Wednesday, March 15, 2017

2017 Sunshine State Championship Debrief

2017 Sunshine State Championship

On March 3-5th, 7 CYC team Optimist sailors traveled to Jensen Beach, Florida to participate in the 2017 Sunshine State Championship hosted by US Sailing Center Martin County. The regatta is the biggest tune up before Team Trials for the teams in the south-east, and the regatta was also a qualifier for Caribbean teams and attracted lots of international talent. Thus, there was fierce competition amongst 227 boats, and it was a great experience to be a part of! Jack Baldwin led CYC placing 30th overall.
Jack Baldwin

Peter Barnard

Despite the sunny name, the regatta occurred on the second day of a massive cold front coming through that part of Florida. A total of 6 races were sailed, 4 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. The conditions were extremely windy on Sunday - in the upper teens to low twenty's. Saturday was slightly less but still pretty spotty!  Many sailors were intimidated by the conditions; I am happy to say that our sailors all went out every day and showed determination throughout the event. Attitude was an important factor in order to survive a long day in breeze and I felt that the sailors grew in their confidence sailing in breeze by the end of the regatta.

Annie Samis, hydrating in between races.

In windy conditions, swamping and capsizes can cost you in a race, and minimizing them is a skill. One of the things we taught the kids was that they have the ability to keep their boats upright if they maintain control by having good boat handling. This means hiking out and letting out your sail when you bear away, and playing the daggerboard through maneuvers. It means being able to sail while you bail on all three legs of the race course. The effect of water in your boat is to make it float lower, and to pitch more, which in turn ships even more water onboard! Bail as soon as there is an inch of water in your boat. Upwind, ease the mainsheet very slightly and put it in your tiller extension hand, then hike to heel the boat to windward, and reach your free front hand in for scoops with the bailer. Keep your eyes up on the waves and telltales and rely on the sound of the bailer scraping on the bottom of the boat.
Cali Frerker rigging her sail

Morning Rigging! Madeline Torrey, Katia DaSilva, Peter Barnard

Rigging and tuning are also really important to get right in heavy air:

  • Make sure your sail ties are tied correctly and knots are tight. Sail ties tend to stretch more in bigger breeze so making sure each sail tie knot is tighten goes a long way. Tight luff ties make for a flatter sail.

  • The top ties should be tightened so that there is no space between the sail and the mast. A good trick is to overlap the sail on the mast, then crank your horizontal tie.

  • The line on the sail should be in the center of the two lines on the mast. Higher or lower are both bad - messes with luff tension, sail too high or boom too low (dangerous).

  • Once you sail is fine-tuned and all corner ties are tight, you should present your major controls.

  • Make sure the outhaul is on, then proceed to the vang.

  • Before you put vang on, make sure you boom preventer line is on the hook (super important with new race sails).The preventer adjusts the tension on the luff of the sail, and needs different numbers of twists based on length and how you did your top corner ties, but in general we want FEWER TWISTS in heavy air and MORE TWISTS in light air. Ideally everything should be set up so you have 1 twist in heavy air and a pretty tight luff - the front edge of the sail 'snaps' if you pluck it.

  • Tension in the following order - VANG THEN SPRIT.

  • You want to put on some vang on land- bigger more experienced sailors can adjust on the water, but lighter newer ones need the help of the coach to tighten their vang on the water. Clip the mainsheet to the boom, trim in the sail to centerline, and take out all the slack on the vang. When you release the mainsheet, you will notice that you vang is significantly tighter. How far from the transom you trim the end of the boom is a good measure of how much vang. We go anywhere from 4 inches off in medium - heavy air to 1 in survival conditions.

  • Many of our sailors learned the benefits of switching from a 3 to 1 to a 4 to 1 mainsheet. Having the extra block makes it easier for sailors to trim in their sail.

  • Hiking hard the entire upwind, but hiking especially hard the first third of the upwind. This is because if your boat is not flat, then you are not making gains upwind, but rather side slipping.

  • On the run downwind you need to move you weight aft only when needed and move further forward in the lulls.

  • On the run downwind you never want to ease you sail past 90 degrees to the boat. This will cause the boat to flip or nose dive.

  • The reaches were in flatter water than most of the beats thanks to the close windward barrier island. Keeping the bow up was important as was hiking and aggressive body movements to get planning in the puffs. In general, you should try to heel to windward on the reach, and move forward in the lulls, back in the puffs as you would downwind. While having the high lane is almost always good in Optis, if you can work down in the puffs once speed is achieved, and up immediately in the lulls, you gain!

  • As always, but especially in bigger wind and fleets, having a good start was key. If you had a good start on the favored side and could hit the first shift you would extend your lead right away.

  • In general, there were more shifts on the top of the course because of the land windward to the course.
Peter Barnard, Julia Melton, Annie Samis, Katia DaSilva, Madeline Torrey, Deana Fedulova

Thank you to All-American Katia DaSilva for coaching the Chicago group with me, and to all the sailors and parents for making this happen!

Julia Melton

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