This weekend was an eventful one with both the Edmonton Yacht Club Intercity Regatta and the CYC Commodore's Cup. Up at EYC we had a tight regatta with a lot of interesting situations coming out on the race course and the score sheet. The regatta was not heavily attended, but the numbers were more than made up for by the close competition, the excellent EYC hospitality, food, festivity and weather.
On the first day it was 3-8 knots with big and at times ominous cumulus clouds passing by and affecting the wind. Generally, when there is a big thunderhead or big thick cloud, there will be a persistent shift towards it. Also, generally, when there are a lot of small cumulus clouds the wind will oscillate more or less randomly. However this weekend, the cumulus clouds were quite big and it seemed that this caused a persistent shift in one direction and then that would quit and it would start to oscillate again. Then a persistent shift would start again (sometimes in the opposite direction) but soon the wind would be back to shifting somewhere around it's mean direction. The problem with this is that in an oscillating breeze you want to tack on the headers whereas in a persistent breeze, you want to take the headers for a while and then tack later to sail on an inside radius. So when the header came, it was not clear which strategy to use. Quick reactions, informed hunches, and managing the fleet where essential. To make things more interesting in the Full Rig Fleet, Maura D and Finn G put on standard rigs to play in the larger fleet. Maura started off by showing the Full Rig sailors that Radial sailors are the real deal by winning the first two races.
R1 R2 Total
Maura D 1 1 2
Ian H 5 2 7
Ian E 2 5 7
Isaac B 4 3 7
Given the interesting three-way tie for second, lets look at how tie breaking works.
Ties are broken based on who has the most first place finishes. After the morning that would be Maura, but she was not tied, she is well ahead of the pack. Since Ian H, Ian E and Isaac B all have the same number of points we look as who has the most first place finishes, the most second place finishes, thirds and so on until the tie is broken. That would put Isaac in 4th, but does not separate Ian H and Ian E. They both have the same number of
1st place finishes, 2nds, 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, etc.
respectively: none, one, none, none, one, none.
So we move on to the next tie breaker: who beat who in the last race. At lunch, that was Ian H's 2nd beating Ian E's 5th. Even though Isaac B beat Ian E in the last race, Ian E won the first tie breaker and that put him in second place. The placing here isn't important other than to show how close the competition was, I am trying to draw attention to how the scoring works rather than who placed where, when.
Another less known point about finishing is that if a race committee is unable to tell which of two or more boats finishes ahead, they can tally up the points from the positions that finished simultaneously and divide them by the number of boats that were tied. For example if 3rd and 4th had tied they would each receive 3.5 points. If 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd all came across the finish line at the exact same time, they would all receive 21.5 points. Of course this is all very rare and unlikely, but it also tends to come up in come up in x-class fleets when two competitors in different boats end up with the same adjusted time in a race. More often in one design class, finish recorders are encouraged to take their best guess at which boat finished first based on a consistent sighting across the finish line.
For a more official explanation of these tying riles, take a look at how the Racing Rules of Sailing explains it in Appendix A
At the end of Saturday the close results looked like this:
R1 R2 R3 R4 Total If we already had a drop (actually awarded on race 5)
Ian E 2 5 2 2 11 6
Bill P 3 8 1 1 13 5
Ian H 5 2 3 4 14 9
Isaac B 4 3 4 3 14 10
Maura D 1 1 6 9 17 8
Six points separated the top five people and Bill P was leading the pack with the anticipated drop.
On Sunday it blew around 15 to 20 knots and Bill P had an equipment failure which didn't help his motivation and he headed in to let the rest of the fleet fight it out in the standings. The radial sailors stayed in Full Rig and were in for a ride. The waves were pretty big, sharp and moving significantly slower than downwind laser boat speed. As Peter McD pointed out at the Wabamun Open, you needed to sail around the big waves and find the flat spots. Steep waves could give you a good acceleration but unless you had an exit strategy there was often the risk of burying your bow and submarining. To make matters worse, the wind and waves increased as you got further downwind, so when most sailors arrived at the leeward mark on Starboard tack without having braved the gybe and finally went for it, it was the worst time to execute the gybe. The steep troughs and strongest wind on the course caused a few yard sale type scenes with numerous boats capsized around the leeward mark as a large puff hit. A couple sailors even executed "chicken gybes" tacking instead of risking the big gybe.
Nick H and myself put our size to good use and climbed the standings in the heavy wind among a fleet of sailors who were either radial sized or had headed for shore rather than struggle with the demanding conditions.
At the end of the regatta the top of the standings went as follows:
R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 Total Net
Ian E 2  2 2 1 1 1 14 9
Isaac B  3 4 3 4 3 3 24 20
Maura D 1 1 6  3 4 6 30 21
Nick H not sure 2 2 2 30 22
Ian H  2 3 4 5 5 4 30 23
Even after seven races it was extremely close from second to fifth and Maura D and Isaac B demonstrated that there is a lot more to heavy wind than being big. Their sails were as flat as possible and they were often sheeting out two feet from the back corner of the boat in the puffs managing to keep up speed through the chop without stalling out. Maybe we can have Maura explain how she keeps up her boat speed when she is tremendously overpowered this evening at the Tuesday Night Race Team practice.
One last interesting point about the results is that before the drop, Maura D, Nick H and Ian H all had even scores at 30 points, which would indicate that the three of them were ranked from least consistent to most consistent in the final standings. At first, this would seem to be a counter intuitive scoring system. Why then do we have drops if it rewards inconsistency? But as sailors we already know the answer. Anything can happen on the race course. Knowing we have a drop lets us feel more comfortable with taking big risks and so it makes the game more exciting and the competitors more daring. Maura D was regularly fighting tooth and nail, this regatta, for the coveted (risky) race committee position and she often won it or came out in a good position. However in Race 4, she got pushed over the line and got so tangled with other boats and the committee boat that it was many seconds before she could even turn around to head back across the start line let alone start catching the fleet. But drop races let us take this as a calculated risk. If we are free to take risks in this unpredictable sport of ours, overall, the quality of racing improves when these risks pay-off.
In the radial fleet at EYC Garret T and Hanny B had a good battle for first with Hanny B coming out on top. The radials started with the Full Rig fleet and got some good practice in, often climbing high up the fleet.
Mike L also came out to EYC in his International Canoe and had a blast.
In other news, we worked on upwind and downwind lanes last Tuesday Night Race Team and had a gorgeous and well-attended day of Thursday Night Racing. Sunday was the Commodores Cup, but it was blown out! The race was not held. I heard that Thom S took out his radial and blasted back and forth and that the wind was up around 30 knots. Yikes!
The next regattas coming up are the GSC Driftwood Regatta and there are plans in the works for one trailer to RVanYC's Waves Regatta on the same weekend of the 23rd and 24th.
I hope too see lots of you out this evening for Tuesday Night Training and Thursday for racing.