Saturday, May 09, 2009

2009 J24 World's More of the Same Wonk

Mississauga racer Rossi Milev and his team on Clear Air - pic by Dan Phelps

The regatta is done. Milev who was in a podium position for a lot of the regatta got edged out of the overall standings in the last race, but hey 4th overall is a pretty good high too. I have some more pics that are pretty good, including of the Montreal boats. Right now though, I'm still enjoying the daily reports by a couple of guys who were not happy sailors. Written well, and a good, honest flavour of the racing. So, I'll share these from day #4:

Moose Mclintock has a sad tale to tell.
(from Sailing Anarchy)

The old saying is "at least it's better than a sharp stick in the eye" or " better than a root canal". After another frustrating day in Annapolis, both of those alternatives would have been a far better choice than trying to figure out what's going on out here. I sailed the Etchells NA's here a couple years ago, conditions were so bad it turned out to be a non-regatta. I guess this is better because we got a race in today so it's a regatta, and there are tons of people hoping we can get another race in tomorrow so we can get a drop because that is going to be the determining factor for this years worlds.

Today actually showed a lot of promise, there was enough breeze to get everyone on deck going upwind and down (a far cry from the last couple days) and it looked like it would hang for at least two races. Bahahahahaha. No chance.

With a couple delays due to the inability to get the anchor down on the midline boat, we lost about 45 minutes of great breeze. Big shifts (from what would be soon become a continuing onslaught of storm cells) caused two postponements before we finally got a start, which was run under a black flag (surprisingly, since we hadn't even had a start yet, much less a general recall). A heavy ebb current was pushing the fleet over the line but there were only about 5 boats over, including race 3 winner Charlie Enright (since renamed Ricky Bobby, cause if you're not first you're's a movie thing). We were lucky to get a good start just down the line from the midline boat, all the OCS's were over on the weather end of the line so we knew we were OK. Unfortunately, we thought we heard General Recall (like a bunch of other people) and started to turn back before we decided it would be better to keep going since we couldn't see any flags. The left side payed off, we managed to round first just ahead of Giamma Fialle (defending world champion), Pete Levesque with Team Mookie, the Blitz brothers with local Allan Terhune helping out and several of the very fast South American teams. Plus one Canadien.

As we worked downwind in a pile of 4 against the tide, the Canadien, Rex, with Canadien Silver medalist Miike Wolfs helping out, was able to split away from the group and round the left hand gate just a touch before we got to the right hand gate. I looked up to see him rocketing upwind in the current while we struggled against it to get to our gate. Joined by the Chilean EFT Group, Rex smoked up the right side of the course, with Blitz close behind them, while we went left like the first beat, with Mookie and Fiamma right with us. A little back and forth as we neared the weather mark and we were now 4th, Rex led wth the Chileans right behind them and Blitz rounding just ahead of us and Fiamma. We did a perfectly horrible job on the run, losing Fiamma and another Argentine boat to finish 6th. Fortunately for us (and not so much for a lot of the other guys) this was good enough to raise us about 6 places overall. Series leader Tony Parker had a tough first beat but came back to around 20th, only to have to take a yellow flag for an incident with Brit Ian Southworth, this ceded the overall lead to Fiamma with Canadien Rossi Milev (10th in this race) one point behind. Mookie held on for a 9th which leaves them 3rd overall but certainly within striking distance.

From here thngs got interesting as the aforementioned storm cells started moving in, hitting the last thirty boats running into the finish about 100 yards from the line. Chutes down, genoas up, puffs, lulls, collisions.........thankfully we had the option to watch the whole thing rather than experience it. From here we saw a couple thunderstorms roll overhead with multiple lightning strikes, several downpours and 360 degreee windshifts. Despite their best efforts, and a painful running comentary, there was no way the RC was going to get a race off so we're looking at a 9:30 start tomorrow to try to get at least one race in.

So things should be pretty settled on "moving day", typically the day before the final push when you get sorted on who's who and where they are. The only real snag to all this is the potential for a drop. This would help us, Tony Parker and particularly Mauricio Sant Cruz immensely since we all have one case of brain cramp making us look particularly bad. On the other hand, there are some very consistent players (who are all in the top couple) who will make out no matter what so it's still a crapshoot (and I mean that in the literal sense of the word). I know I have sailed in Annapolis in good weather and fine breeze. This week that's just not happening. The forecast for tomorrow is light, potentially not sailing. It's not the town's fault, sometimes you just have bad weather. That is the story this week. There aren't a lot of happy campers but we all have to deal with it so I guess you'd say it's even across the board. Personally, I'm blowing out of here ASAP when we hit the dock to grab my ever patient and long suffering wife (with me as a husband, there's plenty of suffering) and go watch Volvo 70's in Boston. On the other hand, I hear that place sucks for wind too.

Wow-Four races in Four Days-Boring!
Chuck Allen, North Sails One Design, posting in a Scuttlebutt forum

(Thursday, May 7, 2009) - Everyone begged The R/C last night at “The Tent” to go out early today: PLEASE/PLEASE/PLEASE… the answer was “NO” right back. The forecast was best set for an early departure today and they chose to race at the regular 11:00 am time. It was obvious what was going on today: one race at best unless they started around 9 - when there was plenty of breeze. I am talking to everyone and they were saying the same thing, it is not like it was a team or two that needed to get to a throw out- quite a bummer of a day to tell you the truth.

Sure enough the R/C could not start on time again today with their patented “we will start on time after a short postponement…”- what does this mean? The other thing that is bogus is they have a rendezvous area for check in, etc… then they ask all the boats to follow them for a couple of miles to the race area-common… the regatta is in jeopardy of not making a five race series? How about going to the place where you want your line set and do check in there? They had trouble setting the line again and it was postponed-seems like wasted time and it is the talk of the dock.

They finally got the race off after a couple of AP’s and a restart - right into the Black Flag, which makes sense, catching a few boats - who were nice enough to bail back and exit the course. Most the boats that did well on the first leg started by the Mid-Boat, as it was poked in the current at least two lengths up - sure enough Larson, who rounded first won that area. A bunch of boats started at the pin end thinking the current would get them there in the river going towards the first mark, but ended up over standing because it was ripping that way big time; we were included in that group - rounding quite deep - time to grind back again.

They had changed the race course to a four legger from the previous fives hoping to get more races in but it was dying quick and you to act fast. Kind of a parade downwind with 85% sailing on port but upwind there was a front coming through over Annapolis and the breeze clicked 10 degrees to the right, we had picked up a solid ten bots and were back towards the high teens. The last downwind was getting really light and it went hard ESE where some boats finished and then swung hard NNE, where some boats finished by gybing. And get this - the breeze kicked in hard North and around 30 boats had to finish going upwind - brutal. Squalls rolled in after, including lightening and right after that the breeze was sucked out of the area - bummer if we wanted to have another race-no go!

Early dock call tomorrow with an expected 9:30 start time - looks to be light air-we’ll see?