Wednesday, August 29, 2007

WNR Series 3 Race 5: No Wind

Unfortunately, tonight started out with light winds and developed into no wind. At approximately 1945 the Race Committee abandoned the race.

We had a poor start, as I was on the line early with a little speed. I didn't want to drop back behind the line only to loose speed and have to come back up underneath another boat, so I pushed the line. I was hoping others were too far back from the line and there would be enough space for me to squeeze in ahead of them. Wrong tactic. We were OCS (On Course Side) and had to duck back down to start again.

With the light winds we did well and spent most the race to the first mark trying to catch Towney. Near the end we hit a big power boat wake, spun out, and saw Argo truck ahead. Shortly thereafter, the race was called. Towney was the only Alberg to make it around the first mark.

I've been thinking that we should keep track of how we do in different wind conditions. My sense is that we have our most trouble keeping up (speed) with other A30s in mid to heavy wind. We seem to be pretty fast in light air. Perhaps we are either set up more for light air, or our sails are better suited for it. Something to think about.

Next week is the last WNR of the year. Let's hope we have some wind!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

David's Big Debut

Last night was breezy and we were shorthanded. Brian, Glen and I were joined by my son, David, for a very nice Wednesday Night Race. David has come out many times with us, but this was his first time where he really contributed. He did a couple of jib sheet releases on tacks and helped setup for a head sail change on the downwind leg by tying bowlines and a square knot. Great stuff!

The wind was 15 kts out of the S and we had the advantage of being in the Bay on our way over, so we rigged the No. 2. We also saw the Etchells start and noted that those boats that started on the north side of the Severn (the pin end of the line) had a solid lead.

Interestingly, as we watched subsequent starts, few boats took the pin end. We decided we would choose the pin and it paid off quite handsomely. We ran the line on starboard and had speed with clear air at the start.

The course was B2, which took us toward Hacketts Point and then back toward Tolly Point and in to the Severn. We lead the whole way, but had to choose between covering Argo or Skybird on the windward leg toward Tolly. We chose the right side of the course, covering Skybird, primarily because it was the long leg and also gave us the best options for being able to tack when we wanted. It paid off with us keeping ahead of Towney and making additional ground on Argo.

The rest of the race was a foot race into the finish and we crossed the line first with plenty of time to spare.

Key Thoughts
We've struggled in heavy air to keep LinGin going against the rest of the fleet. This race was one where it was questionable whether to go with the No. 1 or No. 2 jib--we were the only Alberg that flew the No. 2. I think LinGin, be it because of the cut of her main or whatever, prefers to go to the No. 2 in much lighter air than we generally think. I plan to select the No. 2 a bit earlier and see how we make out. It didn't seem to hurt us last night and I think it helped in the heavier spots. It's important to note that the seas were quite heavy too, so that didn't seem to slow the No. 2 down either.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

August Alberg 30 Assoc. Racing Column

August Chesapeake Memories

August on the Chesapeake holds many memories for me. When I was in high school my grandfather, Bruce Rankin, had finally completed the training of his crew: my younger brothers and cousin, and me. We had all crewed for 5+ years and worked well together. We had a little bit of that "read each other's mind" thing going on, and it was fun. We did all the Annapolis Yacht Club Wednesday Night Races and at the beginning of each CBYRA racing season he'd give us the option of going after the High Point trophy.

One spring he asked us, "Would you rather race for High Point this year, or sail to Venezuela from Florida?" Being young, naive and having girlfriends, we foolishly chose High Point. Boy what I'd give to go back and choose the Caribbean adventure! Oh well. That's the problem with youth, right? It's wasted on the young.

When Grandpa went after High Point, he went after it. That meant that every race that counted toward High Point, we raced, and every race was raced until there was no more racing. Enter August on the Chesapeake. If March enters like a Lion and exits like a lamb, then perhaps August is best described as a 3-toed sloth, or the banana slug. I supposed if everyone is going to go on vacation in August, the wind has the right to as well.

That didn't matter to Grandpa and so there we'd be bobbing up and down in 0.02 knots of breeze in LinGin roasting like pigs on a spit in 98° heat and 100% humidity. If the time limit was 6 hours, we raced for 6:00:00 hours! We were committed. (Or at least Grandpa was, and because we couldn't swim far enough to make it home, so were we.) Looking back on int, I can't imagine that Grandpa enjoyed it too much either; we must have asked, threatened and whined to go swimming, climb the mast or start the engine thousands of time.

The youth in today's in the Alberg class doesn't have this problem. August is a "bye" month for the racers. Other fools may try to race in August, pounding through power boat chop in search of breeze, but our class smartly sticks to short Wednesday night races. Boy, things only get easier and easier for kids these days.

Are you itching to do some racing on an Alberg? Even in August? Well drop me a line and I'll get you out on a Wednesday--I promise. And if you're prepping for the fall racing scene--and we have lots of that--now is the time to get on those projects. Need help? Just let me know and I'll see what we can do.

Fall Alberg Races
September 15-16 Race to Oxford and back
September 22-23 Race to Queenstown and back
September 29-30 International Friendship Races

All of these are great, fun races. The Williams family is planning on racing Queenstown as a family this year. (With a little help from faithful crew.) Come join us for our only race north of the bridge! Call or e-mail me with any questions.

--Tim Williams

Thursday, August 02, 2007

WNR Series 3 Starts Off...and Loses Gas

We had a lovely evening last night with warm light breezes and lots of sun. The wind was out of the north, allowing us to set the chute shortly after the start. We beat Towney at the start, but with light, spotty breeze he made it around us. Thankfully, we were able to return the favor shortly thereafter. Argo found her own wind along the northern side of the Severn and rounded the mark in first, ahead of us by barely a boat length.

We passed Argo on the beat coming back in toward the city. We narrowly crossed Towney and almost hit one of the green cans, but still managed to round the red nun in first. Doing our best to fend off Towney and keeping a sharp eye on Argo, we set the spinnaker and made for the harbor. The Towney wind machine kicked in and he found his own air in front of the Academy.

In front of the Chart House, we were able to make a move to windward and pull up along side of Towney, but just as we were neck-and-neck, the time limit ran out. Bummer, because I think we had a good shot at taking them if we had another 10 minutes!

Great crew work everyone. Please welcome Wallace, Emily's friend that joined us last night.