Monday, April 10, 2006

weekend update

Friday morning, Carol Anne drove down to Elephant Butte and arrived at the "Fleet 141 compound" before noon. Getting women out took a while because only one of the J-24's was in the water and attempts at launching another stalled when the deep-keel boat and trailer ran into a sandbar a few feet below the water's surface.

So, Carol Anne and one of her crew members, Sue, and three other women - six in all - finally piled into the one available boat to do some training. They considered putting some of the women on Carol Anne's boat, but the lower backstay hadn't yet been replaced so the boat wasn't fully usable yet.

In the meantime, I picked Gerald up after school and we drove to the Butte, checked into our motel (Charles), and went to a marina where one of our boats is slipped. We parked near the boat ramp, launched a couple of kayaks, and paddled over to the marina, where we tied the kayaks by Syzygy and looked for the marina manager, only to find out that he had recently resigned. But, I got to talk to him and learned that he seemed okay.

We then went to Rock Canyon in time to help work on Black Magic and meet the women at the end of their sail. While Gerald was running errands, Carol Anne took me and Larry out on her boat. With the lower backstay newly replaced, we were able to run both mainsail and jib on our sunset cruise and had a great time sailing along with Braxton on Larry's Etchells, Constellation. We then joined the folks having dinner at the Strasia's, Carol Anne completed registration procedures for her crew for the Adams Cup, and we then dropped Gerald off at the Damsite to sleep onboard Syzygy, joined Braxton and Larry for a while at the bar and learned the secrets of success for female athletes, and finally collapsed late into our motel beds.

Saturday morning we grabbed a bite and met the rest of Carol Anne's new crew at the pre-race skippers' meeting on the Damsite restaurant terrace. The crew then headed for the Rock Canyon marina where rigging the boat took a long time; it was the day for coaches to back off and let the crews do things on their own and Carol Anne was the only member of the crew who had ever sailed on a J-24. Helming the four races plus instructing a green crew (none of the crew had ever handled a spinnaker pole or had much race experience) was a big workout for Carol Anne, and the spinnaker gave the crew so much trouble that they had only very limited success in deploying it. Much more work is needed before the crew will be really ready for competitive racing, but at least they're now working hard and learning.

I had volunteered to help Rich crew a boat, but it turned out that the boat's owner had no need for my services, so I wound up working on Carol Anne's boat and slip in the warm sunshine. By the end of the day, I greeted a weary crew. Our family then wound up among a crowd of thirty hungry and thirsty sailors at the Damsite restaurant. Service was quite a bit quicker than at the disastrous dinner of two weeks before, but still not terribly fast; the kitchen gets overwhelmed by crowds, so we had to wait an hour and twenty-five minutes for our dinner and one of our side dishes was undercooked.

Sunday morning Carol Anne was moving very slowly; pollen allergies and a dose of allergy medicine combined with a very early dockside rendezvous time to shorten her sleep severely. Carol Anne was the first woman sailor at the marina, excepting one sailor who with her husband had slept aboard their MacGregor, and even beat Larry to the marina. Her crew were only about five minutes behind her, and had a bit of breakfast and started rigging their boat before their coached arrived. Casting off eventually, they practiced and then sailed two races before returning with a few other boats; perhaps half the fleet remained for a third race.

The spinnaker was still giving the green crew lots of trouble, but Carol Anne had lots of fun with the second race start. The wind had shifted earlier, leaving the port side of the starting line well favored and, unfortunately, the committee boat on the port end of the line (the wrong end, but only one person was on the committee boat). All the rest of the fleet was bunched together and heading for the favored port end when Carol Anne came up from starboard and forced the other boats to duck. Unfortunately, the crew didn't quite have timing down and Carol Anne didn't have the information about how close they were to the line, so she had slowed the boat and let a couple of other boats get away and crossed 20 seconds after the gun. As it turned out, she could have really wreaked havoc on the port tackers and kept any of them from crossing her if only she had known had far she was from the line. She did, at least, force the fleet champion to do a crash tack to avoid her and make some choice comments that can't be printed in a family-friendly weblog. Perhaps his crew had been caught napping and not telling him the info he needed for the start.

Back at the marina, I worked on the boat a bit, helped a sailor shuttle his truck and trailer to another marina, rescued Gerald (the skipper for whom he was crewing had not made arrangements to pick him up and hadn't told Gerald when or where to be in the morning, so Gerald missed out on crewing), and enjoyed breakfast with one of our sailing friends. Arriving at the marina, I was introduced to a local newspaper reporter, who wanted pictures of the fleet. I arranged to meet her after checking out of our motel; while I was gone Gerald talked to her and prepared Black Magic for its journalism mission. Arriving near the end of the first race, we sailed among the fleet, giving our passenger lots of good pictures. This was the first time I'd ever helmed Carol Anne's boat and it really seemed fit in among the racing boats much better than our cruising boat ever did or would. Returning to the marina, we arrived with an enthusiastic passenger who'd had a great time on the water and presumably lots of good pictures.

After Carol Anne's crew returned (sailing two races) and de-rigged and packed their boat, it was time for dinner and an end to the weekend.

The story continues.


At 9:05 PM, April 10, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps the fleet champ used choice words after being blocked and fouled by a J/24 (feminine) with no rights, then by another J/24 (feminine) on the wrong tack (65% off the mark, and sailing away from the new wind) and not even clearing the start line, and finally by a J/24 (feminine)on the wrong tack and 20 seconds behind the line after the start. Perhaps red flags were replaced with choice words. Most definitely, this occurred while the fleet J/24 champ (masculine) lead his crew in front of the other J/24's (feminine) to yet, another class victory. Congrats to R.S. and S.M. for their adjusted-time first place. Wait.... Perhaps the fleet champ and crew were drunk again? hmmmmm. :) Go C.A.!

At 6:29 AM, April 11, 2006, Anonymous Adrift At Sea said...

I hope Carol Anne is reading Tillerman's recent posts on racing. BTW, how's Black Magic now that the her rig is healthy?


At 8:05 AM, April 11, 2006, Blogger Pat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8:14 AM, April 11, 2006, Blogger Pat said...

Dan -
"Black Magic" got to be "press boat" and took a reporter out to cover part of Sunday's racing; she really enjoyed the sail and should have some good pictures. Unfortunately, right after Sunday's racing the other Etchells folks took off quickly so there wasn't an opportunity for us to sail with them by the time we were done putting boats away and getting de-briefed after the race.

Also, I lucked out and had Gerald for crew to take the reporter out to the races due to Gerald's misfortune. He had crewed for a skipper on Saturday and planned to crew again for the same skipper, but they never made arrangements or set a rendezvous for Sunday. The skipper didn't give Gerald a ride or tell him to get a ride and meet him at any particular time and place, and so wound up being short of crew.

At 8:52 AM, April 11, 2006, Blogger Pat said...

Pat said...

The first post was probably a bit confusing to anyone who was not at the race and may not sit well with some folks, so here's some background and attempt at de-confusion. Perhaps someone who was closer to the scene, such as a member of Constellation's crew, can fill this in some more.

Except for Carol Anne and her crew on Kachina, most of the fleet was bunched pretty close together before the start of Sunday's second race. The line was set so that the committee boat was on the port and port tack was heavily favored. (Only one person was on the committee boat.) So, most of the fleet was approaching on port. However, Carol Anne and her (green/novice) crew were away from the fleet when the warning gun sounded and the only way for them to get to the line was on starboard tack (the wrong tack in the sense of not being favored but sometimes the wrong tack is preferable to getting tangled up in a crowd).

The "fleet champ" should have protested the "feminine J24s" that blocked and fouled him without rights. Otherwise, how would they learn that they were breaking the rules? The protest flag is also an educational tool. By failing to protest, the "fleet champ" is training the give-way boat skippers to commit future fouls.

As for sobriety, the fleet champion was probably just fine; he was one of the first people to arrive at the marina, just behind Carol Anne, who arrived at 8:00 a.m., two hours before the start. He was sober, but not particularly happy because he wanted to head out on the water right away but was waiting around for crew.

The third of these "feminine" boats was Kachina with Carol Anne. She was on a long-established starboard tack and was the stand-on (right of way) boat. Whether it was smart or favored to be on starboard didn't matter; she had rights and people had plenty of time to see her coming in time to honor those rights. The other, port-tack crews should have been on the lookout for a starboard boat no matter how favored port tack was or how inept they may have thought someone would be to be on starboard. If the other skippers and crews didn't bother to look out for her, they weren't doing their duty.

Although CA blocked ("stuffed") the "fleet champ" it was mostly happenstance on her part, and perhaps made worse by the fleet champ being fouled by at least one other boat. As it was, the fleet champ had to make a crash tack to avoid being t-boned. If the skipper committing the foul didn't know that she was fouling him, then she may continue to commit fouls and potentially put herself and others in danger or create a dangerous collision in the future. Failure to communicate that the foul happened - via protest or otherwise - could endanger racers in the future.

Also (hypothetically speaking!), if the boat that fouled the fleet champion had a coach on board, and the coach did not tell the skipper to avoid the foul, and did not tell the skipper to take a penalty afterward, then that coach may be at least partially at fault for allowing his boat to endanger others, and perhaps also for not teaching good sportsmanship and fair sailing. Mind you, this is an opinion and may be based on incomplete info.

The poster also mentioned that the third boat - Carol Anne on starboard - was 20 seconds late to the line. Yep, exactly so as mentioned in my original blog entry. Her crew had never been on a J-24 before the race weekend (she had lost her previous crew and her new crew were rather raw novices) and didn't know how to call the distance to the line. Her tactician didn't even have a wristwatch or timer. And, her coach was honoring the agreement for coaches to be "hands off" during the weekend and not give any tactical advice or help to their crews. So, Carol Anne was luffing some and not sailing at full speed because she didn't know how close she was to the line. Had she known her position relative to the line, she would have been at the line shortly after the gun and she would have been able to have block two of the J-24's (Coyote with S.S. and the boat that R.S. was coaching) in addition to the Etchells. Then, she would have been enough ahead to have tacked to port ahead of the rest of the fleet. But, that's not what happened.

Oh well. The inexperience of her crew (one member had some physical limitations and hadn't raced in 15 years and then only on crusing boats without a spinnaker pole; one had raced but never been allowed to handle a spinnaker pole but was eager to learn; and one had only been on a sailboat once before in her life but at least was also a quick learner) was frustrating at times, but Carol Anne did enjoy getting to do a lot of teaching while on the water and at the marina.


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