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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Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, much of that comes from bad judgment. – unknown. Keith invited me to go on an afternoon sail on a Caliper 40 that was being chartered for practicing engine handling in harbors. I had a chance to offer some tips to a few novice sailors on the finer points of boat handling and some observations. <a href=”” title=”Gori 2-Bladed Folding Prop” target=”_blank”><img src=”” width=”194″ height=”73″ align=”left” hspace=”3″ alt=”Gori 2-Bladed Folding Prop” class=”alignleft” /></a>First, unlike most sailors who complains about their prop walk, I actually like prop walk on a boat. I think a noticeable prop walk can help a boat turn in a far tighter radius than one without… The advantage of prop walk in maneuvering a boat in tight quarters is you can turn using the prop walk to spin your stern faster. For instance, my boat walks to port while backing up with my <a href=”″ target=”_blank”>Gori folding prop</a>, this means I can turn sharper to starboard than to port. I use this to my advantage when I’m in tight quarter situation and can spin around in the boat’s own length if I’m turning to starboard versus port. Second example, my preferred docking side is to port because when I stop by putting the boat in reverse, the boat will pull the stern in closer because of the prop walk rather than drift away from the dock. When a boat doesn’t have a pronounced prop walk, it would turn only when enough water movement over the rudder – which will always require enough forward movement in order to affect a turn. This translates to a larger turning radius than just the length of the boat. Second, most people expect their wheel/rudder to act much like a car wheel – the boat turns in the direction of the wheel… So they turn the wheel like they drive a car, using big motions to turn the wheel hard over from starboard to port or vise versa. In the mean time, they are distracted from sensing the drift, forward/backward motion, the throttle and the prop walk to work in harmony with the rudder. I tend to think of the wheel as underwater wing flaps that shapes the hydrodynamic profile of the hull. This means that until there is enough speed to produce pressure on the rudder, the best thing to do with the rudder is to angle it to the direction you want the boat to turn and use the thrust from the prop to turn your boat UNTIL there is enough forward/backward flow against the rudder to offset the torque of the prop walk. Turning the rudder to present a desirable underwater profile is far more effective gesture than the actual direction of the rudder at standstill. Turning a car wheel while it’s park does nothing to change the direction of the car. This requires the helmsman to develop a bit more sensitivity to boat’s motion over water than most people are willing to take the time to comprehend. It’s a pity, as it is far less stressful for the helmsman and a lot easier on the gearshift. Third, gear shift and throttle control should be engaged/disengaged much earlier than most people would actually practice. I engage the gear shift in reverse before I start my turns because when I turn to starboard and idle in reverse, the prop walk helps slows down forward motion AND walks the stern to port which makes my turn much tighter. Simple! Right? But our car driving habits die hard on the water and we shift to reverse/forward expecting it to behave just like a car transmission and expect instant directional shift when we shift the gears or else we apply big time throttle to insist the boat stop, turn or go forward. In doing so, we draw attention to our boat handling and under the close spectator scrutiny, we inevitably add to our boat handling anxiety and then it happens: the entire harbor stops what they are doing and pull up a chair to scrutinize your boat handling to see when they need to fend off. As you make your moves, just remember Latitude 38’s axiom on docking: “The ease and success of launching and docking is inversely proportional to the number of witnesses…” <a href=”” title=”Beating up to weather” target=”_blank”><img src=”” width=”460″ alt=”Beating up to weather” class=”alignleft” /></a>