The 2010 Racing season opened up last night with the first Friday Night Series at the St. Francis Yacht Club. The fleet of 13 local sailors only had the chance to sail 2 races in the dying breeze before the 3rd race was abandoned.
The RC kept the racers on their toes with the first start being recalled as most of the fleet was over early with the ebb tide. After a quick turnaround, we started again.
This time, I went for the breeze- shooting down the line and out at the pin with speed. I got a good jump on the fleet and was first to call the layline at the top mark. Eric tacked below me, taking advantage of the ebb and squeezing in at Anita just behind me. We gybed and headed outside to the breeze. Thinking I had the layline for the leeward mark I gybed again but really had to work deep to get to the mark while Eric came in a little hotter with better angle. Knowing my rounding would be weak at best, I tried to close the door on Eric behind me but he found a hole and we both began to grind upwind on the last leg to the finish.
I had the better angle and was able to squeeze him out and forced him to tack. Meanwhile Soheil sneaked up into 2nd while I got the bullet in race 1 and Eric taking 3rd.
Just behind the top pack was the rest of the feet fighting it out with the likes of Al Mirel, Tom Purcell and Marion Lepart trying for the top 5.
Thanks to Arnaud for the video
Race 2 saw similar conditions with a 10-15k SW breeze. The puffs were coming down randomly on the inside and incredibly shifty. I opted again for a mid line to pin start to get clear air. I was the first to tack and had Soheil to battle with as we worked our way towards Anita Rock. Luckily with some new technique Ive been using, Ive found some better angle in critical situations like this. By holding the uphaul with your front hand, you can effectively stand the rig up and add more power and increase your upwind angle. Its a hard technique to master (with only 1 hand on the boom)but once you get the hang of it, changing your angle of attack with the leading edge of the sail becomes a lot easier.
As we worked our way downwind, I made sure not to repeat the same mistake that caused me a slow rounding at the leeward mark. This time, I let Soheil gybe first and I came in hot with better speed and sailed below and past him to take control of the last leg. As we made our way towards the seawall we got knocked and knocked again on the new tack. Thinking I only had Soheil to cover to the finish, Eric was able to one tack it up to the finish (in a completely different breeze) to take the bullet. The lesson here is to always keep your eyes on your opponents. Had I known Eric had even a remote chance of squeezing in, I would have pushed harder to make the finish in 1 tack but sometimes being in the right place at the right time is all you need- as was the case for Eric.
Race 3 started with hardly enough breeze to make it across the line and only the top 3 sailors escaping. I had to tack back to starboard and was well behind at this point. I opted to take a bigger risk and sail well beyond the layline as things looked really light up at Anita. Eric rounded in front with Al and Chris just ahead of me. As we worked our way downwind, I slowly began reeling in Al and Chris but the race got abandoned and we all headed in.
With a 1-2 for the evening, I took the first race of the series with Eric and Soheil pushing hard in the top 3. It looks like the NP sails have a bit of a early advantage this year but the north guys havnt got their new sails in yet. I was happily surprised with the performance of the NP 10.7 and even more surprised how Soheil (on the same set up) improved his standings from mid fleet to pushing the top. Most of the fleet is already on their L10s with a few guys still waiting and riding their L8s. The Z fin I was using had great speed and even better angle- something I'm hoping to improve on this season.
Photos from Shawn Davis