Spring has taken its time arriving, and the Chesapeake Bay is cooler than we hoped for, but the first of the Annapolis area 505 events was this past weekend at Severn Sailing Association.
With another event next weekend at WRSC, SSA Spring attracted two Toronto 505s (and their owners, Marek Balinski and Doug Watson, and part of a raccoon family) and a WRSC 505. Both Toronto boats are staying on for WRSC Spring. Neither DHS ICE nor Animal Control were interested in the illegal immigrant raccoons.
The SSA contingent had a fleet captain, Erik Konieczynski, out of the country, and several other boats not yet ready to race. MIA were Gretchen, Chris/Catherine, Michael Parramore, David Neal, Ian/Jimmie, Brendan Connell and Sterg. None-the-less, there were six (of the seven registered) teams lined up for the first gate start, four from SSA. Of note is that all seven were “pick up” or new teams, not regular practiced teams. However, there was a lot of 505 experience on some of those teams: Jahn “JT” Tihansky was driving for Jesse Falsone, 505 Midwinter Champion Russell Miller had a guest driver, Sean Harr, for Saturday, while Andy Forman teamed up Doug Watson. Marek Balinski and Barney Harris teamed up again, new SSA team of Geoff Gales and Jimmy Praley were racing (Jimmy’s first 505 race), Paul Andron had a new-to-the-505, new-to-trapezing and new-to-racing crew, Tim Harwood, and Carlos Linares crewed for Ali Meller racing Mike Coe’s boat.
Saturday was warm and light. Crews were able to get on the wire briefly in puffs, and wire running did not pay (though Russell/Sean tried anyway). Racing started at low (slack) tide. The left side of the beat seemed to pay off early in the day, then the right developed an advantage, before it switched back to left side favored; there may have been more consistent pressure on the starboard tack layline, closer to the western shore. The flood tide in the Severn River channel probably negated this right-side advantage in the last race. There were significant lulls and shifts as well, mostly in races 3 and 4. Gybe setting worked well in some races, probably due to there being more pressure on that side at times, and the gradually increasing tidal flow helping to take one down the run. The small chop was skewed to the wind such that port was a bit harder to sail than starboard, upwind. After minimal changes in the standard SSA Sailing Instructions for the last millennia or so, there were some changes for 2018. PRO Barbara Vosbury explained the courses at the competitor’s meeting and held a short quiz afterwards to check if we “got it”. The first two races were four leg windward-leewards, and the last two were “W3” three windward leg (five legs total) races finishing at the weather mark.
Hey Geoff and Jimmy, how many windward legs in a W3 course? 😊
In race 1 Andy/Doug were the bunny. Carlos/Ali gated first and used the world’s hardest-to-tack-and-gybe double mainsheet system to pull the boom to the weather corner of the transom and tried to sail straight upwind. This made life difficult for the teams on their hip. After squeezing one team off and punching out a bit on the next few, Carlos/Ali tacked to port to consolidate. That allowed a couple of teams to work the left side, and they came out ahead at the weather mark. The RC noted a small right shift and threw a change mark in the water close to the old weather mark, but no course change was signaled for the 505s, almost certainly because the 505s were already on that leg when the mark went into the water. This was enough to confuse one 505 team. Separately, Ali demonstrated that 41 years of 505 experience did not qualify him to drive from the low side of the boat, by sailing Swagman directly into the leeward mark on the spinnaker drop (they did a circle as soon as they were clear of the two 505s closest behind them). Jimmy/Geoff demonstrated that the years and years of 505 racing experience others in the 505 fleet had was rather overrated by winning the race. Russell/Sean in “One of Macy’s Many 505s” were 2nd, Carlos/Ali 3rd in “Swagman”, Jesse/Jahn 4th in “Not a Liberal” Andy/Doug in “Team Kevorkian” 5th. Tim/Paul were tricked by the change mark and ended up scored DNF, while Marek/Barney in “Deer Hunter”, were casually taking their time rigging, apparently following Albacore racing practices, and missed the first race.
Race 2 was in similar conditions. Russell/Sean were leading early but wanted to see if wire running could work in five knots (Russell claims it was eight knots at the time, but either way the answer was NO!), so gave the lead to Jesse/Jahn. Carlos/Ali were in the hunt early but wrapped the spinnaker halyard around the upper spreader and could not hoist on the second run until part way down the leg. At the close finish it was Jesse/Jahn, Russell/Sean, Marek/Barney, Carlos/Ali, Geoff/Jimmy, Andy/Doug and Tim/Paul.
Race 3 was a little weirder with some bigger holes and shifts. While the other two classes, DaySailers and Snipes, wanted three races and leeward finishes, the 505s wanted more, and perhaps longer, races.
We are so demanding!
We also convinced the RC to let the 505s do gate starts by asking them to do signals and sounds as normal and look away at ten seconds to go as the bunny rounded the pin on port (do not call them OCS; don’t do anything unless the bunny sails over and asks you to recall it). Exercising the powers delegated to him by Fleet Captain Erik, Ali was picking the rabbit, usually choosing a team that finished 2nd or 3rd and had not been the rabbit yet.
So Race 3 (and Race 4) had a windward finish. Carlos/Ali used some right-side pressure upwind and gybe set downwind to work there way into the lead during R3. Jesse/Jahn also gybe set and went even further into the corner downwind to pull into second and threaten Carlos/Ali, but the latter protected the right on the penultimate beat and managed to roll over Jesse/Jahn on the starboard tack layline into the weather mark and opened a bit of a gap for the last run and held it to the finish for the win. Jesse/Jahn were 2nd, Russell/Sean 3rd, Marek/Barney 4th, Andy/Doug 5th, Geoff/Jimmy 6th (perhaps learning that 505 racing is not as easy as it first looks), and Tim/Paul 7th.
For anyone keeping score and doing addition in their heads (we were not, but figured it out afterwards to write this article), Jesse/Jahn and Russell/Sean were now tied at seven points, with Carlos/Ali one point back in 3rd.
Race 4 – determined to work the right Ali decided this was a great time to be the bunny, and chose Carlos/himself to be the rabbit. About halfway to the right side it was apparent that this was not working well, with the entire fleet on their hip and ahead, but Ali was being stubborn and hoping to get to some right-side pressure first, so held on. This brilliant tactical ploy had them second last at the first weather mark, though the reduced fleet (Tim/Paul had had to sail in early) was close together. There was some minor gunnel banging at the weather mark which left Jesse/Jahn doing circles after the mark and dropping back in the fleet. On the second beat Carlos/Ali decided that if the right was wrong, the left might be right 😊 and sailed for the left corner with Geoff/Jimmy. After surviving some big holes and then finding relief in a big lefty, it was Russell/Sean, Carlos/Ali and Geoff/Jimmy quite close at the second weather mark. That order held to the leeward mark, though Russell/Sean opened up a bit and Carlos/Ali barely held off Geoff/Jimmy by staying inside at the leeward mark and dousing late. Russell/Sean had a clean rounding and held on port. Carlos/Ali had a decent rounding while Geoff/Jimmy’s late douse left them a little low. The latter started footing for clear air and quickly worked through Carlos/Ali’s wind shadow.
Determined to hit a corner and now convinced that the left corner and not the right was magical, Carlos/Ali tacked and sailed left with Marek/Barney in the main window. Much like R3, there were big holes and some shifts on this leg. A couple of tacks later, Carlos/Ali and Marek/Barney emerged out of the left corner, pretty much on the port tack layline for the windward finish. There were keelboats, DaySailors and Snipes spread all over the beat and heading back towards Annapolis, and it was hard to pick out who was where. With a decent cushion on Marek/Barney, Carlos/Ali headed for the finish, wondering where Russell/Sean, Geoff/Jimmy, and Jesse/Jahn were. Were they far ahead? Would they emerge out of the right corner close to the finish? Were they far behind? They were comforted by seeing an RC member raising the air horn as they approached the finish line. The sound signal confirmed the race win. Marek/Barney were 2nd, Russell/Sean 3rd, Geoff/Jimmy 4th, Andy/Doug 5th and (ouch!) Jesse/Jahn 6th.
The finish line was the part of the race course closest to the Western Shore and it was a reach in to the harbor and SSA, so kites went up again. Sailing high the 505s found more pressure under the Western Shore and sailed even higher to get the crews on the wire and the 505s planing. This made sailing through the DaySailer fleet much more fun 😊, and it just got better as the 505s approached the Annapolis “harbor hurricane” that has the best pressure on the Bay around the shoal pole. Maybe we should have raced short courses in the mouth of the Severn?
After four races, Carlos/Ali were one point ahead of Russell/Sean and four points ahead of Jesse/Jahn. Carlos/Ali found this to be very amusing and celebrated with multiple Dark & Stormys.
Ali then put everyone to sleep trying to run a debrief.
With a cold front forecast for Saturday evening, Sunday was expected to be colder and windier. Several teams were changing players, with Sean being replaced by Macy Nelson and Jahn being replaced by Tyler Mowry. When everyone turned up at SSA Sunday morning, it was both windier and colder than the forecast and expectations. The other classes scheduled to race Sunday (Thistles and Snipes) opted out early, but the 505 fleet decided to wait a little to see if it warmed up a little. Ali noted that the result was going to be a formality, as Midwinter Champions Russell/Macy would undoubtedly “stamp their authority” on the fleet in the breeze and would quickly overcome their one-point deficit. It was very windy and puffy (gusts over 30 knots on the East Coast wind scale, water temperature in the low 50s and air temperature under 50) and the air temperature declined to rise. After two postponements, the 505s pulled the plug at noon.
Are we a bunch of old wusses?
So the results after the four races on Saturday stood, and Carlos/Ali won the event by one point over Russell/Sean/Macy, with Jesse/Jahn/Tyler 3rd.