Tag: Practice

Combination WR informal instruction

Following the windy Friday racing of the 4th, I was sore and bruised and needed some time to recover.  Also a couple of days after that dunking in the Charles – coincidence or not – I came down with a bit of a cold.  The forecast for WR today was green flag though, I was feeling brave enough to try sailing again.

With Elena running race control for us, the plan was racing in Mercuries.  As the first racers were checking out boats, a non-racer was at the dock house looking for informal instruction.  Come race with us! the racers urged.  When I walked up a moment later, “Sonia, would you take someone for informal instruction?”  Perhaps they know I like to give informal instruction, perhaps they thought I would be good at it, perhaps they were dumping on me.   No matter; of course I was interested.  “And race at the same time?  Is she okay with that?”  She was.

Allison had her green rating, but hadn’t bothered yet with classes.  She had a little bit of experience sailing Hobie Cats.  That experience turned out to apply well to Mercuries.  You would think they’re pretty different boats, but a similarity is that neither boat tolerates sloppy tacks well.  I think the Hobie experience had given Allison an appreciation of acquiring and maintaining headway through a tack.

Also (I’m writing a week and a half late, so I don’t remember well) I think the flag might have gone to yellow.  Wind was brisk for green anyway.  I like to tell new sailors that sailing is best with both theory and practice.  The classroom knowledge is good and valuable but also sailing is a physical sport and there’s a “feel” for it.  The feel comes more naturally for some than others and can always be improved with practice.  With the nice wind we decided to work a little more on feel and a little less on practice.  I coached her just enough to kind-of sort-of get us around the race course and we typically finished last (if at all) but I thought it was excellent practice for just getting the feel of sailing.

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Ideal Shakedown

Stacy and I got to the dock 11ish, about as early as we could manage on a Saturday, to take advantage of wind forecast to be a little better earlier in the day before calming down in the afternoon. Flag was yellow when we arrived with wind W 8 mph with nice long gusts over 20. It was those gusts that were forecast to fade by 1 pm or so.  Air temp was 40, forecast to rise only a bit under mostly cloudy sky.  And yes, I took the camera and put it Stacy’s hands!

Yellow Flag

Stacy pleaded for a boat with a keel after I had subjected her to a centerboard Mercury last week. We took an Ideal 18, her favorite last year. I’m not sure this Ideal had even been sailed this year as a number of lines were unrigged. I organized things to my satisfaction and we were out the cut.

Traffic on the river was pretty light, there was mainsail class with a sole boat, the odd Duck boat, a small fleet of MIT Fireflys out, and then some crew shells that demanded the closest lookout.  The race coach hailed us to point out yellow marks on the Mass Ave bridge that marked the racing lanes.  I’m sorry I didn’t think to take a photo of them because it took us a few minutes to locate them.  They are vertical yellow stripes way up on the pedestrian railing on top of the bridge.  Good information to know, that if you see the shells speeding up river toward you, you can check the lane marks on the bridge and make your best guess about dodging out of their way.

After one lap up to the Mass Ave bridge and back, we went through a tack and found the jib clew luffing freely in the wind.  Oh, no, not again, I thought, remembering last year the time the jib came lose from the traveler.  The traveler looked okay this time though, it looked like a problem with the clew shackle.  I put the boat in safety position and turned over the helm so I could investigate more.  The shackle had come open and was bent but didn’t seem actually broken.  Back to the helm for a tack away from the island, safety position on port now, helm back to Stacy, and forward again to attempt to fix things.  I was able to straighten the bent shackle with my fingers.  By now we had caught the eye of the dock staff and they were out in a skiff to help.  They stabilized us a bit and I managed to corral the jib and reattach it.  All was good.

Stacy was insisting she was good for another lap up the river and back even though she was getting a bit cold.  We went, she got colder.  This time as we got back downriver, some Tiller Club racers were coming out in Sonars to practice for match racing tomorrow.  They looked great, maneuvering close to each other and sailing well.

Two more random pics:

More notes, added the next day:

This was Ideal hull 2, sail 13.  I want to do a better job this year of recording hull and sail numbers.  Enough data would start to be useful.  Other than the jib clew shackle problem, the boat sailed well.  Completing the rigging before going out, the reefing line had a little… hernia?  You know, where the rope core pushes out through the braid?  With a hard pull, I pulled it past the shiv at the end of the boom and it seems like it should be okay there.  The jib on this boat looked new.  It doesn’t have a window in it, which frustrated Stacy a bit.  I would ask her about traffic and she would have trouble checking.

New for me today was new contact lenses.  I said all last year that I was going to get contacts and I never did.  It was great to have them today.  I also had sunglasses with me, but didn’t wear them.  It was cloudy, early in the season, and I was only going to be out for a little while, and anyway, I sailed all last year and other years wearing only clear prescription glasses.  Mistake.  Today my eyes are tired.  Lesson: always wear sunglasses.