Archive for July, 2008

Downwind Start

So Bob, our mast guy, says do you ever do downwind starts. I say I haven’t in the three years I’ve been racing.  And so after a douse where the spinnaker ended up in the lake, and I’m madly re-running the sheets, and we are going to be late to the start, I look up and the entire fleet has spinnaker set, charging to the line. Too funny. Sort of.

We were caught off guard, didn’t get the spinnaker set before we had to reach to the leeward gate under genoa. That is sort of our night. Many highs and lows, wrapped spinnakers, a torn leach cord, a crash gybe that nearly dumped the crew.

On the high side we were dialed into the puffs and made nice work of the beats. It makes it a bit more painful to see the spinnaker in a un-recoverable figure eight when you actually have a fighting chance in a race. But the breeze was up and mistakes get magnified. A character and experience building exercise for sure.

One lesson was learned on the downwind start. When we made it to the windward mark all boats were leaving it to starboard, which we have never done before. Here is the relevant section of the Lake Washington GSIs:

9.3   Start between the starting buoy and the orange flag on the race committee boat. Pass each rounding mark in the order displayed and on the same side as the starting mark. Finish between the finishing buoy and the orange flag on the race committee boat. When a number, such as “2″ or “3″, follows the course letters, it signals a multiple-lap course. Sail the course as many times as is indicated by that number, crossing the finishing line at the completion of each lap.

Since we started downwind with the pin to starboard, all other marks must now be left to starboard. The leeward mark was a gate so this rule didn’t change anything there. Lesson learned.

When we got back to the dock we did some practicing with the spinnaker pole to sort out some of the issues we are having with douses. I wish we had more time for practicing, I know it would make all of the difference. But it’s hard enough to field a crew one night a week as it is. This is really the biggest challenge for us right now.

All in all, it was a great night on the lake, our crew is getting deeper, and everybody lived to sail another day. 

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Video Wars?

Is this a third video in the series?

First there was “Sleepiest Sailing Video Ever?,” a video of a race in Monaco in very little wind. This was followed up by “Not Sleepy,” which showed a German boat flying a spinnaker in 40-50 knots of breeze.

Now comes a new video from the Monaco author where he seems to be promoting J24 for the “grown up” set, if the title “J 24 Adulte” is any clue. The video begins with a laid back couple out for a sail in the picturesque bay off of Monaco, but once they meet up with a A-Class sailor things really take off!

“Beintot Class A”

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Dinghy Start

One of the nice things about getting holed and being out for a month (if there is anything nice about it) , is that it gives you that great opportunity to go back to your roots and crew.  This return to the roots was really refreshing for me.  It gave me the chance to be out racing and actually take time to reflect, which is not something you get to do during a race when you’re the driver.

As a result, I’ve deployed a new weapon in our arsenal, one that I’ve wondered  about trying for some years, but somehow never got around to.  The Dinghy Start isn’t something I’ve had a lot of experience with. While I learned to sail on Lasers and FJs out on San Francisco bay, I never took it to the next level and race them.  By the time I raced, it was as crew on bigger boats, and, you don’t do a Dinghy start in a J-105 or a Cal (at least, not where I’m from). 

But, we always call the J/24 a ‘big dinghy’ and she certainly is sensitive to weight, and yes, a dinghy start is powerful in certain conditions.  This was how our basic pattern went, wait for a start with moderate wind, 6 to 10 knots, let’s say, get your boat up on the line (or maybe just 1/2 boat length or 1 boat length off the line, with ONE MINUTE to go, on a close hauled course.  Then, ease everything, and I mean, ease it all the way.  Let the main all the way out, let the genoa, all the way out.  Then, wait. At about 30 seconds, trim everything in, and go!

We had two really good starts thanks to the dinghy start out on the lake two weeks ago, but there’s a lot to learn . The critical things are 1) there’s no major current on the lake, if there was current, it certainly would add an element of timing and distance that’s completely different. 2) You have to stop your boat and hold her, on a closed hauled course. Use a point on land or use your compass, but don’t get into irons, you need to be able to trim-and-go.  3) Luff those sails.  If you don’t have the main all the way out, you’ll still move forward, which is not the idea.  4) Learn how long it takes to accelerate. I’ve found about 30 seconds in 8 to 10 knots is about right.  But, once we got rolled by boats that came powering up under us.  We should have trimmed way earlier. I think we waited until 10 seconds to go one time, which was wayyyyy tooo late.. argggghh . :-)  

The reason I like this start a lot is that it forces you to get to the line, in the front, with one minute to go, and so, you’re there.  Next, you’re on starboard, so that’s cool.  Any boat approaching to windward, well, they don’t have rights anyway, so who cares. As to the leward boats, they HAVE TO give you opportunity to keep clear. They can’t just come and barrel into you. They have to give you time to trim in and head up.  Also, any boats that were to leward of you before you luffed, are now gone, because they didn’t luff.  

The negatives with this start are that you may feel that there is a lack of control.  But as long as you stop the boat, close hauled, trimming in and going is pretty easy.   Also, you have to watch you equipment, boom and genoa, and make sure you don’t foul anyone.  

Find a spot on the line and give this powerful method a try the next time you’re on the lake!

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Not Sleepy

These guys are claiming 6-7 on the Beaufort scale. Definitely a more “traditional” sailing vid (see Sleepiest Sailing Video Ever?):


1 Comment »Video

Race Report – 7/22/2008

No racing due to Whidbey Race Week, so we went out for a little training. Nate, Weston and me in 8-12 knots of breeze. We did about 10 gybes and about 20 tacks and then we hove to and broke out the beers and bánh mì (many thanks to Nate). Good friends, good times, and a nice break in the racing.

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Pin End Collision

Following up on the race report from Tuesday night, I emailed Joy Okazaki of Hot Pursuit, the boat we collided with, to get a clearer picture of what happened. I got that and more.

First of all, here was the situation:

Our strategy was to avoid the crowd at the pin. Unfortunately, with Tundra Rose (TR) to leeward of us and the starboard tackers in front of us, we felt boxed in. As we approached the pin layline, TR “helpfully” suggested that we should “make our turn.” We went for it. We tacked under Hot Pursuit and then began the luffing game. As we drifted there the jib backwinded and we tacked.

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5 Comments »Race Report, Startegy and Tactics, Starts, Tuesday

Race Report – 2008/07/15

The original idea when we started this blog was to be able to review and post our experiences racing in the Tuesday night club races on Lake Washington. It’s been a while since anyone has posted so it’s time to get back to it.

Much of the early part of the season was missed either struggling to find crew due to heavy work schedules and family responsibilities, or from having the boat in pieces while we upgraded the rig.  Now that we are deep into the second half of the season we seem to finally be putting the pieces together.

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1 Comment »Race Report, Tuesday

Sleepiest Sailing Video Ever?

From the 2008 InterBanque J/24 Final in Monaco (whatever that is); no wind, no heavy metal guitar soundtrack, but a nice video all the same:

“Un vent extreme!”

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The Sinking of Juvenile Delinquent

More on the sinking of Delinquent. The current owner wrote an email to the previous owner which has been posted in the Sailing Anarchy forum:


Good news is that everyone got off safely. We were going like a train having rounded about tenth. It was unbelievably windy with the sea running at a different direction to the breeze. We Had just gybed and all was well but before we settled down we were hit on the stb quater by a massive wave that pushed us nose down into the wave in front and spun us so quickly there was nothing we could do. Then we were pulled sideways for about a minute (although it seemed a lot longer) so fast that we were leaving a wake, and she filled up turned fully upside down and then sadly went down. We have a GPS of where we left her but it’s spring tides so she might not be there. I have to say though that she went down with her boots on having crossed the chaps that came second at the worlds by a mile just before rounding the windward mark. Insurance company have been brilliant and they have already commisioned thier surveyors to find her. I will let you know what happens.
Thanks again for your concern and hope to see you soon
Chgeers for now


Hopefully Delinquent will yet see the light of day. BTW, the second in the worlds boat must be Serco Defence, who ended up placing 5th overall.

For those of you with older boats who are interested in not sinking your boats, here is info on drownproofing your j24:


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UK Nationals – ‘Reloaded’ Takes It

Photo © Nick Frampton

Wild Times at the UK Nationals. After a total of 3 races, Mark Penfold helming “Reloaded” takes it with a 1,1,2. Stuart Jardine won the 3rd race. Here is Mark Jardine describing the final race:

Conditions were getting decidedly fruity for the final race. Their were more white caps on the waves and spray blowing flat off the tops of them, it was going to be a full-on finale. The race team were keen to get everyone away first time before the wind got too much to race in and raised the black flag to encourage a clean start. The ploy worked and the fleet ploughed upwind with sails ragging and crews hiking to the limit.

Full report here.

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