Thursday, June 26, 2008

Kiel Week 2008: Day 2

Kiel is famous for difficult conditions, and today they showed up. We started the day with offshore breeze gusting to 25 knots and 3 races on the schedule. Our course is far away from the beach, and near a point of land that makes offshore conditions very interesting as wind comes from both sides. The right side was lifted, making it the favored side. As we had planing conditions the goal was to get as far right as possible before tacking. This was more difficult than it sounds because there were lots of shifts, holes, and punishing gusts. Also, the Laser course was close to ours, so sometimes we were sailing with fleets of boats! There is a LOT of boat traffic here…that wasn’t the least we had to deal with. We are also sailing with a lot of tall ships that like to hang out around the windward side of our course…not good for when you have to make a layline on a plane!

Huge gusts of wind were coming through at the start of the first race. Port tack was favored along with the pin end of the line, so most of the fleet started on port. I was no exception. I had some difficulty getting off the line with the strong wind and everyone fighting for control. I ended up with a decent start towards the middle of the fleet. However I lost control in a gust and fell in (that water is cold!). I quickly waterstarted and was on my way again, but lost ground because my speed isn’t where it should be in those conditions. Also I was fighting with my fin again. Even though I had changed it, it still is not perfect. It is a little better than yesterday’s fin, but the angle of rake is just a tiny bit different. As we finished up the race, the wind started to get lighter.

For the second race, starboard tack was favored on the line. However the right side of the course was still favored. I had a clean start in the middle of the line, and went right a few hundred meters and tacked over. Unfortunately there is a lot of boat traffic on the course, and a huge police boat, I mean huge, was sitting right in the middle of the line to windward, doing something to a small pleasure craft that was also invading the course. During the start with one minute left to go, it had rolled right by and given us some gigantic wake! A few girls got too close and got knocked in the water by the wind gusts coming off of it.

While on port, I got a good lift and made some progress, and was in a good position around the windward mark. The reach was interesting as the wind dropped off a lot. The windward mark on the outer trapezoid was directly below this point of land, so the wind was really fluky right around it. If one sailed to the outside of the trapezoid (and the point) downwind, there was a big header. However the wind was lighter out there and it paid to go back to the favored right side of the course. When we reached the windward reach mark, everyone had to start pumping as the wind died. I lost a few boards here, unfortunately. When we got to the leeward mark, the wind dropped off and we were forced to sail daggerboard down. A few girls and I went hard right and again it paid.

During the last start, the wind was back again. We had a planing start and the pin end of the line / port tack was again favored. Everyone started on port again. I had the best start of my regatta so far in this race. I started on the leeward side of the fleet but got out early from under them with good speed. I maintained the speed for the most part, but again I was having trouble pointing in the crazy chop. The wind started to have more dramatic lulls and gusts and again, the right was favored. I had a fairly good race, only losing ground on one downwind when I went course right.

Overall it was a pretty good day, and I made up for my OCS yesterday. You can view the results here.

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