Today was the fourth and final day of the Laser Midwinters East in Clearwater, FL. We sailed our final two races in about 5-6 knots dying almost down to nothing by the very end. The Lasers were up first and sailed two outer trapezoid courses today.
In the first race, I won the pin end of the line and shortly after the start, I tacked over onto port and crossed most of the fleet. It was pretty shifty, and the fleet was very close as we made our way to the first mark. I ended up rounding the mark in 3rd place with Dave Wright and Juan Maegli, my two nearest competitors, just behind me. On the first reach, it was so close that no one could really break away, and after sailing high to protect, the fleet kind of reset at the gybe mark. I had a good first run to round in the top group at the bottom, but Juan and Dave both had good runs too. On the next beat, the three of us (and Matt Ryder, another Candian) duked it out in the top four. We all rounded close to each other and tried to pass each other on the run. At the bottom, I was looking to be around 3rd or 4th when I unfortunately got yellow flagged for rocking. I was pushing it hard (well, we all were), but that was tough. I did a quick 720 but found myself in 6th after that and finished in that spot.
So heading into the last race, Dave had 16 points, I had 18 points, and Juan had 22 points. No one else was in the mix, so the three of us were going to have a good last race to sort out the podium.
I had another really good start at the pin and pinched off Juan in the process. Dave had a good start near the middle-pin. Again, I sailed out on starboard for a while and tacked and crossed the fleet. And again, there was scattered pressure all over the course to make things pretty even at the top mark. At the first mark, I rounded in 3rd with Juan in about 5th and Dave just behind him. I was able to get over the guy in 2nd on the reach while Juan and Dave had to deal with some traffic from other boats. I had a good run to extend a little, and rounded the bottom mark in 2nd. I hung on to 2nd for the rest of the race while Juan took 5th and Dave could only get back to 7th.
With those scores, I was able to win the event! Overall I was pretty pleased with my sailing. The first two days went very well, and my speed was improved from the Sailing World Cup in Miami the month before. Bad starts plagued the third day for me, and despite making it pretty exciting and almost blowing a big league, I was able to hang on at the end to win. This is my first time winning the Midwinters East, so I'm happy with the result.
The play now is to drive back to NJ and get back to work at Colie Sails! I'm going to do some Opti coaching in the next few months and then hopefully jump back in my Laser as summer approaches.
Today was the third day of the Midwinters East Regatta in Clearwater, Florida. Fog was a big factor in the weather today. I arrived to the club to a postponement flag already flying. After about an hour postponement, the fog cleared enough to send the Lasers out.
After the radials started, we finally got a start off on the inner loop. I was lined up about 10 boats up from the pin, but right before the start, some guy wedged his way between me and the boat below me and forced me over the line. The individual recall flag went up, and I could see the RC boat and knew I was over. So I circled back and restarted. I got an ok lane on port and legged it up the middle of the course. At the top, I was in about 12th place and throughout the race I was able to catch up to 7th. I may have had a shot at a better score, but the Lasers had caught up and overlapped with some of the radials, and I got caught up with a pack at the leeward mark and couldn't pass anyone else. I ended the first race in 7th.
After a long fog postponement, we started our second race on an inner loop again. Again, I was lined up about 10 boats from the pin, but I was slow to pull the trigger and had a very bad start. It seemed to me that the whole fleet was over, but the RC only called a handful of boats OCS. Again, I scrambled on the first beat and was in about 10th at the top. I think I tried to hard on the second beat to make something happened and lost a bit. At the end, I finished 8th in the race.
When we finished the second race, the fog came in pretty thickly and the RC abandoned all racing for the rest of the day.
The story for me was bad starts = bad races. I definitely need to get off the line tomorrow if I want to stay in the lead.
We can have two more races tomorrow (and one more drop if we get a race in) to end the regatta. Then I'll start the long drive home!
Today was the second day of the Laser Midwinters East, and we had three more races in a building breeze starting at about 8 knots and getting up to about 14 at the end.
In the first race, I had a great start at the pin and sailed most of the way towards the left. About 3/4 of the way up, the fleet started falling into me so I tacked onto port and crossed them to the mark. I was first at the windward mark and had a nice lead for the rest of the race to take the win.
In the second race, the breeze was picking up a bit and going right. I had an ok start near the boat, but quickly tacked out to the right and took a righty back onto starboard again. I played the middle right and was 2nd at the top mark. We were sailing an inner loop, and I was able to pass the boat who was leading me, but lost Tom Ramshaw who got some separation and pulled into the lead. On the next beat, Tom was winning, I was in second, and Dave Wright was in third; the three of us had a decent lead on the fleet. As I rounded the second windward mark, I heard a pop noise. I initially thought my top section broke, but my sail was up so it didn't. I sailed for about 50 more yards and as I eased my vang, my boom popped off of my bottom section! Turns out the pin that is attached to the gooseneck and that holds the boom on snapped in half. I frantically grabbed the sail and tried to limp around the course. Amazingly, I made it down the reach, downwind, and the bottom reach and was still about mid-fleet at the leeward mark (with no boom) but I just couldn't make any progress upwind. So instead of trying to finish I decided to drop out and get my boat fixed for the last race.
After the race, I got some generous help from Murray (a Canadian coach) and a safety boat and made a repair. I was just in time for the last race.
In the last race, I had a good start near the boat and legged it out on starboard for a few minutes. I tacked onto a header and came back towards the mark on port. Dave Wright was winning and I was in second at the windward mark. After the first reach, I had a good downwind to pass Dave and even better downwind the next time to pull away and win the last race.
All in all, it was another good day. Kind of a bummer about the breakdown, but so it goes. We have four more races scheduled over two days, so hopefully we'll get three good ones in breeze tomorrow and finish off with one on Sunday.
I'm down in Clearwater, FL, this week for the Laser Midwinters East. I left at 3 AM on Tuesday to make the 16.5 hour drive down to Florida. Leaving at 3 AM was definitely the call; I missed all traffic and got through DC before it got busy, and it was nice to drive with daylight instead of into the night.
I tried to go out for a sail on Wednesday, but the breeze did not cooperate. I ended up just drifting around for about an hour before calling it a day and washing my boat and registering.
So today was the first day of the four day event. After a short postponement to let the breeze fill, we finally got going in about 4-6 knots. We sailed three races on a pretty short course with a lot of traffic with the other fleets. I was able to have a great day, winning all three races. I had good starts, got into the front, and it was easy to sail up front in the light air.
Three more races are scheduled for tomorrow in similar conditions. Hopefully we get a little more breeze...
My regatta ended today with two more Gold fleet races in 20+ knots of breeze. It was fun to going on some screaming reaches and downwind runs today; upwind was pretty tiring...
In the first race I had a good start near the boat and quickly tacked out to the right. I played the right side, but the left was definitely better. I rounded the top in about 15th and stayed around there the entire race, catching a couple to end in 12th place.
The wind was up a little bit in the second race. Again, I liked the right and tacked out after the start. But again, the left proved to be better, and I found myself in the low 20s at the first mark. Positions didn't change too much for the rest of the race, and I finished with a 20.
Overall, it was a pretty tough event. I didn't sail my best, and it was pretty apparent that I am not in as good shape as the top Laser sailors anymore! The format didn't help me either as I had a bad gold fleet day with some high scores and a second yellow flag. Any way you slice it, I wasn't that happy with my performance. That said, it was definitely fun to get back on the water and race again. My plan now is to head back up to NJ for a couple weeks before coming back down to Clearwater, FL, for the Laser Midwinters East at the end of February.
Short update today as I just got off the water and am late for dinner. Today was the first day of Gold fleet in Miami, and we sailed three races in anywhere from 4-16 knots out of the shifty offshore direction.
In the first one, I had an ok start near the pin and played the left, not committing hard enough to a side. I rounded in mid-fleet, and after holding position for the reach and downwind, I headed to the right on the second beat only to guess wrong in a 30 degree left shift. I "rallied" for a 30th.
In the second race, I played the first part of the beat well, but didn't have the speed to do exactly what I wanted. I hitched out to the right at the top, and rounded in about 12th instead of in the top five with the guys I was with. I stayed about the same, but as I rounded the leeward mark, pulled on some vang, and sailed through some chop, I received my second yellow flag and had to drop out of the race. I've been flagged plenty of times before, but never has a flag been so unwarranted in my opinion. It's very frustrating to see some jury members--some of whom seem so removed from Laser sailing--just handing out flags to justify their presence. A lot of people got flags today, and for the most part, they all seemed somewhat random. It's also discouraging that their is nothing that the sailors can do about it since most flags are a difference of opinion with the tie-breaker going to the judge! So it goes...
The breeze was up for the third race, but again, it was incredibly shifty and hard to predict. I got my worst start of the event near the pin, hung in bad air for a bit before tacking and ducking most of the fleet and heading out right. A huge righty came in and saved me, and I rounded in about 10th. On the second beat, I had passed a couple boats, but the RC had moved the windward mark and no one knew where it was. I hedged to the middle to be safe, but when I found the mark skewed right, some people had passed me on both sides. I ended up 14th.
So all in all, not a very good day. I'm glad I'm down here to sail and enjoy myself, because if this was an important event for me, I'd be pretty frustrated! Two more races tomorrow to end the Gold fleet portion of the event.
Today was the third and final day of qualifying at the Sailing World Cup Miami regatta. We sailed two more races in 15-20 knots, and once again, I was in the second group sailing the inner loop.
In the first race, I had a pretty good start in the middle of the line and sailed on starboard for a few minutes with the leaders. As my lane began to narrow, the fleet started to get headed so I took the opportunity to tack onto port and lead back to the middle of the course. Most of the leaders kept heading to the left corner, so I tried to hitch back to the top group. A huge lefty and pressure filled and I could only tack to leeward of the group. I rounded in about 15th place and stayed around there for most of the race. I passed a couple boats at the top of the beat and on the final run to end up in 11th.
In the second race, I wanted to start near the pin and send it to the left side. I had an awesome start near the pin and was leading the group to the left side. I came back with the group, but because we were in such a lefty I ended up overstanding by a little bit. I rounded in about 7th or 8th in a tight group. I followed that up with a miserable downwind run, rounding the leeward mark in about 15th or maybe worse. I rallied a bit on the second beat to round in 10th with a shot at 5th, but again my downwind speed was very mediocre, and I lost a few boats to limp into the finish line in 12th.
It was a pretty mediocre day on the water for me. I think fatigue from not sailing since July has caught up to me a bit! The good news is that tomorrow starts Gold fleet racing, and we're using an experimental format which means that each sailor carries forward his overall position from qualifying as race one of Gold fleet. So there's a lot of opportunity to move up with a good couple of days!
Three races are scheduled tomorrow, and we have a later start at 1 PM.
Today was the second day of the Sailing World Cup Miami, and we had two more races in about 15 knots, big difficult chop, and a lot of seaweed. I was in the yellow group again and started second, sailing the inner loop.
In the first race, I had a good start near the pin, but the fleet began to wind up off of my hip. Most of the leaders legged it all the way to the left and came back on port tack. I had an ok lane back, and I found myself in about 10th place at the first mark. I had a good first downwind and looked to round in about 6th at the bottom when I got yellow-flagged about 50 yards from the mark. I'm not really sure what the flag was for, but I assume it was for either rocking or pumping. Either way, I did a quick 720 and rounded the bottom mark in about 12th place. I had a good upwind leg to round in 8th place. On the downwind, I passed one boat and finished in 7th place.
In the second race, I started near the boat and to windward of the group, but unfortunately this time we got slightly headed off the line. I managed to hold my lane to windward of the pack all the way out to the right, and I tacked to leeward of them back towards the mark. The top left was pretty good though, and again I found myself in about 10-12th at the windward mark. I had a good downwind, passing about 5 boats, but losing one. I rounded the bottom mark in 7th place. I lost one boat on the last upwind, but I was able to pass him back on the final downwind to finish in 7th again.
All in all, it was an ok day. I'm definitely not as fit as I was the last few years! And my body is feeling it. Tomorrow is the last day of qualifying before Gold fleet starts on Thursday.
Today was the first day of the 2013 Sailing World Cup Miami regatta, and we had great weather: 10-14 knots of breeze, plenty of sun, warm temperatures, and some nice chop. The 73 boat Laser fleet was divided into two fleets for qualifying, and I was in the 2nd group today racing the inner trapezoid.
In the first race, I executed my starting plan pretty well, starting to windward of the group, but right after the start there was a big header and most of the fleet started to tack. I tacked towards the right and played the middle right for the beat, taking everything I could back towards the group. At times, I looked like I was in the top 10 while at other times I could have been in 20th. It was very shifty. At the top, I played a couple shifts well to consolidate in about 12th place. The top few boats were pretty punched, and I duked it out with some guys between 5th and 14th for the rest of the race. I made a couple gains on each of the remaining legs, and I finished in 9th place.
In the second race, I had another start to windward of the group, but this time I was able to sail off the line on starboard for a few minutes. Again, it was very shifty, and I found myself in traffic in about 10th place half way up. I made a good decision to tack out early and lead the group back from the left to the top. It worked well, and as we got headed coming into the first mark, I was able to tack back in front of the pack and round in 4th. I had a very good downwind to catch up to 2nd place at the bottom, and fellow American, Charlie Buckingham, and I were going at it on the second beat. At the top, the sides came in hard and some people that we were far ahead of caught up at the mark. Charlie still rounded in 1st, Jean Baptiste (FRA) was in second, and I was in third, just ahead of five very fast boats. I was a little bummed that a secure lead evaporated, and I would have to play defense on some speedy sailors for the two final reaches and downwind, but I was able to hold them off to finish with a 3rd in the second race.
Overall, I had a 9-3 on the day, which is a good start to the regatta. We had great conditions, and it was a lot of fun to race again, albeit I was a bit rusty at times!
The interesting thing about this regatta is the format. Because this event is so early in the quad, the regatta organizers are trying out a new format. To be honest, it seems a bit confusing and puts a huge premium on sailing well at the end of the event. We'll sail a three day, six race qualifying series, where the top half will move into gold fleet, but the scores will essentially reset with each sailor carrying his finishing place from the qualifying series into Gold fleet as a starting point. Then after five Gold fleet races, the top ten will sail THREE, double-point medal races on Saturday.
It should keep things interesting! Results from today can be found here.
Check out my article on starting tips from the Center of Effort blog!
OCR starts on Monday! I've practiced all week and will use the next two days to register, measure, and sort out some boat maintenance. It looks like it is going to be 80 degrees and windy next week. I hope so!
Check back for updates.