The West River Sailing Club (WRSC; Galesville, MD) hosted the Dave Irey Memorial Regatta the weekend of June 1/2. I was ‘tasked’ with writing a report. It’s mostly for the new(er) sailors in our fleet. As a Laser newbie myself, I find it useful to go over the mistakes that I make racing this quirky boat. The write-up has gotten rather lengthy; do not despair (and keep reading; hopefully some useful tips).
The WRSC is situated quite beautifully on a creek that connects to the Bay. And the clubhouse has showers! Highly appreciated, as the story will tell. Driving distance from my home in Gaithersburg is about 75 minutes, and should be less from the Washington Sailing Marina when the traffic is reasonable. Fortunately, in the early morning hours on Saturdays and Sundays, it typically is.
There’s a lawn to rig with a fair amount of shadow. To launch, one needs to cross a sandy slope/mini beach. One does need help getting the boat back up the hill at the end of the day.
The Lasers were the biggest group in this year’s event with a total of 13 entries; Albacores were 12. In addition, seven A-cats and seven Flying Scots. A big PRSA presence, not just in the Laser group (Peter Kossakowski, Dan Miller, Steve Parsons, Frank Tamborello and me), but also among the Albacores (Nich Allen, Farley Will, Barney Harris). Bob Bear, who used to frostbite with us, was in an Albacore as well.
Although one can race Lasers just fine right in front of the club, with so many boats we had to go out quite a distance. It took about 30 minutes with a gentle breeze from astern to reach the racing site. But once we were there, the racing started promptly at 11 and we kept on going with almost no delay in between races. Great; just enough time to drink something because it was hot (high eighties). The RC did five minute rolling starts with the Lasers last. The line was long enough to prevent minor ‘touches' between the more aggressive sailors (aren’t we all?). I thought that the boat end was favored most of the time and tried for a good spot over there. On Saturday all races were W/Ls (2x), about 40 minutes long.
The conditions were very different from the ones on the Potomac. The water was choppy; a light chop from the wind and a big chop superimposed from traffic, although the traffic is not as heavy as around the SSA in Annapolis on weekends. And there are no ‘easy’ nearby landmarks to see if you are headed or lifted. I had mounted a ‘cheap' compass, but the numbers were too small for my old eyes to be of much help. The wind, around 5 mph, provided an advantage to lightweights such as me. Clearly, it takes real focus to keep the boat going in the light air and wavy stuff. I tried to heel the boat to leeward just a bit because I have seen some of the better SSA sailors do this in their environment, typically also choppy. Obviously one also has to be aware of the shifts and figure out where the stronger breeze is. I don’t know about the other PRSA sailors, but I guessed right in the first two races and was able to stay with the leaders. The first one was won by the youngest sailor in the fleet, Leo Boucher (13 yrs). Keep this name in your data box. He was on the US National Opti team and very promising. Second place went to the only lady among us (Jolie Homsher) and I was third, a few boat lengths behind. In the second race I found myself way ahead rounding the upwind mark the second time. I had gone right and it paid! Now there was just a long downwind leg (~10 minutes) to the finish. But it was not to be. The wind was even lighter and first one boat (Leo) passed me on the left and then another (Jolie). To make matters worse, a third boat passed me, way on the right (Roger Link). I almost jumped out of the boat in despair. Why didn’t the breeze come through the middle of the leg? A sad excuse, you may think and you could be right. Should I have sailed more of a curve?
The next two races didn’t go well for me and I finished somewhere near the back of the fleet. The third race was painful for Steve Parsons as well because we both went for the wrong upwind mark. How could that be? The RC had changed the course after the second race and, in our defense, there were at least two racing buoys in the upwind area. The lesson learned is to look around to see where the majority of the fleet is going. I can’t recall what happened in the fourth race, but I was getting tired and happy when the RC called it quits. It took almost an hour to get back to the club, but the sights all around were pretty. As mentioned, the shower felt great after this long hot day on the water and then having to de-rig. After these four races, Leo Boucher was in first place (three bullets).
On Sunday I had to get up early again (ouch). The first start had been moved forward to 10 because of a predicted storm later in the day. In fact, the prediction was for strong winds (15-20 mph) early in the day as well, but once I got to the Club, the breeze looked manageable, even for an old guy. I decided I might survive sailing my full rig. It turned out that I was the only one left racing from the PRSA Laserites. After launching, another long sail out to the racing site. Trickier than yesterday; I kept one knee on the floor of the cockpit and the board up only a few inches to steady the boat because with the waves and the breeze from the back it was easy to loose control. I also tried to keep the sail out at less than 90 degrees to prevent mishaps. But once at the Committee boat, just in time to sign in, I death rolled anyway. Not a good start!
We ended up sailing three long races of about 40 minutes in winds that turned out lighter than predicted (around 10 mph, maybe a bit more initially). Two of the courses were just like Saturday’s W/L (twice around), but the second one was an Olympic one (five legs). But the winds weren’t strong enough anymore to plane on the reaches. With respect to the results, I didn’t have a good day. Largely my own fault! In the first race, I didn’t get the timing right and was about 30 seconds late across the line. Consequently, I sailed pretty much in last place the whole race. The sports psychologists tell us to forget the last race and focus on the next one. I tried doing just that. But right after the start of the second race, with a bunch of us possibly ‘over early’, I heard a double whistle and stopped. This was the General Recall that wasn’t (huh?). I looked back and saw that the RC waved me on. I guess the whistle was a mistake. By now I had some twenty boat lengths to make up as most of the others had kept on going. I could have protested the RC or asked for redress, but who wants to do that? In what turned out the be the third and final race, I was over early and had to go back. No excuse and another poor finish.
I was glad the RC called it a day after those three races. Getting back tacking against the wind took another forty minutes or so (and more hiking).
Roger Link (Fleet Captain of the WRSC Laser Fleet) was the winner. Roger had three firsts the second day and beat Leo Boucher by just a point.
|4th||Laser||191967||Jeffrey Moore||5.0||12.0||4.0||2.0||3.0||(14.0 DNC)||2.0||42.0||28.0|
|7th||Laser||166892||Jolie Homsher||2.0||3.0||9.0||4.0||8.0||(14.0 DNC)||14.0 DNC||54.0||40.0|
|9th||Laser||178857||Adam Glass||7.0||9.0||7.0||6.0||7.0||(14.0 DNF)||14.0 DNC||64.0||50.0|
|10th||Laser||58136||Dan Miller||6.0||5.0||6.0||11.0||(14.0 DNC)||14.0 DNC||14.0 DNC||70.0||56.0|
|11th||Laser||181107||Peter Kossakowski||12.0||10.0||12.0||10.0||(14.0 DNC)||14.0 DNC||14.0 DNC||86.0||72.0|
|12th||Laser||138655||Frank Tamborello||13.0||8.0||13.0||12.0||(14.0 DNC)||14.0 DNC||14.0 DNC||88.0||74.0|
|13th||Laser||148708||Steve Parsons||10.0||13.0||10.0||(14.0 DNS)||14.0 DNC||14.0 DNC||14.0 DNC||89.0||75.0|