After our adventure on Massapoag Lake last Saturday, my son and I joined the Massapoag Yacht Club Laser fleet for their regular Sunday fleet racing. I must say they are a great bunch of sailors. I must also say that the experience reminded me that lake sailing is like no other kind of sailing in its ability to surprise, frustrate and delight the sailor with its (apparently) random changes and fluctuations of wind direction and strength that are constantly shuffling the fleet, punishing the wise, and occasionally rewarding the unworthy (i.e. me.)
The wind started in the north. Yarg of Apparent Wind and I launched early enough to sail up to the windward mark and check out the breeze. He told me later that he thought the breeze was stronger on the left. I was pretty sure I detected a wind curve that favored the left side of the course. I worked the left side of the course. I was looking good. Then everyone on the right passed me and I never caught up. After two years with no Laser sailing, Litoralis surprised us all by rounding the windward mark in first place and hanging on to take a third at the finish. I finished sixth of eight boats. Ugly!
The wind went east. The race committee moved the whole course and called for a three lap windward leeward course (because we were now racing across the short axis of the lake.) On the first lap Yarg was last. On the second lap he was second. It was that kind of race. I generally played the right side of the course to take advantage of some shifty puffs coming out of a cove on that side. Or maybe I just got lucky. Anyway I finished third.
The wind went further right. We started a race and then, by mutual agreement, abandoned it when it was apparent that the first "beat" was a reach. The race committee set a new windward mark. Litoralis and I blasted off the pin end of the line sailing for more pressure on the left. It was a good plan but poorly executed on my part as I tacked too late and overstood the layline. I arrived at the first mark in sixth place. The first "reach" was now a very tight fetch. Somehow I managed to sail high and work up out of the bad air of boats in front of me. But just before the mark there was a big header and I still had to do a couple of tacks to lay the mark. But I did round in third. The second "reach" was now a run. My closest competitors played luffing games and I slid by them to arrive at the leeward mark clear ahead (thanks mainly to my double secret downwind vang setting.) The next "beat" was a close fetch. The "run" to the finish was a reach. So there was little opportunity for other boats to pass me. I extended my lead to win the final race of the weekend. Woo hoo!
Such is lake sailing. Leaves you frustrated... but wanting more.