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  #1  
Old 05-16-2014
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First Race

I was visiting SoCal this week for work, and one of my co-workers invited me along a rail meat for his boat in a "Thirsty Thursday" race out of Dana Point. There were 7 "crew," though 4 did most of the work. The Santa Ana winds were blowing 20-25 steady, with gusts over 30. We flew a full main and 110% jib, and the boat loved it. They raced in 3 classes with a 5-minute staggered start. We were in B class, and were first through the start. On the upwind leg, we held that lead despite our boat not wanting to point as high as some of the others, and we actually closed in on some of the C class boats (they did a backward start). We spun around the mark and on the downwind leg the captain quickly had us wing-and-wing. We rigged a spinnaker pole to the jib (this was one of the few things that I actually helped with, other than being ballast to help offset some of the gusts), and the minute the pole was attached, the boat jumped to life. We actually moved into first place over all, and even eked out a nice bit of a lead. We turned around the mark and headed into the harbor to finish the race. It was a tough upwind beat, and the narrow channel meant that the poor crew in the cockpit were basically constantly grinding winches. Another boat almost beat us across the line (due to their better pointing ability), but the captain of our boat timed our last tack such that we were the stand-on vessel at a critical time, forcing them to go behind us, and we wound up finishing first in our class, and first over all.

Of course it was fun to be on the winning boat, but what was really interesting for me was observing sail shape, timing of tacks, how the start was handled and timed, and how the captain used the rules to his advantage.

I know many people recommend crewing on a race boat as a way of cutting your teeth. I'm still not 100% sure of that, but I will say that if you already understand the basics, it's a great way to learn.

More details and pics are in my blog, but I thought I'd share here too.








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  #2  
Old 05-17-2014
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Re: First Race

Nice Jim!
Watch out! Racing can suck you in.
Racing usually gets me out on my boat at least once a week; sometimes both Weds & Sunday.
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Old 05-17-2014
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Re: First Race

20kt winds gusting to over 30? Really? Water looks like under 15kts (no white).
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  #4  
Old 05-17-2014
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Re: First Race

Wow, beautiful conditions. Racing is exciting, especially at the start and mark roundings, and will make you a better sailor.
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Old 05-17-2014
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Re: First Race

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucklesR View Post
20kt winds gusting to over 30? Really? Water looks like under 15kts (no white).
Where I race we get an effect locally known as the "Shilshole Hurricane" or "Meadow Point Hurricane". The wind speed really picks up in one small region along the shore in the evenings. Since it is very localized there is little room for fetch and you can have high wind speeds in flat water.

The same thing can happen if the Puget Sound Convergence Zone is nearby. The winds split around the Olympic Mountains and rejoin. Where they converge you have a band of little wind, and on the north end of that band is a northerly, on the south end is a southerly. Last night I was out sailing and we passed through the convergence zone, it went from a 9 knot southerly to a 14 knot northerly in about the time that it took to drop the spinnaker.

I don't know anything about the region where JimGo was sailing, but it seems plausible that there were similarly localized effects.

I love getting out on race boats. I feel like I learn something every time. Be warned: it is dangerous for your sail budget to get used to good sails instead of the typical blown out rags found on most cruising boats.
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Old 05-17-2014
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Re: First Race

Great story and great photos.
Intersting you dont know if racing can teach much.

Maybe its because you guys won. When your down the back of the fleet and everyone is charging past you then you start looking aloft to work out why.
As you pointed out you never know a rule till you lose, or win a race by it...
You never know how close you can go to a bouy till you race around one.
Cruising one looks at each line before they pull it... In a race it better be second nature to pull the right one without looking... You just know the boat better.
Racing can show you what the ability of a boat is, but cruising you can get by only knowing 50% of a boats capacity.

Theres lots that racing can show you, teach you, reinforce on you, resulting in more confidence by man on his boat.

And after racing cruising is just a more relaxing pleasure!


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Old 05-17-2014
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Re: First Race

Great pics! Looks like fun.
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Old 05-17-2014
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Re: First Race

Quote:
20kt winds gusting to over 30? Really? Water looks like under 15kts (no white).
Santa Anas, the wind is blowing directly offshore, no fetch, no chop.
Here's the races in 15kts. on a day with prevailing westerlys.
Attached Thumbnails
First Race-wd6.jpg   First Race-wd8.jpg   First Race-wd9.jpg  
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Old 05-17-2014
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Re: First Race

Wish we were there! We'll be out next Wednesday night - hope the conditions are as nice as that!
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Old 05-17-2014
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Re: First Race

Chuck, I agree, it looks surprisingly calm. I can only tell you what our boat's wind gauge said, and the stories from the other boats. Everyone was commenting on how much fun it was out there. I don't think they were telling "fish tales". But maybe I'm wrong.

Mark, you make some good points. I just wonder, if you've never been on a sailboat and don't know much about it, whether you'd really learn all that much your first time or two out. At least compared to being out in a small boat by yourself.

Paul, good luck!
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