Great Fall Sailing!

I’ve been a bit remiss in posting weekly racing summaries, so I thought I’d take a moment to at least provide a few highlights from the past few weeks of sailing.  All in all, we’ve had a great fall season.  Two weeks ago we had a great northerly breeze that then shifted west and built, testing our short course skills and our starting technique as we blasted around some triangle courses.  It was great to see 7 boats out for the fun, though!  Last Saturday DC Sail hosted a great Halloween regatta and 4 Lightnings made the trip up the river for some more great racing (in costume, no less!).  Then, last Sunday we had another fantastic sailing day with a sold northerly breeze and some nice long T3 races.  Keep reading for some more details, and remember to post your own comments as well!

PRSA Fall Series #7 (Oct. 27)
The day started out with a light to moderate N/NW breeze, and PRO Jim Graham set up a nice long WL course.  On Sinistra, sailing with Piercarlo and Lizzy, we got a great pin-end start in the first race and rounded the top mark with the lead pack (including Frank and Nabeel).  We held our own on the downwind leg, but then had what can only be described as a disasterous second upwind leg.  If there was a reverse gear on a Lightning, I found it.  Piercarlo and Lizzy tried to help me find the puffs and shifts, but I pretty much went into “flailing about” mode — tacking for this puff, then that shift, then the other puff…never quite getting to any of them and going backward in the fleet.  We were dead last at one point, and though we caught a few boats, it was a discouraging start to the day.

The wind started shifting around dramatically during the second race, moving to the West, and even all the way around to the Southwest at one point (after having shut off altogether as the fleet headed down on the first run).  The pack got all shuffled up as we ended up going back to our jibs and going upwind towards the leeward mark and then reaching back up to the top mark.  Up top, we were the only boat to hoist the chute in the new and building westerly, and with the pole forward we blasted off and hopped right up on a plane.  We were screaming downwind, inside and to leeward of the pack that had stuck with their jibs and sailed a bit higher.  We planed right by them and would have been first around the leeward mark but for the fact that we got there so darned fast!  We were a bit late on the douse and had an ugly rounding, so Bobby and a couple of other boats snuck by us.  There wasn’t much passing on the subsequent reach to the finish, so we took our 4th place finish and reveled in the fact that we had a great downwind ride.

With a strong and building west wind, the RC reset the course to a triangle to give us as much room as possible across the river.  Jim sent us off on a T3 and we nailed the start and the first shift on Sinistra to leg out to a healthy lead and then hold onto it for a bullet.  We were lined up for another great start in the 4th race of the day, but ended up being OCS.  It almost worked out for us as we looped around the pin and headed out to the right where we saw more pressure.  By the time we got to the windward mark we had caught all but one boat.  There wasn’t any passing on the reach legs, and the shifts meant that the upwind leg didn’t offer much leverage either, so we trailed Bobby around for all 3 laps for a second place finish.  After the racing we all enjoyed a great BBQ on shore under clear skies and sunshine!


DC Sail Halloween Regatta
Four Lightnings — Bob Gotthard & crew (costumed as “greased lightning”), Lisa-Marie Lane & crew (costumed as an ER team), Aaron & crew (costumed in mullets with canned beer as…I’m not quite sure what) and John Kircher & crew — sailed up for a wonderful afternoon of racing.  It was especially great to see Lisa-Marie driving her boat for the first time in racing, and she and her crew did an excellent job!  Team Sinistra (Aaron, Piercarlo, Stefano) took 1st overall, followed by Bob, John, and Lisa-Marie.  After the racing we all enjoyed a great party over at DC Sail as well.


PRSA Fall Series #8 (Nov. 3)
Things looked a bit daunting when we first showed up at the marina on Sunday.  The wind was really howling from the North and the river was full of whitecaps.  The five Lightnings that showed up (Nabeel, Rick, Bob, Chris, and the College Guys) were all a bit reluctant to leave the dock, but once we got out into the river we saw things weren’t as nasty as it seemed from shore.  The RC set up a long triangle course and sent us off on a T3.  The breeze might have moderated a bit, but the first race was still a workout!  Nabeel jumped out to a lead off the start and steadily extended to a horizon-job victory, leaving the rest of the fleet to battle it out for the other places.  On Sinistra we had part of the jib sheet bridle break, meaning we sailed the reach legs under main alone as we tried to effect a repair.  We ended up direct-sheeting the jib for the rest of the race (no easy task in breeze) and managed to claw our way back up to pass at least one boat.

In the second race we got off the line well and led the back for about half of the (very long) race.  As the wind moderated a bit we were also able to start flying the chute on the first reach leg, which was pretty well downwind.  Nabeel eventually reeled us in, though, and passed us for the win.  In the final race of the day we were able to hold our lead after Rick got a great start and then made an excellent call on the first shift.  It felt nice to finish the day with a bullet and then enjoy some beer and dogs in the picnic area on a crisp fall afternoon!

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