Tuesday, March 1, 2011
John Morran, Mark Salih and I dusted off Mark's J-22 that we had last sailed at the North American's in Dallas about a year and a half ago and drove it down to Tampa for the event. The practice day was very light air and unfortunately did little to help us shake off the cobwebs. We managed to survive the first day which was sailed in very light breeze with a 7-3 which put us in contention early on. As would be the case through-out the regatta, it was very difficult to maintain consistency with the competitive fleet and the very shift conditions.
The second day brought much stronger breeze and we started the day off pretty well with a 5-2 which put us at or near the lead. In the 3rd race of the day, I didn't respond quickly enough to a leeward boat luffing us up at the start and was protested. We immediately bailed out and did our 720 and sheeted in to go back upwind when one of the jib blocks that was attached to the clew of our jib broke off which forced us to do a quick tack and sent John to leeward to thread the jib sheet through the clew cringle. We were dead last at this point and really were just sailing to see how many boats we could catch. As it would turn out, we sailed ourselves all the way back to 9th in the race and were quite pleased with our rally. We were crossing our fingers that this would be our throw-out race.
The last race of the day we had worked our way up to a 4th place and on last run, inexplicably let a boat sail by us to finish 5th. Never a good way to end a day. We had a pretty good day but did not feel like we sailed as well as we normally do in strong breeze. Probably just rust that we need to shake off. The good news was that we were only one point out of first going into the last day and were still the only boat with all top 10 finishes.
The final day brought us a two hour on shore postponement while the race committee waited for the wind to fill in. With the potential of three races to go, the regatta was still very much up for grabs. Finally, the wind filled in at about 6 knots and we were ready to go.
We got off to a pretty good start down at the lower third of the line and rolled over the top of regatta leader Jeff Todd with good speed and a nice angle. We got a slight left shift and decided to consolidate to the middle which is usually our strategy. As would be the case much of the regatta, the middle was not the place to be. The wind tended to fill in on the edges and it really paid off to bang the corners. In each race on the last day, the leaders came off of either side of the race course but never up the middle. This race would be no different as the left and the right beat us to the first windward mark.
We had a sense that this was happening but our conservative sailing style is so ingrained in us that it made it difficult for us to make the commitment necessary to bang a corner. As a result, we got ping-ponged back and forth as both edges beat us to the windward mark. The only good news was that we were able to beat Jeff Todd in the race to give us the regatta the lead, but our 9th place had now opened the door for Chris Doyle, Tim Healy and others to get back into the regatta.
The next race was really a repeat for us. Once again, we got a good start and decided to go up the middle with very average results. We just couldn't decide which side was favored and thought if we stayed in phase with the wind shifts, we would end up in the right place. After a lackluster 7th, we were now a few points out of the lead going into the last race. We weren't exactly sure on all of the points but it looked like several boats still had a chance to win.
The set-up for the last race was complicated. We felt like the wind was eventually go right but there was better breeze near the pin-end of the line with a pretty good header with a minute to go. We were tired of being conservative and decided we were going to try and win the pin and tack as soon as we could and go right. Unfortunately, one other boat had the same idea and did a better job than we did and won the pin with us on their hip. Right at the start we looked good but the wind slowly started clocking right and we weren't able to cross and get right. Once again, we got ping-ponged back to the middle and had a mid-fleet first weather mark rounding.
We managed to rally back pretty well and at least were still in contention but as the fleet compressed at the first leeward mark, we had a disagreement with Benz Faget on whether we had room at the leeward gate. He protested us and with the onus on us to prove we had established the over-lap, we decided to do a 720. Fortunately, we sailed our best weather leg of the regatta and rallied back to a 9th in the race but ended up tied for 3rd overall and losing on the tie breaker to Tim Healy.
Jeff Todd and his team won the regatta on a tie-breaker with Chris Doyle with us and Tim Healy 6 points back. Not a bad result for us but we felt like we really didn't sail as well as we were capable. If we are going to do well at the Worlds in October, we are going to have get more races in the J-22 under our belt.
The major take-away from this regatta is that it is often necessary to adjust your sailing style to reflect the conditions you are sailing in. We knew that the edges were better but we just couldn't bring ourselves to gamble on the corners. The result was all races in the top 10 but no races where we felt we were really in control. We will need to be more cognizant of our tendencies going forward and make the necessary adjustments to reflect what is really happening on the race course.
Congratulations to the winners and we look forward to more great J-22 competition going forward.
Here is a link to the final results: http://www.regattanetwork.com/clubmgmt/applet_regatta_results.php?regatta_id=3227
Posted by Scott Young at 11:45 AM