Women’s Racing happens on Thursday evenings at CBI, and yes, okay, we did meet last week but stayed indoors due to cold, rain, snow, thunder, and lightning. Carol made a party out it with a bag of chips and a this harrowing youtube video of a sailboat being tossed under the Redondo Beach Pier by the surf. Tonight was the first night we got into boats though. While we had a few women with proper wetsuits, many of us (like me) did not have suitable clothes for 420’s on 50F water.. After an agonizing decision between Mercuries or Ideal 18s, we finally filled five Ideal 18’s and raced five races in somewhat chilly yellow flag conditions.
I sailed with Trina and Dorothy. Both had raced with us a time or two last year but given the conditions I helmed all the races. (I hate hogging the tiller by the way. I would most like to let others build their skippering experience but this wasn’t a good night for it.) I was happy to see that our fleet of five was usually fairly close in all of the races. It was good to see that we had good boat handling competence on all the boats. Special thanks go to Robin for running race committee for us.
Racing rules were followed with somewhat less competence, but I’ll describe one interesting situation were there was contact rounding the jibe mark of the port triangle course. We were overlapped inside. The other boat, sail 13, but let’s call it L3, had been holding us high before the zone just to make things difficult for us so we were approaching on a run. I actually had in mind keeping the rounding “seamanlike” and was trying to round relatively directly. Still, when we jibed, our boom fell against L3’s shroud and L3 later did a penalty turn. Were they clearly wrong? I’m not so sure. I can imagine a number of possible arguments that my rounding was not sufficiently seamanlike or that I could have anticipated the contact and did not give L3 room to keep clear.
Our boat was last to get a ferry from the mooring back to the dock so the three of us missed most of the debrief. We were assured that we made fun of though. Carol was showing a — paperweight — that was an America³ memento with a piece of rope inside. I don’t quite remember the whole story, but the significance for women’s racing is that the America³ foundation was sponsoring an all-women’s team for the 1992 America’s Cup. See for example youtube (since I’m posting youtube links.) I didn’t even know. All I knew about America³ was cuben fiber, but when I mentioned that I just got “Sonia, don’t be an idiot” looks from people. So I didn’t think to say anything at the time, but somewhat related, in professional women’s sailing there was Jo Aleh competing in the WMRT this week.
Also back on the dock I was cornered by a few of my competitors to ask why I was “going wide” at the leeward mark. In more than one race I had given up a place or two at the leeward mark. Did I have some strategy? Carol leaned in with a smirk and a raised eyebrow, “Yeah Sonia, what were you thinking?” For reference, the wind had veered since the course was set and it was a long port tack from the leeward mark to the finish line. I rationalized: Well, in some races you couldn’t quite fetch the line from the mark so there was no need to tack immediately. There might be an advantage to maintaining more speed during a roundup, and then doing a tack as a separate maneuver. I backpedaled more then and said I was deliberately not sailing as hard or aggressively as I could, which was closer to the truth — which was that I was just being lazy and sloppy. I think there’s still a lesson here though. How can just a little bit of relaxed sailing repeatedly cost a position or two? Mostly by not doing the long tack first. Rule of thumb: always do the long tack first. Another way I’ve heard it said is that once you’re on the layline, only bad things can happen. In this case with the mark close to the layline, the right thing to do would generally have been to tack hard right on the mark to start making progress toward the line as soon as possible.
Thank you Carol for promoting this blog to everyone. Someone said pictures, so I grabbed my camera for this cheesy group photo of most (all?) of us that raced tonight.
Um, so, that’s me front row second from left, with the white stripes on the maroon sweatshirt.