Saturday, March 20, 2010

Finding a different path

I am a creature of habit when I'm out racing. I tend to run the path that makes the most sense, because it makes the most sense. More often then not this for me equals a win or puts me in the best place to win, and regardless of where other racers are I always stick to my path.

Now I have a problem, while I was doing the same thing every race everyone else was getting better( I guess they do learn ). Getting my usual start is now virtually impossible as nearly everyone has adopted a similar starting method, landing me back a few places in the fleet under wind shadows and having to rethink how things are to be done.

In need of new tactics I've taken to sailing virtual skipper 5 in my free not racing in SL time, also I've become a huge fan of the Louis Vuitton Trophy races. Watching professionals in IACC boats dueling has taught me many valuable lessons, a major one being taking a different path can net great gains.

One of the biggest is don't be afraid to take a line that will leave you under the mark your heading for. Depending on wind angle and tack this can leave for windward of your rivals in clean air with more speed, as well as when you finally need to tack to make the mark it can put you in a position of rights to push others off their racing line and give you an advantage you wouldn't normally have. I used this tactic in a graded ACA race last night to gain a position and valuable points that my previous in the box thinking wouldn't have gotten me.

So when you find yourself in a bad spot find a new way and you may be surprised what results you end up with.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Stress Comes Off, 2010 ACA SL Trophy

Tonight, Saturday January 30th was the first day of a two day racing series to see who would walk away with the trophy. Lets get it out early, I lost. I went into the day confident of victory and walked away with nothing, and I'm glad I did. I started preparing myself for this race in April of last year, 8 months ago I bought an ACA and started racing waiting for the day when this race would come along. Since this event is tied in with the real life America's Cup we were left on pins and needles waiting, when we got our date we all ran with it and got ready. When January came the courses were announced and everyone who wanted to take parts focus was moved into training for the race series.

This meant for me abandoning the yacht club and race line I consider home for a nearly foreign line that I had little or no experience on. I spent a month in various groups and solo preparing for this race. The closer the day got the more my nerves came into play. I was given a little relief when I saw my opposition a few days before the race, I was ready and I refrained from extra practice as not to let people see how I did things so it couldn't be used against me( yeah I know paranoid).

Race day came and the heats were packed but as the day progressed things eroded away till the last few rounds boiled down into match races. One on one with a racer I have never seen before now I'm back on edge. After losing a best of 3 match race after 3 races I took a deep breath. Hey I'm done, I can go back to having fun. Not only that, the races that I lost were the closest that I have ever taken part in, I had the greatest time. To me those races that I finished within a second of the winner were better then any trophy someone can offer, I finished both races out of my chair willing on my little digital boat for an extra ounce of speed, laughing at the outcome.

Now I'm out, I have a person I'm rooting for to win the cup( the man who beat me of course) and I get to watch with no stress. A few hours after the line and (small) crowd left I went back to the line I had recently lost on. I stood and looked at the area for a few minutes, it didn't feel right I felt out of place. That's when I looked to the west, home. I returned to a race line and yacht club that has been my playground for most of my SL sailing time, a place where if you want to win on a Friday night in an ACA you have to beat me to do it. Yes this feels right now, I'm back where I belong, a place I call home, no stress, no trophies, just great racing.

Yes I'm home come and get me.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

2 races and an education

Saturday night Axle Wharton hosted his first race from SYC and I think its a great platform for a future series. The Saturday 6pm "Float-a-Keg" race(not sure about the name) is a race pitting the old stellar tako versus the newly updated CAFfeinated ACA33(not really its name but my honors to Caf on the great work). Although no takos actually showed up for the races it was great fun and has much potential to become a great race.

Unlike most other mixed race series in SL these races use no handicap system, instead it uses a class structure, and works like this.

Each boat is its own class, and is only racing boats in its class.

The boat that finishes first in class wins its class, if a boat finishes first of all classes it wins the race over all and still wins its class.

Nothing fancy as its a system endurance races all over the world have used for years.

The races went off greatly with only a few minor glitches made by an extremely nervous first time Race Director. These issues were nothing that a little practice won't fix to make everything perfect.

I have an idea for this race to actually add a third boat class using the Wild Wind RCJ44. I say this because with recent speed improvements on the ACA's part all 3 boats have comparable performance and it would make for great racing.

Now there is one hiccup to all of this, Axle doesn't want to run the races again. Which is a shame, I love the format and think it could be another fabulous addition to the race week, and I love the slot since its one of the few I can attend on SL on a regular basis. So Axle please continue on with this race, if you don't I'll start a petition to make you continue it, if that fails I'll have to just steal the idea and use it myself with any RD willing to do the job. But Axle you can do it, don't get discouraged. The fact that you had 3 races go off smoothly in an hour proves you can do it.

Race 2 and my education

Race 2 is an old horse around the USS area. Its the Sunday 10am races from Starboards Yacht Club. On this day the race was the race around the void course with ACA's. Now anytime I get a notice in my email about an extra ACA race I can attend I will go, no questions, and this being a rare race for me to attend I get to face off against people I normally wouldn't face.

This is where my education comes in, as learn a few things;

Seraina and Heidi are bad fast, I need to sail from SYC more as I can't get a reliable start, and I can not race in channels.

The First round of racing taught me all of these things. I flopped on the start so bad that the line actually called me over early but then decided that I was ok and let me start with a 0.00 time.
After my lucky start I got my next lesson, Seraina, who used her windward rights to hold me down out of a position to make a pass, for 2 whole legs. Which is when we come to I can not race in between islands. In three rounds of racing I held my own till we got to the narrow water ways, then I dropped off like a rock. However as much as I hate seeing boats pull away from me while I sit powerless I'm not all that surprised. I race ocean courses plain and simple, I like open water the options it brings and the tactical advantages that come with them. In narrow water ways there are no options which leaves me hanging everytime. So now I'll wander back to NYC with my tail between my legs and go take out my frustration on anyone who joins me in the open water.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Long Week

Its been a long week and half since the last post and we have a few things to cover.

First let me welcome Bolt Bashly to the team and offer Congratulations on his first round win in his first race.

For anyone that has spent time in SL for more then a day knows that the system is, lets say flawed.
The "flaws" have gotten so bad that sailing regattas are no longer skill based but an exercise in survival. With a ladder racing series started for the ACAs Quirky and I ventured out on to Blake Sea for a best of 5 race to see who gets top rung on the ladder. After 2 nights of racing and 12 attempts we ended up with 3 results just to call it a series, and even the last result was come to with one boat being without a helmsmen over the line.

But never mind that, there is Friday racing to be done.

Friday July 24th racing hosted by Quirky Torok.

As we took to the line about 30 minutes late the fleet of racers looked a bit skimpy with 3 sailors ready but as the clock started the fleet ballooned to 4( I know I was shocked too) for a grand tour race of the main Blake Sea. It as the rest of the week suggests, a survival race with me as the only survivor.

So went the rest of the races until the final race when Astro and Bolt lined up for a one on one race. Withing 2 minutes Astro returned to the line having lost his boat in some form of odd SL way leaving Bolt to just finish to win. Bolt returned in about another minute declarin gthe same misshap. Oh what a night.

Till next weekends folleys have fun and may luck be with you as you sail over the rough waters of SL.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Thursday SYC race and Friday NYC race

Thursday ACA race hosted by Gemma

As per usual Gemma dominated her thursday race but Neron managed to sneak in a round win before she knocked the dust off, bringing his total to 33 round wins. I managed to sneak into the last round of the night and wonder how Gemma is so fast as I trailed to a second place.

Friday ACA race hosted by Quirky

Now this was a good night, minimal lag and a fist full of new course maps, YAY. Neron and I split the wins down the middle with Neron taking the overall victory due to my crash out of the second round. Nerons total now stands at 35 rounds and 9 overalls, I cracked 40 rounds but can't seem to shake Neron as we tie with 9 overalls.

Tomorrow Gemma will host her sunday big boat race, shall we all quiver in fear or rejoice because the fleet was well mannered. We shall see.

Also reminder tuesday is MSR team race at SYC @ 6pm please be there as I have confirmed Jane Fossett will be there and perhaps she will bring her pen.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Neron hits 30, Q is in double digits, 4th of July race, and Gemma hosts a smash up

Thursday SYC ACA race hosted By Gemma.
Neron managed to sneak a first round win against Gemma in a strong overall race performance. The round win pushed Neron's total to 30, so many congradulations to him.

Friday NYC ACA race hosted by Quirky.
In what was actually a quiet night at the beginning of a long loud weekend, Quirky pulled 2 round wins out of his hat in strong form, before pulling out of the races to let the other captains fight for the last two rounds. His 2 wins finally push him into double digits on his win total although he will tell you he gets more enjoyment from actually directing the races then racing them.

Saturday 4th of July ACA Regatta hosted by Quirky.
Now this was labelled as an ACA race, but for some reason the foolish race director let some WildWinds race. However when the results were released the WW's were all DQ so not sure why they raced anyway. All in all a rather quiet race on the scope of the weekend, a fun holiday race with a mix of skippers that don't normally race each other. I walked away with 3 wins the final win a downwind drag race between Heidi and I. I only walked away with the win due to a few desperate moves to keep Heidi at a tactical disadvantage, which still had a finish a second apart for one of the most exciting races I have ever raced.

Sunday NYC BigBoat race hosted by Gemma.
There are many words that can be used to describe this race, most being profane, the best being disaster. A sizable fleet with a good mix of boats and sailor skill took to the line in what promised to be an eventful evening. In the first round all seemed well other then a few minor skuffs I traded with CS for no real cost of speed or position for either boat. Then came round 2...

Round 2 was the worst foul up of a sailing race I have ever been involved in. In a tight start the fleet clumsily got past the line and out on the course when a WW I'm not even sure was in the race came full speed head on to the fleet making progress into the wind. This WW slammed into several boats before collecting me dead in the side at the mast, it then proceded to push me back towards and over the startline before the captain finally decided to moor, releasing me from their boat and on to the course. Quickly managing to regain speed I quickly caught the rest of the fleet that had been run down making it appear as though I could have been worse off. But I was wrong, apon reaching the first bouy I was swiped by yet another WW, though not as dramatic as the first hit I took it was still frustrating, as that boat went on to foul many others. After that nightmare of a race I cleared the fleet on the line the next round and cruised in an easy peaceful win.

Oh what a weekend.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Friday 26th ACA Races

It was my greatest pleasure this friday to get to race Gemma Vuckovic in the first 2 rounds. In the 1st round Gemma and I crossed paths slamming into each other at the line, graciously Gemma aloud me to keep the win in exchange for pieces of her bow that were lodged in my boat. I the 2nd round Gemma schooled me in tactics and showed me how much I still must learn.

In round 3 it momentarily looked as though there would be noone to race but LDeWell and Jeremia showed up ready to race, and after 2 clean rounds of racing Q decided to unleash whats now know as Muta hell. Q started the clock then informed us that we had to sail to a sim on the far side of Nautilus with a color bouy we had to round and said be gone. After a strong start I was forced back to rl, so I lined up the boat to the bouy and bailed into the oceans( I nearly hit Q, must aim better next time). Jeremia who was apparently just going to follow me rounded Nautilus without clearing the bouy and was disqualified, LDeWell and now Jaspar managed to round the bouy and head back for NYC line. LDeWell got lost and depending on which SLCG memeber is tasked with finding him he may never be recovered.

So all that remained was Jaspar, on course and headed back to the the line as the only one capable of finishing the race. As he got closer SL decided to make the race even harder and broke up the sims leaving him stuck where he sat. Once the sims came back online Jaspar crashed, but his boat was perfectly lined up and crossed the line to score him the victory in a very strange end to some great ACA racing.