Monday, December 26, 2011

Doing RC on a Race Night Early This Summer

Team Ambitious did Race Committee duty in late June, and truth be told, it was somewhat problematic, but still fun. It was an evening of light winds, which can make things more challenging. Still, it always beats working, and good stuff can happen. It was a lot of fun to join up with the usual RC people, who are out there for us every race night. Aileen, the main scorer knows almost every boat now.

First, we postponed the usual 6:40 pm countdown to wait for late boats. That is something I am not keen on with evening racing, but when you only have a handful of boats, and you can see most of the competitors are not only late, but are just leaving the mouth of their harbours, you don't have much choice. With a north breeze making our start line distant from shore, it took yet longer for the fleets to arrive. While we waited, the winds, already light and shifty, began their light evening die-down. Hmmm, perhaps, Montreal's oft-light summer period had begun. We sent off a mark boat to bring the windward marks in closer. Radio contact was lost . One mark was moved closer, but not close enough, and the 2nd mark for dinghies did not get moved. A second mark boat was dispatched with radio to re-establish communication at the windward end. The second mark is moved after some confusion. Neither mark is close enough for the light winds. However, at this point we need to get racing going without further delay, or it won't happen, given the wind and time. Most of the boats had arrived. So, we re-started the countdown sequence at 7:04 pm, and settled for a long race, and a late night. Still, all the fleets finished their races and were back in harbour well before sunset. Hooray for late summer nights. Sometimes, you just have to take what conditions are thrown at you and make the best of it.

The big shifts in wind were coming pretty frequently, so the favoured start-line side would change, but mostly ended up being the pin. The Fireballs congregated at that end making the start difficult to call. As many as 4 teams may have over early, but we only called out the 2 sail numbers we were certain of. In PHRF 3, Encore Une Fois went over early, re-started, and still accomplished finishing 2nd. Jospe and crew finished first, thanks to the two Fireballs that did not re-start after being OCS. Even in difficult winds, entertainment can always be had on the water.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Eclipse at 2011 Shark World's

Peter, Alexander, and on the foredeck Krista Rahn in action mode rounding weather mark. That sure looks like a quick launch! This great picture is yet another taken by Heather Deeks.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Clarke & Bjorn Finish 8th in the Medal Race at ISAF World's

Despite having to do a 720 degree penalty turn after being in fifth place at the first mark, Clarke and Bjorn fought back, sailing their Star to finish eighth in the final medal race at the 2011 ISAF World Championship in Perth, Australia. This gives them a tenth overall for the regatta.

The Start:
Montrealer Tyler Bjorn and BC native Richard Clarke had a fine start near the Race Committee boat, but it, of course, was a congested crowd. Of the 10 boats qualifying for the medal round, 6 of them chose the RC end. Clarke swung the bow up and down jostling for air and position for the last 20 seconds before the gun. The Polish team of Kusznierewicz & Zycki pointed right at the pin, and entirely alone, spurted out ahead of the fleet. The German team on #8414 saw the opportunity and followed the Poles left.

4 teams sailed from the start on the Canadians' windward side. The Swedes immediately ducked sterns to go right after clearing the RC boat, followed by a different German team on #8340 looking for clear air. That left the French right on Clarke & Bjorn's leeward hip, and the Norwegians a little more to the right. A cluster of teams sailed on the windward side of the Canucks, essentially all in the same pack. Clarke/Bjorn tacked out ducking the French and Norwegians to head right followed by the Americans and Brazilians.

Windward leg:
When the Swedes and Germans came back from the right on starboard, only two minutes into the race, the Canadians tacked to leeward and so did the Americans and Brazilians. Clarke/Bjorn led the pack back to the left in 6th overall. As boats bailed out of the cluster, the Canadian team pushed forward on the same tack.

Then, at three and a half minutes, Bjorn/Tyler tacked onto port sailing the same direction as most of the fleet. Crossing the rhumb line only a little more than four minutes into the race, they are already about a quarter up the short leg of a short, fast race.

By this point of the race, the Poles and Germans on 8414 who started alone at the pin and went left, sailed alone, and were in a strong leading position, first and second. The remainder of the fleet then all lined up side by side, all sailing on port tack, and about 10 to 15 metres separated them in terms of distance from leading boat. Clarke/Bjorn were now fourth.

It's all pretty close, and the Canadians bounced up and down in the standings in the tacking fleet. With no one reaching the laylines just yet, the Canadians made a bold tack, moving alone onto starboard, below the windward mark. This tactic helps them move into third position. Then, coming back at the fleet on port tack, they mix it up and jostle their way in to the layline. The whole fleet is jam packed in tight. Clarke/Bjorn get onto the starboard layline in 5th, but somehow manage to round the mark through the crazy melee of boats in 4th position.

Leeward leg:

Moving down the course, Clarke/Bjorn went left of the fleet, and were maintaining fourth to fifth position overall. Well to the left, they then spun the boat in two circles, a 720 degree penalty turn! This immediately put them into last position, tenth, and about 200 metres back from the leading Polish team. This was 14 minutes into the race. That sure seems like a heckuva lot of action for less than a quarter-hour!

Second Windward Leg:
The fleet passed through a leeward gate, still led by the Poles who go left to windward until they run smack up against bending land and tack. The Canadians went through the gate well back in tenth. Initially, they also headed to land, but then broke off to sail unhindered to the right. The fleet worked their way up without any consistently favoured or long tack. The Polish team rounded the windward mark all by themselves in first place. The Canucks are well back, still in last place working to windward. Then, below the windward mark, they repeated their methodology of the first windward rounding. They tacked to starboard still a good ways below the layline, and were sailing in relatively unhindered wind. Most of the boats then are mixing it up around the mark or on the starboard layline. Clarke/Bjorn continued to sail fast on starboard below the layline, and moved up, now into 8th place. The Swedes and Americans who were ahead on the same tack became involved in a pissing match and screwed each other up as they went out to the port layline. The Canadians opted not follow them, and instead tacked towards the starboard layline. The Americans and Swedes then approaching on port have to alter course to avoid boats, including the Canadians who just round ahead as the battling last teams approach.

Second Leeward Leg:
Bjorn and Clarke made good headway downwind, and are now in a position to attack a French team in 7th. All of this time, the Polish team that started by itself at the pin, continued to sail far ahead all by its lonesome, and unhindered by boats behind. The entire fleet has sailed a downwind course to the right side directly at the same bending land barrier. At only 36 minutes into the race, the leading Poles went through the leeward gate and made their short dash towards the finish line to the right. The Canadians finished in eighth position comfortably ahead (by roughly a hundred metres) of the Americans and Swedes who are still locked in battle. The Polish team of Mateusz Kusnierewicz and Dominik Zycki finished the race victorious, in a little under thirty-seven minutes. The Canadians finished the short, intense racing in a little under 38 minutes.

The Penalty:

Montrealer Tyler Bjorn and BC native Richard Clarke were flagged for kinetics. Clarke assumes the penalty was given for rocking the boat, difficult to avoid in waves. Were it not for that foul, they may have been able to strike for the podium. Their impressive finish, tenth overall in the regatta, both qualifies Canada for the 2012 Olympics in London in the Star Class, and Clarke and Bjorn as Canada's representatives. They will certainly be exciting to watch. Their challenge now is to find that last little missing puzzle piece to make that small and most difficult graduation from top ten in the world to top three and the Olympic podium.

Guys, congratulations on a super race from Montreal Sailing.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Clarke & Bjorn Make it to the Medal Round at ISAF World Championship

It must have been a pretty stressful day of racing for Montrealer Tyler Bjorn and his helmsman Richard Clarke but, they have done it! They have made it into the final medal round race to be held Saturday. The weather in Perth was tough with reports citing puffs of breeze and glassy areas during some of the racing. After two races for the day, Bjorn & Clarke held onto 10th overall. Only the top ten teams move on to the final medal round race Saturday. Legendary sailor Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada of Brazil, the defending World Champions are dominating, in 1st overall. Anything can happen in the medal round format though, so it will be an exciting day tomorrow.

Day's Star racing summary

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Clarke & Bjorn after 8 Races at 2011 ISAF Worlds

photo by Fried Elliot

Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn continue to hold onto their top ten position. After 8 races, they remain in 8th overall. Today is a day off. From yesterday, here is the most recent post from Clarke:

Well the trend of one good race and one bad race continued today. We carded a 7 and 19 to sit 8th overall in a real dog fight for placed 5 through 12th. Everyone except the top 4 guys are struggling in the unpredictable winds, on good day can move a team up many places and the reverse is true for a bad day. We seem to be plugging along having OK races and maintaining our position, while the elevator takes our competition up and down the leader board. I talked to someone today who asked if we were just trying to qualify and I told them that I was trying hard to win this thing but that it was proving extremely difficult.

We almost saw Fremantle Doctor conditions in the first race today as winds were in the correct quadrant but a bit lighter. We had an average start that saw us looking over our shoulders a few minutes after the start for a lane out right. After patiently waiting for things to clear out we tacked and headed out to what I hoped was the favoured side. It didn't look all the good early but came together towards the end of the beat as we rounded the first mark 6th. Unfortunately we dropped a few places on the first run but managed to take them back on the second beat and found ourselves in 8th place down the final run. What should have been a straight forward affair turned into a bit of a crap shoot as the wind completely died and tried to fill in from many directions. Luckily we survived the lottery and finished 7th.

In the second race we had the unfortunate privilege of starting between 2 boats that were both over the line at the gun. Luckily we realized our predicament and dropped back far enough not to be called over but our start was severely compromised. Things went from bad to worse as the side we chose on the first beat was not correct and we rounded the first mark in the 30's. A typical Clarke/Bjorn come back saw us close distance on the leaders but we could only catch 12 boats over the course of the race for a 19th.

It will be a good battle Friday (tomorrow is a day off) for the top 10 to see who makes the medal race.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Clarke/Bjorn Sailing Team in 8th Overall Thus far in ISAF Worlds

Wow! Star class team Tyler Bjorn and Richard Clarke are having a pretty exciting time at the ISAF World Championship. Most of the countries there are qualifying to compete at the upcoming London Olympics, and individual competitors are vying for selection. That means some extraordinary competition. Montrealer Bjorn and BC sailor Clarke results so far are:

12 6 10 (17) 7 15