Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Maine Rocks Wrap Up

It was another fantastic edition of the Maine Rocks Race this year. We were never without wind and had a fast loop around the course, in fact Piper managed to beat Scott Miller's elapsed time course record by ~45 minutes on his J111, Eagles Dare. Jeroboam took another victory on corrected time, making this my 5th win on this course since the race first began in 2008, barely beating out Alessandro on Nina who is a relative new comer to the short handed scene but already posting some terrific results.

One of the really special parts of this weekend for me was at the skippers meeting Friday evening when Peter McCrea presented me with a number of awards I'd accumulated over the years but never collected. I rarely attend awards ceremonies as I'm usually busy delivering my boat back home or to the next race but Peter and Doug Pope have been kind enough to store my Maine awards since I began racing up there eight years ago. The most memorable of which was the 2007 second place trophy for the single handed division in the Downeast Challenge. There were only two entries in the single handed class that year, Peter and I, so second place means I came in last place but it was memorable for two reasons.

First, the Downeast Challenge was my first single handed race. Shawna Gauthier and I had entered the double handed division of the Beringer Bowl earlier that month, the first race I ever entered on Jeroboam, but I didn't even own a spinnaker at the time so we came in last place in fleet on elapsed time and corrected time. Luckily, we didn't take first impressions too seriously so I bought a used spinnaker and, heading to Maine anyway, decided to enter the single handed division of the Downeast Challenge.

Peter McCrea on Panacea
The second reason that race is so memorable is that was when I met Peter McCrea for the first time at the race's skippers meeting at Marblehead Yacht Club. He struck me as an old salt from whom I could learn much and he didn't disappoint. Peter had just rolled off a brilliant victory in his class at Bermuda 1-2 and suggested I check out some of the other short handed races around New England. He told me about the Newport Offshore 160, hosted by Newport Yacht Club, that was going on the following year and encouraged me to consider Bermuda 1-2 in 2009 as the Offshore 160 would serve as a qualifier. Peter continued to encourage me in 2008 when we raced together in Newport and Maine and was one of the main reasons I took on Bermuda 1-2 in 2009 which was a major milestone for me.

Doug Pope
A huge thanks to Peter for all his encouragement and to Doug for warehousing the hardware all these years. It's guys like you that make our short handed sailing community here in New England so great.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Check-in/OK message from SPOT Jeroboam

GPS location Date/Time:09/19/2015 18:18:43 EDT

Message:Maine Rocks Race, heading for Mt Desert Rock

Click the link below to see where I am located.

Maine Rocks Race

And we're off to the races. Breeze started out around 15 knots but as since deminished to less than 10, though with a lift I wasn't expecting. Just outside Rockland Harbor we sailed into a thick fog bank and I haven't had visual contact with the fleet since. I hear many lobstermen around me but rarely see them.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Off to Maine

Maine Rocks Race starts Saturday so Jeroboam and I are on our way to Rockland, just passing Thacher Island.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Vineyard Race

Piper and I are doing the Vineyard Race this weekend on his boat, Eagles Dare. They're using Kattack for the race tracker and here's the link if you want to follow along.

Race starts tomorrow just outside Stamford Harbor in Connecticut around noon and we have 14 boats signed up across the IRC and PHRF double handed divisions. The Long Island Sound short handed scene is well attended and very competitive. Many of them come out for the even year Bermuda Race which is double handed to Bermuda but no race back. Unfortunately very few of them come out for the odd year Bermuda 1-2 so it's difficult finding events to compete together.

What makes it even harder for me is that Jeroboam is unwelcome in this race as they too have a rating cap (technically it's only for PHRF but I was told my IRC entry would also be rejected). Once again, the idiotic rating cap is keeping me from competing against the best and it's with gratitude that I accepted Piper's invitation to race on his J111.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

ILDR Update

The Ida Lewis Distance Race skippers meeting is tonight at 6 so we won't know the course until then. They have the Yellow Brick tracker website up and the double handed division is schedule to start around 12:30 tomorrow. Ryan Wilson has graciously agreed to serve as co-skipper for this race.

Ryan works the primary winch on Nirvana

We've done a lot of fully crewed racing together, including at least one Halifax and a Bermuda race on Nirvana, a beautiful maxi that was based out of Marblehead.

Nirvana on the starting line in Newport at the 2006 Bermuda Race

Sadly, her owner, Charlie Kiefer, passed away in December of 2013.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Ida Lewis Distance Race

To be perfectly honest, I have a major problem with this race. Any shorthanded sailor who knows me has probably heard me bitch about it. There are two races on the eastern seaboard that restrict Jeroboam from entering: Ida Lewis Distance Race (ILDR) and the Vineyard Race. They do so by setting rating restrictions on entries. Why? Because the organizers are more concerned with getting the party started post-race than they are attracting boats to their races.

ILDR even more absurdly may allow boats with a handicap slower than 128 sec/mile to enter but even if they do, they're required to race with a rating of 128. This means that they have zero interest in providing a fair competition to 56.7% of the registered PHRF boats in Narragansett Bay. I have never heard of another race doing this. ILDR is uniquely idiotic.

Any boat with a handicap lower than 128 can cross the starting line with a reasonable expectation of doing well among their peers. If they prepared their boat well, trained, studied the course’s tactical features and sail well, they might just win. Any boat with a handicap higher than 128 can cross the starting line knowing that they are at a distinct disadvantage to all the boats with a rating of 128 or less. It doesn’t matter how well prepared their boat is, or how hard they and their crew trained, or how well they sailed, their corrected time will not be reflective of their boat’s performance characteristics because the race committee don’t want them to win. They don’t want to employ the PHRF rating methodology to allow dissimilar boats to complete on a level field, only those with a rating of 128 or faster. All the others don’t deserve the same courtesy. They are subjected to different rules because ILDR has no interest in attracting them to their race. They would rather they stay home, or if they insist on entering, lose.

In their mind there are two classes of boat owners. The welcomed class of owners whose boats have a rating of 128 or faster. No need to apply for entry, just sign up and come on down. They’re happy to have them. The unwelcomed class owns boats whose rating is slower than 128. First they must apply for entry, submit a sailing resume and provide documentation of past racing performance. If, and only if, their entry is accepted, they are forced to race with a handicap that was not assigned to their boat by the regional authority, rather one that gives them a slim to zero chance of a fair competition. When scoring the race, the race committee will then proceed to break their own rule as stated in the Notice Of Race, section 5.2.a, “PHRF Boats will be scored based on ratings assigned by PHRF Association of Narragansett Bay.” No, the race committee will do no such thing for the unwelcome class of boats. Instead it will use a rating other than that assigned by the PHRF Association of Narragansett Bay. It will use the arbitrary rating of 128. If the unwelcomed class of entrants doesn’t like it, they can stay home and write blog posts like this one. Or in my case, borrow a boat from a friend that meets their idiotic rating cap.

I enjoy racing too much to simply boycott this race. Instead, I will do what I always do: try to prepare to a greater degree than my competition, study the course/weather/tactics longer and harder than my competition and sail to the best of my ability. And thank Mike Piper profusely for letting me enter his boat.

Race starts Friday, August 14 around noon and will likely finish sometime Saturday afternoon (the race committee will choose a course short enough based on the wind forecast so their precious post-race party starts on time). Here's the likely course they will select:

Here are the current entries.