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.

 

Stadium racing in Comox is the bomb!!

OMG!!  If you have never done stadium racing (like me) it will blow your mind.  Stadium racing is short-course racing that revs up the heart rate, puckers the ole sphincter, and is an adrenaline rush the kind of which you have never experienced.

James, Stuart, and Andrew Robinson up in Comox put this together, and it is the bomb!  They let us borrow their Diam 24 trimaran for the weekend.  It comes with a furling jib and Code Zero.  This is the training boat most of the French teams use with names like Banque Populaire and Francois Gabart sprinkling the headlines.

You start with a reaching start, just like in the America’s Cup.  Except the turning mark at Comox is only 2 boat lengths from a rock jetty!  That first time my rudders cavitated for 3-4 seconds, hurtling us straight for “the wall” and ultimate extinction, before they dug in and saved us and the boat from obliteration.

Next leg is downwind.  Keep the kite up.  What?  We are already there?  Crap!  Hurry up and douse!  Unfurl the jib!  We’re going right out of the gate.  Ten seconds later we are tacking within five feet of the jetty.  Fans are shouting to us from the overhanging outlook 10 feet above, and rooting us on in the middle of our tack.  Meanwhile Stuart is giving the play-by-play over the loudspeaker.  Stay focused.

Got a minute to collect our thoughts and clean up the carnage on the upwind leg.  Only a minute.  We’ve closed on Andrew and the cross will be close…inches close.  Which way out of the upwind gate?  We’re going left.  Crap!  We have to thread our way through the pilings from an abandoned pier.  Whew.  Made that.  Into a gybe.   Where’s Andrew?  Crap again!  He went outside and gained another 3 boat lengths.

Come on, gents!  Only one more short lap to go!  Stuart is still blaring the play-by-play.  I can hear the crowd cheering us on.  Let’s go.

After one more lap of total chaos it is back to the reaching mark for the final reach into the finish.  Flying a hull as we get the horn!  Victory again.  Well, almost victory.  Second place.  It will have to do.  Especially since there are only two boats!   Somebody pass me a gallon of water, 5 Valiums, and 3 energy bars.  It’s only been a 15 minute race and I am ready to collapse.

What?  We’re in sequence again already?  We gotta do it again?  Yeahhhh, baby!  Bring it on!!!  I want more!

(More photos to come.)

Jericho & R2AK Update

Jericho can be dicey sometimes.  Some times you can be sitting out there in 60 deg. wind shifts (like last year), and other times you can be hauling ass in a beautiful, 20k westerly (like this year).  Yep.  That’s right.  If you skipped Jericho this year you missed out on a doozy, and if you were there you are still wearin’ the smile smeared all the way across your face !

Saturday saw 5 races in 17-22k with gusts to 25k.  Water was flat owing to a 2-3k flood that caused a bit of havoc at the weather mark for some of the sailors.  The flat water allowed the skippers to put the bow down, grin from ear to ear, and let out an occasional “Whoop!”  Watching the F-18s barrel down the shore under kite was fun, but the real bonus was the incredible scenery.  Sunny and warm both days with the urban, Vancouver skyline to the east giving way to the snow-capped mountains to the north.

Those of you not watching the R2AK tracker, I highly suggest you keep it off if you want to get anything done during the day!  The race is on and updated pretty much regularly so you can sit there watch the tracker and your grass grow all at the same time.

It is pretty exciting with Morgana Buell’s team “Sail Like a Girl” leading the race as of this writing.  But the lead is slim and nothing is given, especially this early in the going.  But it is pretty cool to see this team of 8 women sailing their Melges 32 like it is stolen.  Go girls!!

2018 Calendar is up

Plan your Hobie schedule and book your reservations because the 2018 Hobie sailing calendar is up and live!  Dates always seem to be subject to change, but as best as we can tell none of the dates have changed for, well, over 6 hours!  lol  But seriously, most of these dates you can bank on.

So get with your crew, spouse, significant other, family, and whoever else might be in your calendar and chart out which events you will be attending.  It is best to put the events in your calendar otherwise you might forget them.  Putting them in the calendar increases the chances you will attend.

Looking forward to seeing everyone next year!

And here is a spreadsheet version of the same (hopefully!).  2018 Division 4 Schedule

Div. 4 AGM announced

Hobie Division 4 (that would be the Pacific NW for you newbies) Hobie Catting in Division 4 at Lake Quinault, WAannounced today the date and place for its Annual General Meeting (AGM).  Actually, they announced it Oct. 1 but it took this intrepid reporter this long to get it posted on the website!

Mark your calendars: Saturday, Nov. 4, 10 a.m. at Laura Sullivan’s house in Maple Valley.  Please send an email to nelson.peter(at)live.com for an address.  It is pretty easy to find, and is an absolutely gorgeous trophy home if you have never been there.

The BIG item on the agenda is next year’s sailing calendar.  That is always a lot of fun to put together.  There will also be some discussion on the future direction of youth sailing in the division, as well as an update on the Hobie 16 North American Championships being organized by Paul Evenden for 2019.  Lots going on.

Stay for the meeting, but come for the party!!  That’s right…right after the meeting we will be going into party mode with a BBQ and potluck.  (So remember to bring something yummy to share.)  I think Laura will have the party accouterments handled.  (Easy for you to say!)

Looking forward to seeing everybody Nov. 4 and swap more sailing lies!!