Long Hours

This past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were all spent on the water. Thursday our Laser team decided to change up from the norm and sail our sailing program's J22. The seven of us switched out between the J and the coach boat and we all practiced the different positions on board. We mainly worked on tacks, gibes, spinnaker hoists and douses. Between all the positions on the boat, I enjoyed fore-deck the most. When I sail J24's up at the Bradenton Yacht Club I generally am the skipper, so I got to experience a change in position and roles on the boat. Overall it was a good Thursday night practice and as always we got to enjoy the sunset on our way in. Some of the youth sailors in our program are working towards gathering and training some teams on the J22 to go compete at the Sears Cup Qualifiers.

Erick adjusting the camera

On Friday I switched out of keelboat mode and back into the high speed multihull mode. Erick Weinstein, my F18 crew, and I went out for an afternoon practice session. Being out there by ourselves (with a VHF radio and appropriate safety equipment of course) we worked on some crew work issues that we were having, including body weight positioning downwind and smoother transitions through tacks, gibes, and between varying breeze strengths.

Saturday was a great day for training! We had the benefit of the company of professional sailor John Casey with Dalton Tebo and also the Langefelds along with two other all-youth boats out there. The conditions were a steady 10-15 knots with some gusts of slightly more. The water was flat with some occasional moderate chop the more downwind the bay we sailed. In the morning Erick and I replaced our main halyard which we had broken the day before at the end of our practice and then assisted the others in unpacking their boats off trailers. We split our practice into two parts: a morning session from around 10:00 to 1:00 and an afternoon session from around 2:00 to 5:00. We mainly focused our drills around boat-on-boat speed. We all lined up in a row downwind, raised our chutes, and worked on passing the boat in front of us. Erick and I focused on transitioning between the puffs and lulls with body weight movements and on rolling other boats. We felt in tune and powered up on the downwinds but still weren't able to keep up with JC! I guess it's just that new Cirrus R...

On the upwinds two major things stood out to me. First, even if you got rolled at the beginning of the drill you could still hold your ground and possible pass other boats if you worked your way out of their bad air and got into different and more favorable shifts (we kept tacking to a minimum on the upwinds and worked on straight line boatspeed while in close proximity to others). The first time we went upwind JC quickly rolled over us, sailing lower but faster. During the rest of the drill we sailed higher but slower in an effort to get closer to the shore to get some different lifts and it ended up paying off for us. On the second upwind we were the most leeward boat at the start, below the Langefelds. We held our ground through the entire drill, eating header after header as we got farther away from the shore, while the Langefelds gained some ground on us to winward with JC even farther to winward of us. Erick and I tried a different style from the beginning of the day; rather than sailing high and slower, we worked on lower and faster.

We made some slight adjustments to our a couple of our settings on the different upwind and downwind legs owe sailed. On the first downwind leg, we had our boards lower than normal and noticed we powered up more easily but did not sail as low as we would have liked. On the second downwind we raised them up a little more and saw ourselves sitting in a faster and lower groove. Also, on the first upwind we had our boards up a little bit because of the strong breeze but not too high to accommodate for the lighter breeze ahead of us when we got closer to shore. On the second upwind we had our boards up slightly higher, which I feel wasn't very beneficial to us. We had to work harder to keep the boat powered up, even though we had more breeze as we got away from the shore, and we couldn't sail as high as we could the previous upwind leg.

Overall all three of these days were great learning experiences and a ton of fun, especially Saturday. With great conditions and 5 boats on the water (JC in the Cirrus R, 3 Infusions, and a Wildcat), that weekend practice was one of our most efficient ones yet. And a special thanks to David Hillmyer for setting a course for us while we were out there!!