up to the race, we set up a few extra telltails for the shrouds and back stay for light air, but the wind is forecasted for 10-15 knots building to 15-25 later in the day. MIST is more comfortable in this wind range than the typical winter light air. When we arrived at the boat, I had them take down the 125 jib just so we wouldn’t be complacent and leave it up if the wind is light. But as fate would have it, the 125% was just the right size sail as the wind build little by little as we headed towards the starting area. By the time we start, the wind was 10-15 knots and we were moving nicely with the 125%.For a simple and short course, there was quite a bit of tactical decision regarding which was the best course to sail given the ebb and the wind direction and velocity. MIST sailed on the East side going towards Mark “C” after the start even though the risk of stronger current because we like the pressure on the East side and we did not feel the delta of current between going further inshore warranted the risk of lighter pressure given our 125% jib.We were positioned to leeward of First Light right after the start – smack in her wind shadow. We considered a tack to keep our air clean, but the wind pressure on the right side (West) didn’t look as strong, so we decided to tough it out – hoping our longer waterline and slight footing off will give us enough speed to nudge our bow out in front of First Light’s wind shadow. After a few looong minutes on the same tack, First Light tacked towards inshore presumably to get into lighter current. We assessed our options and decided that a heavy displacement boat like Mist needs more wind pressure and opted to stay on starboard tack to gain further separation from First Light and to have stronger pressure for better boat speed. Once we sailed close to the layline, we tacked to port and when we converge with First Light again, we were well ahead. However, our call for the layline was a little off and required us to do two tacks in fairly quick succession to round the “C” mark.

We were a little late in setting the chute after rounding “C” in part because of the two quick tacks as well as some miscommunications aboard. After hoisting the chute, we noted Paradigm sailing ahead on a higher reaching course given her asymmetric spinnaker, but Mist (and a few others: First Light, Black Sheep et al) with symmetrical chutes opted more or less rhumb line to Mark#4. Mist only altered course on this leg when wind pressure felt light and Skipper Keith “heated” up a bit to keep our VMG optimal. Mist made up a quite a bit of our lost time from a late start (about 20 seconds) on this leg to round ahead of Paradigm by about 3 boat lengths – not enough to make our handicap. We knew we wanted to head inshore to the final leg to lessen the impact of the ebb, but again, we saw better wind pressure in the middle part of the bay versus the inside and opted to stay on starboard tack as long as we can keep a loose cover Paradigm who was on the same tack. This means that we won’t risk much sailing on the same tack as long as Paradigm is in the same current. Once Paradigm decided to tack inshore after a bit, we were tempted to tack to cover, but again chose to stay with the pressure until there’s a bit more separation between us. We kept assessing the water depth delta between Paradigm and us. The rationale being that as long as Paradigm in in relatively same water depth as us, we should have approximately the same ebb current. After a significant separation developed, we noted that our depth is about 30 feet, and Paradigm is undoubtedly much less, we tacked towards shore in a pressure zone and monitored the water depth for a chance to tack back to starboard when either of the following conditions: 1.) water depth is less than 20 feet; 2.) we are on the layline of the finish. There was only one problem on the last leg for MIST: in the increasing rain and haze, it was a hard to ascertain where the RC boat is exactly and there was no other boat ahead to give us a reference. The GPS was indicating one thing, the crew was identifying another, so we weaved up and down a bit and sailed the leg like a drunken sailor. While we finished first on actual time ahead of Paradigm by about a minute five seconds (according to our watch), it’s doubtful that we have enough margin to correct out ahead of Paradigm. There’s alway going to be that next time for Mist….

Congratulations to Luther and crew for their victory,s/v MISt, signing off…NOTE TO SELF: Boat seems to point higher on starboard tack than on port compared to Paradigm in 15 knots of wind. The helm still seems to have a bit of lee-helm since even in 12-15 knots I need the main trimmed tight and pulled up to weather to get a slight helm. Possibl we will need to loosen the head stay some more to get a more weather helm. Also possible the shrouds have loosened up more and needs more tension as the shrouds appear to be a bit more slack than before.

down wind tactics

This Wednesday’s beer race, we mixed it up again with Paradigm. Paradigm was designated as the rabbit for today and headed to close hauled course on port as soon as she came back out the harbor for the second time. We crossed her stern on starboard tack, while Paradigm continued sailing on port for about four boat-length and tacked on starboard. She was approximately 4 boat-length to weather and behind at this point. We both sailed on starboard until we are near the port layline. By this time, Mist was able to climb up to weather almost in line with Paradigm and still ahead of Paradigm by a boat length. I let Paradigm call the tack to the “C” mark so that I can be sure that I didn’t have a starboard tack issue and also I’d like to cover Luther on the down wind leg as I’d like to expose our crew to down-wind covering tactics. Besides, it’s always fun to give Luther a little dirty air and see how he would respond tactically. We are now close to a starboard broad reach/run to Channel marker# 8 and provided us a great range of options for blanketing Paradigm. Sure enough, it didn’t take long for Luther to luff us up, and we trimmed in the sails in response to his luff. However, since we are so close together, Luther can hear me telling the crew to trim in or let the sail out. Therefore, he would luff up as soon as I instruct my sail trimmers to ease sails when I see that he has started to head down. This went on for about six or seven times with occasional luffs as high as close hauled from a broad reach course. In due time, the trimmers got the idea when to trim and I do not have to telegraph our moves to Luther verbally. We kept away from him pretty well and maintained enough speed to cover him at all time that he could not shake us off. In addition, the J-100 was also on our hip and responding to the wide course gyrations that we had to make as Paradigm luff us. Finally, I gybed over on to port just to see if I can break away from him enough to get some speed and get ahead. But the wind is too light for my heavy displacement hull to have any real speed advantage to get ahead even if I have a hotter angle to reach up. Besides, by the time I reach up to his lee, he would slow me down anyway. So after a little while and while Luther is not watching us so closely, we gybed over to starboard and aimed for his transom for another bout of covering tactics. By this time, we both have sailed much too high to be on broad reach to the mark, instead, we were now both on a run. We both winged out our jibs to catch as much pressure as possible and this gave the crew another situation to apply to their experience – how to transition from winged out sail to a broad reach configuration as well as gybing the sails in response to competitor’s luffs and luffing against competitors. As we got closer to Mark #8, we were all on port gybe heading towards the mark and an interesting tactical situation was developing… 1. We were all sailing on port approaching the mark. 2. Mist (green) initiated a gybe. Because we are now on starboard tack, and that we have an overlap to the J-100 (yellow) by a gybe rather than from behind, we have full luffing rights. 3. Mist headed up slightly to J-100 and forced the J-100 to gybe which then forced Paradigm to gybe as well. This sets Mist up as the leeward boat with full luffing rights, but I chose not to luff too hard as the J100 is now between Mist and Paradigm and I didn’t want him to interprete this as an aggressive act against her rather than the real intended target – Luther. 4. Mist headed down after a half hearted luff, which really didn’t accomplish much as the J-100 continued to gain on the down wind leg and is now abeam between Mist and Paradigm. 5. This sets up a rounding in which Mist is the outside boat and Paradigm did the usual sharp luff at the mark to prevent any possibility of any one shooting above her. 6. Mist was able to point higher than the J-100, squeeze her to where her jib is feathering and slowed her down until Mist passed her. But Paradigm had slipped ahead and we could not catch her before the channel entrance. <a href=”” title=”Actual beercan tracks” target=”_top”><img src=”” width=”520″ alt=”Actual beercan tracks” class=”centered” /></a> Here’s what needed to happen if we were to execute this in a more competitive scenario: 1. Same port tack approach. Gauge when to gybe to starboard tack. Need enough room to make sure that when Mist head down to the 2 boat length circle, that she will be clear of the overlap. 2. Gybe to starboard. Given we had gybed, Mist now has full luffing rights as we did not achieve this overlap from astern. Mist begins luffing with steady but determined pace to make sure the J-100 comprehend the magnitude of the luff to at least to a beam reach. This means luff fast enough to surprise her with our luffing speed, but not making contact. 3. When the J-100’s helmsman is watching Paradigm to make sure she will not come too close to Paradigm, Mist would immediately head down towards the 2 boat length circle. Alternatively, Mist could elect to luff long enough to establish an inside course while Paradigm and J-100 would disengage by sailing behind Mist’s stern when Mist was luffing. This last option would be a valid when match racing or when there are no other competitors to factor in the race. 4. Taking the advantage of latency, Mist would be making her way down to the 2 boat length circle. With the right amount of turn, the perpendicular line from the transom will not have any overlap as Mist enters the 2 boat length circle – therefore Mist will not have to give room to either Paradigm or the J-100. 5. Both J-100 and Paradigm will have to avoid Mist as she rounds the Mark. 6. This sets Mist ahead and in clear air for the next leg. <a href=”” title=”A more aggressive tactic” target=”_top”><img src=”” width=”520″ alt=”A more aggressive tactic” class=”centered” /></a>