March 22, 2007-Harder Than We Thought
Working it out
Getting this racing thing back up to the level we had in Seattle all those years ago is probably more than I should hope for any time soon. After all, in those years we raced 50 races a year and we had eight years of solid experience to build on before we hit our peak.
But still it is shocking to me when I see hard this is going to be.
We had another pair of races on the weekend. They didn’t go well.
Two races, under IRC ratings, and ten boats were registered. I don’t know how many actually raced but they all beat us.
We sucked. No doubts about it. We blew the starts, sailed to the wrong side of the courses, made the wrong sail choices, and had lousy boat speed. What else could go wrong?
I have to hand it to the crew; they are a game bunch. In the first race we weren’t clicking at all but they hung in there and when we started getting it together a little in the second race, even as the lead boats sailed off over the horizon, everyone was positive and encouraged about our improvement.
Having a good crew attitude was about all we could claim for the day.
So what went wrong and what can we do about it?
In the first race I was a bit early and ran down the line; away from the new wind it turns out. It was a downwind start and we set the kite OK, on port jibe, but the wind went left big time just after the start. To keep the sail flying I would have had to turn almost around back toward the starting line. I didn’t and instead called for a jibe. The kite blew inside-out through the fore triangle. We needed to jibe and the sail needed to be handed around the head stay and the crew just hadn’t been through this situation ever before and hadn’t a clue what I was talking about. I dropped the tiller and ran forward and got it done, we completed the jibe and then looked up at the fleet, all to windward of us now, and all changing to jibs. By the time we got that sorted out we were half a klick behind. From then on we sailed reasonably, not great, but we just fell farther back.
I should have perceived that the new wind would come from the right, started on starboard jibe, and had the jib ready to go up.
In the second race we were aggressive at the start, pushed Frangi Pangi Girl up above the committee boat, then got shoved over early ourselves. Both us and the boat that pushed us up had to duck back and it put us behind the fleet and to leeward, in a lot of dead air. From there we fell back again, same as the first race.
I’ve got to get the starts down a bit better.
Then there were the calls on the sails:
During the second race the wind built and we went to a #3. When the wind got light again we talked ourselves out of a change back to the #1, and then found ourselves slow and low and fighting a bad tide with no power. There is no excuse for that.
Finally, our boat speed is horrible. I don’t know why. We had the bottom cleaned and we have new sails and the weight is all out of the boat, so I don’t get it. Maybe this is just a matter of concentration on my part, or not getting clear air. I don’t know, we’ll see if it improves.
But despite all this bad news the crew is enthusiastic and no one seems like they are thinking of quitting, and that includes me. I know we’ll get there, but we have to realize that it is hard.
After the race we went to the party and one other skipper suggested we should try the “fun races” instead of the IRC races. Like maybe the IRC fleet was too much for us.
Damn! Can you believe that?
I told him that I preferred the IRC races because they were good practice for us, while inside I seethed.
We’ll just keep at it, keep working hard, and I guess I know that it will come in time, but it is going to be real hard work.
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Singapore