January 7, 2006 - Ken Legler
The first Saturday of 2006 was absolutely gorgeous, except for the temperature. Had it been 50 degrees warmer however, the harbor would have been packed with boats. Instead it was just us frostbiters and the tankers. There were five tankers in all, but only three went through the course and one agreed to go by during a race (thanks to the vigilance and radio tact of RC Bob). Nonetheless, racing was postponed twice and only four of the usual five races were completed. Speaking of your RC, Ben climbed the mast of Golden, all the way up, to retrieve an errant spin halyard.
Northwest winds fell out of a clear blue sky at 5-15 knots. A modified W-L course (twice around for the Js) was set with the upper left side not too far from the Boston skyline. This feature played heavily into the strategy of the day’s winner, Mike Lewis and team on Tony, 1048.
The tide was low just before noon but the current continued to run out at up to half a knot. This may have been due to the wind pushing the water or a distant offshore low pulling water but was most likely caused by water being released from the Charles River. Whatever the cause, this current was clearly visible at the starting line. In race one half the boats played their pre-start close to the line in case the wind died or shifted left, either of which would cause a boat timing their start to be late against the current. The other half of the boats were late when the wind did shift left.
Todd Cooper on Wasabi found the shift before the start and aced the fleet on port tack from the pin. Dave Franzel lurking nearby almost got him on starboard but passed below heading further left. Meanwhile Mike Lewis in a conscious game plan to avoid the left came out of the right when the wind veered and crossed Cooper for first at the mark. Lewis led around while Franzel sailed through the rest, passing Cooper late in the race for second.
In race two Franzel played the shifts in the middle to hold off the fleet while Lewis’ team passed others downwind for second to tie the score. In race three Lewis again sailed through the early leaders to win, while Franzel, after getting stuck in the left side holes, sailed through the rest for third. The finale had Lewis leading Franzel by two points and Franzel missed more early shifts to round mark one back in seventh. But while Lewis took the lead, Franzel’s gybe set immediately put his Warp Drive team in 4th. After passing Sted Beckwith downwind Franzel moved up to 3rd. Lewis led around the bottom and seemed to be leading a parade to the right, the same side of the course where Lewis lived all day. A strange thing happened on the way to the Hyatt (lower right corner). Franzel back in 3rd, sheared off in a lift and continued on this port lift right into first. Cooper in 2nd got a piece of it and caught Lewis. Beckwith back in 4th also got lifted but did not catch the early leaders just yet. Franzel continued to propel forward to an easy win but the day would belong to Lewis. His team battled Cooper and Beckwith to finish second and finish a point ahead of Franzel for the day. Doug Mitchell had good starts against the current on Rigel and wound up 3rd. It was good to see Todd Cooper back out on the course following a paternity leave of Fall Saturdays. He had good starts but their teamwork was rusty and they withdrew from a race following a foul involving the racing class; otherwise they might have challenged Sted Beckwith for 4th and the racing class for 5th.
With one absent Olsen, the other three tried triple racing where first is worth plus two but 2nd and 3rd are both worth minus one. This puts the two trailing boats in pursuit of first rather than fleet racing for second. They enjoyed some pretty close racing, especially in their finale which nearly wound up in the protest room. It did lead to an interesting discussion of rule 17, an offwind rule of two parts, both involving proper course. Part one is about luffing rights when a leeward boat gets an overlap from behind. Part two is about the boat ahead (or to windward) being restricted from sailing below her proper course when the boat behind (or leeward) is steering to leeward. To find rule 17, go to page 6 in your US Sailing rulebook or go to http://www.sailing.org, click on rules and link to the rules of part two in a PDF format.