Serious Sailing 09/12/12
LMSA is defined by these kinds of evenings. The original charter of the club is centered around open class racing. All of the BS that goes along with handicapping has been tolerated and be-otched about for 27 years and I know because I have been there the whole time and done most of the bitching, at least a lot of it. What has come to pass amazes me. Tonight 10 boats came to the Wednesday evening Rum Race. If you have kept up with my recapitulations of some of the sailing that’s taken place on Lake Monroe lately then you will be familiar with the boats about to have aspersions cast upon them.
Tonight was very special because there was wind, not breeze, not moving air, wind. I estimate about seventeen knots sustained with occasional gusts to twenty five. In addition there was real chop, two to three feet from several directions. In an effort to not exaggerate, I say that the wind was predominantly East North East and the waves were from North North East. The course we are currently running is 1.5 miles at 300 degrees and a return at 120 degrees. Tonight was broad reach and a close reach. Proper sail selection and proper directional choices made a real difference in the outcome. The outliers had issues that I easily identified. My suppositions (opinions based on incomplete evidence) may be totally in error but I identified them anyway. The 29erXX was late to the start so they were out, but they found a place on the lake for them to work their program in the brisk wind without capsizing and that will make them more competitive next time. The Precision 18 had to deal with waves well outside its comfort zone and while I do not think the proper solution was reached, it was a powerful introduction to a new set of conditions and that creates a learning experience of immeasurable value. The Hunter 23.5 experienced strong puffy wind last week and was much better prepared this week. A reefed main and working jib was surprisingly competitive on the broad reach. However, expectations of a fast close reach on the reverse course to the finish were met with momentum crushing waves and insufficient power to overcome them. The Catalina 27 had all the power it could use to sail to its punishing handicap but made a mistake calculating the wind angle to the finish and went too far North before tacking and the price was high. The Catalina 25 was also powered up with the recently acquired 150% genoa. I think the overdo bottom job, and some inexperience with the full sail plan were the only details keeping Mon Cheri out of the top three. The San Juan 21 played it safe with a conservative sail selection, and compounded the problem by going too far North before tacking. The top four boats had smaller problems in my opinion. The S2 6.7 had plenty of crew but elected not to push it to the limit and that handicap requires the limit and often a little more, in short, no spinnaker, no trophy. The Viper was so far ahead of us that my analysis is purely hypothetical. My guess is a few seconds of marginal control cost them the 30 something seconds needed to have snagged second away from the Precision 23. The Precision was flying its 155 and full main, tacked at the earliest opportunity, and made every effort to optimize its performance as usual, . The catamaran has shown us before how effective it can be in a blow. This evening the Fat Cat showed that conditions can create situations or marginal safety even if only for a split second. The margin of victory of Fat Cat over Show Me is only a further testimony of why multihulls and monohulls will always be very difficult to handicap correctly on any level other than the most local, if not individually specific handicaps, especially in significantly different wind conditions.
The competition is excellent in our club, and the fact that virtually any boat can join in and grow to be a serious competitor is something to be proud of. Sure we are just playing, especially on Wednesday nights, but we are playing hard and that makes it worthwhile.
photos provided by Matt Homan