Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring 2012 Frostbiting Start!

Hi All, hope you had a great winter!

Last Sunday was my first time back in a Laser since early last December. I've not been sailing during that time but have been getting to the gym (mostly riding the stationary bike and doing ab work). Nonetheless, I was concerned about how much hiking the ol'e bod would be able to do, and how it would feel after.

Fortunately, Sunday was a perfect re-introduction to Lasering: light-ish, patchy breeze and fog to start, then clearing and building pressure to 10-12 knots. The wind direction was a bit right of seabreeze for our area, but the conditions were classic for seabreeze development: cold water, fog, sunshine inland causing a thermal.

In our racing area with that wind direction, I tend to go left to get current relief near Cockenoe Island. But the breeze was trending right, and with the weather mark more away from the island than typical, there was less current relief out left. This, and the steady clocking of the breeze right, made the right progressively more favored, upwind and down, as the day progressed.

It took a few races for me to get sorted out. The fleet is getting better and better at starting, making it a real challenge to get off the line well. In addition, my soft top section and Intensity sail seem to be especially vulnerable in under 8 knots of wind. Ched Proctor and Jack McGuire had solid races and were clear favorites early. Ched sailed especially consistent throughout the day to nab Second overall--nice job Ched! As for the pesky McGuire, I'm glad the breeze built so we old heavy guys could leg out a bit on this annoyingly smart and consistent sailor...

A few thoughts:

- In a seabreeze, the wind runs parallel to the surface of the water, the cool air hugging the water as it is dragged ashore. It is especially important in such conditions to focus on being in clear air downwind. While in the latter half of a downwind leg, think about the last 10-20 boatlengths' approach to the leeward mark: how can you keep clear air for as long as possible?

- Beware of going TOO far off rhumbline downwind. OK, one side or the other may be favored, but why go 20-30 boatlengths to the side? It's the equivalent of corner-banging upwind--you'd better be DARN sure of what's over there (or darn desperate) to take such a risk! Always ask yourself: will the potential benefit justify the investment?

It was so nice to be out racing the Laser against old friends after the long break! I was nervous about how I'd feel, but the body quickly adjusted to hiking and boathandling. We are having unprecedented weather, so dust off the Laser and join us!