16 August 2009

BBR Retrospective

Last weekend we did a 'warmup' at the Buzzard's Bay Regatta, out of New Bedford. In many ways this regatta soothed my nerves a bit, because I had never taken the covers off of the boat. So there was a lot of uncertainty.

We drove down there (about 75 minutes south of Boston) on Thursday night with the boat behind a U-Haul pickup truck, dropped the boat off at the club, and went to stay with our hosts. The first race was scheduled to start at 10.30am the next morning, so I was a little worried it wasn't going to happen for us.

Up bright and early, we miraculously were able to get parking right next door to the club. Even more miraculously, we were able to get the mast in the boat and all the lines just about connected, and the mast rake calibrated in time to make it out for the first race.

Let me tell you, this is no mean feat. There have been days in Bermuda where we haven't been able to get 8119 off the dock in two hours, with fussing and messing with strings. This is a testimony to the guys (Tyler Moore and Peter Alarie) who rigged the boat, that it went so seamlessly.

The only problems were, the job cloth was missing, and the centreboard downhaul.

Of course, halfway out to the race course we figured out there was a downhaul for the CB, and on the second day w figured out that the jib halyard was adjustable with a handy cleat. So those weren't problems after all...

The goals of this event were three-fold:

1. Get the boat to a place where it could be trucked to the worlds

2. Make sure all the pieces of the boat fit together

3. Practice sailing together in a regatta.

Goal 1 was wildly successful, the boat is now in SF.

Goal 2 was also successful, pretty much everything worked, although there are a few nits, for example our spinnaker halyard jams sometimes, and the spinnaker doesn't like to come out of the tube. I chalk most of that up to the fine tuning that you can only do after you have been sailing a bit -- knowing what chafes on what, and where you need to spray the McLube, and so on.

Goal 3 was successful, in that we practiced together, but illustrated we have a lot to learn. On a pure boat-handling basis, we are far above where I was the first time I sailed a 505, and far better than where we started, but we need to work on communication & synchronization in the boat -- that can only come with time.

On a boat-speed basis, given that we have a brand new boat & brand-new sails, I was a bit disappointed -- we could keep up with most of the people at least some of the time (we even passed a boat downwind once, new for me), but in some clinch situations, couldn't keep the bow up while maintaining speed, etc. Basically, we need to 'find our gears' -- for the wind condition, be dialed in, not overpowered, & driving correctly (e.g. I am still in the habit of trying to point when the boat needs to go fast and then height will come). We also need to work on what to do, say, to switch to point mode at the start. This was inevitable given that we have never tuned up against another boat before, not the least the new one.

That leaves the skipper factor. None of our starts were stellar, many were poor. It's been a while since I drove in a sailboat race, and it's clear that my concentration level needs to kick up a notch. I'd be good on the first beat, e.g. in phase, with a plan, but then spinnaker trouble would blow it all out of my head, and halfway up the second beat I'd be thinking -- "WHY are you going this way, when the whole fleet is going the other way, and you just passed three boats by going the other way..."

So overall, it went exactly as I expected, although not as well as I had dreamed it might...

Gareth was a great team-mate, really good at helping put the boat together and figuring out what goes where. The weather was good, the beer was cold, and nothing really broke (except the mirror on the U-Haul truck).

So I call the event a success...

No comments: