|NEIYA New England's at Winnipesaukee, January 26, '08
This year's New England’s took place on Lake Winnipesaukee launching out of Ellacoya State Park. Jeff Kent and Bill Converse set a course with about a one mile leg, and proceeded to run a great regatta under challenging conditions. The winds for the day were generally light with most races in the 3-8 mph range. The ice was hard and fairly smooth white snow ice. 17 boats showed up to play with sailors from 6 states and a group that drove down from Nova Scotia (AKA the great white north).
As far as boat tune goes, I started out with the mast step positioned all the way forward, the sail as high as it could go and moderately tight shrouds. The plank was in the center of its range of adjustment. The rig was set up to be as bendy as possible. I sailed a 1D “power” sail for the day. The boom blocks were set up to pull back on the mast just a little. I had to pull very hard on the sheet to derotate the mast. For runners I used 3/16" 36" side inserts with 16" of 8 thousandths flat. I used a 30" steering insert with 13" of flat. If I had brought it out with me I would have used a 26" plate runner with 10” of flat because it is easier to turn with, but I did not bring it.
For race one I drew starting position 18. At the start I got a good jump on the fleet by running hard and footing. What I try to do is this: First run the boat up to full speed, second step on the plank with my inside foot. Third, take 2-4 powerful kicks with your outside leg fourth, step on the plank with your outside foot then step into the boat with your inside foot and butt followed by your outside leg. I usually release the windward shroud after my second leg is in the boat. I release it slowly so it does not shake the rig. It also helps to yell at the top of your lungs as you are running. I don’t know why, but I run fastest when I do. I suspect it is some kind of primordial flashback.
On the first beat the wind went left about 20 seconds after the start. I tacked on the shift and had a slim lead at the first weather mark. Dave Clapp passed me on the first downwind leg, but I passed him back by pointing higher going upwind and tacking earlier for the windward mark. I held on to win, but Dave was faster down wind.
We started the second race in ~5 knots of breeze. Dave Clapp and I were duking it out on the first leg. We rounded the first leeward mark overlapped well separated from the fleet. Before we rounded the leeward mark, I was looking back upwind and realized that most of the boats were not moving. The next lap was very slow and I ended up running at all the tacks and gybes. We did not make the time limit and the race was abandoned.
Race 2 version #2 was a repeat of race 2. I got a good jump on the field at the start and rounded in the lead. As the fleet spread out in light air, I sat up and looked around to see where on the course the boats are moving and avoid areas where people are running a lot. I was able to maintain boatspeed down wind and make the lap time. If you are fit, in light air you can tack and gybe on the windshifts because you can run faster then you can sail so getting back up to speed is not a problem. I won that race and Steve Madden was second with Luke Buxton in 3rd, proving his light air prowess.
Race 3 was started just before a small frontal system arrived. About 20 seconds after the start, the wind went left about 30 degrees and picked up to about 10 knots. I rounded the first mark in ~9th. I passed some boats downwind and got back to around 4th but I was not fast upwind (mast was overbending). I ended up 5th and was happy to do that well after a bad first leg. Dave Clapp won with Luke Buxton and Jim Hadley hot on his heels.
Before race 4, I moved my mast step back 3 holes and tightened the rig thinking the wind would build. I also moved the boom blocks to pull back on the mast a bit more to derotate the mast. I took a quick sail to see if the changes made sense. I ended up sailing the race with the rig too stiff as the wind backed off a bit. Dave Clapp and I duked it out for a couple of laps, but he pulled ahead on the last beat. I tried to tack early and go up the middle of the course but it did not pay off at all. On the last downwind leg I gybed early and then gybed back on the layline to the finish. Bob Crinion appeared from the right side with good speed and I just squeaked by him at the finish line.
Before race 5, I moved my mast step forward 1 hole and loosened the rig a bit. The wind was around 6 knots. Dave Clapp won that race convincingly with me beating Jim Hadley to the line for second.
Before the last race, I knew Dave Clapp had a 1 point lead, but if I could beat him I would win the regatta. For the last race the wind seemed like it was going to go very light again so I moved the mast step all the way forward. This was the right call as the wind lightened in the second lap. I was able to outpoint the fleet upwind on the second lap and got a nice lead that I held to the finish. Steve Madden finished second and Dave Clapp third.
A big group of us retired to Patrick’s for dinner and drinks afterwards. The New Jersey boys had a strong showing early in the night, but when the smoke settled, the Nova Scotia gang were the clear winners of the party as well as winning the farthest distance traveled award.
Thanks to Jeff Kent and Bill Converse for a great event as well as the ice spotters who found the hard stuff to sail on.
Eric Anderson US 5193