Spring Series #2: Fantastic Conditions and Great Racing

What a fantastic day for racing!  Spring Series #2 was perhaps one of the most perfect days that I have seen on the river, with a steady 8-12 knot southerly breeze in 70 degree temps under a bright blue sky.  Six Lightnings came out to race (along with about 4 Cats, 5 Bucs, and several Albacores) for four W2 races in an amazingly consistent breeze on a perfect race course set by PRO Bobby Astrove and his RC crew.  We were thrilled to see Peter Lallas, Hyon Sim, and Kevin MacDonald out on 12416 as well as Mark Ewing, sailing with daughter Molly (who was at the helm all day and did a fantastic job!) and son George (tending to jib and foredeck duties) back out on the water.  Keep reading for all of the details on the racing and finishes, as well as a thrilling account from Bobby on the near sinking of the Bayliner!

With such consistent conditions (our wind shots before each race gave us a bearing of 180 degrees each time) a good start was important, and good boat speed together with good upwind pointing ability became the keys to success.  Rick Welch (sailing with regular crew Piercarlo and Aaron) and team Sinistra fought for a good starting spot at the boat end and were able to leg out ahead of the fleet, holding off Frank (sailing with new crew Bob Gotthard and Anne Jacob Tyree) and team Resistance is Futile for the win in race one.  Frank and team Resistance is Futile got the jump on team Sinistra (w/ Aaron at the helm) at the start in the second race led most of the way.  Jeff, Bruce, and Rose Gentile on team Ariel benefited from the extended duel between Frank and Aaron in this race, though, moving up from third to first around the last mark and taking the win.  Frank went on to play “troublemaker” in the next two races by dueling with the boat nearest to him.  It made for some great one-on-one racing action between Resistance is Futile and Ariel, though the beneficiary in both cases was team Sinistra who were able to get free, extend, and win the final two races on the day.

Although there was occasionally some leverage that came from getting to the left side of the course early, and a few gains could be made by avoiding the wind shadow under the airport shore (especially under the north side of the mid-runway point of land), there weren’t many obvious passing lanes on the course.  At the post-race BBQ we realized we had just experienced an excellent day of “natural experiment” conditions where we could all compare notes.  As I chatted with Chris Kozell (who had sailed with father Bill regular crew Jen) we discussed our upwind angles.  With the wind blowing from 180, we sailed pretty consistently at 150 on starboard tack and 210 on port, whereas Chris noted they were seeing 157 or so on starboard and 220 or so on port.  This launched a good discussion of what might explain the difference, and though many factors (trim, sail shape, boat heel) came up, it seemed that mast rake would be the first place to start. Make sure to check your forestay sag against the tuning guide recommendations and then to measure mast rake by running a long tape up your main halyard and checking the transom measurement!

Overall, it was a fantastic day on the water.  We all were well into some dogs, burgers, and beverages when the RC arrived at the post-race BBQ with the news that they had just barely saved the Bayliner from a flooded engine compartment and near sinking!  You can read PRO Bobby Astrove’s account of the high seas drama here.

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