Hobie 16 N. Americans – Navarre, FL

Day 1

We hit the water late because of no wind, so the whole day was sailed in 5-8k.  The 66 boats are split into 4 groups, and two of the groups start in each of 2 starts.  It is a rotation system that does not put 66 boats on a long starting line since Santa Rosa channel is small.  It would make it just too crowded.

The first race of the day was in “strong” breeze (strong for the day) on a course 2.  Winds would oscillate with puffs backing the breeze.  Committee kept a close eye on the thundercloud cells above, but no lightning ever got close.

J & Laura got a great start at the boat, went the right way, and scored the division’s best finish with a 10.  They nipped Jennifer & Kailey at the line.  Peter & Jo had a so-so start, came back from the grave from a horrible first leg to capture an 11.  Will & Josh were late for the start and never fully recovered.  It is a tough fleet, with all of the usual names (and a bunch of really good newbies) showing up to qualify for Worlds.

The 2nd race (also a ‘2’) had breeze on the first lap until it died away for the remaining 2 laps.  None of the NW teams prospered.  Will & Josh were fouled badly by another boat just before the start.  Peter & Jo never got up to the line at the boat and were buried in the 2nd rank.  The starts weren’t much better for J/Laura or Jennifer/Kailey.  The latter got fouled in the 2nd race which didn’t help matters either.

It is a crowded field, with half the fleet going upwind and half the fleet going downwind.  Forecast is for not much more wind…and probably less.  More later.

Day 2

Tuesday came without much change in the weather — still light breeze at about 5k.  But there was no 2-hour postponement like the previous day.  There are occasional puffs that come down the course, and there are definitely some windshifts.

Some sailors on the beach are complaining about the light air.  I mean, Hobies are meant to trapeze and fly a hull.  If you are going to organize a large regatta here at this time of year why not just do it in Sunfishes or Lasers?

The extra 2 hours of racing allowed the committee to get in 3 total races (6 starts) before the wind softened.  In the 1st start of the 2nd race there was a general recall, which was too bad because it was the best start of the regatta for the 2 NW teams in the start — Jennifer/Kailey and Peter/Jo.  The recall put the start under the ‘U’ flag, but no problem — everyone behaved.

Peter/Jo had the best day with a 3-5-5 to move up to 13th.  But the most exciting finish belonged to Will/Josh who led 2 of the 3 laps in the first race of the day.  They were eventually overhauled to capture a 5th.  That race, combined with their other 2 performances moved them well up in the standings to 42nd.

Jennifer/Kailey had a good day as well.  Finishing the day strong with a 13th moved them up into 37th.  With 40 boats advancing to the gold fleet after Wednesday’s racing, the two youth teams will be fighting for every point.

J/Laura struggled in the light stuff.  They have not yet found the pace we are used to from them.  But at 47th they are still in the hunt for the gold fleet.  A strong performance on Wed. Will most assuredly move them, and the other 3 NW teams into the gold fleet.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Day 3

Wednesday was the last day of the round robin.  Three of the NW teams were on the bubble — Jennifer/Kailey at 37th, Josh/Will at 42nd, and J/Laura at 47th.  With only 40 teams advancing to the gold fleet, the pressure was on.

The day started with better-than-average pressure — around 8k.  But a huge wind shift forced PRO Matt Bounds to reset the course.  Bu the time the sea breeze had filled in it was back to its tepid 6k.

The light winds made for some very crowded mark roundings, with as many as 8-10 boats coming into the gate at the same time.  Clear air was the order of the day.  And with a persistent veer, the teams favored the right side.  A few holes developed on the edges, and the middle was chopped up.  So picking the right lane in the right direction was paramount.

Peter/Jo suffered a DSQ in the first race which pushed them to 17th.  The bright spot was Jennifer/Kailey who had some of their own issues to overcome to move up to 36th and make the cut into gold.  Yeahhh!

will/Josh and J/Laura were not so fortunate and got pushed into silver fleet.  The cool thing about silver fleet is all of the previous scores are wiped out, and each boat starts with a clean slate.  This should help both teams.  Will/Josh have shown they can keep pace — they led 2 of the 3 laps in one race Tuesday before falling to 5th at the hands of the big guns.  J/Laura — who have been underperforming all week — have finally got the boat dialed in and showed good boat speed.

If all of the teams can sail clean the next 2 days look for advancement on all fronts.

Day 4

Day 4 is an important day.  It is the last full day of racing because racing usually shuts down on the last day so competitors have a chance to pack up boats.  So Thursday is the opportunity to make a move.

The big winners of the day in Div. 4 were J/Laura.  They had made some rigging adjustments on Wed. that improved performance.  And they delivered the mail on Thursday.

Racing in the silver fleet where the previous scores were wiped clean, J/Laura were able to post a 1-2 in their 27-boat fleet.  They sandwiched those scores around what will hopefully end up being a respectable throwout (12), to currently stand 4th in fleet.

Will/Josh also had a good day.  Currently sitting 10th in silver fleet, they are just 6 points out of 5th with 3 races expected tomorrow.

The two Div. 4 teams in gold fleet did not fare as well.  Peter/Jo rounded the last gate in the first two races of the day in 4th and 7th, only to fall to 17th and 12th respectively in the light airs.   That pushed them back one position to 18th overall.  Jennifer/Kailey overcame a disastrous middle race to hold on to 36th in the gold fleet.

We have figured out that the wind starts in the east.  Then as thundervlouds develop over land to the north of us, convection forces a seabreeze that eventually clocks to the SW.  The timing of that veer is the wild card.  Keeping an eye to the north helps, but is no guarantee.  With the wind clocking as much as 130 degrees over the course of a day, going the right way can pay (or lose) big dividends.  Case in point, Thursday’s racing was the toughest day us far.  Nine of the top 10 teams earned their throwout today.

Laura bragged that she was able to trap out for 30 seconds in the first race.  Jo has trapped out twice all week — both times for about 5-10 sec.  Forecast for the last day is as funky as we have seen it — starting north in the morning, then switching to W-SW in the afternoon.  The wind is supposed to build to 10-14 mph by 3 p.m., the cutoff time for starts.  So we may be packing our boats up in the best breeze of the day!  Sounds a bit like the Pacific NW.

Day 5

The final and penultimate day.  This is the day where positions are generally fixed, but gains are achievable.  With the silver fleet throwing out the scores of the first three days, it stood to reason that larger changes were available there than in the gold fleet.

Friday actually brought the best breeze of the entire week with 10k. There was even some use of one of those two thingies that dangle on each side of the boat. We heard some people call them trap handles. Whatever. In fact Peter purposely left his trapeze on the beach Thursday

Each Div. 4 team has had its day in the sun (no pun intended).  Unfortunately no one team was able to string together more than one day in e light, variable, and very difficul conditions.

For our team the day belonged to Will/Josh who followed a very respectable 8th in the first race (out of 27) with a photo finish 2nd in the second, and last, race of the day to finish 10th overall.  That performance fared  better than J/Laura who, after a stellar 1-2 yesterday were looking to throw their middle race and move up from 4th.  The gods had other ideas, and two lackluster performances pushed them to 7th overall.

in the gold fleet Peter/Jo continued to practice snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  Two so-so finishes actually advanced them 2 spots to 16th overall. (Trophies went 15 deep.). Jennifer/Kailey ere caught over early in the first race of the day and used that as a throwout.  They recovered nicely in the last race with a 17 to move up two spots to 34th.

Takeaways

Jennifer/Kailey were probably the biggest winners.  Making gold fleet allowed them to mix it up with “the big boys and girls”, and gain some valuable experience. They will be able to take those lessons and use them for many years to come.

The light airs brought a lot of intense pressure on course.  Speed was king.  Boats were close together.  Mark roundings were crowded and tight.  Clear air was critical.

 

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