Friday, August 19, 2016

RS Aero US Nationals 2016 - Columbia River Gorge

After moderate winds for the clinic on Wednesday and Thursday which were perfect for the purpose...

And a light easterly for the long downwind race and speed challenge on Friday which was exactly what was NOT needed...

For the RS Aero US Nationals on Saturday and Sunday the Gorge did what the Gorge does.  The westerly came in with a vengeance and then continued to build.

On Saturday it started at around 10 knots and then built up to about 22 in the puffs.

Me in 2017 getting a not too bad start. It was probably a general recall!

Four races were held each day. I survived three races on Saturday without a capsize although the conditions were very challenging for me in the third race. My finishing position improved in every race - but even so they weren't anything to write home about. After three races I was mentally and physically exhausted so I decided to call it a day.

On Sunday it was really nuking, with an average wind speed of 25 knots and over 30 in the gusts.

Me in 2017 - looks like that once again I didn't get my vang on before the start

In the first race I was hit on the head by the boom (duh!) but survived the experience and finished the race.

In the second race I was surfing downwind in a enormous gust - probably the fastest I have ever sailed in an Aero - and, remembering something a coach had once told me about it being easiest to gybe when you are going fastest, I attempted a gybe.  The coach was wrong! After the gybe the boat got an attack of the wobblies. (Apparently this is the official term for this phenomenon. At least, it was the term used by RS Aero uber coach Peter Barton at the clinic.)  First the boat tried to capsize to windward. I saved it. Then it tried to capsize to leeward. I saved it. Then it DID capsize to windward.  Glug, glug, glug!

Not the gust that did me in.

After righting the boat without too much trouble and watching the rest of the fleet sail over the horizon, I decided that I had had enough for the day and sailed slowly back to the beach.

When I got there, somebody looked at me and said, "Are you bleeding?"

Apparently I was. Even carbon fiber booms can draw blood. Is it time I started wearing a helmet for sailing?

Hmmm. I asked a doctor friend if there are any differences between the symptoms for concussion and the symptoms from drinking too much beer, and he said no. So I started early on the beer.

OK, I only completed half the races but I was so pumped up after five days sailing an RS Aero in the Gorge, that I am determined to improve my physical and mental fitness and heavy air skills so I can do better when I come back to the Gorge next year.

Oh, and by the way I was not the only sailor who struggled a little in the prevailing conditions. Out of 35 entries, 21 sailors failed to start or finish at least one of the races.

Aeros mating

Not a broken mast in case that's what you were thinking

Being towed in for an emergency repair after a collision

Just another capsize recovery
Even some of the sailors at the front of the fleet capsized occasionally

Thanks to Sean Trew for his amazing photos of the regatta, to Columbia Gorge Racing Association for hosting the event, to the regatta chairman Michael O'Brien, the coach for the clinic Peter Barton, and to all the volunteers who worked so hard to put on such a great event for us.

And a special thanks to a long time follower of this blog, John from PDX, who was one of the mark boat volunteers. It's always good to meet the crazy people who actually read the utter nonsense I post here.


Dieharddinghysailor said...

Geez, I missed it again......well done for completing at least SOME of the races in those conditions....
Notice they seem to float pretty high when down - is that a problem? Also heard they turtle easily. Still trying to get around to getting a demo from the Seattle guys - it'll have to wait till my back improves, too much sailing crunched up in a Laser in light winds methinks!

Tillerman said...

They do float pretty high when down - a consequence of the light weight of the hull. If you fall off the boat and don't hang on to something, say the sheet, they can drift away on the wind, but eventually they will turn turtle, which is a good thing if they are drifting faster than you can swim.

They are not hard to right. The daggerboard is easy to reach from the water even if they do look to float a but higher than other boats.

In my capsize in the second race on Sunday the boat did turtle faster than I expected. Maybe a case of it going over so fast the angular momentum just kept it going? In fact I ended up under the boat which has never happened to me before.

Barubi said...

The big question are: do you preserve the bloodied cap as a warning to others, or bleach it in denial of the PTSD?

Tillerman said...

I washed the blood out. Hey - that's my favorite sailing cap. It's from Minorca Sailing and I won it some years ago for winning the week's Laser series there. I will wear it until (or if?) I buy a sailing helmet.

Skippy said...

I bought a helmet the other day. I read the instructions - it informed me that it is good for only one hit.
Question is - how many helmets should I carry on the boat at a time for an hour race?
Good to meet you Tillerman.
John in PDX

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