Sunday, November 23, 2014

Race: Hot Rum II Lessons

Learning all the time here. Yesterday's race was terrible, we placed 101 out of 124, taking our overall position to 80th.

We can make this respectable in the next race.

And I could have saved it early on. As we pulled away from the start line we had wind but were slow relative to both the other 36.7s and targets. We stayed slow. We aren't slow anymore.

Lesson 1. Don't be slow. We aren't slow. Know how fast you are relative to the other boats and react if you aren't keeping up or overtaking. React early.

Lesson 2. Need to train more people in checking for kelp using the camera, or get a kelp window installed in the hull.

Lesson 3 (II). Get better at clearing kelp. The flosser doesn't work, reason being it floats at the top of the keel and generally the kelp is spread down the keel. Last time kelp messed up a race we decided to add weights to the flosser to help drag the kelp off the keel. The weights are on the boat but not on the flossing line. The idea is to try and avoid backing down, get the flosser to the top of the keel and drop the weights either side to pull the line down. Tomorrow I go to the boat and put the weights on the line.

Lesson 4. Work down when you can. Having caught back up too the fleet we should have beaten Fandango but went too high. They beat us by 30 seconds across the line and less in reality as we had starboard rights on them.

Here's a quick edit from Jonathan.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Race: Hot Rum II

Funking Kelp.

Thick blue line is boat speed through the whole race. Guess at what point we cleared the kelp....

Judging by our speed vs polar speed we were dragging it from the start to the bottom mark (halfway). While the wind was higher we were just slow compared to the other boats, when it dropped at the leeward mark we were parked.

This is the kelp.

Once cleared we actually overtook some boats.

I should have checked much earlier, I thought about it.

That is all.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Gear: Light weight spinnaker sheet

1/8th inch amsteel - very light, came in handy yesterday as it kept our spinnaker flying when others were still floundering and helped us edge past people into clearer air.

Still some mods to be made to make it really useful.

Weather: Hot Rum 1 Weather Review

Predictions for the race were:

Sailflow Zuniga: West @ 7 knots max
PredictWind: 7-10 knots

On the water we saw 6-7 knots at the start, with dips to 3 knots. Direction north west in the channel. Going past Point Loma at about 2pm we peaked at 12 knots TWS and 8-9 knots BSP. Significant channelling of air around the end of the point.

On the way back we saw 3-10 knots on the west side of the channel, the east side seemed light. The middle was a death trap we got stuck in. We weren't the only boat to get stuck in it but many boats saw our problems and sailed around the area.

Heading past the last mark we got headed about 30 degrees and tacked into the channel too early. We should have eaten the header and pushed onto the west side of the channel to get into the wind we'd used on the way out and could see on the way back. The header was probably due to wind wrapping around the point. Hindsight.

Looking at the graph for Mission Bay it seems the wind was fairly steady and slowly drifted north during the day:

This is what was predicted vs recorded for Zuniga:

Race: Hot Rum I

First close quarters race - 132 boats finished with Kraken in 69th, 14/34 in class and 2/6 36.7s in the race, finishing about a minute behind Adventure.

This was a lot of fun, and we were doing really well until the wind deserted us mid channel coming back and we sat and watched a LOT of boats pass us. Looking at the track we lost 15-20 minutes and about 30 places there, dispiriting but once we got back into the wind we were trucking, held off larger faster boats and caught Adventure who had passed us while stranded.

After a bunch of good starts in recent races we were late, very late - perhaps a minute. Not sure what happened but with a strong tide I did a timed run towards the line but when trying to replicate it for the actual start we didn't accelerate.

However.... we crossed the line with speed and worked high and had overtaken all the other boats on our start time before leaving the shadow of Point Loma. Part of this was good strategy - a delayed spinnaker launch to work high, and convincing a couple of larger boats not to roll us. Much of it was great luck, just as we were getting into our stride we approached a graveyard of boats. They were sat in no wind, and busy destroying what wind there was for each other. With a bunch of fast boats behind us I had some trepidation as we approached but a small gap opened up and our momentum carried us through.

On the other side we picked up speed again and found the wind and soon got our legs stretched at eight knots.

My rough notes are below - then some pictures courtesy of John - check out the number of Spinnakers trying (and mostly failing) to chase us down!

  • 11/8/14 - 9 - Tom, John, Cheryl, Charlie+1, David, Jonathan, Ted, Kelly
  • 69th or 72nd. 2nd 367, 14/34 in class
  • For the most part we raced a great race, with a 20+ minute section of the wind gods stranding us (right, we were in the wrong place at the wrong time, but sat there as a warning for all who would follow).
  • About a minute late to the start line but good speed and a lucky break on a boat graveyard near the sub pen put us heading for the first mark in a really good position (ahead of all 36.7s just beyond it).
  • Holding off on spinnaker hoist to get high on fleet worked.
  • Lightweight spinnaker line worked, combined with our <0.5oz spinnaker we were trucking at times others weren't.
  • Foredeck crew work was great. Our test hoist left the spin halyard in the wrong place but we fixed it on with a quick spin drop Followed by a genoa hoist. Something to watch for but it worked out okay.
  • Bottom reach leg was essentially an upwind leg and we were out pointed by everyone but fast.
  • Backstay for pointing is now critical to pointing (perhaps even 3-5 degrees?) with the rig tuning as it is. Adding backstay got pointing up without sacrificing speed (we were already "fast" at > 5kts).
  • New guys Kelly and Anna were awesome. Cheryl and Anna trimming were awesome. 
  • We got stuck below point loma, actually doubled back on oursleves. Lost about 20 minutes. Right. 20. No really, see the link below if you want:
  • Race replay (some boats, not all last time I checked)
  • My conclusion is in any midrange or less W-NW breeze that is wrapping around the point you should hug the point high, and keep driving high.
  • Once beyond the Bermuda triangle we were significantly behind Adventure. We kept high and beat a few other boats to the finish line. It seemed like we were faster and higher than Adventure and we weren't short of them at the finish line. We also tacked on top of and and handsomely beat a 40.7 then beat off an unknown significantly larger boat that tried to roll us. Thank you to the handy lift we luffed on top of to drop them off.
  • Rig tune: V1s ~34, D1s Loose. Worked well in the conditions.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Technique: Weather

We finally had enough wind to break out the #3 jib and headed upwind in 12-20 knots of breeze. The water was good and choppy and as we got the spinnaker ready for hoist the foredeck crew hit zero G a few times and we got the bow under oncoming waves a couple of times - so rare for Oceanside!

I've been reading a book called "High Performance Sailing". On chapter one at the moment it's all about weather and was talking about cloud and wind interactions. At one point we got hit with a decent gust and looking up where it came from you could see a big dark cloud with a thick rain storm under it. Textbook, the rain creates a down draft in the middle of the cloud that radiates outwards, this then combined with the base ?15knot breeze.

We hoisted the spinnaker but sadly noticed the boom gooseneck was coming loose before we gybed onto the faster down wave tack - had been hoping to beat our high speed but guess it'll last until next time there's good conditions.

The gooseneck problem is just a sheared cotter pin but it was tricky to fix in the waves, now I understand the connection better there will be spare pins on board and we'll fix it on the go if it happens again.

On the way back in we got another lesson in cloud wind influence. Just as we got back to the harbor the wind dropped from 12 knots, to 8 knots, to 4 knots spinning around in all directions and boat speed dropped to an uncomfortable and bouncy 1-2 knots.

We were running downwind and directly downwind of us was another larger rainstorm - pushing wind back in our direction. Behind us was another cloud, but n
o rain. This cloud was probably pulling wind into it and up, again working to cancel out the main wind. We were stuck in the middle.

After about 10-15 minutes the wind turned back on and hit nearly 20 knots.

What's crazy is to get good at racing we need to understand these cloud wind interactions, and be able to map them (moving!) across a race course and combine with racing rules and tactics.

Tuning: V1s at 40, D1s just on the gauge (3, gauge bottoms out at 2)