Saturday, September 5, 2009
Scott Ferguson from Rhode Island was first, Arnoud Hummel from The Netherlands was second, with Andy Pimental and Mark Bear (both from Rhode Island) tied for third, Pimental winning the tiebreaker because of his two 1st place finishes to Bear's best finish of a 2nd. I ended up 11th overall. If I hadn't missed the hiking strap yesterday and held my 4th place in that race, would have been 9th. Woulda, coulda, shoulda... :)
Will write more later. Have to load up the boat then drive into Halifax (about 20 miles away) for the closing dinner.
I want to thank all of you who emailed or commented on this blog during the event. Hope all found it at least a little entertaining!
Friday, September 4, 2009
Today was another gorgeous one on St. Margaret's Bay. About the same wind strength as yesterday.
Determined to have a more successful day, I got out earlier and did two 4-minute splits with Aussie sailor Stewart Casey. Both times, the left side paid off handsomely. The current was running with the wind. I was also flying downwind on the sails back to the start line.
Unlike yesterday I formulated a firm plan for the upwind legs, and fortunately it wasn't very difficult in light of the research: go left. Hard.
The first attempt at a start was a general recall, nice for me as I had a terrible start near the right side of the line. On the second go-around I started about 1/4 up from the left end of the line. Because of the current pushing us back there was a big sag in the line of boats--taking advantage of that, I got off clean and fast and motored out to the left. A few boats crossed me well up the leg but I kept going left and rounded the top mark in 4th. Gained a ton on the downwind leg and rounded right behind the two boats ahead. Regatta leader Scott Ferguson in 2nd and I went left, a fast Dutch guy in 1st to the right. For awhile the Dutch dude looked good out right, but then the right collapsed and Scott and I were launched (way out in front).
Scott had me by a pretty big margin at the top mark and blasted off on the reach. We stayed about the same distance apart on that leg, with him about 20 lengths ahead. By the next mark that had been reduced by half, and on the next reach I surfed right up to his butt. We had a little chat and took a moment to steal a quick look back at the fleet well behind before getting back to racing each other. He had a slightly wide rounding and I squeaked inside him with speed and immediately tacked to split with him. We had a little tacking duel and he pipped me at the line by maybe 3 seconds after over an hour of racing. After finishing Scott jokingly asked why I made him work so hard for the win instead of just taking it easy.
By now most sailors knew how favored the left was, so that end of the start line was more hotly contested. Nevertheless, I got another great start and only made two tacks the whole first leg to round in the top group. Another successful run and I was fourth. My upwind speed wasn't super, but I knew as long as I could hold my own upwind I could turn on the afterburners downwind. I held onto 4th all the way before disaster struck: on the final tack to the mark I missed the hiking strap and flew ass-over-teakettle off the boat, which then tacked over and flipped onto me! By the time I got the boat back up and around the mark I'd lost tons of distance and boats, but managed to reel in a few to finish 13th.
So, today was a tale of what might have been. I made some progress on boats ahead in overall standing, and moved from 15th to 11th out of 83. Tomorrow we will likely have two more races, and if I sail like I did today (sans capsize), I have a good chance at squeaking into the Top 10. Fingers crossed!
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I was a little scattered again this morning, not reading the weather forecast, thinking I'd forgotten a few things when they were actually with me, etc... Got to the course a smidge late, but early enough to do one split with regatta leader Scott Ferguson and Mark Bear, both from Rhode Island. After 4 minutes of sailing right, Mark and I came out ahead of Scott by about 5 boatlengths. Then we sailed downwind, and I dialed into the waves nicely to lead back to the starting line.
So I had meaty information to work with. Right was fast upwind. It would have been wise to protect that side. But instead of coming up with a game plan for the race based on that info, I just kinda milled around before the start. I ended up starting at the very LEFT end of the line (it was favored by a handsome 10 degrees). My centerboard and rudder both hit the committee boat's anchor line, but I managed to clear without touching the boat and booked off to the left side with a fast Aussie just upwind of me. The wind stayed and stayed at the same heading, not justifying a tack. Unfortunately, the boats to our right were sailing closer to the mark and moving ahead--obviously, they were in more breeze.
I just couldn't bring myself to bite the bullet and get over there, and got ping-ponged coming out of the left side, doing about 8 too many tacks before Class President, 200 lb Tracy "Reach-around-the-Course" Usher motored over the top of me on a crucial port tack shift, causing me to tack away and get out of phase. It was UGGGLY at the first mark, with maybe 10 boats behind.
Must say: I sailed a brilliant run, gaining about 30 boatlengths on the next leg and surfing within striking distance of a big clump of boats. But I was so amped up working the boat off the wind that I didn't process the lesson learned from the prior upwind leg and again went LEFT! Again it sucked and I lost a ton of boats and boatlengths. Gained some on the first reach, again had superb speed on the run but CAPSIZED, then had a really fast last reach that netted about 5 boats before the final upwind leg to the finish.
This time I stayed to the right, not so much because I had learned anything from the race but because there were good waves to work over there and I was really concerned about minimizing tacks in the lumpy conditions. Managed to catch a boat or two right at the finish but was still only 22nd.
Now, the second race. This time the line was a bit right favored, and I had a SUPERB start right at the boat and motored out at the head of the fleet. A number of boats tacked and crossed behind, but I stubbornly hung on, thinking I was doing great on the boats to the left of me and not seeing any huge shift to tack in.
So, ended up out left AGAIN, lost a number of boats and got ping-ponged AGAIN, then, on another critical port tack had Mr. "Reach-Around-The-Course" force me back left AGAIN and lost oodles. Was fast again on the run, went left yet AGAIN after seeing local hotshot Andy Roy going that way, and figuring it HAD to work this time but not having any real justification for that hope. Of course it stank, I lost tons and rounded deep at the second top mark.
Had a fair reach, another fast run (pulled out nearly 20 lengths on a guy I rounded right with!), held my own on the reach, then had a terrific rounding and caught a guy before tacking a smidge too soon but still catching a few boats at the finish. Another 22nd.
I can't really complain; all the bad "luck" that befell me was my own doing. I failed to recognize that conditions were different from other days. I failed to take the information I had before the start and formulate a game plan. And I got myself into similar situations with the same boats and reaped the same results.
They say the definition of "insanity" is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Today I was insane. lol
So, I totally know what I did wrong. I also know I have my downwind mojo back in a BIG way, and that I can start and sail fast at the very front of the fleet. Now it's time to just get the boat pointing in the right direction and letting things happen!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Went for lunch with Aussie siblings Alison & Stuart Casey, as well as top Canadian sailor David Wright, to a nearby lobster shack right at the bay's edge. The husband-wife owners were just delightful, very enthusiastic about their work and eager to share information. They showed us all different sizes of live lobsters in their tanks (including a huge 12+ pounder that was just for show) before boiling up some beauties for us to eat in the afternoon sun. The crustaceans were delicious, the company convivial, and the setting rustic but fitting--I even got a kiss from the proprietress when leaving! (pics to follow if I can get them from Alison)
After lunch Alison & Stu went for massages, so Dave went his way and I did some work stuff and talked with North American Laser Class President Tracy Usher about the state of the class and future plans, including a really nice looking radial sail for the full rig! Also had a great talk about sailing and life with Grand Master sailor Rob Cosi, who's built like no-one's business and currently has 3 bullets (first place finishes) in his class.
In the early evening the club had a little mussel bake for competitors which was poorly attended, meaning more mussels for those who came! Later, a jazz duo performed, followed by a band of middle-aged guys who rocked the place for over 4 hours while sailors and locals talked, drank and had fun. American sailor Michelle Davis and I loosened up the crowd by bumping and grinding to "Disco Inferno," and soon more and more couples hit the dance floor, carrying the dancing torch til the end of the evening.
People here seem very...content. They love it here. It shows in their attitudes toward others, their enthusiasm for the area's history, beauty & concern for its continued care. People toot horns and wave to each other when driving by. I grew up out west, so have some idea about friendly locals, but this is a whole other level. It's refreshing, and I kept thinking to myself "this would be a nice place for a family to vacation." Not whiz-bang exciting, just beautiful, peaceful and relaxing.
Sending a bit of Nova Scotia good cheer your way! Marc
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Oh boy, what a day! With the wind coming from the North (off the land) it was SHIFTY and PUFFY out there, the kind of day where one could go from hero to zero and back in a matter of moments!
Before the start I tuned a bit with Apprentice (35-44 yr age group) sailor Peter Hurley from New York. We split tacks, he going left and me right, and after 4 minutes of sailing to our respective sides we tacked back to the middle of the course to see who would come out ahead (sailors typically do this to see if there are any big geographic elements, like tide or land influence on the wind, on either side of the course). I led him by nearly 30 lengths--a huge amount. Later I watched two other fine sailors do the same thing--that time the left paid huge. Obviously, there wasn't some big geographic favor to one side or the other, just darn shifty winds!
The first race I got away fairly clean from the right side of the start line but felt compelled to immediately tack to the right. Then I waited. And waited. And waited for a shift to come back on, all the while the boats to my left (which had tacked over like me, only a bit later) were in stronger breeze and pulling away. ZERO! Eventually I got a little hint of a right shift and came back to the middle. It wasn't as horrible as it could have been, and I worked a number of small shifts, thinking I did ok (HERO?) until I saw a guy who was behind me at the start come barreling in from the RIGHT (apparently, HE found something good to come back on). I rounded the top mark in the high teens. ZERO
The next leg was a very light air reach, scary to be sailing in traffic. The boats ahead ran into less wind and the fleet tightened up considerably by the time we got to the gybe mark. The run was fairly uneventful, and the next upwind leg was full of wind holes and huge shifts. With the wind tumbling down off the land, it would hit the water and fan out. When you got a shift you had to immediately tack over to be on the outside edge of the shift, which would then lift you up and up compared to those who dug deeper into the new breeze before tacking--it was classic, off-the-shore sailing. I rounded the top mark in about the same position I'd rounded the prior, but was closer to the boats ahead.
The next run was interesting. Most of the boats ahead sailed hard left looking downwind, way off the direct route (rhumb line) to the next mark. I didn't see them having enough of a speed difference to justify sailing so far off the rhumb line, so instead sailed a more direct course to the mark with decent speed. It was the right move: I had more breeze and a better angle to the next mark! The breeze built and I started surfing, while the boats to the left were busy playing with each other, slowing each other down. I wanted to work left to get inside for the next mark, but had to choose the right time, catching a nice wave in pressure to pull ahead of American Mark Bear just before the mark, rounding in the top 8 or so (HERO!). Held onto that for the reach, then caught a few more boats on the short beat to the finish to end up 5th--it was an exhilaring end to a gut-wrenching, terrifying race!
Had a nice start in the second race but the guy just below me got a smidge more breeze and pulled ahead, messing with my wind. Instead of being patient and waiting for the fleet to clear out a bit, I tacked away early. It was unfortunate, as there were a lot of boats and disturbed water I sailed into. After a few more clearing tacks I was well back in the fleet (ZERO)--time to get to work! Concentrating on keeping speed up and the boat pointing toward the mark, I worked a number of seemingly erratic shifts and rounded again in the high teens--quite the comeback. By the end of the next two legs I'd pulled all the way up to round just behind the top 5 or so at the leeward mark. HERO!
For the first half of the upwind leg I stayed on message, working the shifts as they came. It was so erratic out there--one could either be in 5th or 15th at any given time. The last half of the leg we had to contend with another fleet sailing downwind from the mark we were aiming for. Sailing through them wasn't a good idea, as they would take one's wind, so it was decision time: stay left like the majority of the leaders, or...?
I decided to go to the right of the pack coming downwind. I didn't really have a reason, just that I thought splitting with the leaders might give me a better chance to pass. I didn't see any better wind on the right. I had to sail in light winds to get over there. The wind angle wasn't particularly good either. In other words: the decision had no basis in sound reasoning and I paid the price, falling WAAAY back and losing a solid 10+ boats. ZERO! The fleet had figured out how to sail downwind so I couldn't split with them on that leg, and the reach was a follow-the-leader affair. I did manage to catch about 3 boats on the short final leg to finish 17th, my worst result so far in the event. Lesson re-learned: 1) do the percentage moves; 2) only make decisions based on EVIDENCE; and 3) be the Terminator (never give up)!
We're now halfway through the event, and qualifying is over. I have easily made it into the Gold Fleet: my finishes having me in a tie for 6th overall (6 points out of 2nd), and 6 more boats (including two former world champions) breathing down my neck within 6 points behind--it's close out there!
Tonight the club hosted a nice party and dinner. The sailors are a great group of people from around the world, and it's so nice seeing everyone chatting and making new friends.
Tomorrow is a lay (rest) day--I'll thoroughly check over the boat and all its fittings for any damage, then maybe do some laundry or sightseeing, then get in a hot soak or sauna somewhere before a nice meal and early night in bed.
Monday, August 31, 2009
We're sailing WAAAAY on the other side of the bay from the yacht club. Today it "only" took 1.25 hours to get out there. I did some tuning with a few younger American sailors, and we came to the conclusion that the left side of the course was favored. One of them dutifully followed the plan, nailing the left side of the start line and booking out to the left corner. He was looking pretty good out there when my fleet's starting signal was made.
The breeze was dying and I watched the boats racing ahead. My gut was telling me to watch out for the right, and with the right side of the starting line favored, I NAILED the start and took off in the new right breeze! Unfortunately, a number of starters in my fleet were over early and we were called back to restart. The breeze went so far right the committee canceled the race for the prior fleet as well. My buddy came back and relayed that he had enough of a lead to limp out of the left in OK shape, but others behind him weren't so lucky.
The breeze stayed right, and the race committee moved us another mile away from the yacht club. While waiting for the gun to go off, someone came up to me and said "this offshore breeze must be pretty similar to what you have on Long Island Sound." His comment made me think a bit and settle down, as I tried to imagine myself back home, in my fleet, with that same confidence in the conditions and my ability.
Around 3pm we finally got a start off. Again I started well near the committee boat. A big left shift came through right after the start and I tacked over onto port, heading right with about 10 other boats. Most of the fleet to our left tacked over as well, and for a few minutes we all sailed on port tack toward the right.
After awhile the boats over my shoulder were starting to aim toward me. Normally, this means that the wind is shifting in your favor and you should tack to cross the fleet. I second-guessed myself for a bit, worried about the guys to my right gaining more, but decided to sail my own race, do the percentage move, and cross the fleet while I could.
At first it didn't look so hot. The breeze was kind-of light, and while I managed to cross the boats behind easily, the guys I let go right were looking pretty good. Then the breeze freshened a bit and went more forward. Again, I looked over my shoulder and the people now coming out of the right were aiming toward me. With that confirmation, I tacked again, and blasted off into the lead in a great left shift that held almost til the weather mark. I rounded about 10 boatlengths ahead at the first mark, and managed to extend the lead to about 1.5 minutes at the finish. It was satisfying, to say the least!
While waiting for the next race the breeze went left towards the standard seabreeze direction and freshened considerably. Again I started at the committee boat and had a decent first leg, rounding in the top 10 or so. The breeze got lighter and lighter. It was excruciating, staying crouched in the boat in a little ball, concentrating like crazy to get the boat to go forward with each little tiny puff of breeze. Then the wind died completely, and filled in from the right. The poor guy in the lead dropped almost to the very back--I, too, fell precipitously, before the race committee sounded three sweet horns to indicate that they were abandoning the race--halleluya!
After a long slow tow home I touched the dock at around 7:30, or 8 hours after I left it. Long day for only one race.
Tomorrow is the last day of qualifying. My 1st place dragged me up from 11th to a tie for 3rd overall. It's exciting, but there's still a lot of regatta to go!
We had a beautiful sunset tonight:
And much to my surprise, parked across from my Toy-home was a rare, Toyota-based Mirage. Never managed to find the owner, but here's a pic of this futuristic-looking thing with my rig in the background:
Check out the space-age fiberglass body and groovy front spoiler, fender flares and running boards!
Sunday, August 30, 2009
My age division (the Masters, 45-54 yrs in age) is the largest, with around 82 boats. They have split the fleet in two and are having qualifying races for the first three days of the event. Each day the fleet gets split a different way so folks get to sail against everyone. My group today consisted of two former World Champions plus a number of other fine sailors. Arguably, it was the more competitive of the two Master fleets.
In the first race I had a decent start but got pushed out to the right against plan. It worked out though as I tacked back early to stay in touch with the fleet, and with good speed I rounded the first mark in 6th or so and worked up to 4th at the finish.
In the second race I won the right hand side of the start line and halfway up the beat was looking great to the right side of the fleet. A fast Aussie came out of the left side and crossed about a boatlength in front of me--I thought he was in phase with the windshifts and tacked over to the right side with him. It turned out to be the wrong move as the boats to the left sailed into more breeze on that side. Frustratingly, I ran out of energy about 3/4 up that leg and just couldn't put the bow down and sail fast, but rounded the first mark in halfway-decent shape but in lots of company. I tried sailing low on the first reaching leg and lost a bit of distance on the leaders but caught the guy immediately in front of me. On the run I didn't get far enough away from the boats in front of me and was stuck in their wakes, slowing me down. The next upwind leg was tough as I was really running out of steam, but I am proud of the fact that, even though I was slow, I kept my thinking cap on and exploited a little shift on the right near the next mark and caught back a few boats! Gained a bit of distance on the next downwind, a bit more on the reach, and had a good leeward mark rounding and caught a few more boats on the beat to the finish. Still, I don't think I placed better than 12th or so.
So, 4th and 12th or so--not bad finishes, but not stellar either. The back is a bit stiff but otherwise good, my legs feel good and used. Tonight I totally pigged out to fill up the energy tanks, and plan to eat even more tomorrow before heading out.
Hope you all had a great weekend!
correction: revised results show I was 5th in the first race and 6th in the second, so I am standing in 11th at this early stage. Results: http://can09.laserinternational.org/index.php/component/content/article/15-content/80
Saturday, August 29, 2009
The restaurant was in the same shopping complex as the gym and physio-center I've been attending, so stopped in apres-dinner and had a little breakthrough of sorts. While stretching in the sauna as directed by the physio, my back just loosened up! Never thought I'd be so excited at being able to bend over to one side or the other... Felt pretty darn good this morning too--not 100 percent, but perhaps 80? A definite improvement!
The weather is cold and wet today, with no wind. Tropical Storm Danny is supposed to hit tonight and early tomorrow morning, so the organizers are requiring us to flip our boats over so they present less resistance to (and therefore are less prone to flying around in) the anticipated 30-45 mph winds:
If things go as forecast, we just might be able to get a race off. In any case I have to be ready, so have laid out all my sailing gear in one place so it's easy to find, and have been checking off last-minute items on my to-do list.
The boatpark is abuzz with word of how competitive the fleet is, especially the Masters (my) group. Apparently, at least two former world champs and a bunch of other notables. I still haven't given a serious look at the list, and am curious to see how everyone goes out there come the first start.
Tonight will try to catch a movie. Have seen plenty lately: Julie/Julia (great), Inglorious Basterds (uneven, entertaining if gory), District 9 (action, but thought-provoking as well). Get a nice, big dinner in. Tidy up the truck, then to bed by 11. Exciting life, eh? It's a nice routine though.
In spite of all the setbacks, I'm cautiously optimistic, and determined to just sail my best and make anyone ahead of me work REALLY HARD if they want to remain there!
Friday, August 28, 2009
Went to the physio guy again this morning. Am still pretty stiff, but he's quite happy with the progress we've made on my back and is encouraging me to sail the event, but NOT today. I've been given a set of stretches I'm to do at least 4 times today, a light gym routine, and orders to find someplace hot (sauna/jacuzzi/etc...) to warm up the muscles and promote healing.
I think the damage was caused by the drive up. Instead of doing my usual stretches at every gas stop/rest break, I just walked around a bit then hopped right back into the truck. Over the nearly 900 mile trip, all the tensing of the back muscles in reaction to road bumps caused them to lock up tight. That, combined with a quick, hard sail the other day, caused me to be in the current state.
So, will spend the day tending to the bod and boat, and get out for a short sail tomorrow. Sunday (the start of the regatta) we're supposed to get some nasty weather--we'll see!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Went to a physio this morning who actually knew what he was doing. He found lots of little issues up and down my back, and gently went about addressing them. Recommended I *not* sail today, drink lots of water and do a stationary recumbent bike ride or some other easy activity before visiting him again tomorrow for some more intensive work.
Will attend to boat stuff and registration today. They expect to see the boat, fully rigged, at the measurement station for review. This is rather much compared to most events, but the Worlds isn't "most events," so they're making sure everyone is starting out legal.
That's it for today.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
As many of you know, I'm traveling to regattas in my trusty 1987 Nova Star RV, which is based on a Toyota pickup chassis. Owners of these rigs are rather proud of their little "Toy-homes," and often seek each other out or at least honk and flash when passing each other.
About 3 hours from Halifax I was enthusiastically greeted by the owner of this tidy '87 Escaper. He'd just gotten the rig this summer and was jazzed to see another one. We gave each other tours of our respective campers and I took a few snaps to capture the moment. Here's one of them.
One never knows where one might make a new friend!
Breeze is up to a nice 18 knots and the fog is still here. It is the final day of the "regular" Worlds, and they're trying to get in a few more races. Masters are descending upon the venue and a few went out today for some practice.
It's interesting hearing the talk in the boat park. A lot of people are looking at the competition, trying to decide if others are in training/fit, etc... I really push those thoughts out of my mind. It doesn't matter to me the fitness of the other guys. Frankly, *my* fitness right now doesn't matter. I am where I am and can only do my best, so that's what my focus is on. Everything else is a distraction.
In these next few days I'll look over my boat very thoroughly and try to get every little annoyance dealt with. I'll clean up the RV so it's as pleasant a place to be in as possible. Stock up the fridge with yummy treats. Get lots of rest. And hope this back gets better.
The last time I was in Canada their dollar was worth only about 70 cents. This time around it's closer to 95, so nothing's a bargain: gas is about US$3.80/gal and food (at the grocery or restaurant) is spendy. Add to everything 14% provincial tax. It doesn't have Marc in much of a spending mood! :)
(the pic above is of the harbor we sail out of)
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I ran out of water so came home before the wind really piped up. It was a nice quick reach back to the club. Saw some masters out practicing but didn't join them today--maybe tomorrow.
It's inspiring seeing all the fit sailors in the boatpark. Makes one want to hit the gym really hard!
My back's been achy all day--will do some stretches in a few.
One bummer: while parking the truck this morning I backed into a 29er mast that was hanging out about 4 feet from the back of a trailer. It didn't have a flag on it or anything and I snapped the carbon fiber spar near the hounds. Expensive morning...
Monday, August 24, 2009
For any masters who haven't left for Halifax yet, know this: the water is COLD. Went out w/the fleet in drifting conditions & just about had a heart attack when launching the boat. Even in the drifting conditions, when the breeze picked up (...we're talking 3 or 4 mph here), the temperature dropped precipitously.
Unfortunately I left my drysuit and farmer john wetsuit home. It's going to be a long cold regatta!
Here are old posts from Facebook:
Arrived in Halifax after a two-day journey from CT. I just *love* Canada! People are very friendly and welcoming here. Hurricane Bill blew through this morning/afternoon. I parked the RV in a Walmart parking lot and took a nap while Blowhard Bill gave it his all. No problems with the RV, no water leaks--all good! Tomorrow will return to the YC and see if there was any damage. If not, will head out for a sail!
There may be some drama before the event even starts, as Hurricane Bill may accompany me on the drive to Halifax. Bill is scheduled to hit Halifax around the same time as I am (Sunday), with early forecasts calling for winds in excess of 70 knots! Here's hoping these early forecasts are wrong, and that Bill decides to not take too close a look at the Nova Scotia shoreline... :)
Tonight I leave for the Laser Master World Championship, which will be sailed on St. Margaret's Bay in Halifax, Nova Scotia! Around 400 master sailors (35 yrs old and up) will be competing in four divisions, each representing a ten-year age band.... I will sail in the 120+ boat "Master" division for 45-54 year olds. I plan to use blogspot as my "blog" of the event, so stay tuned for updates!