Jake Denney

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I’m very fortunate to have Jim Watson who is a lifelong racing sailor as my team member. On the ride in from Gloucester we discuss the forecast, the tide, what conditions we expect to see that day, and most importantly what we learned the last time we sailed. This helps us both focus on what we want to do that day and get into a racing mindset. The wind forecast for the day was NNW backing to WNW and increasing from 9 to 14 knots with gusts increasing from 12 to 17 knots over the day. The forecast also showed the overcast sky clearing around midday with temperatures in the upper 30’s. High tide was mid-afternoon.

My experience said that a clearing northwester should shift right before backing into the west, and this turned out to be the case in the second and third races. My experience with tidal current in the harbor is that it flows out most of the time from shortly after high tide until 2 hours before the next high tide and that it runs hardest down the middle with significantly less up close to the shore. We tuned up the boat to get a nice comfortable feel on the helm before the start. I pulled on about 6” of backstay to blade out the top of the main in the puffs and to keep the headstay from sagging too much when I eased the mainsheet. We had to pull really hard on the main halyard to keep the draft forward and the wrinkles out. Finally we pulled just enough on the jib halyard to keep the sags out. We always remind ourselves that tightening the backstay will tighten the jib luff, and these jibs don’t like too much tension. The jib cars were mid-track and we sheeted fairly hard once we were moving. When we were fully hiked the boat had a nice easy weather helm and not too much heel. If the boat felt bound up, I eased the mainsheet just a bit and went for more speed. We were fast upwind all day. I know that my weakest point is getting good starts, partly as a result of spending most of my life sailing dinghies and not allowing enough time to get a heavy keel boat going. I know that I want to be “on the line, going fast, with clear air” and that it takes a good 20 seconds to get a Rhodes 19 up to speed.

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Hi Fellow Frost-biters,

 

    Saturday, November 16, offered a challenging array of weather conditions, current, and course setup.  I would like to share with you my experience and insight contributing to my team’s success.  On the 16th, I, Alex Wisch, was co-skippering with Niko Kotsatos.  Both of us are well-accomplished sailors with over 20 years of racing experience and this weekend was our first time sailing together.  During the first weekend we each had personal endeavors and the second weekend I sailed with Amanda Farnham.  I was personally a little nervous about the dynamics in the boat this weekend since both of us were strong-headed skippers.  We had decided that I would start the first race, since I had won the previous weekend.

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Saturday was an eventful day to say the least. Four races were completed in variable winds, generally 15-20 knots. The median wind direction in the first two races held at 320 degrees, shifting west in the afternoon. This westerly brought our course directly under BSC and momentarily caused our course to overlap with the BSC course. I apologize for this, our course should have been moved drastically a full race earlier than it was. There was only one barge today, but due to the location of our starting line and our angle across the channel, we were forced to abandon the race underway. 

Race 1 got underway at 12:20. With a big line, nearly every boat was on time and pushing the line well, with no one OCS. The wind increased as the first boats rounded the leeward gate. Race 2 started quickly with another Course 4. This time two boats were over leading into the final seconds of the pre-start. Boat #3 got under the line just in time, boat #5 over but returning quickly. This race saw alternating lefty and righty shifts, with gusts into the mid 20s across the course, making for very interesting racing. 
 
Race 3 started at 1:05 but was abandoned. Reefs were shaken out while the race committee reset the course to be clear of BSC. After finally getting off at 1;40, a strong lefty asserted itself as the new wind direction, causing the course to be adjusted again for the final race. This situation was unfortunate, and the amount of time needed for a second start to get off was regrettable. 
 
To speak to the widespread feedback I have received on the decision to abandon- it was a judgement call. In retrospect, the course should have been shifted before the start, removing the reasons to abandon. It is my opinion that abandonment should only be used when there are serious factors preventing competitors from completing a race in a fair way. Wind oscillations generally do not fall under this. In this case, it was the combination of the major shift and the likelihood of convergence with the BSC fleet during the downwind leg that caused me to abandon the race. This was a judgement call on my part. 
 
With the wind now at 290 degrees, a final race got underway following an abandonment for a barge which would come directly through our course. Originally, Race 4 was posted as a Course 4. However, after a general recall, there was clearly not going to be enough time for fifth race to get off before 3pm. The Course 5 was set and the final race got off. 
 
There were two major collisions during racing, and two break downs from equipment failures.
 
Jake Denney
Courageous Sailing

 

Hello Frost-biters,

We had wonderful temperatures this past week, and managed to get three races off in spite of difficult current and a light and shifting breeze. Thanks to everyone for your patience, as we had to contend not only with the weather but also large commercial vessels. Course 4 was sailed in all races.

Our first race got off at 12:45, after a delay due to an unsettled breeze. When racing got underway in an east breeze of 5 knots, there was close racing throughout the fleet. Of note, Boat 13 skippered by Alex Wisch and crewed by Amanda Farnham, took the inside from boat 19 (Team Marty Gallagher) coming into the leeward gate. Both boats went to course right, extending their lead over the fleet as the wind continued to shift to the southeast.

After delaying for a large barge, race 2 got off at 1:45 following a general recall. The fair current combined with the light breeze made it difficult for boats to keep below the line. Although the course had been shorted by about 1/3 and adjusted to the new sea breeze, the strong current and faltering winds made the down winds very long indeed. It was clear that leeward mark rounds were also giving some competitors trouble, as the current pushed boats upwind into the marks and a large cluster formed on the course left gate mark. Light winds have a tendency of compressing fleets, and race 2 was no exception. The winning team of John Pratt and Bob Coyle in boat 12 was in fourth or fifth coming down to the finish, but a magic spell or a personal puff gave them the edge they needed. Riding in from the outside, boat 12 came through just before the finish, rolling the team of Bryan Lee and Anna Marije Veenland in boat 8.

After waiting for the wind to come back and shortening the course again, race 3 was set to get off at 2:45. Again, the sea breeze had come back and the race would be a Course 4. Again, the light breeze and fair current pushed a number of competitors over at the start, aided a bit by an eagerness to resume racing. After the first recall, only one boat was called over early in the next start, quickly returning to clear themselves and keep racing. Good starts, a light but even breeze, and a further shortened course, all resulted in less time for the fleet to get separation heading into the turning marks. This made for some crowded roundings. In this race particularly, most boats at the finish had to be sighted exactly from the RC flag, with only inches between them and their nearest competitors. A good example of this was at the front. The Wisch/Farnham team in Boat 13 actively attacked the team of Pat Clancy and Chris Clancy in Boat 17, maneuvering to take their wind and roll them to leeward. Clancy/Clancy defended, bring the pair on a high reach coming to the finish. Boat 17 still ahead and to leeward, gybed to finish, pushing their bow across and saving themselves the win in race 3.

Congratulations to our winners this week. My apologies if I got your name wrong in the write up, I am working off the score sheet with team names listed. And remember- I am new to this fleet! Feedback, Feedback, Feedback.

See you all next week!

Jake Denney

PRO

 

It was a beautiful day to open the season! After a random drawing to decide the boat assignments this week, we will be moving to a standard rotation for the rest of the season. All 24 Rhodes 19s got out on the line, and after a slightly delayed start, 6 races were completed for the day. With the exception of the final race, our courses were “Course 4” meaning that there was a windward mark, offset, and a leeward gate, with the start and finish being the same line. In Race 6, we ran a “Course 5” which is a Course 4 with an added windward leg to the finish. The Race Committee would like to apologize for any confusion from the verbal notice of a “W5” before the start of the last race. This is exactly the same as a “Course 5” - I am a college coach and some habits are hard to break, so please bear with me as I commit the Courageous SI’s to working memory.

The forecast was spot on, with 10-14 knots of wind from the NNW becoming 10-12 knots from the WNW. The sun brought relatively enjoyable temperatures in the mid-forties. After setting the course shortly before racing began, the wind never deviated from a median heading of 320-330 degrees for more than one or two minutes before coming back to nominal.

Early in the day, the fair current contributed to a General Recall. After bringing the pin up, we were able to get races off, although this made it difficult to start for competitors who set up low on the line on starboard tack. The pin was pulled out and down throughout the day to account for the current which was running out by the afternoon.

In the 5th race, a very strong lefty shift lasted from about 1 min before the start until most competitors were largely up the beat. In this condition, the boats that managed to get off the line clean and quickly tack to port did well, holding out for the wind to oscillate back before tacking to starboard again.

The one major bit of commercial traffic we saw during racing was a barge heading out of the harbor. The tug’s pilot was helpful and generous, offering to keep to one side as to not disturb our racing. Those on course right saw our safety boats form something of a boundary between the path of the barge and the fleet. Whenever possible, this will be the procedure in order to continue racing. Unless a safety or race committee boat communicates otherwise, competitors should assume that the race is continuing. We thank all competitors for using their good judgement and keeping well out of the path of these large commercial ships.

Congratulations to Bryan Lee and Anne Marije Veenland, who proved that boat 22 can be fast! They narrowly won the day, beating the team of Ryan White and Pam Troyer (representing Steve and Pat Clancy) by just three points, followed by Mark Lindsay and Jim Watson, just one more point behind.

From the race committee’s point of view, good starts could be consistently had at the boat end of the line, since there was generally a cluster at the pin. The left shifts were stronger than the right shifts, although neither would last for more than a few minutes at the most. At times, you could see boats on opposite tacks at very similar angles thanks to different winds on different sides of the course. The left side generally produced a stronger left shift, but gains could be made in the righty that occasionally hit the right side of the course. Finishes saw clusters of boats with just inches between them. All in all, a great day of racing with lots of exciting promise for the season to come!

Many thanks go out to our volunteer judges; only one protest was heard for the day.