Before I write about Race Night, I want to congratulate KSC sailors on really stepping up your race game. Three or four years ago, you could tell what the race result was going to be just be looking at the boat sign out board. There was gobs of space between any two boats, you knew exactly who was going to beat whom, and the “race” was just a processional parade around the course. Last night, competition was the closest I’ve ever seen at KSC. Around every mark, you had boats catching up with each other, passing each other, making tactical decisions, and fighting each other for advantages. It was AWESOME! Keep it up.
I’m afraid I wasn’t on the water for this one, so I didn’t get to see the action. Carla/Steve took the race in a Tasar, followed by Ken S in a Laser, Frank/Jean in an Albacore and Chunshu in a Laser. Note that as per the sailing instructions, Tom N scored a “2.5” place finish as RC for the purposes of tracking season scores.
The existing racers were joined by Jason and 7-year-old Hannah (Albacore) and Annie/Tony (Hobie 18), as the wind picked up to maybe around 8 knots with 12-14 in the gusts. Jean/Frank, Carla/Steve, and Ken had good boat end starts. Jason/Hannah were able to make some time up near the gybe mark, with Chunshu and Tony/Annie breathing down their necks. When the wind gusts hit, the Hobie 18 just started SCREAMING, passing just about everyone on one broad reach leg. You should’ve seen the smile on Tony’s face (and Annie hanging on for dear life).
The upwind gave the monohulls a chance to make up some distance, and fight the cat on the downwind. Carla/Steve rounded the final mark first, followed by Ken and Jason/Hannah. The cat was next followed by Jean/Frank and Chunshu. A wind shift meant the last “upwind” was more close reach than directly upwind, and it was a drag race to the finish line. Carla/Steve held on for 1st, followed by Ken S. Jason/Hannah thought they had 3rd, only to have Tony/Annie come from behind in the cat an take it by less than a second. Have I mentioned the smile on Tony’s face yet? Frank/Jean and Chunshu rounded out the race. Tom N as RC scores 3.5 points
The wind died a bit, giving an advantage to the lighter weight boats. Furthermore, a crew swap saw Frank sailing an Albacore with Steve, and Carla sailing the Tasar with Jean. Hannah/Jason, Frank/Steve and Ken all managed to start right at the horn, with Hannah/Jason getting the favoured boat end of the line. The reaching legs saw some good battles for position, as Hannah/Jason tried to stay inside Steve/Frank at the marks, sometimes actually successfully. Jason/Hannah made their tactical success of the night by spotting a couple of gusts, tacking early after rounding the leeward mark, and riding two gusts on two different tacks to hit the windward mark nice and early. Ken and Steve/Frank went to the other side of the course and got stuck in some slower air. I didn’t see what Carla/Jean got up to at this point, but I did spot Chunshu taking advantage of the cat’s poor lightwind performance, and passing her while the cat tried to tack.
Jason/Hannah held on to win the race, followed by Ken S (2nd), Frank/Steve (3rd), Carla/Jean (4th), Chunshu (5th) and Tony/Annie (6th).
Great starts all around, and we had a couple of close battles on the first upwind. Steve/Frank, Hannah/Jason and Ken S all wanted a win, and were fighting for it. As a result, I didn’t see much of what the other boats were doing the first part of the race, so the play-by-play will have to focus on these 3. Steve/Frank rounded the windward mark first and found the route to the next mark was almost directly downwind. They elected to gybe early. Seconds later Jason/Hannah followed, but didn’t gybe (they were hoping a shift the other direction would happen), and were joined by Ken. The three boats were all in a line approaching the “gybe” mark. Let’s see how well you know your racing rules. Who has right of way in the diagram? Does right of way change once one of the boats reaches the 3-boatlength-circle around the mark? What should each boat do to maximize their advantage?
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Regardless the next leg started with Ken S in front, Hannah/Jason next, then Steve/Frank. Hannah/Jason then felt their boat slow right down, and get tons of weather helm. “You rudder came up!” commented Steve/Frank. As Jason moved to the back of the boat to pull the rudder down (as wasn’t watching where he was going) a puff of wind hit. “Up!” shouted Ken, moments before Hannah/Jason’s Albacore gave the Laser a love tap. Two penalty turns later, and both Ken and Frank/Steve are miles ahead of Hannah/Jason. Lesson learned: if you have to take your eyes off of where your boat is going, make sure your crew is looking ahead.
Frank/Steve were able to outpoint Ken on the upwind, and rounded the mark first while Jean/Carla’s Tasar started to catch up to Hannah/Jason. On the downwind (i.e. broad reach), Ken decided to head up to try to pass Steve with boat speed. Steve defended his position and headed up as well, with the two leaders heading farther and farther up and away from the rhumb line. Jason/Hannah didn’t want to get involved in that game, and made a dash straight at the leeward mark, followed closely by Carla/Jean. The Jean/Carla boat tried to get around Hannah/Jason but the Albacore managed to fend off the Tasar. Meanwhile, the race leaders had enough fun on their own, and had to gybe to get to the leeward mark, essentially losing almost all their lead over Hannah/Jason (and now Jean/Carla). Steve/Frank rounded first, followed by Ken, the Hannah/Jason seconds later and Carla/Jean just after that. The upwind to the finish line was pretty close with Frank/Steve taking it. Jason/Hannah were able to outpoint Ken’s Laser and were just able to catch up and sneak by him for 2nd. Ken took 3rd, with Jean/Carla 4th, Tony/Annie 5th, and Chunshu 6th.
Tom N supplied some excellent sausages (seriously, Tom, where did you get those?), salad, potato salad and beverages. Many thanks to Tom for also volunteering to help short-handed Reese with RC duties, and thanks to Hannah for helping to announce the race results.
Next race night is July 13, come join the fun!