Monday, March 12, 2012

2012 Laser Masters Day One

In contrast to the previous days, Sunday began under increasingly overcast skies and the competitor's meeting was greeted with a good old fashioned semi-tropical downpour. As the squall exited, of course, there was no wind and the rest of the morning was spent debating the day's uniform. If light winds then drop the hiking pants? Or assume the forecast would hold and go with them? As launch time neared I went with the forecast and suited up.

As I sailed out there was certainly a fair bit of second guessing on that decision. I did the standard sail up, sail down, etc., to get the lay of the land, then stood by to watch the Apprentice fleet start in about 8 knots of wind. For their start the pin was definitely favored and it looked like the fleet was favoring the left side of the beat. Next were the Standard Masters who generated the first recall start of the regatta. Then the second. Then the third. This turned out to be quite beneficial as the sea breeze started to roll in with the velocity jumping into the low teens making the hiking pants decision a good one after all!

With the seabreeze coming in was a bit of a shift to the right making the course appear to be slightly skewed for the first beat. However, by now the ebb current was starting to run and it goes sideways, right to left, so it turned out to be a square beat. Lost opportunity #1: started just to leeward of the fleet and sailed too far left into deeper water and had to fight to get back to right. But managed to round in top group so still in the hunt! Breeze was still in low teens so the first reach and run were not spectacular for me but was happy to not be bleeding boats (good that Peter Vessella is not here!). On the outside of the trapezoid we were to the left (looking upwind) of the island at the top of the course and out of the main river. With more pressure those who went hard left made out and by the top mark the leaders changed, with Andre Martinie, after a 4 year vacation from Laser sailing, rounding hot on Malcolm Courts' tail. Breeze was now up to mid-teens and now there was a nice Berkeley Circle style chop and good surfing downwind. Andre proceeded to pass Malcolm on the run and go on to win easily. I went through the final gate in fourth with no threat from behind so just cruised down the reach. At the last leeward mark I noted the current and thought "it would sure be stupid to hit that mark"... they say when you are skiing in trees that if you look at the tree then you hit the tree and it must be something similar with marks as, sure enough, I managed to hit the mark. Execution of the 360 caused me to lose 2 boats and I finished 6th. Silly error that!

The race committee is not one for wasting time on the water and they started the second race very soon after we finished the first - just enough time to wolf down a Cliff bar and drink some water. The breeze was still solid but up the course on the right side it looked like there were some big holes. I elected to start down the line and hang to the left a bit to go for what looked like good pressure. I got a good enough start, worked my way to the left and tacked in the pressure line. Then I noticed that the boats that started at the committee boat and tacked right away were sailing into a massive right shift and the top three on that side had tacked back and were simply launched! I did manage to get back to that side and get into that breeze arriving at the weather mark in the low teens. The rest of the race was spent chipping away at the remaining boats and by the final weather mark I was in shooting range of 2-3, in 5th or so. But the final run and reach were rather unspectacular and in the end I held fifth.

The lessons from the first day appear to be that in general there is a bit more pressure to the left but when the current gets going you need to sail to the right first, getting at least downwind of the weather mark (current adjusted) before thinking about bouncing off the right.

We'll see how that plays out tomorrow!

Currently standing in fourth, results are located here.

Sail World is doing the daily write up, the first day is here.

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