Back when Peter Vessella was thinking about coming to the event he asked his Star crew, who is Aussie and has sailed here extensively, what to expect for the sailing. He said something like "its just like Biscayne Bay except there are lots of jelly fish". That assessment appears to be spot on. The sailing does remind me of racing in Miami. The number of jelly fish in the water is staggering and, unfortunately, there are patches where there is simply no avoiding them.
Anyway, the forecast for today had a bit more breeze from the standard Southeast direction and we were, in fact, already lightly hiking on the sail out to the start. After watching the Apprentice and Master fleets start it was clear the game plan was to go right soon after starting, but the line looked to give a slight pin end favor. I started towards the pin and with a good start was able to soon tack and cross the boats around me. Wolfgang Gerz had a great start in the upper half of the line and had already tacked to go right. In the 10-12 knots of wind he was flying and quickly established a good lead. And just to leeward of him was Malcolm. I started to realize I was slightly off the pace and starting to fall back into the pack and a quick look at the centerboard revealed a nice clump of weed. Once clear I was back in gear but by now Wolfgang and Malcolm were quite far ahead. As we neared the middle of course we got a nice right shift, I took that over to the left where it looked like there was more pressure anyway. From here on I started to play shifts towards the mark and really felt I was making big gains, especially since neither Wolfgang or Malcolm were tacking. I was now sitting left most boat in great position when I finally realized I was sailing to the wrong mark! With the sideways current the courses really appear to get skewed and its quite easy to end up sailing to wing mark as the "upwind" mark since the real weather mark looks to be way over to the side. Ok, reach into the weather mark now in the mid-teens, down the first reach and on to the run... I played off what would be the left side looking upwind and was making some great progress, having moved into 4th or 5th when yet another execution error struck - I capsized. Ok, get sorted out, back into the low teens for the next beat. This time pay better attention and climb back to around 4th. Another unspectacular run puts me in a pack at the last gate with Jorge Abreu on top of me on the reach. I can't get through to leeward and this opens the door for several boats to roll over the top of both of us. I think I finished 8th across the line but am saved by the fact that 3 boats in front of me are OCS, so I get a 5th!
At this point I'm realizing that I'm making lots of "execution errors" of the type you make when you have not been sailing a Laser much. Time to stop that!
Once again the race committee does not hesitate to roll into the second race. The breeze is now up nicely, the most I have seen since we have been here, probably solidly in the 15-18 range. I start at the pin in a big left shift and immediately tack to get launched out to the right side of the course. This time I pay attention to which buoy I am sailing to, I wait until solidly on the right side before playing a shift to get back right and just cross Jorge, the only other close boat and get to the windward mark first. Jorge understands the mark, has to shoot it and gets stuck so I end up with a nice lead down the reach. The rest of the race is spent staying between the fleet and the next mark and I'm able to cross the line first.
So, 5-1 for the day and I'm still sitting 4th overall on 11 points, 4 points out of first. With 8 races to go it is still an open regatta with nobody yet running away with it, though Wolfgang and Andre are counting some great finishes and are definitely quick in these conditions.
Results posted here.
Main regatta page here.