Train Wreck Regatta Report

 

2011 Train Wreck 

 

Race #1

By Andy Fox

 

Wind was out of the South at 12-16 knots with nice 10 degree oscillations.  We were racing a W 2.  I had a crew for a total weight of 280 pounds, which meant we still had to hike hard in the bigger puffs.  The line was very square so I chose to start about 3 boat lengths from the committee boat, which is a safe place to start.  It allows you the chance to tack to port sooner if you need to.  We were able to tack fairly soon on a slight header which let us cross the boats on our right.  Scott Tillema was with us the whole time playing the same shifts all the way up to the first mark.  I saw some other crewed boats like Lee Saylor and heavier single-handers also round the first mark up near the top.   

 

The downwind leg was the usual fun event, trying to keep the bow from burying into the waves as you surfed them downwind.  The fastest method that I have found is to catch a wave and bear off, almost by the lee, to gain distance more towards the layline.  I adjust the vang constantly to keep the leach nice and tight, not lifting the boom up in the puffs and spilling the air out the leach.  Scott and I then opened up a bit on the run with the majority of the fleet spreading out.  It is very important to have a mast head fly for the downwind legs so you can find the lifts to gybe on.  I gybe on the runs as often as I tack upwind.  There are many shifts you can take advantage of.  The race pretty much was the same order with me watching Scott and Scott watching Lee.  You could see the puffs coming from quite a distance.  This allowed you to be ready to pull the outhaul and cunningham just as the puff hits.  Steering the boat up in the puffs is a much quicker method to maintain the angle of heel than letting the main out.  I also hike out much harder right when the puff hits so the initial energy is transferred to accelerating the boat rather than letting it heal over.

 

What worked: Keep your head out of the boat.  There were a lot of small shifts to tack on and I looked upwind constantly for the next shift.  The other boats that started ahead of us are a good indicator.  You must be in some kind of shape to be able to hike non-stop for an hour or more.  Getting tired and leaning in is a sure way to go slower.  Don't relax downwind, keep working the boat as hard as you did upwind.  You can relax after the race is over!

 

 

Race #2

By Scott Tillema

 

The wind was still out of the South but it was getting lighter in the lulls with some 15-16 knot puffs down to 8 knots. I started 2/3's down the line where there wasn't a bunch of boats piled up at the pin end.  I had a nice clear lane to keep the boat moving which depended on how hard I had to hike.  I could tell when I hiked hard I could stay even with Moorhouse, Eaton, and Fox.  I played the middle to round the first mark in first with the order the same, Helmick in fifth.  On the run there was a header which let everyone lay the mark without gybing.  The next windward leg was the same, playing the middle while watching where the other boats were.  Same positions at the windward mark and they remained the same downwind.  The finish was on the next upwind leg and the only change was Fox passing Eaton for third right at the finish line.

 

What worked was hiking very hard when the puffs hit.  The other boats would start to move ahead when I got tired.  The boats with crew could maintain the effort for longer periods of time.  Also healing the boat to windward to surf the waves downwind and keep the bow from burying. You must either bear off or head up to avoid a nosedive. If it starts to bury, it is too late.

 

Race #3

By David Moorhouse

 

In race three I watched the Wayfarer start and most of their upwind leg very closely.  The wayfarer fleet split and the boats coming out of the left side were clear ahead of the boats that went right.  I decided to hang out near the port end of the starting line and try to get out to the left side.  My strategy was validated when I had a lot of company down there with me including the eventual regatta winner.  I tried to stay conservative at the start as there was a large group trying to win the pin and I wanted no part of that.  I think 3 or 4 of those boats were over early and the pack behind them was sucking their bad air.  I started with good speed and clear air about 25 yards up from the pin.  Andy Fox was ahead and to leeward of me and I felt good.  Andy tacked about 3/4's of the way to the port lay line and crossed me by a few feet.  I went 50 feet farther and tacked.  I then hooked into a persistent left shift that stayed with me all the way to the mark.  Better yet, I was in breeze that didn't quite get down to Andy who was just 25 yards below me.  Meanwhile there was an armada of boats coming out of the left that included Mike Baldacchino, Bob Wynkoop and others.  The problem was they went a bit too far to the left and were now a bit over stood.  Andy had finally found some breeze and even got a little port tack header to get himself back over and just a few boat lengths behind me at the windward mark.  Downwind was fairly uneventful with little gybing.  Side Note: Andy didn't try to mess with me at all downwind.  He was more concerned with the two of us distancing ourselves from the pack than trying to sail me into oblivion just because he could.  That's how champion sailors race.  He knew he had plenty of time to mess with me later on and the first downwind leg was not that time.

 

At the leeward mark I had a four boat length lead and Andy was charging.  The wind had dropped a bit but the waves were still up.  They came in sets and not always with the puffs.  I really focused on trying to keep the boat powered up and I over heeled when the wave sets came and let the sheet out a bit and that seemed to work well.  After I got through the chop, I would flatten out the boat and sheet in.  I could feel the boat shoot out from under me and I knew I was fast.  The trick with the waves was to power through them and never lose speed.  If you did you were toast because who knows when the next puff will come to get you back up to speed.  Andy learned that the hard way and he got caught a bit flat in a set of waves and he just stopped, it was a big advantage to be singlehanded as the subtle boat movements were easier not to mention having less weight, especially forward.  When I tacked on to port it was a lot easier, no waves to contend with just keep powered up at the proper heel angle and the boat was smokin'.  I was also trying very hard not to look back at Andy because I knew if I did he would reel me in.  I tried to pretend I was the only one on the lake and just focus on my boat and my boat speed.  Occasional, momentary glances were all I allowed myself.  I was able to hold on to win with Andy second.  That's when the fun began as there were several major position changes after we finished.  Boats went from 10th to 3rd and vice-versa.  Scott Tillema came out the best and was able to squeak out a third from about 10th or so.

 

 

Race #4

By Andy Fox

 

We had one race on Sunday after 3 hard races on Saturday.  It started off with a North wind of around 5 knots, but that did not last long.  One of the of the home field advantages is knowing what the wind is going to do when it blows out of a certain direction.  I knew that the right side towards land was probably the way to go.  I started near the committee boat next to David Moorhouse.  We both tacked to port to get to the right.  David is also a LESC member so he felt the same as me as to what the wind was going to do. George Scarborough was with me leading out to the right.  I thought it was time to get back to the middle so I tacked to starboard and crossed the majority of the fleet.  Bill Biersach held out longer and got more of a port header and a slight increase in wind which enabled him to cross back on to starboard and get past me.  Bob Cole Jr. was also in the hunt.  I managed to get a few good shifts at the top mark to round first with the rest of the fleet right behind.  The runs are the most difficult part of sailing in light air, especially at Lake Eustis, since it brings the boats in back that get the puffs first down to the boats in front.   This is where you must maintain a watchful eye on what is happening behind you.  Watch for puffs, other boats, and the angle of the boats still going upwind.  These are all indicators of what the wind will be like when it finally gets to you.  You must also keep the boat moving so you must keeping heading up to maintain your speed.  Heal the boat to leeward until the boom is just touching the water.  Put just enough board down to keep from sliding.  I managed to get to the bottom mark with a 5-6 boat length lead and started back upwind.  Second through tenth were all jammed up so I was glad to be slightly ahead.  I watched upwind for what was coming and only kept the lead boats in sight and not let them out on my windward side.  The RC moved the mark 20-30 degrees to the right, so I knew that side was favored.  After another nail biter of a screaming 1-2 knots, we started back down for the long run.  Once around the bottom mark for the last leg to the finish, we all laid it on starboard. The wind was almost down to zero, so standing up in the boat to look for wind must be done gently since you don't want to rock the boat.  I managed to stay in the lead with Moorhouse, Scarborough, and Cole following behind.  Scott Tillema who was tied for the lead going into the last race went left after the start but managed to claw his way back to a 20th which still earned him third overall.

 

What worked:  Of course, get a good start but be conservative since it is very hard to recover with bad air in light wind.  Keep your head out of the boat (this always applies) and look for the wind, puffs on the water, flags on shore or boats, other sailboats, trees moving, etc.  Work harder than you do in heavier air.  I'm more sore and tired after a light air race just from the effort of trying to keep the boat moving.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

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