Spring Series #3: Cool and Squally

Spring Series #3 was a sharp contrast to the conditions of the previous week. It was a grey overcast, with a mostly steady rain, and temps in the lower 50’s. However, five Lightnings braved the elements and came out for three W2 races in the 13-16 north winds with some stronger gusts.

While conditions were not what you picture as a perfect day for sailing we had plenty of breeze to work with. It also provided a rare chance to see one of our more unique local conditions. The wind coming out of the north meant planes were flying up the river from the south to land. Frequently, this means that the vortices generated by the wingtips rather than be broken up overland can touch down on the water and become water spouts. The moisture in the air made them clearly visible and I could watch the swirl of opposite rotations generated by the vortice off of each wing.

At the Skipper’s Meeting it was decided to stay closer to the marina and not sail up by the airport and Hains Point. Instead, PRO Eric Hakanson after consultation with Frank and Nabeel set the course outside of the channel with the start and finish line across from the Naval Research Lab. The north wind oscillated a bit before we compromised to set the course. It struck me once again about how exceptional it is to sail on the Potomac in our nation’s capital as we instructed the Bill Kruse and Peter Lallas on the 16 to drop the windward mark based on their alignment with the Capitol building in the misty background. Thanks to the both of them. I initially expected them to be the wettest ones on the day.

Race one Eric, Meghan Rafferty and I as RC on the 19 were treated to watching several Lightnings planing the boats for brief periods during the downwind runs. Nabeel, Scott and Laura on Shadowfax took race 1 followed by Resistance is Futile with Frank, Will and Mladen and team Sinistra with Rick, Aaron and Lisbet close behind. Chris Kozel skippering String Theory with Bruce and Liz carried their spinnaker just a bit longer to the mark to catch up and slip around Mark Ewing sailing with Greg and Rolf.

At the start of race two the majority of the fleet started on starboard and went towards the airport before finding the layline to cut back across the river while Frank tacked immediately to port and went up the channel. Shadowfax had built a comfortable lead in the second downwind leg when they got caught in a gust and capsized providing everyone else an opportunity to catch up. They quickly had the boat righted right as RC arrived about the time RC came over to check and were back to sailing downwind to let the auto bailer empty the boat out before coming up to finish.

Race three Frank again immediately went right on port at the start and worked his way back up the channel while everyone else went left. Nabeel and company after draining out the boat worked their way back into the race by tacking on the shifts and sailing wing on wing on the downwind and caught Mark Ewing.

Following race three we headed back to shore.

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