Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Laser Master Worlds - Day 2

Windy and wet, the second day of racing at the Laser Master Worlds was challenging to say the least. The race committee, keen to make up for yesterday's lack of wind, banged off three races in breeze that started in the teens and tapered off to single digits by the last leg of the last race.

I received some devastating personal news around midnight and had a lot of trouble focusing and getting into my normal sailing groove for racing. This slight lack of cohesion showed in my decision-making and overall demeanor for the day, which I'm not proud of.

In Race 3 I had a clean start about 3 boatlengths up from the pin. A Canadian guy started right at the pin and motored out, while I fell out of the breeze briefly and fell back. Arriving at the top mark in the teens and noticing how high the fleet ahead was sailing on the reach, I took a calculated gamble and went low. The gamble paid off, allowing me to pass or get inside overlap on nearly 10 boats!

The runs were very interesting. With the wind being so streaky on the water, it was important to ride pressure directly downwind for as long as possible, saving by-the-lee for light patches and to maintain clear air on boats behind. This is a lot easier when one is in the top 5 or so, because there is less traffic to manage. Brett Beyer showed the fleet his transom, playing those shifts downwind beautifully to extend away. I spent too much time by-the-lee trying to hold off boats that were trying to pass on the left and got out of phase, only hooking back into the pressure toward the leeward mark.

Hiking hard
Once again the gate was heavily favored to the right looking downwind, and I sucked it up and did the percentage move of rounding that gate in 6th or so, even though I was coming in from the left. Was right behind Ari Barshi and saw him hit the mark as he rounded. Poor Ari did his spin and I jumped into 5th. The shifts were interesting upwind but I didn't catch anyone until the next run, moving up into 4th, which I was to hold for the remainder of the race.

Race 4 I had an even better start at the pin end of the line in a dying breeze. Managed to leg-out nicely on the boats to windward, got what I thought was a header and tacked to cross. Booming out of the right was Brett Beyer, really flying in pressure on starboard. I eventually came into the top mark on port in the Top 5, but had a guy hit my transom directly from behind about a second or two after my tack to starboard. He didn't seem to mind so much, but another guy saw the incident and made a big fuss. I thought I was in the right (tack was complete, guy behind could have headed up and still not have been above close-hauled), but I didn't want to risk a DSQ in the protest room so did a painful 720. That put me back into the teens from which I crawled back to 9th, even after a capsize near the second leeward mark (from which I recovered very quickly, losing distance but no boats).

Leeward mark rounding
with my Easter bonnet on. :)
Race 5 I started at the favored starboard end. Peter Hurley was slightly below me and had a terrific start. I held my lane for a little while, but was eventually forced to tack over. Peter and I stayed to the right of the fleet and were looking good as a light rain shower fell on us, but then the left started filling in and he was better able to get over to that side, rounding in the Top 5. I limped in in the 20s. Went low again on the reach but that didn't work as well as before as the breeze was dying. Stayed in that position until the last run, where I managed to work the shifts downwind to round *just* ahead of a big clump of boats inside. It was still my worst finish of the regatta to date, a 13th.

As a result of the day, I've slipped to 4th out of 50. Looks like we'll have a windy, shifty northerly for the next day of racing--let's see how that goes!

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