Saturday, May 17, 2008

June 2008 Racing Column for the Mainsheet

The annual NOOD (National Offshore One-Design) regatta was held in Annapolis over the last weekend in April this year. The Albergs had a nice turn out with seven boats making an appearance on the course. Many years, the wind lightens up and we loose a day of racing. Not so this time: our fleet completed 8 races over three days. By Sunday night I feel like I need to take two days off before going back to work. I was exhausted!

The great thing about having so many races is that it gives you the chance to make up for mistakes. If you really mess up a spinnaker douse in one race, you're not out for the series. It also gives you enough time on the course that you're almost always exposed to a variety of conditions. That was the case in this regatta. The first two days of the NOOD were very similar: light to medium air (5-10 kts.) out of the north with a powerful current developing throughout the day. The third day, however, the wind really picked up (15-20 kts.) and made for quite a different scene. Solid crew work became extremely important, and if you didn't change the way your boat was set up from the day before, you were going to be slow.

There are two things I'll never forget about this regatta. The first is watching Lanny Helms and his crew aboard Windswept drive away from the fleet the last day of racing. It was incredible to watch that boat go. He had two great starts that second day and took off, never to be caught. I pressed him at the award ceremony as to how he had her set up to make her go so fast, but it seemed difficult for him to talk he was smiling so much. Way to go Lanny!

The second thing I'll never forget is Brian Palmer crewing for me and doing foredeck. Brian is not my regular foredeck; I was supposed to have my cousin on board Sunday doing foredeck and he's been doing that for over 20 years. Brian, however, is exactly the kind of crew every skipper loves: he'll do whatever he's asked--no questions asked! Brian does foredeck for us about twice per year, usually because someone had to bail at the last minute. (Which is what happened in this case.) He's a trooper for trying to re-learn the whole process on the way out to the race course.

With 15-20 kts. blowing, we weren't sure we wanted to fly the chute, but if you're not in the lead it's hard not to at least give it a try, so we did. One thing you should know is that I do my boat maintenance by crisis; if she's sinking, or something is broken that will cost us in a race, then it gets fixed. Otherwise, find a work-around! Apparently one area that I need to improve is the spinnaker halyard shackle. The pin is bent and if you don't PRESS it in--even thought it may be latched--it will pop lose. Brian had unfortunately not received this memo and I didn't communicate it in my review of the process.

The call for the spinnaker to go up on the second leg of the first race was made, and my other crew, Ray Meyer, gave it all he had. It was his first weekend on LinGin, so maybe he thought our spinnaker was ULTRA light weight, or maybe it all happened just so fast... Regardless of why or how, within a second or two we had the spinnaker halyard at the top of the mast. Not just part of the way, but ALL the way.

We finished up that race and knew that we would only have about 15 minutes between races. (As Race Committee, you have to hustle to get in 8 races in three days.) The seas were big when we headed out and had only grown throughout the morning. Thankfully Brian has done some rock climbing in his past, because he agreed to hop in the bosun's chair and be pulled up the mast to retrieve the halyard. You'll have to ask him yourself about how the trip was, but I know that most of the fleet watched the feat closely--it was exciting! We had a lot of questions at the party after the race about our Spiderman. Let's just say that the bumps you and I feel at deck level are nothing compared to what one feels at the top of the mast!

At the end of the racing LinGin carried the day, but just narrowly. T.C. Williams on Argo had a great third day and really gave us a scare, coming in a close second. Jonathan Adams teamed up with Larry Morris to co-skipper Laughing Gull for this regatta and they made a great team. They were extremely consistent throughout the regatta and came in third. Lanny was not far behind Jonathan and Larry.

I am really pleased with the competitiveness of all the boats in our fleet. Albergs are a great boat to race! Please come join us sometime.

Two final thoughts:
  1. Have you considered joining us for the races in Canada this June? It's June 14-15 in Toronto and I can promise that you'll have a great time and make new friends. Please contact me if you're even just thinking about it.
  2. Albergs are racing in Wednesday race series on both the Severn and the Magothy rivers. If you've been thinking about getting your boat out, but have some questions, please drop me a line. I'm happy to help get you out on the water.
I look forward to seeing you all on the water. Tim Williams

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