2014 Single-Handed Nationals

by Pam and Doug

Doug came home with pictures, videos and lots of stories. The trip was apparently alot of fun with fantastic hosting, food, fun, games and close racing. Unfortunately, Doug's racing video was problematic so I'm not sure we'll get to see any footage but his iPhone video of the fun and games was certainly entertaining. It was great to see some familiar faces in the pictures and video. We really do have a great group of people sailing the Butterfly. 

Doug's Race Report
The conditions the previous weekend were apparently quite windy but ours were 2-8, so it was a light-air event. The courses were windward leeward twice around. Six-time champion Jim Young easily won the practice race.

Race 1: The breeze was from the south which set the course across a narrower part of the lake, so we started right beside one shore and the mark was against the other. With the hills surrounding the lake and the tall pine trees on top, it made the light breeze quite shifty.

The starting lines tended to be pin favored and I started there and went left with no real game plan. Jim, the fastest person in the fleet, started at the committee boat and went right. We met at the first mark with me slightly ahead. At the offset mark, I pulled my centerboard up too much and went sideways instead of turning downwind. This and less speed permitted Jim to pass me on the run and I caught him again on the second beat by playing the pressure. Rounding the top mark again, I focused on not pulling my CB up too much as I bore off ... only to be told by Rob (who was still sailing upwind) that I had not rounded the offset mark. This allowed Jim to pass me again and win the race. It was a stupid mistake and a reminder that this was serious sailing for a national championship.

Race 2: Started at the committee boat and played the middle right with Jim and Paul. The left paid and we were pretty deep with less wind. I was caught off guard by Paul on starboard, tacked too late, and fouled him. While trying to sort things out, I lost my balance, tipped in 2 knots of wind (!%?), got myself up, and saw that I was in last place. Not my best first leg!

So I played the pressure in the middle and actually rounded still ahead of Jim in 9th place. The leaders stretched out on the run and went left on the next beat, so I went right looking for some separation and pressure. Jim followed and we got it - a 30-degree right shift with pressure. The forecast called for the wind to go right but no one could have expected it to happen all at once. I rounded in first, won the race, and told the committee that I was embarrassed to win in such a sloppy fashion.

Race 3: The breeze went left again and Jim jumped out in his usual speedy fashion, and the fleet followed. On the second beat, Jim covered me 100 feet to windward as we went right. The breeze slowly went right again, we tacked, and now Jim was ahead on starboard rather to windward. Hoping that the breeze would continue to clock right, I went high, was able to blanket Jim as we approached the windward mark on a run, and got room. This was important because the final downwind leg was now a reach that made it harder for Jim to pass. I won with Jim second, so room at the last mark made a 2-point gain. This turned out to be the winning margin for the championship.

Race 4: The wind died, we drifted around the course, and I somehow won by about 5 minutes ahead of Stu who was just 100 feet behind. It was that painful.

At the end of the day, Jim had 1, 2, 2, 3 to my 2, 1, 1, 1. Three points separation against someone with better speed was definitely tight!!

Race 5: Jim jumped out with a huge lead to win, and would gain at least one point on me. On the final run to the finish I was in third and really wanted to minimize the damage by catching Dennis who was sailing well. We were both on port so I gybed and was able to have him change course enough so that when we bore off I was about a foot in front at the finish line. One point now separated Jim and me.

Race 6: I started at the pin and Jim started at the committee boat. When I tacked and we crossed, Jim was ahead and he tacked to cover me. I had not planned to match race but it was now game on. This port tack was the only part of the regatta when I had better upwind speed than Jim and I was able to foot, tack, and get him on starboard. I then put on a tight cover and we dropped back into the teens. Then I made a tactical mistake.

Jim and I were on starboard and Cherrie approached on port and asked if she could cross. Trying to be gracious, I said yes but had to bear off below her. This created a rabbit-like start between Jim and me... and Jim jumped out ahead again (I should have asked her to go behind us!) Was able get ahead of Jim on a shift to round ahead at the final windward mark.

With one point separating us and me not having a bad throw out race, we could continue to match race so there was no way I was going to let Jim pass on the final run. We both went high, I luffed him, there was contact, and Jim - always the gentleman - immediately did his circles. On the finish line, Joe beat me by a toenail to win the race.

But ... Jim was definitely faster on the runs. Had he passed me and won the race - a real possibility - we would have had identical scores and he would have won the tiebreak - it was that close! It's a rare treat to be able to sail with someone of Jim's caliber.

Doug was corresponding yesterday with Rob, who came 3rd and they had an interesting exchange where Rob revealed some of his observations of Jim and Doug with regard to heeling and mast rake:

Rob: In light air, I have a hard time keeping the boat flat and still keeping boat speed, so I tend to heel the boat quite a bit both upwind and downwind. This requires good balance, especially downwind. I’ve often thought it might be ill advised, but it always seems fast to me when I do it. During Race 5, I was able to keep right up with you on the upwind even in your bad air and it appeared to me that you heel the boat more than Jim, so that made me feel better that you were heeling your boat more similar to what I’ve been doing. Jim sails the boat very flat at all times. It also appears to me that he has more rake in his setup than any of the other boats. In the pre-start, I purposely sailed behind Jim and had my brother try to see which boat had more rake. His was slightly more raked. Not sure if that would help him keep the boat fast while flat????

Doug:  I'm not sure if there is a relationship between mast rake and sailing the boat flat.

Mast rake: I wanted to add more but did not mess with is because my speed was OK most of the time. But the end of the boom was much higher than usual. Given the chance again, I would try adding more rake.

Heeling: Jim is very fast with his boat flat which does not make sense. I prefer a little heel just to reduce the wetted area a little, but this only works if my weight is far enough forward to keep the transom out of the water. Lasers are fastest when sailed flat but a BF should be fastest when heeled a little, but Jim is much more of an expert on this than I am.

Jim wasn't a part of this conversation but for those that don't know it, he has already taken the time to write up his thoughts on such things and posted them on his website for everyone to see: 

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  • Brig North  
    7/11/2014 1:26 PM

    Having sailed model boats now for a number of years now, rake is used to control helm. The same is true for people boats. Rake forward to reduce weather helm, and rake aft to induce helm. So if the person is raking back, then you have to keep the boat flat because a heeling boat with a mast raked aft will cause a ton of weather helm.

    The reason the gentleman rakes aft is because he sails flat, or he sails flat because he rakes aft. Any style of sailing that deviates from that amount of rake and heel will be slower. Very interesting....

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