Monday, August 31, 2009

Second Day - Patience (and confidence) are virtues

My nickname this morning would have to have been "General Disarray." I dawdled around trying to set something up for work back home, then had to scramble to get the boat rigged and my gear on. I left my Clif Bars in the truck, and forgot a minor piece of sailing clothing. With all that, I still got onto the water about in the middle of the fleet.

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

First day

After a 1.5 hour long sail out to the race course then waiting another hour or so for the wind to fill, the race committee banged off two races to kick off the Laser Master World Championship.

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:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Master Worlds: T minus 24 hours

Last night some Americans had a little get-together for all the North American sailors. They're staying two houses down from the yacht club, in what can best be described as a MANSION with amazing views of the harbor. It was sunny, warm, and the crowd was convivial, making for a very pleasant cocktail party. Afterward, a bunch of us went to dinner and spent too much on too little food--I want my American portions!

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

Another pretty day!

Sun shining, temperature a bit lower than yesterday.

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

Beautiful day!

The wind is out of the north, the sky is sunny and the temperature relatively warm--a gorgeous day. Lots of masters milling about today, the grey hair quotient went up about 1000 percent!

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

A stranger's just a friend you haven't met

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!

Another day gone

My back is still giving me troubles, so decided to take the day off. Got a massage and feel relaxed all *around* the affected area. Ibuprofen, here I come!

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

Finally, a good day

Great day, actually. The wind slowly built up to a very pleasant 15 or so. I sailed out and watched two of the Gold fleet races. Between heats I chatted a bit with the racers, then started ahead of the fleet by 4 minutes and sailed the first beat. GBR sailor Paul Goodison led the fleet to the top mark, rounding it 4 minutes 5 seconds behind me... :) Not that I'm flattering myself much: at that point the wind was maybe 10 knots, and downwind I'm sure these guys would have blown right past!

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

Practice day - drifting around

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!

Starting Marc's sailing blog

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!