Rolex Big Boat Series 2010 – notes…

Things to remember on the 2010 Rolex Big Boat Series at St. Francis Yacht Club:

We were very competitive going into the RBBS with the division breaks, our main competitor going in was Tupelo Honey, but there were also other boats that could be a threat  such as Hawkeye, who had (Bill Colombo) from Doyle Sails aboard and a J-109, Electra,  from Southern California sailed by Harry Pattison of  Elliot Pattison Sails. Going into the third day of racing, 3 boats tied for first place.  Unfortunately for us, Saturday was a light wind day and we were somewhat under canvased to be able to race effectively despite having great starts off the line.  It took us out of contention for the podium finish, but overall we were definitely a threat to any of the podium finishers.  This log is to itemize some of the key points and lessons from this year’s BBS efforts…

  • Light air advice from Harry Pattison on Electra:  loosen shrouds and head stay to induce sag in head sail and mast should sag in the middle to widen the slot.  After suffering the slows on Saturday’s light-air races where we got 2 fifth place finishes and knocked us off as contenders for a podium finish, we loosen the headstay and sailed fat and fast on the last race of the series.  But Sunday’s condition was not exactly like Saturday, there was a little more wind, so I’m not sure that we have the light air speed problem solved yet.  Nonetheless, our speed using the Doyle jib was very good and we gained in every leg to yield  6:07 elapse time and 3:17 on corrected time ahead over our nearest competitor, Electra.  The light air is definitely a weak point that will need to be shored up before next year.  One way to mitigate this would be to evaluate whether we should enter with a rating that is with the 125% jib and to sail the pre-season races with the 125% to see what the impact would be using the 125% all the time.  Yes, there will be times where we do not need the 125%, but if we can sail without a huge penalty with the 125%, it may be worth it.  Certainly during the year, it would be good to test that hypothesis.

  • Even in late ebb turning to slack this year, it was still advantageous to hug the city front rather than heading north of Alcatraz to catch any residual ebb from the North Bay. This was something of a surprise on Saturday (the light air day) when Hawkeye hug the shore, while Bodacious played the middle of the channel between Alcatraz and the City Front, and we took a flyer out to the north of Alcatraz because we didn’t have the speed and point.  Hawkeye gain considerable distance to Bodacious by hugging the City Front.  Two things I was surprised by this move:  1.) this was light air condition, I would have thought the wind would be blocked closer into the shore, 2.) usually, when it’s slack, the flood comes into shore first then spreading out to mid bay. Timing of this is tough to predict – need to observe this from previous race and monitor closely.
  • The tide charts that were sold for $200.00 were dubious investments.  While it presents to have the current mapped out in detail, in the final analysis, it is a 2 dimensional interpolation and subject to the same flaws as any simulation data.  The best indicators are still visual clues you get as you sail by.  The greatest opportunities is when the tide change direction at different parts of the bay at different times.  Oh…to capture that knowledge on record somehow is difficult.
  • Starts were dialed in this year. The trick is to stay 1-2 boat length below and start pressing for speed 10 seconds before the gun and build speed to 110% so at the gun you can out-point and out-maneuver your opponents that few seconds at the start. Once you have them in your grasp, you have options: you can gas them by pinching up when you have breeze, you can foot off and get more speed to favorable currents… etc.

The one significant skill-set we acquired this year aboard IE is that we can out-point most boats in our fleet with the Pineapple 100% jib in winds above 12+ knots.  The jib is hauled inboard with the barber hauler and the main strapped in tight or travel to weather to induce weather helm, the helmsman drives the boat alternately for speed by pressing and then luff up whenever there’s a puff or pressure.  We find consistently the boat can point 2-5 degrees higher than normal and was able to cause the entire fleet to peel off to weather of us because they could not keep up the pointing.  This was an effective counter to Tupelo’s previous uncontested pointing superiority and we did not see Tupelo attempt to climb to leeward of us as in previous years.

This trimming technique is also a departure from the way the jib was trimmed in previous races and is a potentially contentious point as to how the boat should be sailed. I have trouble grasping the logic in having the jib trimmer setting jib trim independently from the boat’s tactical considerations.  When we are in a tactical situation, every little advantage must be played at the right time to yield a positive result.  It does no good when we are being lee bowed to have the jib trimmer to ease sails – the helmsman has two options, 1.) press down to get the jib drawing maximum, but closing the gap between the leeward boat and us, or 2.) continue to point high and luff the jib, thereby loosing speed while maintaining height.  The helmsman is responding to the jib trimmer for course and direction, it should be the other way around.  The first disconnect I have with this method is when we want to point up, the current practice is to have the helmsman head up, the jib now luffing slightly, then the jib trimmer brings the jib in to flow.  My take is that while the jib is luffing, we are actually not deriving maximum speed from the jib – why would this be an effective manuever?  Contrast that with the move where the trimmer trims in the jib WHILE the helmsman slowly heads up – this allows maximum drive from the jib…  It’s a very slight difference to be sure, but in most tactical situations on a race, it’s these subtle moves that makes the biggest difference between a successful maneuver and an unsuccessful one.

GOALS FOR 2010-2011 SAILING CAMPAIGN
September 19, 2010

Institutionalize 2010 Improvements-

  • Continue to use the Start sequence strategies used in BBS (http://shipslog.sightinc.com/practice-starting).
    • Start NEAR the favored end of the line … even number towards; odd numbers away …
    • Start On Time.
    • Start with 110%+ of upwind target boat speed … 15 seconds to power up
    • Start with clear air to leeward.
  • Expand Starting repertoire
    • Practice Power, Back, Luff techniques.
    • Practice Hover/Go drills.
    • Consider two-boat drills suggested by Robert’s e-mail.
  • Practice Upwind trim modes-
    • Point, Speed, Power modes & settings.
  • Practice maintaining speed on Tacks & Gybes (record transition speeds & times to full speed)
    • Create a Log/Table/Matrix for settings.

Correct 2010 Shortfalls-

  • • Establish light wind sailing techniques-
    • Main & headsail trim settings.
    • Record optimum Sail vertical & horizontal setting at different wind speeds.
    • Crew weight distribution in helping boat heel.
  • • Team discipline (micro-management/ communication, etc.)
    • Establish a common vocabulary amongst crew.
  • Translate past experiences on other boats to an IE specific vocabulary.
  • Expand team’s overall understanding of how IE handles-
    • Enhance tapemarkings for various trim settings-
  • spreaders, forestay, barber haulers, mainsheet, etc.
  • Change/rotate positions at practices/ beercans/ winter series.
  • Sailing without electronics.

Milestone Goals-
• Determine which key races are to be pegged towards the accomplishing of which goals.

Create SMART Goals for each of the goals listed above-
(Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely)

San Francisco Bay Entrance (Golden Gate), California Current

16 September 2010 – 20 September 2010
San Francisco Bay Entrance (Golden Gate), California Current   37.8167° N, 122.4833° W

  • 2010-09-16  09:41 PDT  -0.00 knots  Slack, Ebb Begins
  • 2010-09-16  12:10 PDT  -1.27 knots  Max Ebb
  • 2010-09-16  15:19 PDT   0.00 knots  Slack, Flood Begins
  • 2010-09-16  15:40 PDT   Moonrise
  • 2010-09-16  18:07 PDT   1.70 knots  Max Flood
  • 2010-09-17  07:39 PDT   2.84 knots  Max Flood
  • 2010-09-17  10:39 PDT  -0.00 knots  Slack, Ebb Begins
  • 2010-09-17  13:47 PDT  -1.53 knots  Max Ebb
  • 2010-09-17  16:17 PDT   Moonrise
  • 2010-09-17  16:26 PDT   0.00 knots  Slack, Flood Begins
  • 2010-09-18  08:30 PDT   3.00 knots  Max Flood
  • 2010-09-18  11:26 PDT  -0.00 knots  Slack, Ebb Begins
  • 2010-09-18  14:37 PDT  -1.89 knots  Max Ebb
  • 2010-09-18  16:49 PDT   Moonrise
  • 2010-09-18  17:21 PDT   0.01 knots  Slack, Flood Begins
  • 2010-09-19  09:12 PDT   3.13 knots  Max Flood
  • 2010-09-19  12:05 PDT  -0.01 knots  Slack, Ebb Begins
  • 2010-09-19  15:09 PDT  -2.26 knots  Max Ebb
  • 2010-09-19  17:17 PDT   Moonrise
  • 2010-09-19  18:08 PDT   0.01 knots  Slack, Flood Begins

RACE #1

IRC D
1 USA 28908 Tupelo Honey Elan 40 Gerard Sheridan 1.031 16/Sep/10 – 13:32:53 0:01:37:53 0:01:40:55 1 1
2 USA 28423 Inspired Environments Beneteau, Farr, First 40.7 Timothy Ballard 1.046 16/Sep/10 – 13:31:35 0:01:36:35 0:01:41:01 2 2
3 USA 50444 Hawkeye IMX-38 Frank Morrow 1.031 16/Sep/10 – 13:33:23 0:01:38:23 0:01:41:25 3 3
4 USA 56385 Electra J 109 Thomas Brott 1.018 16/Sep/10 – 13:35:15 0:01:40:15 0:01:42:03 4 5
5 USA 385 Kuai Sabre 386 Daniel Thielman 1.020 16/Sep/10 – 13:36:02 0:01:41:02 0:01:43:03 5 9
6 USA 41001 Bodacious Farr 40 1 Ton John Clauser 1.029 16/Sep/10 – 13:35:23 0:01:40:23 0:01:43:17 6 10
7 USA 38023 Ohana Beneteau 45f5 Steve Hocking 1.053 16/Sep/10 – 13:36:14 0:01:41:14 0:01:46:35 7 18

RACE#2

IRC D
1 USA 50444 Hawkeye IMX-38 Frank Morrow 1.031 16/Sep/10 – 16:27:41 0:01:32:41 0:01:35:33 1 1
2 USA 41001 Bodacious Farr 40 1 Ton John Clauser 1.029 16/Sep/10 – 16:29:55 0:01:34:55 0:01:37:40 2 2
3 USA 28423 Inspired Environments Beneteau, Farr, First 40.7 Timothy Ballard 1.046 16/Sep/10 – 16:28:30 0:01:33:30 0:01:37:48 3 3
4 USA 28908 Tupelo Honey Elan 40 Gerard Sheridan 1.031 16/Sep/10 – 16:32:42 0:01:37:42 0:01:40:43 4 4
5 USA 385 Kuai Sabre 386 Daniel Thielman 1.020 16/Sep/10 – 16:38:06 0:01:43:06 0:01:45:09 5 5
6 USA 38023 Ohana Beneteau 45f5 Steve Hocking 1.053 16/Sep/10 – 16:38:50 0:01:43:50 0:01:49:20 6 6
7 USA 56385 Electra J 109 Thomas Brott DNF 1.018 8 22

RACE#3

IRC D
1 USA 56385 Electra J 109 Thomas Brott 1.018 17/Sep/10 – 16:48:53 0:01:51:53 0:01:53:53 1 1
2 USA 28423 Inspired Environments Beneteau, Farr, First 40.7 Timothy Ballard 1.046 17/Sep/10 – 16:46:30 0:01:49:30 0:01:54:32 2 2
3 USA 41001 Bodacious Farr 40 1 Ton John Clauser 1.029 17/Sep/10 – 16:49:20 0:01:52:20 0:01:55:35 3 3
4 USA 28908 Tupelo Honey Elan 40 Gerard Sheridan 1.031 17/Sep/10 – 16:51:13 0:01:54:13 0:01:57:45 4 4
5 USA 385 Kuai Sabre 386 Daniel Thielman 1.020 17/Sep/10 – 16:53:13 0:01:56:13 0:01:58:32 5 5
6 USA 50444 Hawkeye IMX-38 Frank Morrow 1.031 17/Sep/10 – 16:52:04 0:01:55:04 0:01:58:38 6 6
7 USA 38023 Ohana Beneteau 45f5 Steve Hocking 1.053 17/Sep/10 – 17:00:35 0:02:03:35 0:02:10:07 7 7

RACE#4

IRC D
1 USA 56385 Electra J 109 Thomas Brott 1.018 17/Sep/10 – 16:48:53 0:01:51:53 0:01:53:53 1 1
2 USA 28423 Inspired Environments Beneteau, Farr, First 40.7 Timothy Ballard 1.046 17/Sep/10 – 16:46:30 0:01:49:30 0:01:54:32 2 2
3 USA 41001 Bodacious Farr 40 1 Ton John Clauser 1.029 17/Sep/10 – 16:49:20 0:01:52:20 0:01:55:35 3 3
4 USA 28908 Tupelo Honey Elan 40 Gerard Sheridan 1.031 17/Sep/10 – 16:51:13 0:01:54:13 0:01:57:45 4 4
5 USA 385 Kuai Sabre 386 Daniel Thielman 1.020 17/Sep/10 – 16:53:13 0:01:56:13 0:01:58:32 5 5
6 USA 50444 Hawkeye IMX-38 Frank Morrow 1.031 17/Sep/10 – 16:52:04 0:01:55:04 0:01:58:38 6 6
7 USA 38023 Ohana Beneteau 45f5 Steve Hocking 1.053 17/Sep/10 – 17:00:35 0:02:03:35 0:02:10:07 7 7

RACE#5

1 USA 28908 Tupelo Honey Elan 40 Gerard Sheridan 1.031 18/Sep/10 – 14:23:16 0:01:16:16 0:01:18:37 1 3
2 USA 56385 Electra J 109 Thomas Brott 1.018 18/Sep/10 – 14:24:35 0:01:17:35 0:01:18:58 2 5
3 USA 50444 Hawkeye IMX-38 Frank Morrow 1.031 18/Sep/10 – 14:24:48 0:01:17:48 0:01:20:12 3 6
4 USA 41001 Bodacious Farr 40 1 Ton John Clauser 1.029 18/Sep/10 – 14:25:36 0:01:18:36 0:01:20:52 4 9
5 USA 28423 Inspired Environments Beneteau, Farr, First 40.7 Timothy Ballard 1.046 18/Sep/10 – 14:25:59 0:01:18:59 0:01:22:36 5 13
6 USA 385 Kuai Sabre 386 Daniel Thielman 1.020 18/Sep/10 – 14:30:00 0:01:23:00 0:01:24:39 6 15
7 USA 38023 Ohana Beneteau 45f5 Steve Hocking 1.053 18/Sep/10 – 14:29:38 0:01:22:38 0:01:27:00 7 17

RACE#6

IRC D
1 USA 56385 Electra J 109 Thomas Brott 1.018 18/Sep/10 – 17:40:31 0:02:12:31 0:02:14:54 1 7
2 USA 28908 Tupelo Honey Elan 40 Gerard Sheridan 1.031 18/Sep/10 – 17:40:11 0:02:12:11 0:02:16:16 2 8
3 USA 50444 Hawkeye IMX-38 Frank Morrow 1.031 18/Sep/10 – 17:45:47 0:02:17:47 0:02:22:03 3 9
4 USA 41001 Bodacious Farr 40 1 Ton John Clauser 1.029 18/Sep/10 – 17:48:07 0:02:20:07 0:02:24:10 4 10
5 USA 28423 Inspired Environments Beneteau, Farr, First 40.7 Timothy Ballard 1.046 18/Sep/10 – 17:51:40 0:02:23:40 0:02:30:16 5 11
6 USA 385 Kuai Sabre 386 Daniel Thielman 1.020 18/Sep/10 – 17:55:51 0:02:27:51 0:02:30:48 6 12
7 USA 38023 Ohana Beneteau 45f5 Steve Hocking 1.053 18/Sep/10 – 17:59:35 0:02:31:35 0:02:39:37 7 17

RACE #7

IRC D
1 USA 28423 Inspired Environments Beneteau, Farr, First 40.7 Timothy Ballard 1.046 19/Sep/10 – 14:30:21 0:01:45:21 0:01:50:11 1 1
2 USA 56385 Electra J 109 Thomas Brott 1.018 19/Sep/10 – 14:36:28 0:01:51:28 0:01:53:28 2 2
3 USA 50444 Hawkeye IMX-38 Frank Morrow 1.031 19/Sep/10 – 14:36:05 0:01:51:05 0:01:54:31 3 3
4 USA 41001 Bodacious Farr 40 1 Ton John Clauser 1.029 19/Sep/10 – 14:38:05 0:01:53:05 0:01:56:21 4 4
5 USA 28908 Tupelo Honey Elan 40 Gerard Sheridan 1.031 19/Sep/10 – 14:41:20 0:01:56:20 0:01:59:56 5 5
6 USA 38023 Ohana Beneteau 45f5 Steve Hocking 1.053 19/Sep/10 – 14:39:35 0:01:54:35 0:02:00:39 6 6
7 USA 385 Kuai Sabre 386 Daniel Thielman 1.020 19/Sep/10 – 14:47:55 0:02:02:55 0:02:05:22 7 7

Practicing starts…

I found a nice little write up on practicing starts that I sent to Timothy, but decided that I should save this on the ships log to recall later.  Unfortunately, I didn’t make a note of the author.  But I thought the routines he described makes sense, so I posted here with some minor edits and formatting to make it clearer…  Later, when I have some time to spare, I might make some diagrams to illustrate the maneuvers…


There are 4 primary things you want to accomplish in a start:

  • Start NEAR the favored end of the line
  • Start On Time
  • Start with 110%+ of upwind target boat speed
  • Start with clear air to leeward.

We can get into why but these 4 goals drive everything else. Now at starting lines, things happen fast, because boats are near each other and sailing TOWARDS each other, so the SITUATION is complex. That means your reactions need to follow KISS – Keep It Simple…Stupid! That does mean practice (and I’ll get to the exercises below) but it also means following a couple of general guidelines:
  • Zero is an Even Number… What that means is that if you have identified which area of the starting line you want to start in, in the milling about before the start, you want to be NEAR that area on even clock numbers and away from that area on “odd” numbers” And if you get out of phase on that, adjust your sailing around so that you get back in synch
  • Try to use THE SAME TYPE of approach for each segment of the line.  i.e. use the same technique ALWAYS for the Starboard end. For the Port End be consistent in your technique and same applies for the middle. that doesn’t mean all three have to be the same, but it does mean you keep a consistent pattern for each of those three.
  • Your boat needs AT LEAST 15 seconds of reaching power to get to 110% of upwind speed. your goal then is to make sure that your ‘space on the line’ allows you to do that.
  • A moving boat can adjust its position, a sitting boat is a target.
  • Stay within 5 boatlengths of the line ALWAYS during the sequence.
  • NEVER GYBE within 2 minutes of the start…ALWAYS TACK. Gybes stall the foils and the sails and make you a sitting duck for too long.
  • Always count down the time in steady increments.

Now each of these “rules” gets broken sometimes in the hurly burly of a start, but if you TRY to follow them, you will get ever improving and CONSISTENT starts. Now to practice starts you need 3 people on your boat – no more (4 if your main is so big you need a main trimmer). You need Driver, Jib trim, Bowman and optional main. You can add your tactian if you want, but your tactician should NOT be telling you how to start. its too confusing. I’ve tried coaching green drivers through starts, and it invariably is a cluster.

So then there are two sets of drills you can do – Single boat and Double boat. run ALL of these drills with 2 minutes LESS on your clock than your club’s normal starting sequence. That way when you get to actual racing you will feel like you have loads of spare time to get set up.

You have Three Commands: Power, Back, LUFF.

Your trimmer must respond IMMEDIATELY to these commands. Your trimmer should also call the time in either 10 or 15 second increments, counting down the last 15 seconds. But the intervals need to be consistent, and the trimmer should PAUSE before answering the time to stay in cadence… why?  because a cadence gets YOU in a rhythm. Random intervals knock you out.

Your Bow is responsible for calling two things: Distance to the line and the LAST THREE DIGITS of any boat hidden by your genoa that is on converging course.  The way the bow shows the distance to the line is by holding out fingers behind their back if you are below the line. A balled fist means ON the line.  If you are ABOVE the line then the hand comes up and shows fingers. this way the fingers are in a consistent place, AND when you get up in the competition – THEY can’t see them

Single Boat Drills:

Hover Drill

Find a mark – any mark. AT the “start” of your sequence, be at the mark reaching at full speed. Your goal is to sail at full speed UNTIL 1 minute to go at which point you want to be Fully stopped with your bow as close to the mark as you dare. for the next minute, you will luff you sails. You are allowed to pump them or back them periodically, but your goal is to hover as close to the mark as you can for a full minute. the first time you try this, you will probably last about 10 seconds. The longer you can do this, the better your downspeed boat handling.

The trick to this drill is to be CLOSE to “Head To wind” but not quite. and to have lots of slack in the main sheet and use ALL the parts of the mainsheet for trimming by grabbing the sheets as close to the boom as feasible.

Time and Distance Drill

Start as with the hover drill. But now your goal is to be At the mark, at 110% of target upwind speed, coming up to close hauled at ZERO. Sail until 1:30 from the start. Now rag the sails and coast. NO ADJUSTMENT ALLOWED. At 30 seconds to go, sheet in and make for the mark – once you sheet in, no slowing down is allowed. First few times you try this you will be completely off. Learn to adjust. Now the easy approach for this is coming in from STB. For a more advanced version of this drill, Sail off to the port of the mark and come back on port. coast through the tack once you let the sails go and see if you can still hit the mark.

The trick to this drill is to use a CONSISTENT APPROACH Pattern (notice the reinforcement of my earlier comment). this will get you used to CONSISTENTLY being where you need to be for a given wind condition, and give you an idea of how long your boat takes to accellerate

Sheet In and Go Drill

Start as with the Hover Drill. But now your goal is to hover exactly at the mark from 45 seconds to zero. this will teach you how to accelerate when you are almost pinched off and how to transition from Hover to closehauled without your trimmer dragging your bow down with the Jib. Sail at full tilt until 45 seconds. at 45 seconds you need to be stopped with your bow as close to the bouy as possible. Hover for 30 seconds. At 15 seconds sheet in, but keep your bow “below the line”. The goal is to be “close hauled” at zero as close to the mark as feasibly and still with good speed.
the trick to this drill is that your jib trimmer has to start trimming in the jib gently so that he doesn’t pull the boat down with the Genoa while the foils are still stalled. And you need to get the main on quickly
OK, get good at those drills and you will be in the top 1/3 of your fleet’s starters. But you still will lose out to “Mr Starting Line” as he comes and plants his boat immediately to leeward of you. So you need to learn how to defend “your hole” (the space to leeward of you on the starting line that you are going to use to accellerate into). and you need to learn how to ATTACK Mr Hover (the guy who gets to the start line with 1 minute to go and then hovers there).

2 Boat Drills

This requires 2 boats, and there are 2 drills with each boat having a different assignment. the “target” is always the boat on STB. This boat on STB ALWAYS starts out in Hover Mode – ie near the Mark, stopped with sails ragged.

Port Attack/Defend Drill

In this drill the Target boat gets 30 seconds to get into “hover mode”. The ‘attacker’ starts out on port 10 boatlengths away. the “Target’s” goal is to drive the defender either behind him, or far enough to leeward of him on the line that the Target can accellerate for at least 15 seconds prior to the start.

The Attacker’s goal is to tack underneath the “target” and get close enough that if the “target” sheets in before the attacker has started to bear away, contact would occur. The Attacker does this by sailing towards the Target from port, tacking below- completeing the tack with ragged sails, and then luffing as close to the Target as possible without fouling the Target.

The Target defends by… pulling the bow down from “almost head to wind” quickly by having the jib trimmer drum the jib on hard for a few seconds (but ONLY a few seconds) to start the rotation. the sails BOTH get luffed completely as the bow is pointed STRAIGHT AT the bow of the Attacker. Remember this “bow to bow” change of course has to be done while the attacker is at least 3BL away, but you don’t want to do it until they are about 5 BL away because otherwise you burn too much distance to leeward.  Once ‘bow to bow’ the Attacker cannot tack closer than your bow. As soon as the attacker starts to tack, dump the helm to leeward to push the bow up, and grab all parts of the main and sheet it in PAST MIDSHIPS. this will cause the boat to weather vane. Now its important to release the main as soon as the boat starts to turn, otherwise you will get too much speed and push your bow across the line OR WORSE, force yourself into a tack.  THIS is the mechanism for protecting your leeward hole from attackers from Port.

Both boats hover until time to start and try to beat the other boat over the line at speed. If Target TIES Attacker, then Target wins. If Attacker pins out Target, Attacker wins. Reverse roles every 3 tries.

Drill 2:

Attack from behind:

Shark Attack
setup the Target as before. Attacker instead starts 10 BL to STB (astern) of Target. But the goal is the same. Sail below Target’s stern and luff up under them as close as possible.  Attacker’s trick here is to delay the turn up as long as possible and use backwinding the jib to stop (but not tack).  This is the one place where your tactician can help you in the start. They can call “Shark coming”. But otherwise when the ‘shark’ is 3-5bl astern (depending on speed) helm calls “Power” until the bow starts down followed by “LUFF”. again the goal is to come parallel to the line with as little fwd speed as possible.
Now the Attacker will start yelling ‘come up’ quite a ways out (this is common practice by Mr Starting Line) but YOU don’t have to react UNTIL their bow overlaps your stern. THEN YOU MUST IMMEDIATELY BEGIN to come up. But Attacker must give you ROOM to ‘stay clear’ that means they have to give you room to pivot the stern of your boat.
what this means is that you put the helm down and sheet in the main (again with all parts agressively) to force the bow up AND THE STERN CLOCKWISE. Attacker MUST KEEP CLEAR of your swinging stern. Because if they don’t they have violated RRS 15 by failing to Give Room To keep Clear.
Now the trick here is that Target swings the stern faster the faster the attacker is moving. if the attacker is moving slowly, then you swing your stern a bit more slowly. the goal hear is to use the swinging stern to keep them from turning up towards the wind until their keep has passed well behind your stern. That way you are guaranteed they cannot get closer than 1/2 BL to you. and that’s enough to start accelleratig at 10 seconds.


Ok do those drills – ideally for 2 weekends prior to the start of your season, and you will see a marked improvement in your starts. I do the “single boat” drills in every new boat I go racing in. Because its the quickest way I have found to get yourself in tune with how the boat handles, and it also gets your crew in tune with how you start.

South Beach YC – IRC Invitational

August 21, 2001  Race 1:  RC called for a course one which is a simple windward and leeward sausage.

No time to do much except to follow the faster rated boats.  Short race. Shorter comments.  The only notable is that due to shifty winds, I overstood the windward mark, but also over estimated the current.  Nonetheless we finished second..

August 21, 2001  Race 2:  RC called for course 2 which is now a twice around windward and leeward….

We favored the right side of the line because of better pressure.  Tupelo went left but in lighter air.  Looking at the track, we were definitely in a persistent header by the time we were at the weather mark on the first leg.  On the other hand, look at the nice lift coming out of the leeward mark.   We still had that header towards the Bay Bridge.   Some of the fast boats with pro aboard did bang the corners pretty hard and pretty early.  Guess they were hoping to take advantage of the lift by the bridge.  Sure makes it hard to call the layline.

One nice tactical move we made in the third race is to cover Hawkeye as she approached us from port near the windward mark, since we were starboard, Hawkeye fell off to pass to our stern.  We tacked to port to cover immediately after they passed to cover them tightly, not so much because they were our primary competition but because I don’t want them to starboard tack on us if we cover them too loosely.  We effectively pinned them below us and allowed us to control when we want to tack to the layline.  It worked beautifully. By the time we reached the weather mark, they were two boat-length behind.  See photos:

Hawkeye approaching on port almost even with us.  I called for gear #1 build boat speed, so we pressed the boat down a bit.  This had the psychological effect of postponing decision on Hawkeye as they think they might make it and perhaps try to point a little higher which will cause them to lose speed.

Hawkeye realized that they cannot make it pass us, decided to pass to our stern.  We now set ourselves to gear 2:  best VMG mode, not to point too high and maintain speed so we have some reserved power to make tactical moves.

After Hawkeye passed to our stern, we tacked in less than one boat length to cover them fairly tightly.  Our primary objective here is to keep Hawkeye from tacking on starboard because if they tack, they would be tacking on to our wind shadow and we can tack on a close covering position again.  This prevented Hawkeye calling starboard on us and had to wait for us to tack to the lay line.  This also means they have to sail a slightly longer distance as they have to wait for us to tack then tack themselves.  The net result of this tactical maneuvering is that from dead even at the port and starboard point, we gained two boat-lengths in a span of five minutes by the time we rounded the mark!  Yeesss!

August 21, 2010: Race 3:  We finished first!.

August 22, 2010:  Race 4:  We finished 4th.   Race 5 was cancelled after wind died.

Overall results:  Second in series.

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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BBS 2009 – Day 3, Race 6

Day 3, Race 6

Race six is a critical race.  If Tupelo wins this, it would be mathmatically impossible to knock them off first place as going into the sixth race, Tupelo had 5 points, we had 10 points, and the third place boat had 17 points. Our division started at 14:20 just a little after slack water (13:42 PDT) with possibility of early flood starting to fill into the South Bay. Usually the flood starts by a small counter current close to shore building up wider and stronger from the shoreline out.   Had this been clear in my mind, my tactical choice would have been to sail towards Alcatraz, but given it’s just at slack current,  I called to start on starboard and continued on starboard given it’s slack water.  Tupelo had also started on starboard, but was below us, buried in the middle of the fleet therefore they tacked to port soon after the start as did Bodacious.  What I had not realize at the time, is the left side is the more advantageous side because of the currents.  We continued to sail on starboard and soon noted that Tupelo had tacked over to starboard again to keep us in check.  Bodacious remained on port tack and is the only boat heading towards Alcatraz.  We reached the City Front, and begin trading tacks with Tupelo.  Tupelo was a formidable opponent in a tacking duel.  Her helmsman can tack cleanly and crisply without losing speed.  So with each tack, we were under Tupelo’s shadow as we worked our way up wind towards the weather mark.  In the mean time, Bodacious and Petard was beating to weather near Alcatraz and eating our lunch with the fleet at the City Front as we will soon find out…

Screen shot 2009-09-13 at 6.58.28 AM

Tupelo was trading tacks with us and hugging the shoreline as if there was a positive current near shore.  The real situation is probably either neutral current or with a small adverse current developing close to shore.  Because our knotmeter and GPS is not calibrated precisely as to be able to tell this definitively, we and the entire fleet with the exception of Bodacious and Petard were short tacking as if it had already flood across the entire bay.  This was brought to light when near Fort Mason Buoy, we traded tacks with Bodacious and Petard which usually is way behind because they are rated slower than us.  This means that if the race is finished now, they would correct out against us as well as Tupelo.  This sets up an interest challenge for the fleet leader, Tupelo.  While we are the closest threat to their standings, they have a string of first place finish that they do not want to blemish.  So instead of covering us exclusively as before, they are now trying to cover both boats.  And since we both realized that the current was not what we had expected we knew we had to reassess the current situation. There’s an axiom that your strength going up the ladder is also your weakness on your way down.  This came into play as we sailed up to the weather mark near the Golden Gate Bridge.

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BBS 2009 – Day 3, race 5

Day 3, Race 5

Sailing Weather Forecast • Rolex Big Boat Series • San Francisco Bay, CA • Issued 0700 LT 12 September 2009
WARNINGS AND ADVISORIES: A SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY is in effect from 1200 today through 2300 tonight. The National Weather Service expects winds of 15-25 kts with gusts of 25-30 kts in the bay, primarily north of the Bay Bridge and especially close to Angel Island. Please continue to monitor NOAA All Hazards Radio on your VHF for the latest warnings and advisories.

Tides:

  • 2009-09-12  10:51 PDT  -1.39 knots  Max Ebb
  • 2009-09-12  13:42 PDT   0.00 knots  Slack, Flood Begins
  • 2009-09-12  16:53 PDT   1.78 knots  Max Flood

Going into today’s race, we are now two third of the way into the regatta, and we are in solid second place.  In our morning debriefing, we talked about taking greater risks in today’s races in order to dislodge Tupelo Honey from their first place position.  We are in a good place to be aggressive as we have enough points ahead of the third place boats to be able to afford some risks.  We know that Tupelo Honey will be camping on us quite closely as we are the only threat to them at this point and we need to do everything we can to throw them off kilter if we were to have a chance to win a race.  Therefore, for the next three races, we need to sail with a contrarian point of view – if Tupelo goes to the right, we will find reasons to go left, if Tupelo rounds the left gate mark, we will round the right.

We started on the North Course Area at 11:55, we were about 10 seconds late to the line on the Committee Boat end as we wanted to head to the right side of the course. (GPS tracking)  We were just behind Kuai and tried to work up their hips to get clean air, but decided to head to the right early and tack over to the other tack as Hawkeye crossed over on port ahead of the fleet.  Tupelo Honey was on the other end of the line pinned behind several boats and had to wait until the boats above them tacked before they can tack over to port.  After a few more minutes, everyone is on a port tack heading towards Angel Island.  Boats that are in deeper channel has better current pushing them out to the weather mark, however, the boats on the left is positioned to be on the inside of a lift should that develops – which is right?  One thing is for sure following our strategy:  we are on the opposite side of the fleet with respect to Tupelo Honey.  We worked our way up from the leebow position to eventually climb forward and inline with Hawkeye.  When Hawkeye tack towards the weather mark, we waited a few seconds then tacked over as well, using Hawkeye as a blocker for us so we don’t have to watch out for port tackers and worry about them tacking under us or tacking ahead to leeward.   Tupelo managed to cross ahead of us by two to three boat-length  and rounded the weather mark ahead.   We followed suit rounding the weather mark behind Tupelo and set our chute for the downwind run.

Screen shot 2009-09-13 at 6.55.15 AM

We camped close to Tupelo all the way down wind, gybing when they do, but always staying inside to make Tupelo sail a longer course and when they gybe, we are always ready to give them dirty air.  When we approach the leeward gate, we made a last pass at getting their air and then gybe to round the port mark to get away from their cover.We camped close to Tupelo all the way down wind, gybing when they do, but always staying inside to make Tupelo sail a longer course and when they gybe, we are always ready to give them dirty air.  When we approach the leeward gate, we made a last guesture at getting their air by luffing up to starboard for the last time on this leg then gybe to round the port mark to get away from their cover.  By reaching to the port gate, we had a nice speed going to the mark, we actually rounded the mark before Tupelo, even if the left gate mark was slightly down wind from the right gate mark.  The rest of the fleet split on the rounding as some followed Tupelo and the other followed us.  We sailed on port tack until we reached the deeper part of the channel and tacked to consolidate any gains.  When we crossed track with Tupelo, she was ahead by a couple of boat lengths. We sailed past Tupelo’s wake for a minute or so then tacked to port to keep them in sight.  In hind sight after reviewing our tracks on Tractrac archive, I realize that I should have continued to the left for much longer time to stay consistent with our strategy of contrarian tactics, because if we had continued to sail to the left, we could be on the inside of a possible lift and had far more leverage for the gain.  By tacking close to Tupelo, we negate such possibilities and the consolidating tack just satisfies our emotional need to keep the competition in sight and reduce risks.

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BBS 2009 – Day 2, Race 4

Day 2, Race 4

Race 4 start was at 15:00 North Course Starting area.  At this time we are in a flood current with max flood at 15:44 PM.  The weather mark is a temporary buoy near Harding Rock, so there’s not much relief anywhere.  The only relief I can think of is to sail into the current relief behind Alcatraz.   We started on the committee boat side about mid line with Kuai just to leeward.  Tupelo was somewhat late to the line close to the pin end.  We tried to climb up on Kuai but it was slowing us down, we decided to tack to port to get clear air.  After sailing for a few minutes, our jib fairlead broke and we decided to tack back to starboard so we can repair the starboard fairlead without handicapping our speed and pointing.  In doing so, we were able to starboard tack Kuai and forced them to do an emergency tack back to starboard.  Once we had jury-rigged the starboard lead, it was a matter of finding the best time to tack back.  The opportunity presented itself when Petard was approaching on port tack.  We tacked in front of Petard, Kuai tacked with us which puts them in a covering position to Petard.  So now all the boats in the fleet is on port tack heading west towards Angel Island.  Bodacious and Hawkeye was the contrarian boats of the fleet, having started on the committee boat side and committed early towards Angel Island and is now leading the fleet as far as the GPS data is concerned.  However, these post race data does not take in account of the potential lifts and your position relative to the fleet.  I am hoping for being on the inside of the lifts we can expect as the wind bends around angel Island.  Concurrently, as soon as Bodacious and Hawkeye tacked to starboard,  their VMG fell off as their course sailed is parallel to the mark not towards it. As we converge, we moved up to the fleet and Bodacious and Hawkeye fell to the back of the fleet.  Petard in the meantime suffered some sort of breakdown and had to head down significantly for a few minutes before sailing on track.  So leading the charge to Harding are Topelo Honey, Inspired Environments, and Kuai.  Tupelo tacked early, we decided not to tack quite yet because it was too early to the layline at the same time I would like to get some separation between Tupelo and IE.  We tacked to starboard when I thought we are just shy of the mark, but I hoped there might be some favorable wind shifts that could lift us to the mark to save two tacks.  As it were, we did not get the lifts, but nor were we handicapped by that tack.


Screen shot 2009-09-11 at 9.12.15 PM

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BBS 2009 – Day2, Race 3

Day 2, Race 3:

Current at the IRC D start is suppose to be a waning ebb going into slack water around  12:21 PDT with max flood at  15:44 PDT @  1.88 knots.  Weather forecast: The forecast speeds in the wind table are again near the model consensus for conditions in the vicinity of Alcatraz. The model consensus is generally for maximum winds in the racing area between 15-20 kts from 1400-1700. There remain some divergent models with max wind speeds in the low 20s and others only in the mid teens but these have not performed well the past few days.

Today we start first at the City Front Starting area. (Tracks from GPS)  Given the starting line is rather short, I called for a traditional Committee Boat end start to keep it simple.  We had a good start, right on the line with good speed on a starboard tack.  Given it’s a waning ebb, our intent was to stay in the deeper waters of the South Bay taking advantage of any flow from the South Bay flowing towards the North Bay and then try to go north-west side of Alcatraz to catch the remaining part of the ebb current from the North Bay.  The main thing is to avoid close to SF shoreline in case there’s early flood eddies developing.  Most of the fleet followed suit with this type of plan with the exception of Bodacious who tried to go north first near Alcatraz.  Tupelo had started at the pin end with clear air and in looking at their tracks, it seems they had good consistent speed as well – in the crossing from Treasure Island to SF shore, Tupelo had gained over 100 meters over us and we had gained over 100 meters over the third place boat(s).  As a result, Tupelo Honey captured the lead early on the first beat and we are in second place.  As we approach the City Front, we watched Tupelo sailing closer to shore while we were further upwind and behind.  To encourage Tupelo to sail further into shore, we stayed on starboard until they tacked over and we did the same. We then sailed on port towards Alcatraz with Tupelo, but Tupelo tacked back to SF shore about half way across the channel, we decided to continue towards the north side of Alcatraz as there may still be some residual ebb current from the North Bay while it’s unlikely  there’s much ebb current at the City Front.

Screen shot 2009-09-11 at 9.10.43 PM

This is beginning to look like a match race series rather than fleet racing as Tupelo Honey and Inspired Environments kept trading places with each other on the race course as I scoped them out via the hockey puck as we sometimes gain in bearings then lose it.  But the use of the hockey puck compass bearings is a great way of ascertaining whether my tactics works or not.  As I had hoped, by sailing out north of Alcatraz, we caught some ebb current and was able to reduce Topelo Honey’s lead from 110 meters to leading the fleet on occasions.  By the time we tack back towards City Front we were just ahead by half a boat length, Tupelo tack over to leeward to cover us tack for tack.  Approaching Chrissy Fields, we sailed close to shore to see if we can find some favorable windshifts but with Tupelo in close cover all the way to the weather mark, it would have been a huge header that would benefit us.  By the time we rounded the weather mark, we were right on their stern as we gybe out towards central bay for more pressure.  Tupelo gybed out to the north to get more pressure, we followed suit to cover, but trying to stay inside so we can sail a shorter distance while still give them some dirty air as they gybe back to the Fort Mason Mark.  In the mean time, Kuai and Bodacious and the rest of the fleet sailed a rhumb line towards Fort Mason, in looking at the tracks, they did not gain much by sailing a shorter course in lighter air.  By theory, they should have experience some early flood at this point, but either they didn’t sail close to shore enough or the wind pressure is too light compared to mid channel.  The positions of the fleet did not change much during this down wind leg and at this point, we are in second place and we have only to try to dislodge Tupelo in their first place as we are always within 1-5 boat-length away, while the third place boat is about 400 meters from us.   So as we approach the weather mark for the second time at around 1:15PM which is about three hours prior to Max Flood, I decided it’s time to split from Tupelo and see if we can find the early flood current inside close to shore.  So we did not gybe and let Tupelo head out to the central bay, while we aimed for Anita Rock to see if the early flood can help us.  As in all tactical decisions, there is no one answer:  On the inside course, we had lighter winds but perhaps a little early flood to help us along, sailing on the outside course, Tupelo had more pressure, but sailed a longer course and perhaps encountering some residual currents.  As the track archives showed, Tupelo sailed all the way to Alcatraz before they gybed to starboard, while we sailed a rhumb line to St. Francis Yacht Club then gybed to port for a nice broad reach for the finish near Treasure Island.  As Tupelo and IE converged near Blossom Rock, Tupelo was about 100 yards ahead and they gybed in front of us to keep between us and the finish line.  We were able to close in on Tupelo, but were not able to beat them across the finish line:  Tupelo finished 14 seconds ahead of us and corrected out to 1:41 ahead on handicap.  So another second place under the belt as we approach the mid point of the racing.


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.

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