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Archive for May, 2009

Spring Series 1 & 2 (Spinnaker) Results and Recap

Posted by AJ Miceli on May 31, 2009

Chilly (52 degrees) and Breezy (12-18 knots) today.  Two spinnaker races in the bay.

Race 1: Course N-S.  We had a decent start at the boat end (favored).  There were no particular issues on the upwind leg and we rounded fourth, but close to where we should be.  After rounding the chute was almost ready to go up.  We keep forgetting to preset the working spinnaker sheet.  But, we got the chute up and under control reasonably quickly.  The downwind leg was skewed similarly to last week’s first race, and we repeated the same mistake as last week’s first race.  We gybed in the no man’s land of too close to the mark, but not on the layline — then we had to gybe back and we wrapped some of the chute on the forestay.  We recovered and and rounded the mark, did a windward takedown (that went pretty well) and sailed the short distance upwind to the finish.  Thanks to the errors we finished 1:26 behind Coyaba (corrected).

Race 2: The breeze built a little and went further west so the course was changed to W-R14.   Once again we had a decent start but ended up behind Blue Moon, who was parked on the line.  It took a few seconds of maneuvering to get above them.  Then we sailed well to the windward mark and rounded closer to the leaders this time.  We got the chute up and headed downwind.  The wind was 15-20 and we were able to sail deeper.  We had some decent sailing and we saw top speeds of 7.9 knots downwind.  We gybed two or three times.  Most of the gybes went well enough.  After the last gybe we dropped the chute and headed for the mark — and I mean REALLY headed for the mark.  The sails were a little overtrimmed and we were headed straight for R14 (which, you may know, is a very HARD red can).  There was some shouting that got the attention of the trimmers and we able to fall off to avoid the mark.  After rounding we did well on the longer upwind leg.  Because the leg was longer we were able to get more crew on the rail.  We finished a couple minutes behind Coyaba.  Coyaba corrected over Outlaw and we were only 53 seconds behind Outlaw (corrected).   This is actually good.  We’re getting much closer on these spinnaker races.  If we can limit the mistakes in the future we should be reasonably close in competition.

Data: Max wind 23.2 kts — Max speed downwind 7.9 kts.

Thanks to our intrepid crew:  Judy, Steve, Andy, Kim and Don.

See you Wednesday for Race 3 of this series.

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Brier Patch JAM #3 Recap

Posted by AJ Miceli on May 28, 2009

The weather was the story of the first part of the race.  A warm front was coming through and a patch of rain and thunderstorms was headed for Erie.  The race committee watched the radar and held the start of the race until it was clear that the main cell was passing us.  We watched the radar on Steve’s iPhone.  As it happened, the roughest weather went both north and south of us, and the bay was unscathed, except for a little rain.

The course was a triangle:  S-W-Finish.  The wind at the start was WSW @ 8-10 kts, so we started on a starboard broad reach.  When we were clear of the fleet we flipped to port and sailed for the middle of the bay.  We were in the middle with Entson.   Most of the boats stayed on the rhumb line — some went wing-n-wing.   On that leg we also had a tangle with Foxy Lady (J-24).  As we approached them on port, they walked their sails over to starboard, but their bow was already overlapped with us, and we didn’t really have time to get out of there in light air.  The bow kept coming, and I had to push off their bow pulpit right before they were going to hit us.  Their tactic was a small boat racing tactic that doesn’t work as well with keel boats.  As the leg progressed, the wind clocked to W then WNW.  That allowed everyone on port to sail almost straight for the mark.  We gybed and came down to meet the fleet.  When we reconnected with the fleet and flipped back to port,  Serendipity, Entson and Dawn Treader were ahead of us and we were about a boat length ahead of most the other boats.  We’ll count that as a win, considering how challenging it is for us to sail this boat downwind.

After rounding we ended up beating to windward toward W.  We chose to stay on the right.  Several other boats rounded and sailed for the left.  About halfway up the leg the wind backed to the west and allowed almost everyone to sail a direct course to the mark, no matter where you were on the course.   Serendipity, Entson and Dawn Treader stretched out before and after that mark.  We gave Keya room at the mark and they gybed away at the mark.  We rounded next and stayed on port.  Rakish rounded right behind us.

The final leg started as a beat to the finish due to the windshift.  Keya took the south route, we took the north route then sailed for the middle.  On that leg we stretched out a little on Rakish, and we traded tacks with Foxy Lady again.  The wind started dying and kept clocking.  About halfway to the finish we sensed another big windshift and flipped to port as the wind went behind us.  Then the wind dropped to 1-2 knots.  The course turned into a parking lot for a while.  Serendipity finished (perhaps a half hour ahead of us).  Dawn Treader and Entson were in sight of the line, but took a long time to finish.  The rest of us were still about a half-mile from the finish.  We did everything we could to keep the boat moving.  At one point the GPS said we were .41 nm from the finish and the time-to-go was 4o minutes!  We heard the sunset cannon go off at the yacht club.  After that the wind started filling in from the back.   The boats in back started catching up with us.  We moved all the weight forward, and I stayed with the tiller and the mainsheet.  We were even with Keya (about 15 boat lengths to the left of us) and Silver Wheel had come up right behind us (about a half a boat length behind us).  As the wind built slowly we held off Silver Wheel and we shot the line at the end to just nose out Keya.  We still owed Keya a couple seconds per mile, but we’ll take the moral victory.  We were fourth over the line in our fleet.

Final Result:  5th (Serendipity finished a half hour ahead of us, Dawn Treader and Entson finished about 10 minutes ahead, and Keya corrected over us by a few seconds).

Thanks to our fine light air crew:  Andy, Steve and Judy.

See you Sunday for two spinnaker races in the bay!

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Lighthouse Race Results and Recap

Posted by AJ Miceli on May 24, 2009

Waiting for the full results to e-mailed, but we took 4th (of 4) in the B Fleet in the Lighthouse race today.  Hopefully that will still qualify us for 3rd place in the Brier Patch Spinnaker Series.

Recap:  We were worried that the winds would be extremely light all day, but the breeze started building from the NE right before the race started.  We had a decent start with the rest of the fleet, then we had the long beat up the bay.  News and Outlaw stretched out on the leg, but we stayed fairly close to Coyaba.  Then we hit the channel.  We had to tack through the channel, and of course that’s always a challenge.  Well, we lost ground (as usual) in the channel.  The rest of the fleet sailed away from us in there, and the front of the B fleet (Keya and Loggerhead) caught up with us in there.

After we escaped from the channel we sailed pretty well.   We rounded G1, then came pretty close to my safe mark on Gull Point.  Then we popped the chute, and it was a decent run fairly straight to the lighthouse mark.   We let up the tack on the chute about 4-5 feet and sailed deep.  The winds were 8-10 knots.  At that point we were still reasonably close to Coyaba (who was sailing with white sails only).  We rounded the lighthouse mark and it took us a little while to find the trim solution for the slog upwind in some chop.  Back around Gull Point, and re-rounded G1.  Then back to Gull Point.  We deployed the chute reasonably early and reasonably well, but by then the cold front was coming through with a little rain.   The winds dropped down to about 6-10 knots.  By then almost all the fleet was ahead of us, so the light winds hurt us even more.  We had a decent mark rounding and then headed back upwind to finish at R2.  All-in-all we sailed well, and kept the boat in the 6’s through most of the race, but it just wasn’t enough.   We finished about a half-hour behind Outlaw and about 20 minutes behind Coyaba.

I wish I could say that we learned something today about how to sail these long races better, but I’m not sure that we know what’s stopping us from having consistently decent races, like last Sunday’s race.   I keep thinking it’s trim because today we didn’t sail in wacky directions, and we didn’t have bad mark roundings or other difficulties.  We’re just not able to get and keep the boat going as fast as the rating says it should.

Thanks to Judy, Steve, Andy & Kim.

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Brier Patch JAM Race 2 Postponed

Posted by AJ Miceli on May 21, 2009

JAM race 2 of the Brier Patch Series got off to a flying stop.  All the crew showed up, and I went up the mast to tighten the manual wind instrument (thanks, Steve, Judy and Andy for the cranking).  There was big high pressure sitting on top of us and the wind died by 6PM.  We motored out to the course but didn’t bother rigging.  Interestingly, it looked like almost every boat in the C Fleet showed up.  At 7PM the race was postponed so it can be rescheduled for some other date.

After the postponement, we motored into the Erie Yacht Club and tied up along the wall behind Pinguino (Mark’s F-28 trimaran).  Our crew mixed with Judy and Mark Kubeja and Dave Hyland from Pinguino.  We brought crackers, cheese, turkey pepperoni and box ‘o wine.  Mark provided deviled eggs — mmmmm — and we mooched some beer from them.  It was a beautiful night despite the no wind thing.  Then we motored back to the Marina and relaxed a little while longer.

Crew:  Andy, Steve and Judy.

Sunday is the Lighthouse Race — right now, light winds are predicted (N @7 kts).  It should be sunny, but it could be a long slow race.  See you Sunday.

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Brier Patch Spinnaker Races 1 & 2 Results and Recap

Posted by AJ Miceli on May 17, 2009

Results:  3rd place (8th in overall) Race 1, 2nd place (4th in overall) Race 2.

A sunny, but cold and breezy spring day on the bay.  Winds NNW 15-20 kts, puffy and shifty.

Race 1 recap:  We had a decent start, not the best, but not our worst.  Then we flipped to port for clear air.   Coyaba took the left side of the course for the first leg, and that turned out to be slightly more favored.  After the upwind rounding we took our time getting the chute set (since it was the first time this season, and since Mike O’Neill was on the foredeck in Judy’s place).   After we set the chute it took a little time to get the boat settled.   The leg was short and our speed was something over 7 knots downwind.  Our mistake came near the leeward mark.  We gybed over to port and found that we weren’t on the layline.   When we gybed back to starboard the chute wrapped on the forestay and we we had to sail well past the mark (towards the rocks — what is it with me and rocks??) before we were able to gybe again.  We did a windward takedown and sailed the short distance to the finish.  We gave up at least 2 minutes or more at the leeward mark, and finished 3rd (out of 3 in the B fleet) behind Coyaba and Outlaw.  Coyaba also corrected over all but one of the A Fleet boats to finish 2nd overall.

Race 2 recap:  We were hoping that we would do a little better in the 2nd race, after considering that our first race was kind of a re-training exercise.  In race we had a good start and immediately flipped to port.   This worked a little better the 2nd time.  We rounded the weather mark fairly close to Outlaw.   After rounding we did a bear-away set and got the chute deployed.  The course was skewed enough (and we learned from our first race on this leg) that we just sailed on starboard until a few boatlengths to the leeward mark, then we flipped to port and did a windward takedown.  That worked much better than in race one.   We stayed competitive with Outlaw on the upwind leg, then rounded and repeated the same strategy as the first downwind leg.  The leg was very puffy and we drove down in the puffs.  That took us closer to the mark for the rounding.  Once again we flipped at the mark, did a windward taken and sailed for the finish.  We finished 2:24 behind Outlaw (a Laser 28, rating 135) and corrected over him by about a minute.  Very nice.  This time we also corrected over some A Fleet boats, beating Taz II (Beneteau 36.7) and Raven (Schock 35).  That put us fourth in the overalls.

Thanks to a great crew:  Mike O’Neill (foredeck), Steve Yount (main trimmer), Ken McCurdy (jib and Spin Trimmer) and Andy Maille (jib trimmer and utility player).

Some data:  Max wind 23.5 knots.  Max speed 8.2 downwind.

BTW — Judy Tucci couldn’t make it today.  Her foot is still hurting.  We hope that she gets better.  We really missed her on the foredeck.

See you on Wednesday for a JAM race.

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2nd Place in Brier Patch Race 1

Posted by AJ Miceli on May 14, 2009

The official results are in, and we DID take 2nd place in race 1 of the Brier Patch JAM series.  It’s early in the season, and not everyone was out.  Here’s the finishing order:

Keya, Red Herring, Dawn Treader, Rakish, Persistence, Endurance.

Average Speed over Course:  5.18 knots (Keya’s was 5:33 knots — the difference is 0.15 knots).

It’ll cost us 6 seconds, but it was fun.   Thanks again to our crew:  Ben, Steve, Andy, Judy!

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First Sailboat Race of the Season

Posted by AJ Miceli on May 14, 2009

We’re still waiting to see the final results, but it sure looks like Red Herring is off to a good start of the 2009 season!  Last night was race 1 of the Brier Patch JAM series.  The weather was part of the story.  There were some storms threatening from the west and the winds in front of that system was really disturbed.   We put our foul weather gear on the before the race, but the rains didn’t come til after the race.   The wind was mainly from the south through the race, but it was shifty and we saw wide swings of  speed from 5 kts to 20 kts, usually within a minute or two of each other.

With the wind from the south, we had a reaching start.  We started in the front row upwind of  Keya and Dawn Treader, and Rakish was behind us.  The first leg was just a drag race to Mark N.  Everybody held their own.

We rounded behind Dawn Treader.  Dawn Treader went left and so did we.  Behind us, Keya rounded and flipped to the right for the beat upwind.  After a few boat lengths we thought we would have clearer air on the right, so we flipped.   Most of the others in our fleet continued left.  Keya found a lane, pointed higher and stretched out on us.  But about halfway to Mark S we were lifted and closed some of the distance with Keya.  When we looked left it was clear that Keya and us were on the proper side of the course.  The boats that went left fell pretty far behind.

We rounded S about a minute and a half behind Keya then we had a close reach to the finish — but even then the winds were shifty and puffy.  We sailed that leg well and closed a little of the distance to Keya.  Keya got line honors (and certainly a first place, since we owe them time).  We were second over the line, and the rest of the fleet was far enough behind that I’m pretty sure we saved our time on them and took a 2nd.  I’ll post the results when I get them in the mail.

Thanks to a very good crew for a lot of attentive and hard trimming:  Andy Maille (starboard Jib trimmer), Judy Tucci (recovering from foot surgery, but still in position in the bow!), Ben Shaevitz (port jib trimmer), and main trimmer Steve Yount (lot of trimming).

Before the race I tightened and tuned the rig, and I think that also helped, especially when the wind piped up.  Overall, we made a couple good decisions, didn’t make too many dumb decisions, and lucked out on the favored side of the upwind beat.

Some data:  Max speed 7.5 knots on a reach, Max wind 23.5 kts on our way BACK to the slip.

Thanks to all!  I’ll post the actual results when they arrive.

Next races:  Sunday — two spinnaker fleet races in the bay.  See you then.

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Shakedown Cruise

Posted by AJ Miceli on May 11, 2009

Well finally!  Five of us went on a little shakedown cruise tonight — the first sail of the season.  About 6PM tonight Andy came down and cranked me up the mast so that I could reinstall both wind instruments.  Then Ben, Dave and Steve arrived and we went out for a shakedown and a little upwind practice.  The winds were light.  By 7PM they were down to 5-6 knots from the NW.   Then they proceeded to die.

We droppped the sails a little before 8PM.  The air temp was 50, so it was a little chilly going upwind, but hey, we were sailing!  We worked on sail trim and did a little speed testing sailing next to Raven (the only other boat that was out tonight).

Then we went back to the dock for Triscuits, Turkey Pepperoni and so good Cheddar.   No beer tonight.

So, finally it’s real.  The first race is two days away.  Can’t wait.

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Brig Niagara at EYC

Posted by AJ Miceli on May 6, 2009

This morning the Brig Niagara was tied up at the Yacht Club.  How cool is it to walk the dog and see a 19th century sailing vessel moored three doors down from your front door?  Life is good.

Posted in Lake Erie Sailing, Off-season | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Splash — Let The Season Begin

Posted by AJ Miceli on May 4, 2009

We splashed Red Herring this morning at about 8AM.  She’s floating and tied up safely (I hope) in her slip at Bay Harbor East Basin.  More later.  But thanks to Judy Tucci, Andy Maille and Mark Kubeja for helping with the last leg of the journey.   The first race is a week from this Wednesday.  Hopefully, we’ll get a little time for a shakedown cruise and some tuning before that.

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