Difficult Conditions and Interesting Race Management Lead to a Frustrating Start at the RMOCR
Monday, the first day of the regatta, brought a sense of frustration amongst the RS:X sailors. The morning greeted us with 15-20 knots of breeze; however, there was a legitimate chance of thunderstorms early on in the afternoon. Understandably, the race committee postponed racing for the safety of all the competitors. Still though, we were scheduled to start at 11am and the storms were scheduled to pass through around 1:30 or 2:00. It seemed as though we could have gotten at least one race in, but we didn’t. Meanwhile, the 49er class completed 3 races between 11am and 1pm, and our circle was closer to shore than theirs was. With that being said, it is completely understandable that they didn’t send us out to race. Among the many reasons for canceling the race, the storm could have come earlier than anticipated. What was more frustrating about the first day of racing was the second ordeal…
The rain passed through around 2:00pm and by 2:45pm the sky was clear with the wind at a solid 15-20 knots. Unfortunately, the race committee decided to cancel racing for the day right as the weather was starting to turn. Dissatisfied with the decision, I asked one of the mark setters (who seemed to be influential in the decision process) to provide me with an explanation and he told me that the committee didn’t think they could adjust the course to the expected gradual wind shift from the SW to the NW throughout the afternoon. I was still rather confused by his reasoning as this is a World Cup Event and a US Sailing team qualifier. There may have been other reasons to cancel the day of racing that I was not aware of, and I am sure there were. In my mind, however, an excuse that claims it is too difficult to adjust the course does not justify wasting an afternoon of 15-20 knots of breeze at a world cup event.
Day Two and Three:
Day two brought more frustration for many of the sailors. The breeze was a difficult 4-16 knot northerly, with 10-degree shifts and variations of 10 knots across the course at any given time. We were scheduled to do three races; however due to our class rules, if we are not planning 100% of the race, then we can only do two races in day due to the immense physical output. So, we got two races in, but there was a 10-minute time limit set after the first finisher. In these conditions, it is very easy for the fleet to spread out, due to the huge speed differentials between sailors in 15 knots of breeze and sailors in 5. The races yesterday were long and tiresome and half the fleet in both races didn’t make the time limit. Honestly, it looks fairly absurd on the results page to see that half of the fleet didn’t finish, and by no means is the fleet lacking in competition from top to bottom. The first race I was personally a frustrating 30 seconds away from the limit and the second race I may have been about a minute away from the cut off time, so I now have to sit on two DNFs for the regatta.
Day three brought very similar conditions as day two, 5-12 knots of breeze: conditions that have proved extremely difficult for me at times. Still, there were a few perks to take away from the day. My starts improved as well as my downwind legs. Both races I continually past people downwind and on the last race caught up to a large pack and had the opportunity to finish between 15th and 20th; however, I was not able to capitalize on that and I had some difficulty on the slalom course at the very end of the race. That being said, I am still seeing personal progress in marginal conditions (5-12 knots), but know that I am significantly quicker when the breeze picks up to 13 knots or more (full planing conditions). The outlook for the rest of week could be more of the same light air but with the breeze from the east, or, we may have a little bit more breeze, which would suit me well. I feel I am still getting adjusted to being back in the competitive world, as I have only been able to sail for the past few weeks since the last OCR.
Updated on May 22, 2013, 6:39pm