2009 results

2009 summary: The second season with the boat showed marked improvement in all areas:  ECSA: 5th in HP division, 14th in fleet (should've been 11th overall but one YC couldn't submit scores properly - who cares it's PHRF). Mudhead Wed night series, 2nd in spring series, 1st in summer series, 3rd overall. Notable distance racing wins: 1st place New England Solo/Twin Championships, 1st place Brooklyn Ocean Challenge Cup. Finished either 1st or 2nd in all 5 distance races >40nm, 3 of which were doublehanded. One design, participated in just one J/105 class event this year, let's just say we learned alot at BIRW!

Race reports are listed in order of occurence (latest races near the bottom) within four different categories:

  • Mudheads Wednesday night racing,
  • ECSA (Eastern Connecticut Sailing Association) regattas, 
  • one-design events
  • other races (including the Brooklyn Ocean Challenge Cup)

Scroll down to read of our exploits, see some pictures (double click on photos to view full size) and more.

Mudheads :

Spring series: Off to a good start with gun and 1st place finish. Second week we missed gun by less than a minute but corrected fourth, some crew coordination issues but more importantly tough competition - our class elapsed and corrected times has tightest grouping of all 6 classes. Missed a week due to BIRW, 2 Weds no racing due to t-storms or no wind. So I think we ended up spring series tied for second place.

Summer series: started 8 July. Applied rig tune lessons from BIRW esp increasing headstay length to max allowed by class. But as part of the procedure we had issue unfurling jib during our sequence after getting dialed in so 4 minutes late and no real opportunity to gauge effectiveness though we seemed to point higher....Following week we took gun and corrected first but win largely due to playing currents well. 26 July: hmm, guns following Wed and at other races starting to make me think we're finally getting dialed in...think for tied for first for summer, award party next week, yup FIRST for the summer, third overall for the season however 1st and 2nd are really tremendously good sailors so we're pleased with overall performance.

ECSA events 

Mystic River Yacht Club Distance Challenge: 30 May 2009. 1st in class, 2nd in fleet. We successfully defended the Southwest Ledge Trophy (double handed) and accrued mega ECSA points. Google Earth track is located here. 44nm course Seaflower to Six Mile Reef and back. Leszek and I did this race double handed. It was our first ECSA race with OD rating, we seemed to point better but we couldn't overtake Dragonfly flying PHRF sails (another J/105, actually the one I first wanted to buy 2 years ago, but Skip later changed his mind about selling her) who won the day. Long beat to weather along shore crossing tacks with Crystal and Dragonfly, other boats in the fleet weren't a factor. We were second around the weather mark. First double handed gybe caused a twist and loss of a few minutes until it was sorted out but this allowed Crystal to pass us. Dragonfly and Crystal Slipper went to the CT shore to avoid current, so did we, for awhile.  After failing to overtake Crystal with their big symmetric and Dragonfly with their PHRF spinnaker (versus our smaller one-design chute), we heated up toward Long Island because before departure I remembered seeing more pressure there on Sailflow but it never strengthened enough until it was too late. We did catch Crystal Slipper within the last mile. We top three finishers completed the 44nm course within 10 minutes of each other, which was remarkably close since the race took roughly 8hrs. Beautiful sunshine and steady 10-14kts, sometimes higher.

Offsoundings Spring Series: 12-14 June 2009. Class C-3, ten boats: three J109s, three J105s, J/92, J/95, Elliot 770 Friday: Low just passed so delayed cast off to avoid heavy rain as we were loading boat. SW 10-15 heavy fog at start, lucky to even find the committee boat, “Nor’easter”. Over early at start, as we couldn’t see mark boat and everyone was the committee boat, restarted quick enough and the start was not a factor in results. Long reach about 14nm to OSC special mark .5nm bearing 045 from entrance to Great Salt Pond. CLICK ON IMAGES TO SEE FULL SIZE

Fog slowly cleared and wind came down so we hoisted our 89 sq meter spinnaker. We were 2nd to hoist after Skip on Dragonfly (but Rod J on Banjo said later he was first but he was far to leeward.) Held kite at long as we could, 105s seemed to do better than the 109s with chutes but eventually had to douse as pressure strengthened. We were hanging right with Dragonfly as both boats had one design sails up. Good hoist at mark and heated up to windward but couldn’t get by Dragonfly who switched to PHRF 110 sq meter kite (and later during run up to 1BI he swapped up his OD jib for 155% genoa.)



 Rod made out well going right to beach. Got pushed outside at 1BI, some crew confusion on takedown in traffic but Dragonfly was only a couple hundred meters ahead. Feeling great and went left to finish but Dragonfly (and Rod) went right. Dragon got the gun and first place we finished dead last out of 10 boats as we ran into huge hole and right before finish – that really sucked! Had we followed Skip we would’ve had first corrected. Major bummer. Talked to Rod at party and learned another valuable lesson about sailing Block. Plenty of Dark ‘n Stormies and lots of friends at party turned life around pretty quickly though. Here are some pics. Google Earth Track here. CLICK ON IMAGES TO SEE FULL SIZE

 Saturday. Skies clear for first time in over a week!! NE10-12kt. Downwind start outside entrance to Great Salt Pond, we port tacked the class in order to get in close to shore and kicked ass – what a sight. Awesome call by “Sledge” our tactician. Passed nice compliment from Rod at party about our start! But then rest of fleet saw us doing great and jibed in close to Block dodging rocks at we jibed down the island. Two 109s, Shearwater and Navicular misunderstood the course and doused at the wrong mark. After a long while (but not long enough!) they realized their error but got dusted in the flood and were far, far back at the leeward mark. Run to SW Ledge was long and it wasn’t till near the end that Dragonfly with their bigger kite finally got past us. Banjo was first around; Dragonfly second and we were third around SW Ledge. Skip went right with big genoa versus our OD sails so we covered Rod. Went to island and short tacked with Banjo and Wolverine and a couple J120 watching rocks on plotter (and from the bow) again, shoaling water color reminded me of Key West at times, wicked fun in long rollers sometime as close to 50 meters from the beach. But as we neared SE light Dragonfly met us there with others who joined us short tacking). Dragonfly pulled away on run up east with that big PHRF kite. Up ahead was Shearwater and Navicular (unbeknownst to us at the time the two of the 109s gambled with banging a corned after their screw up, Shearwater ended up with the gun but Navicular could not get by us on the run or the final beat). Passed Vamanos J/92 before 1BI and then close reached to finish further frustrating Navicular who could not pass us as much as they tried. Ended up 4th today, and for series, 5th overall but we had 15% penalty from winning fall series. Should get some good ECSA points for today so Friday becomes a throwout. Beautiful clear day and awesome scenery, just fantastic but digital camera battery depleted so if any has pics please email. Long day – our start was 1040 and we docked around 1630. No crew issues and everyone worked hard short jibing and tacking around the island. Google earth track is here: Many boats didn’t finish and at least one class exceeded time limit so party got off to late start. Dark ‘n Stormies tasted even better today, talked with Rod a good long while and later with Skip (and plenty of skippers and crews). Last 2 events it was us and Skip and we recapped the races and are both looking forward to rest of season racing as rivals. Nice dinner with crew (great cajun ribeye and a nice Merlot) and the usual late night bar hopping. Crawled into vee berth at 1340 and slept to 0530 as usual. Switching to water after 2000 mitigated any ill effects next am, can’t say the same for our bow girl!

Cast off 0840 Sunday am for home, hoisted main and kite in rain, blew by a bunch of boats also heading back to CT, sun came out and dried out everything, nice fast ride back with flood back to Noank in 2.5 hrs. Crashed on sailbags in vee berth during early part of trip think about the young Brit doing OSTAR in a J105 . Cleaned boat - back to Block next Sat for race week! Life is good.

MRMSA 3rd Annual Mudnite Madness, 3-4 July:  2nd in class, 2nd in fleet. This was a 65nm overnight distance ECSA bonus point race from near SeaflowerReef around Block Island and back. We were second to finish and corrected as second. Still dealing with rig tune issues that plagued us at BIRW, hope to have it sorted out this week. My friend Doug on Euphoria despite being late to start and finishing almost two hours after us, sailed a great race and corrected just enough to best us by 15 minutes. Originally planned to do this race double handed as a qualifier for New England Solo Twin but later realized the MYDC was long enough to qualify plus some friends really wanted to sail overnite so we provisioned for 5. Yet aother large anomalous low pressue system was hanging over area last week (see BIRW report) spawning large and intense thunderstorm activity over past 3-4 nights. Driving to boat or should I say crawling at 15mph on the highway in heavy rain and some hail through one of the cells made we wonder what we would do in these conditions under sail. But NOAA's area forecast gradually minimized probability throughout the day so when we set saill we were just tracking one cell on radar over Saybrook but that was it. Skies cleared and high pressure built in a little earlier than planned and we had relatively flat seas, SW 5-12kts, and beautiful moonlight until it set followed clear starlit skies filled with shooting stars.

Our start was lame – we lost track of time dialing in and got back to RC at last minute to checkin and kill engine with seconds to spare. We ran down alone the long line against flood then hardened up but had little speed, while everyone else started at boat end under better speed. Euphoria had far worse time of it as engine issue prompted to radio RC to ask of they would stay on station for the starts We were 5th or 6th to the Race, here’s a little youtube video on the way to the Race http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2g2xEyxzVRI

We stayed on the same starboard tack from the start all the way until the southeast corner of Block! Spinnaker went up in the Race and we reached out to Cerebus under clear skies. We were 3rd boat to Cerebus behind All She Was and She’s the Boss (another J/105).. At Cereberus we concluded a counter clockwise circumnavigation of Block Island was best based on currents and forecasted wind. The boat ahead of us, All She Was gybed to 1BI and a clockwise circumnavigation and we followed She’s the Boss to the SW corner.

On the way to Block it got dark and like previous years watched fireworks from what appeared to be Point Judith, Montauk and Niantic and heard repercussions of many more.  Jack lines were rigged so we put on harnesses and tethers at dusk just to be safe. It appeared we were more conscious of the current set as were arrived off Block in better position than She’s the Boss whom we lost in the dark. When we converged south of the island they appeared on our beam but maybe a mile further south. We gybed immediately after them just beyond C5 and beam reached up the east speed of Block at 7-8kts having great fun under moonlit skies.

We used the plotter to great effect to stay inshore to minimize adverse current and tacked around 1BI. Made some hot grilled cheese sandwiches and got in some winks. Woke up 2 miles out from Cerebus with And She was ahead by a mile or more and She’s the Boss still trailing. Fast ride to Race with flood, then up with the kite for final gybes to R20. Almost hit rocks at Middle Clump! Depth alarm went off and we crashed gybed out of there. Fatigue and complacency in home waters almost ended our season. Finished at 07:04:05, 65 miles or so in just over 13 hours. Watched She’s the Boss with some issues with their final gybes but until we took the mainsail down outside the Mouses we did not spot any other chutes on the horizon. But continued to fret about Euphoria rating advantage. Docked quickly and took crew out to breakfast at Carson’s, a 100+ year old diner in Noank with a lot of character and best blueberry pancakes with bacon! Leisurely breakfast and then back to boat to clean up. This was the (and our) 3rd annual Mudnite race and it by far the best with great weather steady breeze and clear skies. After weeks of rain, drizzle and fog it ended as a spectacular start to July 4 holiday. Great execution of the entire crew through the entire race. Best sail of the season and glorious sunshine to top it off. Google earth track is here of our circumnavigation of Block is here, plus here are some pics:

Mudhead Benefit Cup for Southeastern CT Hospice, 18 July:  1st place: Steady 12-15kts, one design sails, 8 crew, 2nm legs 2nd in class, 6 boats in class (asym boats: Vipers, Melges32, etc ) Two races: First race: gun and corrected first by wide margin. Second race: did just as well but ugly Mexican douse, followed by a shrimped chute at next mark prevented another gun. Good recoveries allowed us to manage 3rd in second race. Three way tie for first on points led RC to combine total elapse and we eked out first overall by 30 seconds. Not a great test of recent tuning as conditions really favored J/105 and the third J105 on the scratch sheet didn't come out to play. Excellent party. Hooked up with members of RPI sailing team who will be racing Dark 'n Stormy in October at Storm Trysail Intercollegiate Regatta.

Here's a set of pics from Scott Barnhill:


and some more from aboard Dark 'n Stormy, click image to see full size:


Island Cup Series: Mason's Island Regatta: Aug 22, 2009. Short 1.1nm windward/leeward course, 4 legs, 6-8kts, weird PHRF class selection by RC, not a good day for the three J105s who finished 6th,7th, 8th. We finished 7th, however the other J105s including new to area Pflash (8th) flew larger PHRF genoa and spinnakers as we our rating only permitted smaller one design sails so we were happy with our performance in relation to the other J105s. The other J105 made out from a gnarly, protested leeward mark rounding winning otherwise we had better boat speed throughout. Oh well light air PHRF windward-leewards are part of the game here.

Leukemia Cup: Aug 29, 2009. DNC. This is our very first DNC (did not compete). But here’s our excuse: After Wed nite racing, Eric and I had usual lobster roll dinner @Seahorse, slept for 1.5hrs and cast off at 0015 for 30nm delivery to Pilot’s Point, Westbrook. DnS needed to get officially weighed to be class legal for J/105 North Americans later this year and at the same time begin the measuring process for an endorsed IRC certificate (needed for the more substantial double handed distance races) and Pilots Point is the nearest US Sailing measurer with accurate scales. Boat has to be totally and complete empty which was another challenge. So since boat would be in the Duck Island area we decided to add Leukemia Cup to the race schedule, sail back to Noank after the race in order to race Ram Island on Sunday (which as part of the Island Cup which is more important to us). However,  Tropical Storm Danny was headed our way and after watching it intensify all week late Thursday night I made the call to sail boat back to Noank Fri nite and forego the Leukemia Cup race on Saturday. Eric was to take Chat, Mary and Kim sailign in Newport so instead he brought them along for this delivery. We cast off 1730 Fri and beat back to Noank in 15+kts and approaching swells from Danny. Reefed main just before dark and winds were increasing ahead of Danny. Radar showed rain all over CT but we remained dry (except for spray and occasional green water over bow) until about a mile from dock when it started to downpour around 2200hrs. Pulled the sails and cranked up dehumidifier. Went to DPI, then VooDoo for food but since it was too late Guinness was our meal. Glad we aborted race as Saturday’s heavy rain and wind around 20kts would’ve made for a grueling race that would have had to been followed with a 30nm delivery back to Noank in order to make Fisher’s Island Regatta.Congrats to Skip’s J105 Dragonfly who won Leukemia CUp. Here are some pics form the delivery:


Island Cup Series: Ram Island Regatta: Aug 30, 2009. 3rd. Another lite air day with one design sails better class selection including the other two area J105s with PHRF sails, course 15nm circumnavigation Fisher’s Island, NY. Downwind start off Groton Long Point mid way through ebb. Just a tad late but in good position, two jibes before the turning mark to better flush out the race then light air beat toward Lord’s Passage. Effectively used current to increase apparent wind to keep moving. J105s finished 2nd (Pflash), 3rd (us), 4th She’s the Boss out of 9 starters in our class. RC shortened course at Lord’s MoA roughly 11nm into 15nm course just as sun came out for first time in 4 or five days. After finishing we hoisted chute and informally raced the Boss and a J109 to back to entrance toMystic River. Had great fun heating up across the sound riding long rollers from TS Danny. Cut inside behind Gates island and with asym up in lite wind came so close to wind it was to our advantage to unroll jib 1/3 to serve as staysail – first time we ever did that – add that to our bag of tricks!

Island Cup Series: Fisher's Island Regatta: Sep 5, 2009. TLE, long race only 15nm circum nav of Fisher's Island NY but very lite breeze 4-5kts and strong currents of course when winds were lightest. We heard 87 boats entered but only 10 finished! We're doing fine with with respect to competition when dying breeze and strong currents at Lord's Passge caused a huge pilup at the cans and many boats retired. We pressed only finally getting away from the dangerous part, and finally caught some breeze. Heard many boats retire and though we were ok but only 100 meters from finish and moving a couple kts SOG, RC came on radio and said 6hr time limit expired for our class! And by the time we got to the party which started 3 hrs earlier all the rum and food were gone. Bummer! But at least we didn't retire like our competition did! Good news this weeknd is that best friend and crew boss Eric doublehanding in Vineyard race aboard a J109 "Strider" finished 3rd in same conditions but our 6 hrs of torture pales in comparison to their 36hrs of very lite wind sailing and dealing with LIS currents.

Off Soundings Fall Series, 11-12 Sep, Fri-Sun. Heavy weather for New London to Greenport. RC moved start inside Gardiners Bay about 14nm but we still had to get there. Big seas in the race and almost had MOB during headsail change. We hit 14.7 knots under jib alone in 12' seas and by the time time we and the rest of the fleet got to Gardiners Bay RC had abandoned racing for the day. Sat much lighter breeze and long windward-leewards shortened after 3 legs. Did great entire  race until last 20min trying to cross finish in dying breeze and current after getting fouled by another boat. Ended up 5th out of 9 given ECSA penalty,4 out 9 ECSA points. Here's a video from Friday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q34u5t72Wo

Watch Hill YC Thurber Race, 19-20 Sep, 2nd place. 40th running of this race, but haven't done it before as if it was for a last minute ECSA plea for boats we probably would have gone to Newport Boat show but as weather was supposed to be nice and as Block Island a favorite destination decided to race instead of looking at new boats. Great format: race to Block, party on Block, race back on Sunday. Completely rookie crew so play ed in conservative with sails and tactic. Good start but late hoisting then a figure 8, still not used to the sock. Lite air and finished 2nd out of 3 spinnaker the boats the other being a well sailed J105. Mudslide and pan seared tuna @ the Oar then WHYC put on a nice little party at the National in a backroom/porch area with open bar. Breakfast @ Narragnasett then race back in even lighter air. The other J105 had PHRF sails and we couldn't hang, the other boat in our class retired to due currents @ 1BI and lite air. Took us over 7 hours to get to CT as we were in the thick of the ebb at Watch Hill passage but finished before time limit.

 Rock2Rock, 26 Sept, 2nd place. 60nm distance shortened from the usual 160nm course), 5 boats, 3 boats double handed. Leszek and I doublehanded, beautiful autumn day, downwind start, passed Lindy who tried unsuccessfully with blooper to catch up. Got to Faulkner's a couple boats lengths behind Dragaon (class 40 with -12 PHRF, we're are 93) but on close reach back they pulled away for line honors but finished last corrected. Meanwhile the slower PHRF boats had much more favorable current and more pressure behind us and one corrected ahead by less than 3 minutes over a 10 hour race. We all beat the heavy rain and we were awarded the something trophy for best doublehanded. Nice lunch awards at SHYC with all the skippers and RC. Nice job

One design events :

Block Island Race Week: June 21-26, 2009

Summary: Good news is that we were not DFL. Stiff competition in largest class at STC BIRW XXIII. Had no illusions on winning simply wanted the experience and got it in spades. Excellent week of racing and partying. Learned a tremendous amount, especially about how unprepared we are for this level of competition and got a better glimpse (didn’t get that glimpse at AYC fall btw) of that next level to aspire to. Some of the East Coast’s top J105s loaded with the best crews made for really intensive great competition, contrary to what you may read on SA. At times, usually early in the race we were in the thick of things and it’s really amazing being surrounded by the top boats like Savasana, Powerplay and having most the fleet behind. But the simplest error, say dropping speed through a tack or gybe costs boat lengths and inevitably we were trailing the pack battling not to be DFL in our third regatta with this level of competition. Our starts were surprisingly good with the exception of 2 (out of 8 races), boat handling improved as week went on and overall we finished 19th out of 20 boats, but we met our goal of not being DFL like the prior two one design J105 contests! Overall a great week with lots of learnings and awesome parties with lots of friends.

Rather than a blow by blow account of each race, this report is focused on documenting what we learned in order to improve the overall program. Following that, I included a small section on logistics mistakes and another recounting some of the interesting stories during the week and of course some pictures.

Learnings: Hands down top learning is that we have a long way to go in order to compete well at this level, in others words we suck. While we will have made tremendous progress and have won and placed well at many local events, we still are rank amateurs compared to the talent and skills of the winning boats, and for the matter most of the J105 class at this level of competition. No worries, we’re motivated and we will continue to improve.

Practice as a team: Incredibly important to sail together and practice. 2 of the 6 crew were brand new but extremely (compared to us) experienced. Logistically we couldn’t practice together before the event and on Sunday the practice day it was blowing so hard few if any boats risked going on and breaking something/someone before the first race day. So our first race was the first time we raced together, plus it was 20-25+kts breeze in big waves, lots of noise and consequently issues with communications. It was the Round Island Race and first beat to 1BI we rounded in 6th or 7th place and we’re feeling really good until chute went up without a sheet. Rest of race went downhill from there, getting passed by 5-7 boats until kite sorted out, then more boats on reach and final beat due to tactical mistakes, poor driving and communications issues for which I take full responsibility. At least we survived intact or so we thought. But that’s a little story for the section below.

Driving: thought I was at least ok and knew I wasn’t the best going into this event, but the “pro’s from Dover” made me realize early on I still have a lot to learn. I was overcompensating (though on the sail back the following Sat, Nick said boat has to much play in the helm). But I was clearly not always cutting the straightest path through the water and keeping jib powered up ALL the time. Plus Monday’s waves (and maybe rig) made driving even more difficult. I had no inclination such precise helm movement are constantly required, and definitely improved as week went on. One technique that helped was to use my leg to dampen the wheel to minimize over controlling that worked (probably could’ve use the wheel brake too come to think of it). Another facet of driving needing improvement is just simple boat handling, tacking, jibing and mark roundings. In the evening some of the crew were watching the Kattack replays and said we’re were loosing too much speed through tacks and gybes. Again we got better as week progressed but the top boats already these skills nailed years ago and were operating at a much higher plane of existence. Thinking that all the golfers @ work take lessons from a pro I should do the same!

Boat prep: We were clearly less well prepared in this area. Thought Dark ‘n Stormy was race ready but compared to the other J105s @ Payne’s we are too casual about prep, especially rig tune. Good choice though staying @ Paynes as I heard there would be a lot of J105s there. All of them had dehumidifier running every night to dry out boat. In addition to reducing mildew etc it keeps help boat dry and light. I have one in the basement of my house I rarely use so it’ll be on the boat on Wed.

Despite our best efforts, we definitely have too much gear on board compared to other boats. If it’s not needed for racing then it shouldn’t be on board. Many of the top boats have support vehicles on the island with enclosed trailers. This allows storage of gear not essential for racing. Need to start looking for a used trailer. It would be good to haul bikes and other gear needed for week long regatta plus we would’ve loved to have a car on the island. Some boats only take the water and beer they will drink pre-chilled so not to have weight of ice. Some prohibit beer to eliminate its weight altogether. We practically have a full bar and enough food for long weekend onboard.


Traveller control line, really annoyed at APS. I talked to their rigger and told him needed the best traveller line money could buy for J105 – and they turned out to be too short. Lucky we discovered this before Monday’s race and devised a workaround. APS will get an earful from me!

It’s really good to have other J105 sailors aboard. One had particularly good advice about the backstay adjuster – securing a piece of sail tie on the handle made for quicker and easier pumping especially when heeled. Another suggestion was to swap position of main and fine control controls. Having the fine tune aft helps the main trimmer control sail from the rail. Would’ve made the swap but it would require 2-3 hours and perhaps some hardware to effect the change. Another suggestion was to install a pair of Harken auto rachets at the base of the stanchions forward of the fixed Harken block to serve as twings for spinnaker sheet. Need to research this one. Also our tack line is about 20 feet too long – no need for the extra weight.

Rig tune is another area for improvement. We discovered after 3 days of racing that mast had a bow. Brought it back straight Thurs am but then after racing it was determined the halyard length from stanchion to stanchion was off ¾”. Earlier in the week the most experienced crew had trouble getting good shape out of practically new jib, which could have also impacted driving (everything one big analog system!). This led to investigation of the rig. Kieran from Shakedown helped us greatly Friday am including finishing tensioning after harbor start to check out DnS under sail then transferring back to his boat to ensure we were good to go. Jib then had much better shape, the boys from NY were happy. However for Friday’s race the turns were set rig for medium heavy air: first race was light heavy, second race light and subsequently abandoned). He supplied us with a spreadsheet of the settings they use. He disagreed there was a difference from scrimp and pre-scrimp and based on that conversation I concluded that top boats develop and refine setting based on performance over time. Something we don’t do with much precision or method. I plan to start a log of shroud tension, wind speed and boat speed.


Need to re-assess content of first aid kit, definitely need to add butterfly sutures to first aid kit. See story below.

Physical fitness: A week of racing is tough work. Most of crew was in good shape but everyone wound up with sore muscles, bruises and scrapes. Good thing Mudslies make for great muscle relaxers. All the top teams seemed ripped and in excellent physical condition. Need to place a higher premium on a fit crew – this ain’t cruising!

Race time learnings: Biggest learning on Friday was the racing begins the moment you check in, assuming you do that immediately when getting to your circle. Sure we set sails to get dialed in but then we’d just hang out beam reaching away from the line occasionally watching other classes start – from behind which is clearly inadequate compared to this method: For earlier class position the boat 100-200 meters upwind of the line just beyond the starboard layline to avoid messing with the classes starting. This allows you to have a much better perspective of the start and line bias. As you work the boat upwind and downwind just outside the layline you can do frequent wind direction checks and as you come back you can sight along the line and determine if the boat or pin end is favored. Plus being up the course gets you closer to the action and provide higher resolution of which tacks, from the classes that started even earlier are lifted or not. A line bias of even a couple degree is huge and we rarely if ever considered it.

Logistics: Don’t wait until last minute to do a major regatta like BIRW. Work demands forced us down this path and thanks to the economy we got a great deal on an awesome house, but everything else was rushed which detracted form boat prep and practice. Couldn’t get a car on the island as ferry was booked. Could’ve prefer another marina but that was booked too but on the other hand got lots of practice maneuvering and rafting up in tight spaces. Should’ve have a house mom or like Snowbird two house moms to cook and clean and take care of not racing stuff like buying paper towels etc. Renting bikes sucked 2 or 3 of us had bikes “stolen” as, I would estimate, half the key fit half the locks. So I just found a bike whose lock fit my key and off I went. Next time bring your own bikes! It was fun riding bikes though – I need to bike more.

Sailing: Conditions varied widely, big anomalous low pressure hung out over Nantucket most of the week. Lots of overcast, fog drizzle, sometime showers, always humid, occasionally sun would poke out 

Sunday was a practice day but very few went out as it was blowing 30+ abeam of where we were rafted.

Monday was big wind and waves for the round island race. Had a great start and after hard beat up to 1BI we were in 5 or 5th place. But kite went up with a twist and we were placed by a lot of boats until we got it sorted out. Lost a few places on the reach and more on the beat back. Disappointing we survived unscathed (or so we thought –keep reading) except for small stress point on the jib due to a late skirt. One boat was dismasted (it was deck stepped), another hit a whale (but later we heard it was a great white) and She’s the Boss retired with broken block on sprit and broken halyard and a Melges broke its rudder. We almost collided with a starboard tacker in breeze. We cleared him without damage but skipper (from another class) yelled protest. Checked protest board by it was never filed. Actually found a witness at the tent party later who said he saw the whole thing and that that skipper never moved his tiller. Thought we had it all on video but Ryan’s camera was inop. GOogle Earth track is here

Tues am met my sailmaker early to reinforce jib area where it meets a stanchion, should’ve been done originally looks great, three races with excellent starts one at line early then early dip down then came up with clear air, another with clear air at pin, third slightly late but tacked to clear air at committee boat, big waves tough steering still, lots of over earlies Z flag up for 3rd race, no crew issues better communications cuz it was easier to hear than on Monday,  3rd race better with the pack final downwind leg rather than being far out of contention.

Wed seas calmed down and got it one race but nailed by a twist again, second race was never started as wind died so we were at the bar early. After race noticed slight bow in the mast which was corrected the next day or so we thought.

 Thursday had a good start first race and tactical decision caused us to drop some place yet it was our best finish so far this week. Started well in second race, less wind and wave, but twist issue led many to passing us leaving a 1.2nm match racing gybing duel with She’s the Boss on last leg but they never got past us. After race we noticed halyard length side-to-side was off. Not good to have rig issues all week.

Friday, got assistance from Shakedown on rig. Much better jib shape. Tim substituted for Eric. Many of the learning above were from him. Great start in pressure, but lost boat lengths here and there including another damn twist. Finished 15th of 20 again. Second race blew the start but recovered quickly and we were actually doing ok when wind totally died and RC abandoned. Official results here: http://www.yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eID=230

Saturday, cast off in fog, light headwind motored and then fog cleared into bright sun – best sun all week, noticed patches of breeze and cumulus forming over RI. Three other guys were exhausted so bit my tongue until 8kts indicated and said just be an autohelm and pretend I was single handing and did all the work. Breeze built to 10 and we had a glorious sail back with the flood. Cleaned up boat and a couple hours later race week was history

Stories fit to print:
So we arrive on Sat and head to weigh in and found ourselves overweight by 16 pounds. Major bummer as one guy totally missed target weight. So we invoked Smith’s beer dehydration protocol, drink beer and eat nothing until your’re peeing every 5 minutes, then totally stop all intake, goto sleep and back to weigh-in. All six of all followed this routine (we’re really good at the beer drinking part) and together we lost 27 pounds in 18hrs. Then off to big breakfast and rehydration!

After Monday’s heavy weather race we had just the smallest hole in the jib. But Eric who is very safety conscious had placed out jacklines and tethers below in easy reach in case they were needed. Cleaning up boat after the race he pulled on a tether but its large stainless steel clasp grabbed on something for a millisec before springing back into his forehead, lots of blood, good thing bow girl is a nurse. Found boat first aid lacking so went to USCGA boat figuring they had a good kit and scored some butterfly sutures. Just enough blood seeped out in the bandage so Eric looked really tough at the party.

Tent boys. A bunch of future sailing rockstars, 21-22 years old (or younger?), poor college kids and sons’ of Mudheads took out a J24 to BIRW. A couple of week earlier when I asked them where they would gonna stay they said they intended to pitch a tent on the beach. I said they could use the lawn behind our rental home if they just stayed outside. They borrowed supposedly good sails which turned out to be worse than the ones they had, and on Monday took a bullet in the round island race blowing out a chute and having wild broaches along the way some of which we captured on film.

Go to SA http://www.sailinganarchy.com/archives.htm and search on ‘what goes up’. These guys were certainly the story of the week and finished 2nd in a tiebreaker. When I asked Patrick what they do if they won a Rolex he said they would pawn it and split the proceeds. Great kids and they even had a Volvo wagon which helped tremendously

Tent Party: every nite preceded and followed by other festivities. Legendary fun:

Storm Trysail Intercollegiate Regatt: 10-11 Oct, Larchmont. Rensselaer Polytechnic was assigned to DnS. They finished 10th out of 13 J105s. Full results here: http://www.yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eID=302 pictures here: http://www.photoboatgallery.com/lightbox/index/category/gallery|2009%20Storm%20Trysail%20Intercollegiate%20Regatta|Dark%20n%20Stormy/start/0/Dark-n-Stormy.html more pics to come. Excellent experience for all.

Other races :

Storm Trysail Block Island Race: 22 May 2009 DNF. I was navigator aboard J/44 "DeLong Shadow". Great start and great conditions for this 184nm distance race. Commander's forecast spot on except TWS actually a bit higher. "Vamp" won our class, they owed us time and we were both following same strategy/route when we had to retire. About 40nm into race, wife of owner said there was water in the aft head. SInce I was at the nav station I grabbed a flashlite and looked by the prop (since we had to burp shaft seal on the way to the start). That was ok but I heard water falling, worked my way aft and saw water streaming out of rudder post. Called the owner and he said immediately we had to retire - wouldn't want it to worsen later in the race. Pumps on and sails down and with less pressure on helm the stream of water subsided.


Oh well guess I can go laser sailing on Sat (see Laser, not ready for racing blog here, but that didn't work out either as Memorial Day traffic on I-95 changed weekends my plans again. Went to Dark 'n Stormy instead, cleaned bilge and buddy Eric who had trouble racing Laser in the strong condition came by with a 6 pack so we did a few projects, cleaned bilge and later I went to Chester Point marina to help Doug ready "Euphoria". Even more bummed about BI race as weather (monitored all day) turned out stronger than predicted and our route plan would've definitely put us in contention!

New England Solo/Twin Championships: 1st place, double handed distance race, 95nm. Course was Newport around Block Island to Man’s Island and back to Newport. Start 1240 Fri 24 July. We finished at 0343 25 July. We were first over the line for our class and had best corrected time overall. Ave speed  6.08kt, average of 5 top 100 meter runs was 11.82kts, rig settings at new base.





Full results here:
Again, NOAA weather appeared to be more accurate than Sailflow and Windfinder. Commanders had a little too much detail to be very useful and halfway around the course we basically ignored it)

Pre-race: new autohelm installed and knot meter issue finally corrected, kudos to the Raymarine gurus at Dockside Electronics. Adjusted PHRF-NB rating (obtained for this race) per advice from Tim H. last week to race with one-design configuration. Rigged up a way to secure companionway hatch, acquired the necessary flares (jeez!) and ensure compliance with all the safety item checklist. Ordered up a Commanders forecast and sought weather advice again from Carl F. Delivery on Thursday in lite fog and drizzle with Kim, Mary and Ken, motored to Pt Judith and then set sails for reach up the bay, docked at Newport Yacht Club in time to beat heavy rain and wind and checked in Eric met us to take delivery crew home after a couple of drinks and dinner at Cooke House, great fun – love Newport. Too bad I missed the glimmer party!

pics of delivery and support crew follow:


Race: Double handed partner Leszek showed up 0800, skippers meeting 0900, cast off 1045. Heavy rain overnight cleared to party cloudy skies and dry. Start was confusing off Goat Island with lots of racing happening in the bay. (RC later apologized for the confusion at awards/party). So we were a minute late to start. But by Point Judith we had reached by every boat in our class - see the video below. Starboard tack, close reach all the way to first mark in fresh beeze which diminished then lifted us mid way down island. Saw lots of boats behind us have issues with current at 1BI (one boat swept so far left he tacked back over the reef – looked possible on plotter but still dicey), but Armchair Sailor"s tidal current charts help us avoid that situation.  Beautiful afternoon, tempted to go into Salt Pond for mudslides. Didn’t quite fetch SW 4 WHIS and had two short tacks, then up with the kite for 33nm run to Noman’s

We had decided to be very planful and deliberate with all sail evolutions, decided we didn’t need spinnaker sock and didn't have any boat or sail handling during race. Lots of cross sheeting. We also committed ourselves to switch positions as much as possible to have a fresh helmsman and get sleep when conditions allowed. I think each of us obtained close to 2hrs sleep (ok maybe just rest) in 30-45min allotments during the race.

Made Noman’s just after midnite and jibed under extremely clear sky. Got passed right before mark (by it turns out a boat in another class) Kept kite up a long as we dared and as wind came forward skies up ahead darkened. Clean douse and started seeing more lighting in the distance. Passed the boat that passed us at Noman’s. Approach NB Racon, heard Mike H on Dragon report rounding time and t-storm 10 miles away. By then we had donned full foulies and were ready for anything. But all we got was some rain and a great light shoe with hardly any change in wind velocity or direction. Set chute again after Noman’s for finish. Passed 2 boats on this leg (again, we later learned they were from another class). A few gybes up the bay and finished at 034331.

Post-race Back to Newport Yacht club, slept 2 hours, cast off 0840, single handed motored back to CT did provide plenty of time to cleanup, organize boat so when I docked at 1415, I just shutoff engine, closed a thruhull, grabbed my bag, locked the hatch and hit the showers then drove back to Newport for award/food etc.

Here's a couple very short youtube videos from Friday during the Solo/Twin..mostly of my double-handed partner except for my feet:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gclbQ1ZGZDk 1st reach off Pt Judith
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvLGuE_IgdY run from Block to Noman's. Here’s the Google Earth track

Brooklyn Ocean Challenge Cup, October 2-3 We were successful in defense of the Brooklyn Ocean Challenge Cup including division gun and winning team trophy. 90nm course: Greenport, NY counterclockwise around Block Island, RI and back. Start 1500 Fri, finished 0227 Saturday. Pre-start collision involving J/122 Screaming Eagle and J/109 Instant Karma and 28 boats on the line made for interesting start with committee boat end highly favored. Good video from Instant Karma here including a couple clips of us here: http://vimeo.com/6910507 . Winds were 14-16kts on the way to Block, with puffs to 18. Winds were 19 to 23 true on the way home, with puffs to 28kts. Close reach to southeast corner of Block against flood. Then we hoisted spinnaker for a fast ride up the east side to 1BI. Managed to keep kite up as wind backed in our favor but is was wicked close and had to bear away during big gusts - wang had to be blown a half dozen time to avoid broaching.. Awesome ride consistently hitting speeds of 14-15kts. Ski googles will be required equipment from now on– it was a warm night and comfortable in full foulies but continual spray from the bow when going so fast made it hard to see with salt water always in the eyes despite the sometimes really bright virtually full harvest moon. 45 minutes past 1BI wind built to mid 20s gusitng higher and we were discussing how to douse the kite when one of the crew jokingly shouted “we put it up - let God decide how it comes down”. Less than 10 minutes later the spinnaker exploded but we kept going under class jib while we retrieved its shredded remnants in the dark. Sailed under jib alone until wind backed and came down a notch or two then we hoisted the older and smaller class kite again we were hitting 14-15kts. Wild ride passing 3-4 more boats on the way to 1GI with smiles all around. Heard some boats announcing position and felt really good. Kept the kite up until the finish at approx 0227 Saturday in Greenport harbor then broke out the Heinekens. At the dock we rec’d a constant stream of well wishers. Last year we ran out of beer and this year we were prepared three 12 packs, a couple bottles of wine and 2 bottles of rum, ginger beer and ice. DnS became party central at Sterling Park marina and when it started to rain hard we crammed 12 people below in the really small J105 main cabin and drank until daylight!  here's a few short videos:

here's a few short videos:

Slept late, showered and went to awards @1400. Then delivered boat 12 hours away to Larchmont, NY for next weekend’s event, train ride back to New London and sleep in a real bed. 4 days+ 2 all nighters of racing and sailing in challenging conditions. This is what I live for !!!

Also, see article and pics here: http://www.lisail.com/ then click 'Already a subscriber', go to Nov 2009 issue and then page 96.

J/105 NAs, Oct 28- Nov1: Last keelboat racing of season. Crewing on "Creative Destruction" for J/105s North Americans in Rye. NY. Awesome 4 days of autumn racing. We finished DFL, new J/105 owner, pickup crew, no practice, tough competition but learned alot and had a blast. AYC is best venue! Here are some pics: