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


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.