Coming in HOT or maybe NOT


With just a week remaining until the North Americans and warm temperatures forecast for this weekend, I decided my day job could take a back seat to my DN training. T was up for heading up to Quaboag this past Thursday and I was glad. My goal for the day was to improve my leeward mark roundings.

To me, the two most exciting aspects of any one design sailboat race is the start and the leeward mark rounding. I love the strategy, the jockeying for position, and the count down at the start. At a leeward mark rounding, fun happens when several boats start to convene towards the mark. You execute your strategy to get inside, you call for room, you come in wide, sheet in, and ideally you are close hauled just as you round up hugging the mark close enough to almost touch it. Love it!

Well, I did that aggressive maneuvering last year at the leeward mark in my DN up in Vermont on Lake Champlain when the wind was pretty big. Chris Gordon’s words still haunt me. "Well, she was coming in really HOT."

Do I remember flying out of my boat? No

I just remember the excitement I felt at the approach, wanting to catch Eben, and seeing Chris standing by the starting area. Then, I was sliding on my back across the ice with my eyes still closed. When I finally stopped, I took a deep breath. I looked back and saw my boat dismasted about 30 yards behind me. Chris came over to make sure I was okay. I was fine and so was my boat. Reconstructing the scene, the gash in my right pant leg meant my leg hit the side stay as my body lifted and flew out of the boat. Is that horizontal G force action? I don’t know, but I don’t wish to repeat it and I have been hesitant at the leeward mark roundings ever since.

So on Thursday two marks were set, the breeze was up, and doing a ton of leeward mark roundings was my job for the day. My teacher is patient and wise. He gave me all the tips and advice he could give, but I gotta DO IT to LEARN IT.

Hour after hour after hour with a small warm up break in the van I basically went around and around and around the two marks. I even started cutting short the windward leg so I could fall off and build speed and just do more leeward mark roundings. I was fast downwind and with my mast all popped out I’d do my final gybe. With my eyes on that mark and still going fast, I’d bear off straight down to lose some speed as instructed. Then, I’d ease the sheet and head up and make my approach. But I just could not pick the best point at which to turn up and round the mark close hauled. I’d either come in too HOT or NOT.

After sailing directly behind T a bunch of times and trying to mirror his track, I thought I had the whole approach down. In a late day attempt, with a few folks watching, I felt confident I was going to nail it. Unfortunately, I didn’t. Instead, I almost spun out. Argh!

I kept trying and I remained inconsistent. It was getting late in the day, my arms were getting tired, and it was not going to happen. Clearly, more work remains.

I will head to the North Americans with some leeward mark regret. Maybe if I just stayed out another hour, but the moon was rising over Quaboag when we finally called it a day.

I’ll keep you posted on the trip west.

Think Ice!

Karen DN 5630
NEIYA Secretary

2 responses

  1. dnkellygreen

    Hi Mike, Glad I am not the only one that has trouble. I will look for you at the NA’s and we can commiserate. Safe travels, Karen Binder

    01/13/2020 at 10:49 am

  2. Mike Webber

    I have trouble with leeward rounding as well. I am relatively new to the sport and the learning curve is high. I got to learn to slack off during the rounding. More than once I have spun at the leeward mark and I even flipped it once. It just seems counter intuitive to slow your boat down when you are racing. Hopefully I will stay in the boat this year during the NA’s. See you there!

    KC 5591 From Nova Scotia

    Sent from my iPhone


    01/12/2020 at 10:44 pm