Monday, September 19, 2011

All hail Resolute (again)

And for the second race in a row, the J122 Resolute skippered by Scott Miller muscled his way to the top of the pile, leaving poor ol' Jeroboam to feast on the scraps of second place. I would like to go on record that this is not a trend. Odds makers in Vegas take heed - I'll get him next year!

Had a delightful sail back to Marblehead last night and today on what was my last real sail of the season. Sure I'll get out there on a weekend day here and there through October but it's time to face the facts: the season is over.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

And at the wire...

Tough afternoon tacking up the bay to the finish line. The easterly shift was late, but even worse was preceded by a dying breeze and an hour of wallowing around Monroe Island waiting for the easterly. Such a classic moment in my memories of Maine racing: bobbing around aimlessly at the head of Monroe, either trying to get in or out of the bay. That must have been the 4th or 5th time that's happened to me.
 
Badger crushed me getting past Monroe but I had a good lead on Greyhawk until the wind died completely and my light air sailing weakness shined through. Tim cruised right past me in what was obviously the exact same wind conditions, Jeroboam going nowhere and Greyhawk moving nicely. Ouch. I need to work on that. Anyway, Tim crossed the finish line before me but owed me a bunch of time so I'll get him on corrected. All the while we were bobbing around there, I kept looking back to see Bluebird systematically marching up the bay, concerning me to no end. Thankfully the breeze filled in just in time and I managed to cross shortly before Gust.
 
All the boats who finished prior to the wind dying are probably going to be at the top of the heap so I don't have my hopes up for a top three finish but we shall see. I probably won't know the results until tomorrow or the next day as I'm presently sailing back to Marblehead. The race was only 112 nm but the round trip delivery is about 260 so it's been a full weekend, well long weekend anyway. But well worth it. This was the last race of the 2011 season and it occurred to me that I've only got 15 or maybe 20 more seasons of competitive racing left in me. I generally only do one big race per season plus another 3-6 weekend races so potentially that's as few as 60 more races in my lifetime. I need to pick and choose them wisely.

The final leg

I was warmly greeted with vastly better forecast this morning calling for 10 knots out of the NE shifting to the east which has much improved my spirits as well as the prospect of finishing before sundown. In fact, it the breeze holds, I would anticipate crossing the line by 3 or 4 this afternoon. I got a header as I was beating up the bay so I may need to throw some tacks in to make Monroe Island before turning West into Rockland Harbor and the finish line.
 
The Frers 33 named Badger is presently rolling me to an embarrassing degree, sailing at least 10 degrees higher and fast than Jeroboam. I'm shocked at how well that boat can point. I'm going to need a lift if I have a chance of keeping up with them.

Back to Matinicus

Jeroboam somehow managed to round Mt Desert Rock before Bluebird but has been hot on my heels for this whole leg and, I think, is gaining ground on me. Panacea was on the approach to Mt Desert Rock just and I was sailing back toward Matinicus so the pressure is on. The breeze died out a fair bit but is current holding around 5-6 knots and when the shift to the north arrived, I threw out the chute for some light air close reaching. If I can make Matinicus by 9 AM, I should get some favorable current as I work north into Penobscot Bay. The forecast is calling for very light wind all day so there's still a lot of racing ahead as we may not finish until after night fall.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

On our way to Mt Desert Rock

We had a fluky harbor start in Rockland where I set and doused my chute twice in a 10 minute period but shortly after working our way out of the harbor, the breeze filled in from the SE then shifted to the S and finally settled in the SW so it was a close reach all the way to Matinicus Rock. The boats that went too far right and too far left were the least efficient in use of the shift but there was a whole crowd of us at the rock so not much separation. Here's the line up for the single handed division:
 
Resolute, J/122, Scott Miller, PHRF rating of 33
Mainstay 5, JOD, Jim Coughlin, 90
Greyhawk, Peterson 34, Tim Allen, 123
Walkabout, Tarten 10, Doug Pope, 138
Bluebird, Morris 36, Gust Stringos, 177
Jeroboam, Beneteau 35, Jonathan Green, 177
Panacea, Freedom 32, Peter McCrea, 186
Inbox, Far Harbor 39, Bernie Blum, 192
 
At Matinicus, Scott was clearly leading the group but not completely out of sight, then there was a group of us that were all right there in the neighborhood: Mainstay, Greyhawk, Walkabout, Bluebird, Jeroboam and Panacea. Once around the rock, those with poled out symmetrical kites began working dead down the rhumbline (Mainstay, Greyhawk and Walkabout) while the rest of us with asyms footed off to the South to work our gybing angles (although Panacea may have winged and headed up the rhumbline). The bad news is the Bluebird and I were very close at the Rock but he's managed to sail much deeper than I and will very likely finish this leg in front of me, which will make it tough to battle back on leg 3 and 4. At this point I'm hoping for a shift to the West to lift me on the other gybe toward Mt Desert Rock.

Race start, one hour

Great turn out with tons of Bermuda 1-2 skippers here. After an exhilarating sail up to Rockland with 30+ knots of breeze, we had high pressure fill in last night so it'll be a light air race. I'll try to post some updates in route at each of the rocks. Jeroboam is in good shape, I just need some more coffee and I'll be ready to charge out to the starting line. These downwind starts are always interesting.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Maine Rocks Race

The last race of the season is upon me. Maine Rocks has been held each September since 2008 offering two classes, a single handed class and a double handed class. Jeroboam entered in 2008 and 2009 and did well but sat out last year. Maine has a terrific short handed sailing crowd, including many Bermuda 1-2 alumni and most of them come out for this race. As of early last week, the race organizer, Doug Pope, had 11 entries across the two classes so hopefully a few more have tumbled in since. Starting line is in Rockland Harbor so I'll depart Marblehead Thursday night arriving in Maine in time to attend the skippers meeting on Friday night then the race starts Saturday morning around 10. Gave the bottom a much needed scrub yesterday and off loaded a bunch of cruising gear so the boat's in pretty good shape. The course below is a little difficult to follow as the race starts and finishes in Rockland so from there we go south to Matinicus Rock, then northeast to Mt. Desert Rock, then back to Matinicus and up to Rockland.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Game Over

Race committee called off the race due to weather just as I sailed into Portland. I'll get some sleep then head back to Marblehead to ride out Irene.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ocean Planet Trophy

Yesterday the Gulf of Maine Ocean Racing Association reversed an earlier denial of my pursuit of the Ocean Planet Trophy so I'm officially off to the races, first the Northeast Harbor Race starting this Friday then the Maine Rocks Race on September 17/18. These two race results (assuming I manage to cross the finish lines) combined with the Down East Challenge race result from July will be used to score Jeroboam for the Ocean Planet Trophy. There's some tough competition lined up for this trophy:

Butch Minson, Cat's Paw, Lindenberg 28 (last year's winner)
Doug Pope, Walkabout, Tartan 10
Tim Allen, Greyhawk, Peterson 34
Scott Miller, Resolute, J/122
Peter McCrea, Panacea, Freedom 32
Gust Stringos, Bluebird, Morris 36

And others as there are additional qualifying races through the remainder of August and into September. Of course I'm no stranger to most of the above mentioned competitors so I know the hardships that lie ahead in facing this group. Most recently Scott Miller trounced me at the Down East Challenge last month and Gust Stringos crushed me on the single handed leg at Bermuda 1-2 in June so I've got my work cut out for me. I depart tomorrow night for Portland, ME in what's forecasted to be a fast down wind run with the skippers meeting on Thursday evening. I'll post position, race conditions and commentary here. First warning gun is Friday at 1000. Here's the course:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Down East Challenge Results

Big congratulations to Scott on Resolute for taking first place on elapsed and corrected time overall, including the fully crewed boats. In a close second and third were Jeroboam and Panacea with corrected times within 12.5 minutes of Resolute. As Peter on Panacea put it "A vindication of the PHRF system of rating dissimilar boats if there ever was one."

After a tactical blunder early on at Cape Ann, I'm happy to have battled back into second place. Scott and Peter sailed a great race so it was an honor to be up there with them.

I'm hoping to race with this group again at the Maine Rocks Race on September 16/17. For those interested in participating, contact Doug Pope at Rockland Yacht Club in Rockland, ME. This will be the fourth running of this race and it always draws a very accomplished crowd of single and double handed boats, the only two divisions offered.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

That's all she wrote

The tacking battle was won by Walkabout when Doug played two back to back shifts as a tug and barge came through. Panacea and Jeroboam took the wrong side of those shift and ended up scraping it out for a while. I got lucky with a shore skirt by Two Bush Island and managed to get ahead of Pancea but in the end, we simply ran out of time. This race has a time limit of 3:00 pm today and unfortunately Jeroboam had not yet crossed the finish line. Normally I would be scored DNF (did not finish) but this race asks all skippers to record their position at the time limit and boats are scored accordingly even though they didn't finish. I won't know the results for a bit as immediately upon recording and reporting my position at 3, I u-turned for Marblehead. I would expect Scott Miller of Resolute to win the single handed division but we'll have to wait and see the official results. Peter McCrea on Pancea probably came in second but I'll post the official results when I have them.
 
I think my biggest mistake of the race was not playing my VMG by the numbers once I rounded Cape Anne. In hindsight it was awfully foolish to take that big of a flyer so early in the race. The magnitude of the gamble far outweighed the hedge against the weather and I ended up on the wrong side. Then I over compensated a little there after but the bulk of the damage was already done. Panacea sailed a great race, not letting me get by him until late this morning. Doug Pope on Walkabout had a good recovery following some issues at the start and of course Scott cleaned house on elapsed time and possibly corrected as well with his very speedy J/122.
 
I'm in route to Marblehead now with the insult of a southwesterly breeze filling in just as I'm trying to get out of Penobscot Bay. Forecast is calling for a NE shifting to SE breeze so hopefully that won't be long in coming. I need to make some time.

Three Way Tacking Duel

As the wind filled in from the NE, Panacea, Walkabout and Jeroboam found ourselves in a tacking duel up Two Bush Channel. We have about 17 miles to go to the finish line so this is going to be a long hard battle to the bitter end. There are plenty of holes in the breeze so this duel will likely be won on who avoids the most of them. The othe big factor is who plays the shifts the best. The forecast is calling for the breeze to back a little bit toward the northeast but I suspect we'll see tons of other, more sutle shifts as we pick through the islands lining Two Bush Channel. Panacea started this duel in the lead but it's tough to tell who's in front at any given moment. Walkabout is clearly the best pointing boat with Panacea and Jeroboam about even on that score but we've all been very close over the past four hours. Another factor is the outgoing tide we need to contend with. Out tacking angles have been silly in the main body of the channel so we've been favoring the west side in hopes of avoiding some of the adverse current.

Halfway There

The clock to the northwest finally came but the breeze is down. I made out some garbled transmissions on the midnight VHF check in but I think I'm too far back in the pack at this point to make contact. This hasn't been the best of races for Jeroboam. If the wind continues to clock toward the north, I'll be hard pressed to pass to the east of Monhegan which means I might get fouled in the windshadow to the southeast. No point in worring about it now as it's a long way off. I'm 15 degrees high right now but won't go much higher until I see the latest weather data in an hour.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Whoops

I gybed pretty much right after I posted the last update and realized just how badly I was doing when I saw how good my VMG was on the new gybe. The rest of the fleet made some miles on me there, Bluebird too as Gust was sailing a similar track. It's blowing well out of the southwest and at some point I'll gybe back when I think the wind as begun it's clock and will lift me on the other gybe, probably in the next 2-4 hours. I think I can make out Walkabout in the distance and Bluebird is still in sight but Panacea and Resolute are far ahead of me by now. I need to work this shift perfectly if I have a chance of catching up with those guys.

Rounded Cape Anne

We've had some light air out here as we worked around Cape Anne. Resolute is most certainly still in the lead and the farthest East at this point. Panacea is pretty much on the rhumbline, perhaps wing and wing as I've often seen Peter do. Walkabout made a good recovery after some spin pole issues and is moving up the rhumbline nicely. Then we have Bluebird and I, sailing the furthest West of the line at present and I'm not convinced we're doing ourselves any favors as it looks like the other guys might have more consistent breeze as they get East and further away from land.
 
I'm not so much worried about the race at this point as the flies have literally taken over my boat. I would ballpark their numbers in the hundreds and they don't appear fased by Jungle Juice with 98% DEET which is the best I can throw at them. Next I go on the hunt with a spray bottle of Windex. I bet I kill 100 of them in the next hour before running out.
 
Forecast show the breeze slowing filling in from the SW then W then NW over the next 12 hours so we'll see if this flyer to the west pays off as I work the spinnaker around the northern edge of the rhumbline.

And We're Off & Running

Well the wind piped up enough for a start after a brief delay. I think we got off around 10:30 or so. Unfortunately the breeze has dropped off again so we're on a slow run for our next mark, the Londoner daymark at the SE corner of Cape Anne. Jeroboam had a good start, with only Doug Pope's Tartan 10 Walkabout crossing the line before me but Doug had trouble setting his kite so I soon passed him. In short order Resolute passed me, guns blazing. Resolute is the J-122 skippered by Scott Miller and is by far the fasted boat among the single handed class. Peter McCrea's Freedom 32 is hot on my heals, working well down wind with his big main and spinnaker flying and Gust Stringos's Morris 36 is off my stearn with his big reg kite flying. I just gybe over but am not close to makeing the Londoner mark so I've got some more gybes in my future. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

24 hours til start

Got a lot done on Jeroboam last night including strapping on the dive gear and giving the bottom a good scrub. Glad I did as a months worth of growth was more than evident. Still to go on my pre-race list includes:
Offload scuba gear and some other random stuff
Set up jacklines, horseshoe buoy, deck knifes
Run spin sheets & tackline
Set up barberhaul blocks and lines
Set up staysail quick launch gear
Strike the dodger & grill and throw in the dingy
Chuck a bunch of other stuff in the dingy like dock lines and fenders
Set up cockpit for racing
Dump excess water from tanks
Attend skippers meeting tonight at 6
Final weather check and route planning

Weather is shaping up beautifully for not only the race up but the delivery back to Marblehead as well. As soon as I cross the finish line, I have to u-turn and scoot back to be at my desk Monday morning. So far the breeze is forecasted to start SW then clock to NW through Saturday night. Sunday is still a little questionable as the models don't agree on the occluded front & trof paths but as long as it's anything but SW, I'll be in good shape.

Here's a link to the scratch sheet.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Course Map


I'm trying out something new. Most of the shorter distance races don't use boat trackers because of the expense but Google maps has a pretty cool free API for generating static maps that works well for low bandwidth connections such as satellite phones. All that is required is to attach a very small html file to my usual in-race updates and a map will display with Jeroboam's position, track line (to a rough degree), and markers for the start and finish lines. This is the course using that API and I'll try to post maps with Jeroboam's position and track during the race. It should be interesting as the wind looks like it will force the fleet to move pretty far NW of the rhumb line initially to properly play the long slow clock over the course Saturday night.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Down East Challenge

Starting to gear up for the next race: Down East Challenge. This is a small, destination race starting in Marblehead, MA and finishing at the Rockland, Maine break wall, about 130 nautical miles. If we get the prevailing breeze out of the SW, it's a down wind sled run.

The last time I did this race in 2008, Jeroboam had an amazing run across the Gulf of Maine. There was a six hour period when boat speeds averaged around 8.3 knots, an intense clip as it was all hand steering and I was still getting used to flying an asym.

Much of my cruising gear and boat luxuries are back on board and I probably won't have time to jettison it prior to the race so I'll be sailing a little heavier than I was last month. I will take the time to give the bottom a thorough scrub as there will no doubt be some growth down there since the last scrub on Bermuda over a month ago.

There's some terrific competition entered so far in the single handed division, all of whom are Bermuda 1-2 alumni and most of whom were entered in this year's running of that race, including two compatriots from Class 4, Bluebird and Panacea. This is going to be great!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

John Masefield, Sea Fever

A buddy of mine is racing to Halifax doublehanded tomorrow if you're interested in following along:


Begin forwarded message:

So, Peter Dowd and I are racing doublehanded to Halifax.  Race begins at about 1pm, probably later for our class. Should you wish to follow us and see if we can avoid last place for a change, you can do so on the iBoat web site, http://www.iboattrack.com/racetracking.html which will broadcast from every boat a position report about every hour or so. What you see will be delayed about an hour from real time.  On their website, click off to the right on the 2011 Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race Mapper.  Boats will be listed by class (not sure which we are, yet), but our boat name is Whisper, with sail number 52648, and our division is PHRF Racing.  There will probably be a couple classes within that.  All boats have a handicap used to calculate finish position so the actual position in the race does not indicate the corrected position.  For you technophiles, the corrected boat time = actual time (650/(550 + PHRF handicap)) 
PHRF handicaps might be listed on the race web site, http://www.marbleheadtohalifax.com/ although I have not yet seen them.
There are about 90 boats in the race, but only about 8-10 have crews sufficiently antisocial to want do it doublehanded!
Also, I may keep a contemporaneous blog if I have the time, energy, and enthusiasm (absence of wind could definitely dampen it) that you may access at
http://tomandaddie.blogspot.com/.  Or, just Google tomandaddie.
Tom

Friday, June 24, 2011

Huge Victory!!!

Looks like the race committee has posted the final results and Jeroboam took the fleet on combined leg 1 & 2 corrected time! Yeeeeeeeeehaw! Winning my class is a great honor for me but beating the fleet thrills me beyond measure. I trained harder and made more sacrifices for this race than I have for any other competitive event and it's reassuring the effort paid off. There were tons of people who helped out over the last two years through their time, mentoring, expertise and encouragement - too many to list here but I would like to thank John Keane for racing back with me, Tom Stearns for being a mentor and all his shore side support and Chris Pitts for teaching me tons about racing, sail trim and rigging. I'd also like to thank the guys at Brook Venture, Fred, Ned and Walter, for all the encouragement and for putting up with my antics in and absence from the office.

I'll post some pics and vids soon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Must....keep....going

Maybe the leader board isn't such a great thing to be downloading mid-race. I was just comparing our position to the boats in front of us and between 6 PM yesterday and 2 AM this morning and it doesn't get much more disheartening than that. Cordelia pick up 21 miles on us, Choucas 24, Adhara 19, Ariana 10! Ouch! That's painful. I guess the breeze was filling in from the north, eh?
 
Well the good news is that the breeze did indeed finally fill in for us about an hour ago and we're making good time for Newport with hopes of finishing before sundown today but we'll see if the forecast holds true.
 
I'm completely impressed with Cordelia's performance. First, to have the guts to take a big gamble on the easterly flyer but then to pull it off and be making a mad dash for the finish line with the distinct possibility of a really big win in their future. Wow. Hat's off to Gail and Roy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Everything has something inside. Even the hollow ones.

Our patients was severely tested today as we struggled to keep the boat moving in light air. My trusty crew mate Keane naturally met this challenge with humor which made the day pass much easier than it might have. And we certainly caught up on our sleep.
 
The real breeze isn't forecasted to fill in until 1300 tomorrow so we have a long night of flogging sails ahead. Looks like a bunch of class one will be finishing around dawn which will make it very tough for us to correct above them for Leg 2 but what about the combined Leg 1 & 2 correction? Should be a nail biter.

Cold but sunny. Hello New England.

J-Bomb was screaming along last night under reefed main and jib with the breeze about 60 degrees off starboard making 7-8 knots. Wish we could have kept it up but the wind started knocking off late and by dawn we were close reaching with the big asym scrapping to make 5 knots. There's no way we'll make it into the barn before the next lull so we'll have to tough it out with some finesse sailing today and tonight then ride the new breeze into the finish line when it comes up.
 
We're pretty beat and need more sleep but I suppose we can worry about that tomorrow night. Only 140 miles to go.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Amazing run today

We had an amazing run through the stream today double head sail reaching with speeds often exceeding 10 knots. Then we pulled out the asym after the wind dropped off a bit and rode some killer swell all afternoon. Fantastic run.
 
The wind eventually died late this afternoon and the forecasted northeasterly just filled in. We've got a good line to the finish and hope to get a hundred miles out this blow before we run out of it tomorrow morning. Unfortunately it looks like another lull will be waiting for us by then.
 
Fitzgerald once wrote "There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired" but right now I feel like all four.

Wet

Finally made it to the stream after battling adverse current for basically three straight days. Actual entry point was a bit east of my coordinate posted earlier. We cracked off and are reaching perpendicular to the westerly flow and making great time with boat speeds in the 8-9 range.
 
The big question is what's going on north of the stream? Anyway you slice it, it sure would be nice to be in the  barn before that low moves through but it ain't happening for Jeroboam. We're going to have some light air work ahead of us in the final stretch.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Another day lights up the seaway

We finally got the wind shift we were originally expecting for Thursday, only it wasn't the slow and gradual forecasted, rather two big shift over a three hour period. We're plunking along fairly hard to the breeze as it clocked all the way to the west while we work our way toward our entry point for the main body of the stream. We've been socked badly by the current on this run but we've been in good company so I guess we're not the only ones.
 
As soon as we're west of the rhumb line and hopefully clear of a river of adverse current in that vicinity, we'll crack off 10 degrees and shoot for our stream entry point at 36 degrees 48.7 minutes N, 68 degrees 45.3 minutes W. It's still a long way off so I won't predict arrival time at the stream but hopefully by tomorrow night.
 
I checked the leader board and Toothface looks to be having a brilliant run. Well done Mike & Ken! We're really going to have to work some magic to even come close to correcting near those guys.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Great breeze, nice ride

After a tough night of wallowing around in little wind, we gradually got going again, first in a northeasterly, then easterly and now a southeasterly, as if yesterday's clock should have been forecasted for today. Indeed, the latest grib file shows it to be so forecasted, extending all the way through the night until the stronger southwesterly will take over by tomorrow night. We're still trying to get east out of this head current so we'll likely gybe early to get some easting then ride the lift all night long.
 
A quick look at the leader board shows Windswept coming up fast behind us and they're already pretty far east, presumably out of the adverse current. We'll need to really stay focused tonight to remain ahead of those guys. Bluebird isn't too far off either so we're feeling plenty of pressure here on Jeroboam.
 
There are some other boats in the neighborhood - we were trading blows with Tyger Tyger last night and today and there's been a mini in our tail all day who is making great strides on us now that they've launched their chute. We're pressing down in the gusts and trying to keep J-Bomb flying!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

And they're off to the races!

Great start for Jeroboam, no complaints here. We saw a lot more wind on the south side of the harbor so we did a leeward start and managed to come up hard on the rest of the class, sneaking in front just before the Town Cut. It was nice to show Panacea our stern after Peter did so to me on the way out of Newport.
 
Now as far as the route goes, I know I know, I said we were going to head west of the rhumb line but we just can't get over there right now. The wind is out of the NW and occasionally oscillates to the west, right where we'd like to go to get out of this facial current. Forecast is calling for a clocking breeze but it just hasn't happened yet so we'll continue to take it on the chin until the shift.
 
We're presently among a bunch of class 3 boats which does wonders for our ego as they started 10 minutes before us. Who said Jeroboam can't point!

The Sun Comes Up Over Bermuda

Well sports fans the day has finally arrived when we can unhitch from the dock and head out for the doublehanded return race. Just in the nick of time too. Race participants are certainly worse for the wear from this seemingly innocent island paradise as motor scooter accidents and jelly fish stings have left their marks on a third of the fleet. Another third are reeling from an overload of rum swizzles and dark n' stormies and the final third are bleary eyed from the revelry of celebrating the Bruins win last night. I think we're all happy to get back to the business of racing.

Weather looks like we'll get a little bit of everything over the first 48 hours with a nice southwesterly filling in over much of the course thereafter. Stream features south of the main body will likely throw some adverse current on and east of the rhumb line so you'll probably see most of the fleet trying to work west right out of the gate. There was some banter around the porch yesterday about whether we'd see any boats take a flyer to the far east in search of some favorable current but it's a long haul out that way for what might only amount to a knot or knot and a half.

Jeroboam is in fine shape for the return leg. Keane and I scrubbed the bottom yesterday, went up the mast and checked everything out, squared everything away down below and set up the deck gear. Class 1 starts at 12 atlantic time/11 eastern, then class 2 at 12:10, class 3 12:20, class 4 at 12:30, class 5 at 12:40.

I'll try to post updates a couple times a day in route.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The solid feeling of land

St. George is a quaint little town in the northeast corner of Bermuda and a pleasant place to wake up and face facts.  Bluebird crushed me. I knew the winning streak had to come to an end sooner or later but of course I always wished for later than sooner. Three years of class wins or better is a lot of pressure to carry around so it's actually kind of a relief.

Now to business. Leg 2 starts next week and I still have a shot at winning my class on combined time. With Keane's help, all the pistons will be firing and we'll do our darnedest to make up the time delta and then some.

I have to take a quick jaunt back to Boston to get some work done. Or do I? Several people at Brook told me if I loose, not to bother coming back, however winning wasn't clearly defined as by leg or overall so I suppose I should at least show up and see if my key still works. If not, Nichole, per our usual arrangement, you're welcome to all the loose change in my top desk drawer.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Home stretch

Saw what I hoped would be my last sunset on this leg. I may finish sometime tonight but one forecast showed lighter air today so we'll see what happens. I'm amazed that this entire race has been completely downwind. This is my sixth passage to Bermuda and I think the longest downwind stretch I've had before lasted half a day. This one's going on day 4 and shows all the signs of continuing.
 
One of the advantages I always considered this boat to have is that it's a good performer in a variety of conditions, so it didn't really matter what the course conditions were or if they changed a lot (typically the case for the longer races), the boat tended to perform well and be competitive. This race is an interesting case in that we have not experienced a variety of conditions, rather only one: dead downwind. Who'd have guessed? The glaring omission of a symmetrical kite in my sail inventory is hurting in a big way right now. I can't beat myself up too badly however as never in a million years would I have anticipated these conditions.
 
I've got a variety of boat issues I'm dealing with today that are not race or performance related, rather systems issues. I need to hop back to Boston between legs so the more I can get done now, the less likely they will be an issue on the return leg as Keane and I only have about 48 hours on Bermuda prior to leg 2 for prep.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ouch

Rough day on the race course. In gusty conditions and a lumpy sea state, it's really hard to fly a kite single handed. The autopilot just don't do a good enough job while I'm trimming or if I'm at the helm that leaves my imaginary friend to do the trimming for me and he sucks at it. When the gusts start coming once every two minutes, it becomes an exercise in futility as almost each gust produces a round up, even with the chicken chute. 8-12 with gusts to 20 can get old fast.
 
At the heart of the issue is that I've been trying to go dead downwind all day. I tried everything I could to keep my vmg up but I kept getting disappointing results. I tried all three spinnakers and every combination of sail I could think of just can't seem to get downwind fast enough. Then to add insult to injury, I hit not one but two holes today. Not dead in the water pull your hair out holes but holes bothersome enough that all I could envision was  Bluebird and Stummer happily streaming along at hull speed while I dwautled.
 
The combination that produced the best vmg today was to wing out the 140% jib and run dead down. My cruising years paying dividends or clouding my judgment?

Someone's got a case of the Mondays

Banging through the main body of the stream last night was a rough go. I've applied the term 'confused' to a sea state before but I now have a whole new standard for its use. Two spots in particular were a wild affair with absolutely no discernable pattern, rhyme or reason to the mountains of water shuffling about. Little Jeroboam bobbed up, down and through them like a tiny spec of humanity in the great bathtub of life.
 
I suppose it's pretty clear that my commentary this morning is scribed pre-coffee.
 
I'm trying to work my way through what I'd hoped would be some helpful current but finding only slightly positive effects. I'll gybe back toward the rhumb line this morning and see what I can find.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Enter the Gulf Stream

Definitely in the main body of the stream at this point. All the tell tail signs are there: huge cross track error, cobalt blue water, dolphins. Not to mention the big seas. I had a 30 second sustained surf down the face of monster wave with the chute up that had me screaming in both delight and dread at the same time. 13.5 knots was recorded on that one. Wow. Not bad for a Beneslow, even if it wasn't sustained.
 
I'm pretty well beat at this point. My body feels like I've been in a poorly chosen bar room brawl with the German Olympic wrestling team. Trimming the kite for hours on end is unbelievably tiring. Then my knee cap went head to head with a turning block and provided some real gore for the trip. That scream was in pain and I-can-not-believe-that-just-happened-disbelief.
 
There's a couple stream features I want to play on the other side of the main body but I'm moving so fast east that I'm afraid I'll miss one of them. I'll have to see where I end up on the other side. I'm not about to gybe and try to head into it so unless the wind shifts a little further east, I'm kind of stuck with my present course. Glad I entered a little further West.

Screaming along under spinnaker

After double headsail reaching all night, the wind backed enough to launch the chute around dawn. The boat is moving beautifully. Sea state has calmed down a bit and a longer swell is taking over, allowing the autopilot to perform much better and the chute to behave itself.
 
I changed my mind on a stream entry point and am aiming a little further west. The counter current is all but gone, at least for the time being, which probably accounts for the decrease in chop.
 
I downloaded to standings a moment ago and saw Bluebird is leading the Class 4 pack - way to go Gust! I need to figure out how to get the upper hand here. He has to be loving that symmetrical kite on a run like this. He who best plays the currents in and south of the main body of the stream will pick up a key advantage.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Beautiful all day spinnaker run

Gybed over this afternoon and was a little surprised at how much head current hit me. I was expecting around a half knot from that cold water feature north of the main body but got twice that then it increased a little from there. I think the worst of it is over as it's backed off to less than a knot.
 
The forecasted shift did indeed take place and I rode the lift nicely following the gybe. Then the shift kept going. And going. Finally settling around ENE so I'm on a reach right now with the jib, staysail and main. I ran with the chute as long as I could but I was having to head about 30 degrees further south than I wanted so that was that.
 
It's going to be a cold night. Time to get layered up and eat some more freeze dried.

On A Run

The NW breeze died a bit mid morning but is back in force. I'm going about as fast as this little camper can go! As Slocum might say of his Spray "this is grand sailing. Her finest work."
 
There's one other boat in the neighborhood but I've not been able to make out which it is, perhaps Choucas? I thought I was gaining on him for a bit but I think the shoe is on the other foot now.
 
At some point I need to work my way down to my preferred entry into the gulf stream. I wasn't able to run the altimetry model through my slow Iridium 9555 sat phone connection this morning so I'm using yesterday's model. Not the most ideal scenario as the changes from the day before yesterday to yesterday were substantial. Anyway, based what's available to me, I'm shooting for 37 degrees 15 minutes N, 068 degrees 30 minutes W for my stream entry point.

Softly sailing south

Had a pretty good run for most of the night with the boat hard to the wind out of the SE but gradually diminishing. It was VMG sailing all night with port tack favored so I'm a bit further west of the rhumb line than I'd wished. But then around dawn the wind gently filled in from the W shifting toward the NW so out came the chute again and the boat's been moving well on starboard gybe for the last three hours or so, most of it in the right direction.
 
The forecasts haven't exactly been helpful yet. Last night's SE breeze wasn't in any of the models I looked at. Wind prediction for this afternoon is to swing toward the NE so if that happens, I'll need to gybe at some point.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Outside the Bay in Lumpy Seas

Fun start with plenty of wind. I didn't see any spinnakers pop until we were around Brenton Reef outside Narragansett Bay. In class 4, Peter McCrea on Panacea easily had the best start with more a couple boat lengths lead. Jeroboam had a bad round up in one of the Bay gusts, which almost carried me right into the path of Bluebird but thanksfully he was able to stay clear of me. I guess flying that staysail was enough to put me over.
 
Outside the bay the wind has diminished slightly, around 10 kt apparent over my right shoulder. There are some damned lumpy seas out here which makes the spinnaker go pop everytime if deflates then reinflates. One of my key strategies was not to destroy it too early so hopefully it can continue to take a beating.
 
Had a bad snap shackle on the spin sheet. I should have taken the hint the first time it let go but instead I got to experience the thrill of a flogging spin twice. And looking the port spin sheet to the sea. Plenty of excitment for the first three hours of racing; some might say too much excitement.
 
Might try to grab a 30 minute snooze.

Game Time

With wind at our back for the better part of 2 or possibly 3 days, the favored boats are the sleds like the Class 40, Quest 30s, Figaro II and Open 6.5s. It's going to be very tough to keep up with those guys. I also imagine there will be some moments when I wish I had a symmetrical spinnaker on board but I'm not willing to sacrifice my +9 adjustment for the asymmetrical so there's no point in crying over spilt milk.
 
The gulf stream models have undergone some fairly substantial changes, even in the last 24 hours, so I'm hesitant to make any real gambles for the sake of a couple extra tenths of favorable current.
 
In summary, I doubt we'll see any boats taking major flyers. It's a rhumb line race.
 
Jeroboam is as ready as she's ever been and as fast as she's ever been. I wish I could say down wind conditions were the boat's most favorable but when it's on the beam, I typically see slightly better performance. The key is  not to destroy my asym too early in the race as I'll need it often. Wind speeds have certainly calmed down a bit since yesterday but we'll see what's what when we get out of Narragansett Bay. I'll have both chute and chicken chute at the ready.
 
Class one starts at 11 AM eastern time, then class 2 at 11:10, 3 at 11:20, 4 at 11:30 and the Open 6.5s at 11:40.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tuning Up

Keane and I got some good training time in this weekend with a practice/tune-up race from Marblehead to Minots Light off Cohasset. The Peterson 34 Greyhawk was just launched on Thursday of last week and heading for Newport Saturday morning so we thought we'd bat it around with them for a bit on their way to the canal. They got out to an early lead as Jeroboam managed to find more than a few holes tacking out of Salem Bay but out in the open of Mass Bay, Greyhawk was severely handicapped flying only their 100% blade in 10-15 knots of breeze vs. Jeroboam's 140% genny so we made up some lost ground and then some. We left Greyhawk to continue on their merry way and turned back to Marblehead for some spinnaker practice, including unwraping it from the head stay which wasn't a planned drill but a good exercise nonetheless. Jeroboam continues to impress me, posting solid performance numbers at all points of sail. Just about all the kinks are worked out and almost all the cruising luxuries have been jettisoned. Good thing too. It's almost time to race.

Monday, May 9, 2011

First Full Training Weekend

Spent the weekend training, first doing all the required safety drills with my crew mate John Keane on Saturday, then focused on performance Sunday. Even with the boat not quite yet in full performance trim, Jeroboam was at or very close to speed targets at every point of sail, pleasing me to no end. Personally, I felt pretty rusty with some sloppy tacks and gybes on Sunday but managed not to break anything. Only have seven more full training days before the start but I'll get out after work here and there to do some drills when there's wind.

I came across a great post-race interview with Mike Hennessey of the Class 40 Dragon conducted by Joe Cooper following the 2009 Bermuda 1-2. It’s a little over 50 MB so it takes a few minutes to download and the sound quality is poor but worth a listen if you’re a Class 40 and/or Hennessey fan.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Splash!

I can't tell you how excited I am that the spring bottom prep job is done. With that miserable week behind me, I have a month of training ahead before crossing the Bermuda 1-2 Leg 1 starting line on June 3rd.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

On the hard


Jeroboam came out of the water yesterday in time for me to stay up very late prepping the bottom. Even after the yard power washed it, there was still so much growth that I had to go at it with a hard bristled brush and scrapper. By the light of a dim headlamp, I toiled late into the evening and am just about ready for paint. Too bad it's supposed to pour rain all day.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Gloves Are Off

er, I mean the cover. Each spring when the weather warms and the probability of snow drops to negligible, boat dwellers perform the rituals of preparing their vessels for the season. The step with the most psychological value is removing the cover, particularly true for me as my cover is rather dark. Off it came Sunday and immediately my productivity increased, well exceeding my spring commissioning list for the day. Saturday I attended the Bermuda 1-2 sleep seminar at Newport Yacht Club and learned quite a bit about polyphasic sleep strategies and how to use them to increase competitiveness.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bermuda 1-2 Safety Inspection. Check.

Another solid step toward my entry in Bermuda 1-2 this June: Jeroboam's safety inspection is complete. Roy Greenwald was kind enough to conduct it last night and all is well. I have a couple other, none safety items that need attention prior to departing Boston, mainly concerned with the port light seals and the forward hatch replacement; all in an effort to keep drier offshore.