Category Archives: Racing Exchange

Exchange ideas on racing rules and techniques

Spring Sailboat Prep Starts

Well it is March 15 and 80 degrees.  I met up with the most of the crew on Wednesday at the barn where two S2 7.9 racing sailboats are stored.  After a bit of refreshment, we started working on adding spinnaker ram cleats to the top deck and moving bottom paint line up four inches by removing the old vinyl trim and sanding out the lines.

A flourescent bulb burned out and made a nasty smell, and the 30 seconds it took us to find the burning object was high excitement.  Nobody wanted the boats to burn up.

Time for a break and some pizza.

Till next week.

Spectator from a Marker Boat

 I hope that everyone can occasionally crew on race committee marker boat for the race committee.  This is different than the race committee boat where they have to set flags, check in boats, start the race, and record the finish times, while the marker boat is much different.  Here is what I saw and why I think you may be interested volunteering on the marker boat.


There are four distinct phases for crewing on the race committee marker boat.  The four steps are: 1) planning the course, 2) setting the anchors for the two race markers, 3) watching and critiquing the boats during the race, and 4) picking up markers.


Step one included a lot of experienced individuals providing input into the wind direction, weather forecast, expected wind changes into the decisions on the ultimate course.  Current winds were between 60 (NE) and 90 (E) and forecasted to change.  We settled on 70degrees. The forecast was for increasing winds through the evening and no bad weather on the radar for the next few hours.  Therefore, we opted for a course of four legs versus two legs and the legs length of .9 mile distance. (4 x .9 = 3.6 mile course)


Now that the decisions were made, we were on to our second step of placing the markers.  We motored 70degrees directly into the wind and placed our windward marker at .9 miles from the race committee boat.  Then we needed to place the start/finish buoy 90 degrees port of the race committee starting boat.


Thirdly, we enjoyed and critiqued the race.  Doug, who has been racing for years, knew when they were going to tack, and who would have trouble with the spinnakers.  Unlike the race committee, which is very busy at the start of a race, the marker boat is free to watch and take photos during the entire race.  I took photos and remembered how cool it was to receive race pictures by other volunteers.


Lastly, we picked up the markers and packed them away.  I really enjoyed my leisure trip out on the race marker boat and thought you should know.



 Race Committee boat preparing for the start

 Spinnakers flying


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Bay Shore Wednesday Night Race – 8 September 2010

Our crew of six raced on Lake Macatawa. The winds had calmed to 13 knots after five days of 20+ knots.  Our usual Lake Macatawa course was four legs West to East loop.  The winds nearly from the North meant it was going to be a West reach and East reach and we were doubtful that we could run the spinnaker.

We had a good start but we were not the first.  We could have used Vaseline to pass one of divisions competitors sailboats, as we sailed for over hundred yards within feet of their siderails.  We passed the mark by over a boat length to leave the leeward boat sufficient room to round the mark to port on a jibe, and as we jibed, we took notice that they were not jibing, but pushing and forcing us to unjibe and we lost momentum.  Eight thousand pounds slowed to one knot.

We eventually completed our jibe, but we now had three of our competition in front us and three legs to pass them.  We hit 9.3 knots in winds 15knots plus.  I guess our averaged speed was 7.8 in 13 knots winds.

On leg four, one of our competition (Nemisis) was flying the spinnaker and rounded up within 400 yards of the finish, giving us enough opportunity to pass the finish line ahead, but behind the other two.

Steady winds

June 16 Race #3 Summer series

Near full crew on Lickity Split.  Due to a lack of wind on the big lake, the race was to be held on Lake Macatawa, and the lighter winds meant we only had time for two legs.   

Brave Bert – We sent Bert up in the Bolson’s chair to fix the WindDex.  We used the main sail halyard, and a backup line with the genoa halyard.  He packed his pockets with tools.  Of course it required one more tool, so we sent a five gallon bucket up another halyard with allen wrenches. Once it was at the top, it posed an undesirable image: a 5 gallon bucket directly underneath Bert as he was working the mast top equipment.  Not a pretty picture.   

Our division started at 1910.  Our speed ranged from 1.5 to 3.1 knots.  We were all trying to eek out more speed, and we stayed ahead of “Drumbeat” on the first three tacks.  Each time she would have her retractible spar extended a bit, reaching out toward us, as we crossed paths in three near misses, and each time, she passed within in feet of our aft.  Put a sharp point on the front of the spar and she would have been a ramming ship. 

In the end, other boats were fortunate enough to be in a lane of breeze, while others like us, nearly stalled in calm spots.  To our unpleasent surprise with spinnakers sailing downwind, Carpicious sailed under us, as we sailed over them on a port breach, and we fully expeted to steal her wind, yet they excellerated and we stalled.  Uggg. 

Swinging SteveO – SteveO is our main spinnaker guy, reconnecting the spinnaker pole to the opposing clew on each jibe.  In heavy wind it is easy to see that the job has lots of increased risk of injury.  Last night was calm, but Lake Macatawa was crowed and narrow and required at four jibe manuevers, all performed smoothly by SteveO.

Bay Shore Race 1 of the summer series

June 2, 2010

We heard that there was no wind on the big Lake, so we took our time and headed out in medium fog to check in with the committee boat on the small lake, Lake Macatawa.  We had eight of our 10 crew.  The fog increased and we could hardly see 100 yards.  It was gripping to be with a 200 yards of 36 sailboats, as they pop in and out of sight.

Captain Jeff said hold off on raising the sheets, as he keenly anticipated the race would be canceled.  And sure enough, at 1855, the race was canceled.  The committee boat noted they could not see the other mark to be able to determine which boats were crossing the finish line.  It would also be very dangerous to suddenly see sailboats heading at you, and be surrounded by other boats in your division, and not able to tack in time.

How foggy was it? 

When we arrived at the marina, Captain Jeff turned into a slip, only to notice he turned two slips too early.

Till next week.

Race 4 of the Bay Shore Spring Series 26 May 2010

A few of the crew arrived early and installed new cunningham sheet and running back stay sheets.  Sunny and warm at 75degrees, and 6 knot winds from the North at 353 degrees.  The race was to be 4 legs .75 km each leg, and to take place on the big lake.

Michael was keen to record each tacks course and determined our starboard tack had an advantage tonight.

The race was called short from 4 legs to 2 legs as we could see the fog moving in.

Calm winds made it tough to get out sailboat out in front of the competitors.  I found the rhythm and pace of work too slow and easy to forget my next steps.  Enough time in between allowed my mind to wonder.  It was not the captains fault, it was wind against me. 

Till next week.

Race 3 May 19, 2010 Calm winds and great sunset.

Bay Shore Race 3 May 19 2010 – Light Winds

Noth West winds at 7 knots made for an easy sale at 65 degrees temperature.  Before the start, the portside mid-mast back stay controller cable came out, same as race 1.  Up went Stevo to fix it on the bolson gear.  No accidents. 

 We started race within seconds of the start.  We ran the old jib #1 which reminded me of the Black Perl’s sails, a bit darkened.  This 2 leg race started on starboard tack, and top speed of 2 knots.  We tacked to portside and found us hitting 4 knots.  This was repeated on each tack. Maybe there was a current?

Our spinnaker produced 4.5 knots. 

No issues to report, and we were not stretching our skills because of the minimal winds.   Anyone with camera  would have had been rewarded with great sunset pictures.  

See for race results.

Race 2 – 12 May 2010 Knockdown

Race two of the year was a hairied ride with gusty East wind.  Crew arrived early around 1700 to perform pre-race fixes to halyards and other minor items.

Crew for this week:
TJ Captain A – Helm
Jeff Captain B – Helm
Kathi – Eyes and Ears
Mike P, CrewMaster
StevO, Spin Master
DavO, Jib and Cunningham
Bert, Jib and Cunningham
Stormy, Jib sheets
Mike 2 (absent), Spin Down-Top Haul Sheet
Drifter (me) Pit (spinnaker top & down haul and sail stuffer)

Our departure was a hint that tonight would be a windy challenge, as the wind was in command of our boat and kept forcing our bow and boat downwind, preventing us heading into the wind and out of the marina.  We traveled awkwardly sideways down the slips heading towards dockwall on the shoreside.  Finally we pushed the bow downwind enough for us to power in reverse heading into the wind in reverse.

We are down one crew member tonight.  Note to crew – the gas station has  signs all over that discourage boat pickups. Need to find alternate late pickup location, maybe MBYC.

Upon exit of the channel with main sail up, we flew the spinnaker.  TJ was noticing the pull on the boat from the spinnaker sail and we all were preparing to practice several spinnaker jibes.  This is a challenge because the bow-man Stevo has to detach the spinnaker pole from the mast, attach to clew sheet, jibe-ho, and re-attach opposite end of spinnaker pole to mast, with sail in between wind loads.  I was a bit behind on the top and down haul lines, and with the East wind pushing us farther away from shore, we all seemed to notice the wind gusts getting bigger, stronger, and we could all smell danger in the air.  In short order we were a mile off shore and passing the committee boat, and the wind-gusts were now exceeding 30 knots.  TJ cancelled the jibe practices (great call) and yelled pop-the-spinnaker,  and we did.

I hit the pit and we all began to pull in the spinnaker.  I was timing myself on stuffing the spinnaker.  I tried a new approach with the head and clews all on the port side and after it was 90% stuffed in the turtle with rubber-bands, the red clew still had 20 ft to go and the blue clew was 0 ft.  Dam.  I had to redo it again, and now at 8+ minutes.

Not sure who called it, but someone yelled “knock-down“.  Sure enough – an S2 7.9 “Second Wind” had a knock-down.  It seemed like a very long time as we watched and hoped they were not injured and pinned.  I am pretty sure the sails were wet, and about 15 seconds seemed to drag-on, but the crew pulled themselves on board and released the sheets, and the mast slowly raised. Hopefully they only have a few bruises.

Time was 8 minutes to the start and one less boat. We noticed SwiftSure with only jib, as we later found out, they blew there main out minutes earlier.

Our Spin class started at 1910 and off we went, blocked by Rumors ahead giving us bad wind, and Swiftsure behind us, passing to leeward.  We noticed the gusts sometimes up to 38 knots.  “Lake Effect” and “Hot for Teacher” had wind gusts that forced them to round-up.

Upon rounding the East windard mark (nearest the shore), we saw ahead of us “Capricious” and “Sufficient Reason” launched their spinnakers.  Then we saw “Sufficient Reason” blow their halyard or top of their spinnaker, and the crew quickly pulling it in as they sailed over the sail.  We all commented how smart it was for us not to launch our spinnaker.

As we rounded the windward mark, the wind gusts,  pushed us hard, as we released our sails to a broad reach, we sailed along with more than 7 knots.   We finished.  Check out for their photos.

Opportunities for Improvement:1) Replace cunningham line.

2) BoomVang connection is ready to pull out and we will need new screws to replace, and maybe pipe-clamp straps around entire boom and connection.

3) Need a mainsail preventer line readied before the race.

Race 1 – 5 May 2010

Our first race of the year on a new (used) J35.  We arrived early at 1700 for a 1900 race.

Pre-race readiness check.  As the crew arrived at the boat “Lickety-Split”, TJ was already busy sewing in battons on the #3 jib.

Crew for this week,
TJ Captain A – Mainsheet
Jeff Captain B – Helm
Kathi – Eyes and Ears
Mike P, BeastMaster
Stevo, Spin Master
Dave, Boomvang, cunningham, Spin#2
Bert, Backstays
Stormy, Jib and Spin Sheet
Mike 2, Spin Down-Top Haul Sheet
Drifter (me) Railmeat and Pit (spinnaker sail stuffer)

As we departed from dock and headed out on Lake Macatawa,  we needed to remove the genoa roller furling jib sail.  All of us a bit rusty from Winter, and new to the boat, struggled, fought, fumbled, and a whopping 5+ minutes later, the sail was down, and the #3 was ready.

We picked up Mike 2 from the channel gas stop in a strong cross wind.  This spot is used when a crew member misses the first departure at the marina.  The reverse on the engine was not as powerful as hoped, but we managed fine.  We hoisted the mainsail in the channel.  She is a sharkskin brand and looks like it.  We all commented that there is only one reef setup and no reef grommets, except the tack, and clew.

We exited the channel and hoisted the jib.  The flag was full and estimated the winds at 20 knots. Lickety-Split felt fast.  The wind speed gage read 17 knots??? and we headed off to test a few tacks.  On a J35, there are adjustable back stay cables (preventers ?), and one was yanked out.  As we headed down wind to the starting line, Stevo instantly had his bolson straps on and was being hoisted up the mast to re-attach the back stay cable.

As we readied the boat for the start, we did pretty well for estimating the 19:10  start for our division, and were about 15 seconds below the line at the start.  Not bad.  Windward mark is usually set directly into the wind, and at SW 170 degrees(?)

On our start, we were crowded on a starboard tack with a leeward boat 10 ft away and 5 ft ahead, unable to tack without risking a collision with the windward sailboat two boat links behind.  Once our windward boat tacked, so did we.  We all discussed strategy as our current course on port tack was 248, and we expected a lift on our starboard tack, as the wind had a forecast to change from  SW to West.  We tacked to starboard with Rumors ahead of us, and it worked out great and we stole wind from our leeward sailboat “Capricious”.

Rounding windward mark #1, jibing, and raising the spinnaker, is an adrenaline rush.  Our timing was not horrible, as we raised the spinnaker, only to find we hoisted the clew, and pulled her up sideways.  Hmmm.   As we were all surprised, there was a humm of laughter and chuckles, and Stevo had it corrected before the chuckling stopped.  Enough said.  During the jibe, I reminded Captain TJ about safe jibing on the mainsheet, and he nodded, he was ready, but I was nervous.  It reminded me of a hockey stick hitting the entire bench of a team.  Not a pretty image.  Regardless, TJ was way ahead of me.  As we changed course for Mark #2 on a port tack, dropping the spinnaker was in process, and as I was in the galley waiting for a clew of the spinnaker to start my work of pulling the spinnaker in, as it seemed like minutes went by waiting for the spinnaker to arrive.  I could hear yelling and sheets being pulled, and squeaking tackle.  I think the new wider boat is a farther reach for the crew pulling the spinnaker in from the deck to reach the pit.  Next time I want to step up out above the pit and grab a clew line, so the deck crew does not have to over reach when handing off the spinnaker into the pit (galley).

Onward to leeward mark.  Rounding leeward mark#2, and exactly as planned, our port tack was now 255 degrees, so we kept this tack short as possible, and the starboard tack would continue to give us lift.

Rounding windward mark #3, jibing, hoisting the spinnaker went up strait, but we struggled with getting it untwisted. Rumors beat us to the finish line.  It was said that the older Lickety-Split would have passed Rumors.  So let it be known, we need to optimize this newer boat and pass Rumors on downwind runs.

Opportunities for Improvement:

1) I am going to time myself on stuffing the spinnaker (with rubberbands) into the turtle (bag) and return to deck as fast as possible.

2) Pit guy grabs spinnaker clew line to assist getting clew of spinnaker in pit faster.

What did I miss guys?