Team National Yacht Club Update
Since the last newsletter, Team National Yacht Club has competed at two Match Racing Events in Long Island Sound, New York and at RCYC. We finished 4th at both events against very strong competition, and gained an important 1632 points towards our international ranking. We are currently ranked 133rd of 1780 teams worldwide (15th in North America, 2nd in Canada) and expect to be under 120th when the new rankings are released in early September. The goal remains to be ranked in the top 100 in the world by the end of the year, so we’ll have to perform well at our remaining two regattas.
York Cup, Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Toronto
It was great light air racing in RCYC’s Sonars in Toronto harbor. Team National Yacht Club for this event was Magnus, Chris and Gord, and we finished 4th of 9 teams. NYC’s Steven Wood and Anne Marie Shewfelt were on-the-water umpires for this regatta.
Day 1: We finished the round robin on Saturday in a 3-way tie for 3rd with Terry McLaughlin (2nd in Flying Dutchman at 2004 Olympics, Canada’s Cup skipper, America’s Cup challenger series skipper with North Sail’s Jeff Moore on board) and Oskar Johannson (4th in Tornado at 2008 Olympics, with Mike Wolf who won silver in Stars at 2008 Olympics, and Andy Horton who is a former America’s Cup and top US Star sailor). All three teams lost to Peter Wickwire (RCYC) and Steve Lowery (Chicago Match Race Center), and each team lost to one of the other tied teams. We beat Terry in a great race with lots of tacks, and lost to Oskar.
Day 2: To settle this three-way tie, they sent us out at about 9am for a sail off. It would have been us vs. Terry in the first match, with looser racing Oskar. The looser of the 2nd match would have been 5th, and the other two go on to the semi-finals.
Instead, we went out and there was almost no wind. We floated around for quite a while, and then sailed around in 2kn of breeze. We headed in when it was obvious that a storm was brewing, and got SOAKED on the way in during a full-on lightning storm.
We were then postponed on shore. At various points the organizers cancelled the sail off and the consolation round. We won the tie breaker, so we sat in 3rd and Terry was in 4th.
Mid-afternoon the top four teams went back out for semis, etc. At the time: 1st Wickwire, 2nd Lowrey, 3rd Sandberg, 4th McLaughlin. At 1:40pm they cancelled the semi-finals, which was too bad. So we went straight into finals and petit-finals.
We raced against Terry, and came into the starting box from the starboard side (yellow). After a good dog-fight we won the start as close to leeward boat near the pin. Terry tacked away after the start, and we covered. We tacked in phase with him all the way up wind, only shifting slightly right at the top of the course. Our tacks were better and boat speed was the same, so we extended. I’m not sure what happened downwind because I was looking at my spinnaker, but we maintained our lead. We played the same game with the same result for the 2nd time around, and we won the race.
In the 2nd race we came in from the other side (blue), and tried to tack and sail out of the dial up (in light air). It didn’t quite work, so we dialed up again. Then we did a thin build and did tack over his bow and bear off. We couldn’t get quite past him though, so we couldn’t bear off as much as we wanted. Instead we sailed “under pressure” past the committee boat on a beam reach (with no overlap). Just before the gun, we intentionally slowed down to create an overlap. After the gun, he just kept coming at full speed. So we slowed down to create the overlap, waited a few seconds, and threw a Y flag to request a penalty for Terry breaking rule 17. The umpire flew his green flag to indicate no penalty, and Terry tacked and led us back to the line for a “crush” start with us clear astern over the start line.
We made them work, by tacking often and getting out of phase. We didn’t gain much though. We were several boatlengths behind at the last windward mark, but tightened up significantly on the final downwind and finished about a boatlength behind him. We spoke to the umpires afterwards, and then didn’t think that there was an overlap. I had run back to check before flagging, and they didn’t have a wing boat. In retrospect, we should have waited until the overlap was more obvious – especially since Terry hadn’t clued into the rule 17 issue at all. Then we could have won that start, and had a shot at winning the race.
The last race was unfortunate. We gated in on starboard (yellow) but gated in early… the only penalty flag against us all weekend (in 11 races). I don’t remember the rest of the start, except that we were under pressure reaching to the pin and were over at the start. So, we were over early with a penalty. We trailed the whole race and lost. It was a tough way to end the regatta, but it was a good showing by us on the whole.
We lost to Peter W, Steve Lowrey, Oskar and Terry (twice). We beat Terry (twice), Sharon Choat/Ferris (2008 Olympian for New Zealand) and the three other teams. We got one penalty (for early gate in), and had four against others. We sailed well, were as fast as anyone (except our first two races), didn’t have any boat handling errors, and made many very strong tactical and strategic decisions. 3rd would have been nice, we’re all satisfied with our weekend.
Oakcliff Summer Clinegatta, Oakcliff Match Racing Center, Long Island Sound, NY
We had a great experience in NY, and learned a lot very quickly, including how to sail a Swedish Match 40! We had a two-day clinic preceding the regatta, and it really helped us sort out this new 40 foot tiger. The SM40 takes 5 to sail her, and our team was Magnus Sandberg, Chris Clarke, Gordon Delgaty-Cook, Jason Hearst and Chris Dorrington.
There were 10 competing teams, including US college teams, one with the clinic instructor (who is a varsity sailing coach at Merchant Marine Academy) and one with North U’s Bill Gladstone as tactician.
Day 1: The wind varied from 4-10 knots, and was pretty patchy. We went 7-2 in the round robin on Saturday and didn’t have a single boat-handling issue, which was amazing considering none of us had even seen the boat before Thursday.
Of the two races we lost, one was a nail-biter. The other boat carried a penalty through most of the race, and we kept close. In fact on the final downwind we slowed down to match their speed because we didn’t want to get close enough for them to try to put an offsetting penalty on us. Unfortunately that strategy didn’t work – the wind picked up near the finish line and they were just able to get their penalty turn in and cross the line before we got to it.
One of the round robin races we won was very intense. We were leading in to the weather mark, barely clear ahead and to leeward of our competitor. If the boats were overlapped as they entered the zone (2 boatlengths for match racing) then they would have mark room; otherwise, we would. We believed that there was no overlap, and fortunately so did the on-the-water umpires. However, our competitors didn’t agree and they “barged” in to round the mark and we had to bear off to avoid collision. The umpires penalized our opponent quickly, and after some prompting from us put up a red flag too.
A standard penalty in match racing can be exonerated by the penalized boat at any time during the race. However, an umpire can put up a red flag with a penalty if he thinks that a boat committed a foul and gained “control” while doing it. The red flag forces the penalized boat to do a penalty turn as soon as possible. However, penalty turns can’t be done while in the zone around a mark.
In this case, our opponent definitely gained control and rounded the mark ahead of us. We watched as our opponent rounded the mark and (briefly) hoisted their spinnaker and sailed downwind. They should have sailed out of the zone as quickly as possible and done their turn! I hailed the umpire several times to point this out The umpire apparently agreed with me, and disqualified our opponent for breaking this special rule about penalties accompanied by red flags.
Day 2: Our round robin record was good enough to put us in the semi-finals on Sunday. The weather wasn’t promising; forecasts showed very little wind anywhere in Long Island Sound until 11am when it was forecast to shut down completely. And that’s exactly what happened.
We faced Jonathan Singsen (our clinic instructor) in the semi-final, and we beat him in the first race in about 3-5kn of breeze. He took two penalties in the pre-start (both with contact), and had to exonerate one immediately after the start. We led to the windward mark, and downwind toward the leeward mark. We simultaneously gybed with him on the layline to the leeward mark, and so we didn’t have a “rule 17” restriction on us. As leeward boat with no rule 17 restriction (see sidebar on rule 17) we sailed him up above the zone, so he didn’t get mark room. He thought he was entitled to mark room and sailed down on us – we avoided, and he got another penalty (now 2 penalties).
We immediately faked a gybe to the mark; falling for it, he bore off too just as we came back up. This gave him another penalty. Because he already had 2 penalties and he got a third, which isn’t allowed, he was disqualified and the race was over. It was INTENSE and after that race we were leading the regatta.
We went up against him in the 2nd race of the semi-final in almost no breeze at all (1-3kn). He won the start at the pin, with us close to windward. It was a good start for us, but we couldn’t “live there” on the edge of his lee bow all the way to the layline. All starts after ours were abandoned due to lack of wind.
He eventually squirted out a few feet, and we were forced to tack. He followed immediately, and had us pinned past the starboard layline. We trailed closely around the windward mark, and had a good hoist. We were still feeling confident because we’d passed several boats downwind during the regatta. However, the wind shifted enough that there wasn’t an opportunity to pass on the downwind, and the 2nd beat was a drag race without a single tack. We finished behind Jon and our record stood at 1-1 with us sitting in 4th place in the regatta.
We waited for 3 hours for the wind to come in. We dutifully sailed around trying to convice the RC to run another race. If we beat Jon once more we’d win the regatta. The wind didn’t come in, and racing was abandoned for the day. We finished 4th overall, but sure had a sniff at winning the whole thing.
The boat handling was fantastic – especially thanks to hard work and training by Gordo and Jason. Our strategy and tactics were very solid all the way around the course, we were always fast, and we were very happy with our 8-3 record in the regatta.
Team National Yacht club has been invited by LYRA to represent Lake Ontario at the Richardson Trophy regatta. Peter Wickwire and his team from RCYC will also represent Lake Ontario. This regatta, held in Chicago in mid-October, is the match racing championship for all member clubs of the Yacht Racing Union of the Great Lakes (YRUGL).
The team wraps up the season back at Oakcliff Match Racing Center in the Swedish Match 40s for the Oakcliff Halloween Invitational.
Thank yous go out to NYC members Dave Sprague, Steven Jones and Chris Hobbs for the use of their boats for training and racing. Special thanks also go to NYC for its support of the match racing club through the use of Brigs and Dragon Lady. Many thanks also go to Steven Woods, Bruce Brown, Ann Mitchel and Dave Sprague for the volunteer hours invested.
Photo credit: RCYC Match Racing (http://rcycmatchracing.shutterfly.com/ )
Sidebar on Rule 17
17 ON THE SAME TACK; PROPER COURSE
If a boat clear astern becomes overlapped within two of her hull lengths to leeward of a boat on the same tack, she shall not sail above her proper course while they remain on the same tack and overlapped within that distance, unless in doing so she promptly sails astern of the other boat. This rule does not apply if the overlap begins while the windward boat is required by rule 13 to keep clear.
(look here for official definitions of the words in italics)
Rule 17 is the same for fleet racing and match racing. It says if you establish a leeward overlap from clear astern (and within 2 boatlengths) that you cannot sail above or past your proper course.
So, for example if we’re both going downwind with me behind and you ahead, and I go faster or deeper and get a leeward overlap (and the boats are < 2 boatlengths apart), then I can’t sail past my layline to the mark or above my VMG angle due to 17.
If however we got in the exact same configuration because you as the windward boat were clear astern and sailed into the overlap to windward of me, I can luff you head to wind or take you 20 miles past layline.
The same thing applies during and after a start. The difference being that “proper course” has no definition until the start signal. As soon as the start signal is displayed, a boat’s proper course is to get to the start line.