and then Mike contributes this write up
Buzzards Bay Regatta August 7th and 8th.
Races: 6 Total, 5 Saturday, 1 Sunday
Wind Saturday:12-17 kts, 230 degrees magnetic
Wind Sunday: Light and Variable
Enjoyable regatta. Very solid RC work – the 505 class got the most races of any fleet at the event (hip hip for Gate Starts). Thanks to the upstate NY contingent (Ethan Bixby and Peter Scannel) and the West River contingent (Macy Nelson and Brendan Connell). Please note – Brendan Connell won the last race going away with it, so basically floated down I-95 back to West River.
Saturday saw a moderate but traditional Buzzards’s Bay seabreeze. The first start was at noon and the thermal was just establishing itself. The wind driven chop built and was fully established by the end of the first race. Buzzards Bay chop is menacingly short and somewhat angry at times The chop direction was asymmetric to the wind direction (common there as the axis of the bay is more east/west, but the wind was a traditional 230 degrees). Starboard tack saw significantly more chop directly on the bow, while port tack had more side chop. This asymmetry impacted both upwind and downwind sailing modes. The wind had approx. 3-5 knot variations in velocity with about 10 degree total shifts (+/- 5 degrees). Puffs did not seem to be traveling down the course very fast, but were more stationary or a “hanging” characteristic. A boat could sail “in” and “out” of the velocity and boats could shear off of you in velocity in close proximity.
Upwind: Given the wind and chop state, boats went dramatically in and out of displacement and planning modes. “Moding” was likely the most important dynamic of the day in terms of speed – knowing when you needed to just displacement mode through chop holding your lane, versus getting the boat rumbling in either a flat spot or a puff. Port tack saw proportionally more planning modes as it had less direct chop. Possibly, but not confirmed there might have been flatter water on the right side of the course. But boats came out of both sides successfully, so the track was more or less open. Our mantra was breeze over shift. We were burned a bunch of times tacking short of a breeze field that did not come down to us.
Zani/ Alarie Set up:
Rake – 25’ 6.5’ to 25’ 5”
Shrounds – leeward shroud just out of the dangle. Firmer in bigger established puffs
Board – at the top of the gybe to ½ inch above the gybe in puffs
Vang – hard as shit, but I am little and old
Jib trim – 1.5 inches of dynamic range, but never strapped or never close to stalling. Overall round foot and slightly twisty leach.
Main – centerline in lulls to 8 inches off centerline in puffs.
Lots of talk between skipper and crew about modes and pressure, which impacted jib trim, steering and mainsheet. The driving and trimming was pretty high maintenance, so Pete (Crew) was giving most of the feedback on what was working. In flat spots and/or puffs you could plane high and actually gain height. I think most of our gains on other boats were in planing mode. When we were in displacement mode, we were “same/same” in terms of speed and height. Our higher modes actually had looser jib trim settings. This was all set up by having either a flat enough spot or a big enough puff to clearly be planning and bow up, at which point the entire groove opened up and you could just put the bow where needed.
Our sense was that we were consistently the fastest boat upwind, but upon reflection maybe we were just planing more often and by a smallish percent.
Starboard gybe had faster “down the line” surfs and you had to be really fast and steady to carry down the line with much less dynamic steering. Port gybe angle was more down the wave face. We were moving faster than the waves, so much more dynamic steering, trim and kinetics to crest and pass waves effectively and quickly. The longer it took to pass a wave the more you were in trouble.
I think the Ingalls might have been going the fastest downwind. Maybe they should write a report on downwind logic and technique. They seemed to be a “net passer” of boats downwind. We were solid downwind, but that is not where we won the regatta,
Sunday – Once race – it started light and got lighter. Keeping the boat rumbling and aiming at pressure seemed to be the secret to success. I am not sure if much long term learnings can be taken from this race, other than try to gate in the zone where you think the breeze is going to be and sail with the breeze you have not the breeze you want. For the record – Pete drives downwind in this condition and flies the kite and just makes me bail and hike to leeward. That is a lesson.
With respect to boat to boat racing and racing tactics, we really do not have a lot to say. If anyone has input here, let it rip.
Mike and Pete (former owners of the Dump Truck – 7318)