Saturday, September 15, 2012

New England Laser Masters 2012 - Day 2

After the challenging conditions of Day 1 of the 2012 New England Laser Masters, the second day was a total contrast. When I arrived at Third Beach there was very little wind and a light rain was falling. But the powers-that-be assured me that there was enough wind to race and we would be starting on time.

Sure enough there was enough wind - about Force 2 on the Tillefort Scale - and we did race. The wind was from the north but there were still large swells rolling in from the south.

A couple of swells

It reminded me to some extent of that day in 2005 which I wrote about at Sex in Prison, although this time the sex wasn't anything as like as good - or as bad - as then.

The windward mark was set fairly close to the Middletown shore so there were some "interesting" shifts and holes in the wind on the top half of the beat. There was also quite a difference in the size of the swells from top to bottom of the course, with the leeward gate being much more exposed to the swells rolling up the Sakonnet than the windward mark was. And sailing the swells upwind and downwind there was certainly a significant difference in wind strength between the crests and troughs. On top of this the tide was coming in (running upwind) all the time we were racing.

This whole combination posed all kinds of questions. Was the right or left side of the beat favored? Should you go left to get a lift off the shore or go right to gain some benefit from the current and perhaps more wind? Was it better to sail in the flatter water or the lumpier stuff upwind? Could you actually ride the waves on either tack upwind? Going downwind did you go faster on the flatter water or the swells? What was the best technique for using the waves downwind? Should you steer on them? Should you trim the sail differently for crests and troughs? Was the tide much different on each side of the course?

Good questions. Never did really figure it all out but it certainly made you think.

My results were typically mediocre, although I had my moments. At times I was up with the regatta leaders, although perhaps it would be more honest to say that at times they were back with me. I started off badly and peaked in the middle of the day with my best result being a 20th (out of about 40 boats.) As the day went on my finishes got worse. Mental laziness on my part probably.

I was just about thinking that I was nearing the maximum crest of the Tillerman Fun Factor on the Sailing Philosophy Crappy Chart when the PRO announced the last race of the day, so I did actually sail all five races. 

Come to think of it this was the first day I had sailed all the races at a regatta since I injured my back in May. Woo hoo! Some kind of achievement I guess. I've had a very light summer of regatta sailing, not wanting to aggravate the back problem any more, but it felt good to chalk up this minor sign of progress back to relative normality. That is if you consider being a fanatical Laser sailor to be normal.

After sailing there was pizza and awards and lots of raffle prizes. 

I "won" a croakie and a rigging knife. 

Hey, that knife might save my life one day.

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