Monday, September 26, 2005

CORA Race 4 Aboard J109 Hoodoo

CORA Inshore Race 4 Course #9
Hoodoo J109
Conditions: Winds East to Southeast six to ten knots. Tide flooding.


Pre-race the wind was up to ten knots out of 105 degrees, we sailed upwind noticing a slight right hand shift of maybe ten degrees but still not enough to keep us from fetching the first mark of the course BP. With current coming in and breeze fading right the pin end of the line was going to be the place to be. Somehow we lost sight of this and ended up down to leeward headed for the middle of line. With a minute to go we jibed instead of tacked for our approach placing us behind and to leeward of Emocean the J20. Emocean and us were both a good 30 to 40 seconds late to line while Temptress and the new Wireless were at the pin. We had no where to go but to foot off and try to reach through the boats to windward as the wind continued to shift even more right(130) . It looked good for awhile but as we got out into the Ashley the breeze shifted back left lifting Temptress and Wireless back up to BP and leaving us on the outside. We could no longer adhere to our pre-race strategy of going up the James Island side so we tacked left hoping to find a nice lefty to come back on (first out of Phase or OOP). Emocean and Temptress both came back left with us and we appeared to consolidate against both of them laterally. We continued left just to weather of the new tower and we were now almost even with Temptress who had tacked back to the right for a slight loss. The breeze was now down to about seven knots and was not only oscillating in direction but also in velocity making the shifts very difficult decipher. Now for the greedy part, as we continued left we noticed a significant drop in our speed over ground but our heading was lifted(wind going right Hoodoo hard left OOP) so we didn’t tack. Meanwhile Temptress the M24 and the J33 where off to the right which we thought was a desperation move to catch up. Unfortunately for us, it much more calculated that it seemed and all three came off the right with a right hand shift and less current to round R2 three to four minutes ahead. Emocean had seen the writing on the wall and gotten over the right (better late than never) and gained on the Hoodoo to put about a two minute gap between us. We were not exactly thinking about the current flooding in over the shallower water or we would not of stayed in it so long going upwind, so we jibe set around R2 to avoid the positive effects downwind as well (Out Of Position).Take a look a the harbor chart and you will see what I mean plot out your downwind angles using wind direction of 115 and see how starboard tack sets you up for staying in greater current.
We continued on port jibe heading over to Fort Johnson eventually jibing back to starboard to stay in the channel and get some added help from the current. We got a bit of a lift and jibed backed making a nice gain on the leaders coming into the second rounding of BP. Then the wind swings back left just before BP making us jibe two more times in the last 100 yards to BP while the leaders are already headed back up wind.

Having not understood all our mistakes the first leg to R2 we continued the search for the left hander or right hander that was going to get us back into the race. We got to the starboard tack layline just in time for the wind to start going left (OOP). It was just enough to slow Emocean almost to stop as she squeezed around mark, while Hoodoo closed in the wind continue swing left forcing us to through two short tacks in get around a mark, that just minutes earlier we were on the online for. STAY AWAY FROM LAYLINES. We jibe set once again because the current issue is hindsight on my part sailed a similar run as the last leg but are now headed to round R4 to starboard. We really weren’t sailing the boat very well and downwind we needed to use our polar data to keep us honest. In light downwind you really have to work the boat up and down getting the apparent up enough to drive you down than back up again as the boat slows. This sounds easy but the wind continued to go up and down in velocity and direction making this extremely difficult. We jibed too early for R4 (again we should have been watching our jibing angles) got past R4 and broad reached into the finish on a slightly dieing breeze that was now at 135 degrees. It was one of those races, you have once in awhile (hopefully) and good reminder how easy it is to get out of phase and out of position. As much as the wind seemed to oscillate what did it do? It went right all day long.
Wireless was first to finish and the winner (first to BP) Temptress second and the J33 Ice Pac third, Emocean fourth and Hoodoo fifth. The boats that stayed hard right all won easily. While Emocean and Hoodoo battled out for cellar on the left. Lesson to be learned with a east to southeast breeze in flood tide stay right RIGHT and review charts for positioning the current.


Henry McCray has a similar review of the race from the leaders its amazing how close the two reviews were except for ours being hindsight and them getting it right from get go.

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