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  #31  
Old 04-11-2014
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Re: First time crewing/racing this weekend

Glad you liked the ILCA website. Tons of info there on racing Lightnings.

A bit more advanced is this quiz on the racing rules which get a bit more complex.
Regelspiel Uli Finckh
It is the skippers job to know the rules, not yours.

Have a great time on Sunday. I'll be working on my boat instead of sailing ;-(.
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  #32  
Old 04-12-2014
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Re: First time crewing/racing this weekend

Good luck!

Your approach shows you are an intelligent, conscientious person. If you were an irresponsible idiot, I wouldn't have advised you to do anything other than show up on time with a six pack of beer. Someone will be lucky to have you as a crew member. (You also appear to be light and strong, which will help the boat be faster!)
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  #33  
Old 04-12-2014
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Re: First time crewing/racing this weekend

How did it go?
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  #34  
Old 04-13-2014
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Originally Posted by jimgo View Post
How did it go?
It's today. Getting ready to head out soon. Just re-read everyone's advice for a last minute refresher. Thanks again! I will report back tonight.
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Old 04-13-2014
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Oh my goodness, there is so much to tell, but where to begin? I don’'t know if today was typical or not, but perhaps you can shed some light on that for me.

Here's what happened: The day started out beautiful: 80 degrees, sun, and winds 5-10 knots out of the south, with gusts up to 25 knots predicted later in the day. Water temp was 58 degrees. I met the skipper (let's call him Sam. Sam the Skipper) and his crewmate, Bob, who also owns a Lightning but crews for Sam because his boat isn't ready to race yet.

Fourth crew member
We were one of only three Lightnings racing today, which I understand is unusual. Apparently there is a big regatta this weekend so many boats were out of town. Because of the smaller number, there were several extra crew trying to find boats to work. One of the other Lightning took on a fourth crew, so my skipper Sam offered to take on a fourth as well, let's call her Annie. But at the last minute, the other boat's fourth bowed out, so in the end, we were the only boat with four crew.

(As an aside, I will say this- I don't know if it was a good idea to take a fourth or not, but I personally was glad Annie was onboard. She called the countdown times before the start, called out weather, kept our skipper apprised of where the marks were, knew exactly where every other boat was on the course, knew how to fly the spinnaker, and was overall just brilliant. I learned more from just watching her than I did from anybody else on that boat.)

Annie and Bob flew the spinnaker during the mile run down to the race course, and we practiced a few jibes until I felt comfortable. After a bit, we all kind of fell into our more or less permanent positions: I was working the jib, she was working the main, and Bob was doing other stuff that the Skipper was telling him to do (like adjust the cunningham, outhaul, etc.)

Even though I had been told I would be middle position, it turns out I spent most of my time forward.

First Race
Finally the RC gave the signal and we began maneuvering. It was a terrible start for us. I'm not sure what happened (my eyes were glued on the jib telltales) but somehow there was some confusion about where the start gate was. Apparently the RC boat was not in the same orientation that they're usually in, which threw Sam and Annie off. So we ended up crossing the line late. Our first rounding wasn't that great, either. Something got jammed as we tried to raise the jib after flying the spinnaker. We all became so engrossed in diagnosing, the skipper sailed right past the pin. If we had been in a plane, it would've been a textbook example of heads-down flying- none of us looking out the window. D’oh

So the first race was pretty bad. We came in dead last. By a lot.

Second Race
Second race, I am happy to say, was a lot better. We chose not to fly the spinnaker as the wind was picking up and we obviously weren't a well oiled machine yet, so we just sailed wing on wing on the downwind and did just fine like that. We still came in last, but at least we were a lot closer to the second boat.

Third Race - DNS and Man overboard!
Prior to the start of the third race, things got really dicey. The wind was really picking up now, big gusts knocking us over quite a bit, and me being forward, I was completely soaked (thank God I listened to Sailnet and dressed for the weather.)

The start was pretty chaotic with lots of jostling and I think we were all a bit eager to try to get a better position for this final race. The other two boats did a good job of defending against us and the skipper was calling out commands fast and furious. It seemed like there was less and less time between the "prepare to..." and the actual turn but I just figured that was because we were becoming better and better at our jobs. Well, at one point Sam called out "prepare to jibe" and Annie and I went down under the boom, but Bob didn't. I heard a loud CRACK and looked up to see Bob flying backwards over the side!

I dropped the jib sheet and lunged across the centerboard and tried to grab his leg in a bear hug as it cartwheeled up and over, but his momentum pulled his foot clear through my arms and I was left holding his sneaker! Somehow, he managed to grab the boom on his way over the edge and hung there as the boat kept sailing. I kept waiting for the boat to turn into the wind and stop, but somehow we kept sailing, dragging poor Bob through the water. I was keenly aware of my jib luffing and mainsail not, so I wasn't sure if the skipper intended to continue the race with a crew hanging off the boom but finally (FINALLY!) the boat slowed down and a motorboat pulled up alongside to fish Bob out of the water. He had blood coming from his face and looked in shock.

After he was taken away, we started our beat back to the marina. We never even crossed the start line.

Hindsight On our way back to the marina, we talked about what we could have done differently. Definitely we should have stopped the boat immediately. I also feel like we should have had this conversation before starting out, just so that everybody would’'ve known exactly what to do. Of course, hindsight is twenty-twenty.

We caught up with Bob later on. He's fine, but by the looks of his eye, he will have a nice shiner tomorrow. He also lost his prescription glasses in the water. Oh, we also found out later that one of the other boats lost a crew in the water as well.

As for me, I am happy that I wasn't the one who went in. I stayed (relatively) dry, learned a lot, and have a much better idea of what to expect from now on.

So…. was this a typical racing day? Is it common to take on a fourth crew member? Have a jammed jib sheet? Lose a crew member on a jibe? Or is every day an adventure?
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Last edited by ropeclimber; 04-13-2014 at 07:02 PM.
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  #36  
Old 04-13-2014
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Re: First time crewing/racing this weekend

Oh hell yeah!!



Sounds like a typical day of racing!

Honestly, it sounds like the skipper needs to keep a little better eye on things...and/or Bob needs to pay closer attention to the skipper. These guys have been sailing together - so there's little excuse for a BOBOB. That just shouldn't happen.

Sounds like you rocked the day though...and was able to learn from the crew and stay on the boat. I'd say you did just fine.
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  #37  
Old 04-13-2014
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Re: First time crewing/racing this weekend

Oh, yes, did we forget to tell you about the "safety talk" that every skipper is supposed to go through and his plan for responding to accidents before leaving the dock....? Oopsie. My guess is that 90% of them don't. Sorry things went hairy for you. It sounded like you got a good dose of a lot of things in one afternoon. Small boat racing can go sideways pretty quickly, especially with inexperienced crew. Keep crewing with different people and you'll get a good sense of what works and what doesn't.
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  #38  
Old 04-13-2014
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Re: First time crewing/racing this weekend

You did not experience a typical day. Crew overboard and black eyes are rare; scrapes and bruises are not.. Four on a Lightning is not routine. Perhaps the skip chose to go with four because of the heavy air.

You sound like an exceptional person. Your good cheer and positive attitude is important on a small boat. The skip should be grateful for your help and thank you.

As you progress, you'll contribute by applying the knowledge and skill you develop to adjust the shape of the jib to the wind and wave conditions. You will learn to observe what's going on around you and accurately report the information to the skip so that the information can be acted upon. if you continue as forecrew, you will learn to trim the pole lift to optimize the spinnaker shape and you will learn to gybe the pole.
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  #39  
Old 04-14-2014
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Re: First time crewing/racing this weekend

Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
I had to do a search to understand this. LOL Yes, if Life were one of those video games my son plays so much, I definitely earned a few EXP points yesterday. On the other hand, perhaps everything seemed more exciting to me since this was my first time racing. Hopefully in a few months I'll have even more experience against which to judge it properly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gamayun View Post
Oh, yes, did we forget to tell you about the "safety talk" that every skipper is supposed to go through and his plan for responding to accidents before leaving the dock....?
This is a huge one for me. When I was working in aviation, all the pilots I knew did this as a matter of course. Some of them had these elaborate "I will do this... You will do that..." call and answer routines they would run through with their crew before each flight. I'm surprised it's not as emphasized in the maritime industry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hudsonian View Post
You sound like an exceptional person. Your good cheer and positive attitude is important on a small boat. The skip should be grateful for your help and thank you.
Thank you! The Skipper asked me back, so I guess that's a good sign.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hudsonian View Post
As you progress, you'll contribute by applying the knowledge and skill you develop to adjust the shape of the jib to the wind and wave conditions. You will learn to observe what's going on around you and accurately report the information to the skip so that the information can be acted upon. if you continue as forecrew, you will learn to trim the pole lift to optimize the spinnaker shape and you will learn to gybe the pole.
I do feel like I could take some of that stuff on next time, now that I've seen it done a few times. I'm looking forward to it!


SO, just to close the loop on this thread, here's how I would respond to myself now that I've popped my racing cherry

1) Dress for the weather - A few people mentioned this and I agree. This, more than anything, made the day a success for me. The water was chilly and the winds were gusty. I took a lot of water in the face. If I hadn't been wearing a waterproof jacket and quick-drying pants with a pair of comfy boat shoes, I think I would've been absolutely miserable. This includes bringing your own PFD so you don't have to worry about borrowing an ill-fitting one.

2) A good pair of gloves- Weight-lifting gloves are better than nothing, but as an earlier poster said, they leave too much bare finger exposed above the knuckle. I tried the PVC-coated gloves from Home Depot, but my particular pair were too thin for my comfort. Luckily, Annie (our last minute fourth addition) loaned me a pair of her sailing gloves and they were fantastic. But even with those gloves, I still managed to lose a little skin off my left index finger. So, a good pair of gloves and a willingness to get banged up is crucial.

3) Pre-launch briefing- I will insist on this next time. At the very least, I would ask "What procedure should we follow if a person goes overboard?" There are a lot of scenarios to consider- person goes completely in the water vs person is hanging off the edge, or hanging off the boom, or caught up in a line or something. Also, what should the victim do? Should they TRY to haul themselves back in, or just let go and wait for a committee boat?

And finally, I would add a 4th: Think about bringing a knife. On two occasions prior to launch, I needed a knife and didn't have one handy. Also, it occurred to me after kicking my foot free for the umpteenth time that there were so many damn lines in the boat, that it would be a fairly easy thing to get caught up in one or more of them if the boat capsized. I, personally, would feel better having a knife handy to cut myself (or a crewmate) free in the off chance that happened. I noticed nobody else was wearing them on their PFDs, but I will get one for the next time; I'm paranoid like that.
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  #40  
Old 04-14-2014
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Re: First time crewing/racing this weekend

After an initiation like that it's great to see the positive attitude you're hanging on to!

Well done... I think you'll have no problem securing crew positions in any fleet.
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