Sunday, July 12, 2015

2015 Laser Master Worlds - First Day

It was a rather hazy morning for the first day of racing at the 2015 Laser Master World Championship in Kingston, ON. Some wondered if the wind would reach its predicted 12-14 knot strength as a result, but few were complaining about lack of wind after the first two races were sailed in solid hiking conditions.

Before the first race I sailed the entire first leg of the course, doing timed splits (one boat goes left for three minutes, the other right, then they sail back in the middle and see who comes out ahead) with some Canadian sailors. The results were inconclusive: first time the left prevailed, then the right.

I'm competing in the Master (45-54 yr) Full Rig division, with 50 competitors duking it out. Here in Kingston the general consensus is to go left upwind in the prevailing southwesterly breeze, but the race committee made the right side of the starting line irresistibly favored for both starts, so I was there along with many others in the fleet.

In Race 1 I was a bit late accelerating for the start and had a few boats pass me right away. Was able to tack off onto port quickly however, and seemed to pick the right time to tack back onto starboard for the looong sail to the left for the last quarter of the leg. Ari Barshi from the Dominican Republic came out of the left and rounded the top mark first, with me tight on his heels. We had a good duel down the first reach during which I was able to close to within a boatlength by the next mark. Ari stayed to the left looking downwind, protecting that favored side and preventing me from passing on the next leg, but we both extended on the fleet behind us down that run.

Ari (DOM) leading me
(194582) on second reach.
We stayed very tight together for the next upwind leg, but I had the mainsheet wrapped around my feet and couldn't bear away around the next mark well and Ari was gone, extending to a handsome lead he wouldn't relinquish. I held on for second ahead of a hard-charging Brett Beyer (multiple Master World Champ from Australia).

Shockingly, my next start was even worse, but again I was able to tack fairly quickly onto port and picked a decent shift to get back in touch with the fleet. Brett Beyer came in from the left and was 1st at the weather mark, a Canadian was in 2nd and I was 3rd. Zoomed up and almost caught the Canadian on the first reach, then sailed a bit too far left on the run. I gained fore-and-aft relative to the Canadian, but had to round the left mark at the leeward gate, taking me away from the favored left side.

In retrospect, it would have been better to have sucked it up and gone for the right mark at the gate. I immediately lost three boats who went around that mark and was only able to reel in one of them. Ari Barshi made the most of the jumble, sailing from 6th to 2nd on the upwind and eventually passing Beyer on the second run. Beyer placed 2nd and Peter Hurley, another benefactor of the leeward mark, ended up 3rd. I held onto 5th and considered myself lucky--my greed in going right on that upwind leg could have easily resulted in more boats lost.

So, some lessons learned: Get off the start line better. Play the percentages upwind and let other people be the ones to make mistakes. It's a long regatta, plenty to be gained by being consistent, not brilliant!

Results here:  (I'm in the Red/Master Division)

SECOND DAY (Monday): Not enough wind, no races!

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