Eben, T, Eric and I departed yesterday from Connecticut at 11: 30 am in T’s big old Ford Transit with two DNs on the roof and two in a trailer. We made it through Pennsylvania with no issue, but the snow started falling heavily just outside Toledo, Ohio. By that time we’d heard that registration was delayed highways in Iowa and west of Minneapolis were already closed. We decided to be prudent and holed up in a motel/no tell off Rt. 80. By the time we woke up, things had turned to rain and as I type we are now heading into Chicago traffic.
We have heard from Jeff Kent, Charlie Blair and Berndt Zeiger (G-107). They took the far southern route…driving through Maryland across southern Ohio and Indiana. They missed the snow and drove through the night. They are currently in Iowa…will they drive into Nebraska next?
Apparently, the roads are still closed in North and South Dakota. This is quite the adventure and we are all kinda thinking it makes sense to keep driving towards the big state of Montana. The video of Fort Peck from yesterday looked pretty good. We all wait for the official site location.
I’ll keep you posted!
Karen Binder, DN 5630
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.
Karen DN 5630
As I mentioned in my last post, my goal was to do 100 starts ASAP. After two days on Quaboag last weekend with no wind practicing starts were pretty much all I did each day. T, Jeff Kent, and Eric Anderson joined in for various parts of the those sessions. This weekend at Lake Something With a Very Long Name in Sidney Maine it was a combination of starts and scratch racing. By yesterday afternoon, I met my goal of doing 100 starts. Here are some things I learned.
- Pointy spikes make a difference. On a track, I am a very fast sprinter. At the Western Challenge and for one day at Quaboag I was not able to get off the line, push my boat as I expected, or beat anyone in the sprint aspect. At the Western Challange, I thought it was just because I am beginner. But on Saturday my traction wasn’t great and I was getting frustrated because I was getting beat so handily right off the line. Saturday night I finally looked at the bottom of my borrowed spikes and compared them to a new set. New spikes are POINTY. Mine spikes were ground little nubs with some even missing from the tread. Fortunately, a nice person switched the old nubs out and Sunday was a whole different ball game in terms of traction and speed. I have been so focused on "boat stuff" I didn’t think my own personal gear made that much difference. Then, for Christmas, Santa got me a set of spikes that fit my foot better and zoom zoom. Lesson learned: Good gear can help.
- I was realized I was standing too upright. When I ran my feet were getting too close to the plank. Since I am dreadfully fearful of repeating the superman scene at a start, I realized I was looking down too much at my feet rather than ahead. Solution, crouch down at the start and lean more into your shroud and tiller with your upper body. Hard to explain, but my feet are now farther aft of my plank and I get a longer stride and don’t come to close to my plank when I run. Lesson learned: Body position matters.
- I also started to feel as though I was not getting a good push on the tiller. I realized my tiller and tiller extension were too long for my body type. Fortunately, a nice person cut a few inches off and, wow, what a difference. I can really push and the boat moves. Lesson learned: Your boat needs to become an extension of you and must be tuned to you.
By yesterday morning, I was consistently really fast off the line and easing to my boat smoothly automatically. By 3:00 pm yesterday everyone else had left for the day. It was getting cold and you could feel the air was getting wet. I was cold, but I still wanted a bit more practice so T and I agreed to go back to van to warm up. Just as we were getting ready to go back out to the ice, six bald eagles circled around and landed in the area where we’d been sailing all day. They were standing in a circle as though they were having a meeting of some sort and commiserating to each other "Finally, those ice boaters have left the lake." Little did they know that I wanted to practice more. We gave them some time to chat and then T and I went out for one more fast start, a very fast upwind leg, and then a gybing practice session downwind. We got off the ice just as the snow was starting. It was lovely and peaceful and I felt a great sense of accomplishment.
I said on the van ride home, the next element I need to practice is leeward mark roundings. Stay tuned.
And as secretary my New Year’s request is IF YOU HAVE NOT RENEWED YOUR MEMBERSHIP PLEASE DO SO ASAP! Look to the right and you will see the area to click and renew!
Happy New Year and Happy Ice Time,
Karen Binder DN 5630
Sunday’s breeze was as predicted – light! The first race for the gold fleet was for 10:00 am. It was blowing maybe 5-6 and by the last race of the silver fleet it died to about 3-4. But, the good news was we had bright sun light and that made the 5 F temperature not feel too extreme. The brighter day also made for better visibility which certainly made me feel A LOT safer on the course.
With the lighter breeze, sun light, and a good safe day of racing behind me with an additional few hours of practice in my new boat after Saturday’s racing I felt ready to push myself a bit. Based on the result of the previous day’s last race, I was assigned to start on left side of the course in #18 position. When I lined up, I really scratched the ice with my spikes to make sure I had good traction for my push. When the flag dropped, I pushed off and sprinted very hard and kept sprinting until I couldn’t anymore and then slid into my boat gently (as I have been told to do). There was a good enough breeze that I could power up fairly quickly and I got my boom locked down into my shoulder. I learned the day before I really had not been pulling my main sheet into the proverbial “two block position” which I have been told is the speed nirvana point. So, I pulled and pulled until I saw the little gold marker coloration.
Many boats tacked under me over to port, but I wanted to go almost to the lay line. When I tacked over I could see just a few starboard boats coming towards the mark. I picked my spot and tacked over. From there, I stayed high around the windward mark to maintain speed as I have been encouraged to do and I easily gained ground and passed many of the boats to leeward of me. I had a good downwind leg and in that race I finished 6th in the first race of the day. I was really excited.
The 2nd race I was on the left side again and after sprinting got into a rough patch of ice with no speed. It was like the brake was on. I still ended up finishing that race in 8th place.
For the 3rd race, I really gave my start all I could give because the committee announced it was the last race of the regatta. When I slipped into the boat I really focused on building speed because the wind was very very light. I was PATIENT and I built speed. Again, most people below me tacked behind me. I kept going almost to the lay line as I was going fast and in clean air, but not too close to the lay line because I knew when I tacked over to the starboard lay line I would need speed going into and around the mark….T told me “speed begets speed” so tacking too close to the windward mark is a bad idea. I had good speed and stayed high around the mark. Some boats gybed quickly, but I did not. That has never worked well for me. So, I stayed high passed several other boats, went to the lay line and then gybed. As I approached the leeward mark all these people in the pit were raising their arms and cheering. After my rounding I was looking up the course and no other boats were there. I had rounded the leeward mark in first place. Amazing! And then I did the proverbial “Binder Choke”
My second windward leg was not good. I was low and slow and overshot the layline by a quarter mile. When I finally got to mark I’d let at least 8 boats round in front of me. I had little speed around the windward mark. The wind was really dying. I decided to gybe since I saw Bill B. do it. I caught some wind, but we were all pretty slow. Some were getting out and pushing. I decided to push too. I did that twice and by the time I got to the leeward mark I did have speed. My 3rd windward and leeward legs were better. When I approached the finish line, I figured I was maybe top ten. I was bummed, but okay with it. Then, a very nice woman named Maureen (who sails and races a Nite) approached me and said “great job!” and I said “thanks.” She then said “You got 3rd!” My silly enthusiasm got the best of me and I jumped up and down and screamed. Then, I gave her a big hug and told her she made my weekend.
When the final results were posted Bill, T, and I were already in the van driving home. I learned I’d moved from 16th place on Saturday to 11th place by the end of the regatta out of 27 boats. Last year and exactly the same weekend during the New England Challenge held in Maine, I was lapped during two different races and I did the “superman”at a start (where you lose your footing and fall on your plank, hold onto it for dear life, and get dragged around for a while). So, progress has been made.
My biggest take away from the weekend is that just like soft water one design racing, a good start makes your race so much easier. I will be continuing to work on that as the weeks progress. In college, I read Sailing Smart by Buddy Melges and I remember he recommended doing doing 100 tacks and 100 gybes in a practice session. For me, I want to practice 100 starts ASAP.
Congratulations to T and Bill for finishing in 2nd place in their respective divisions. I also want to thank T, Jeff Kent, Steve Madden, and Steve Duhamel for all their help, encouragement, and my DN equipment upgrades over the last year! I am very grateful.
Saturday morning brought a total of 56 sailors to the shore of Lake Puckaway with grade 7 ice. As predicted the breeze was a steady 10-12 with puffs to 15. Two fleets were raced with T, Chad, Jeff and Greg in the gold fleet and Chris, Bill, and me in silver.
The first race was called for 11 am and each fleet did a total of five races for the day. I can’t find the days results online to confirm, but T and Chad had great days with T getting two firsts and finishing the day in first place with a one point lead over Ron Sherry. Chad had a very good day ending in 7th place Jeff raced two or three races and was top ten in those races. Greg was just back to racing after two years and some knee issues and also ripped it up.
In the silver fleet, the breeze was on for Chris Gordon to crush with five bullets…Way to go Chris! And Bill, who we are all hoping switches from the skeeter fleet to the DN fleet on a more regular basis, gave Chris a good run for his money and was right on his tail, finished the day in 2nd place.
Way to go NEIYA!
For me, as a new racer with several hiccups last year, I was extremely nervous before the first race. I call it vomit nervous. But I got on the line, pushed and did my best to get a feel of my new boat and move my head around a lot to watch other boats. My goal for the day was to be very aware of others at all times, stay in my boat, keep my mast up, not do what’s a called a superman at the start, and be conservative around mark roundings. That’s especially hard for someone who has been a pretty aggressive laser sailor and have found mark roundings a great place to make gains.
My best race of the day was a 9th out of 25 boats. That race was about getting a great start the left going to the lay line and finding a good-sized hole to tack over when all the other boats were coming to the mark on starboard. After that race, some rig adjustments were made to adjust for heavier breeze and I just had a bit more trouble getting up to speed. By the end of the day, I landed in 16th in my division out of 25 boats. Respectful for my first big regatta.
After racing, T And I stayed out for about two more hours with me just doing lap after lap after lap. It was the absolute best to sail the course without the distraction of other boats because you can go all out and really dig into the speed. I am quite sure I went faster than I have ever been in my boat as I was going around the windward mark a few times. I’m hooked!
Today lighter winds are predicted…wish us all luck!
The drive out to the midwest was relatively easy with only a mild snow squall in Pennsylvania but no traffic or accidents to hold us up. T, Bill and I got out of Newport
by 10 am and by midday on Wednesday we learned the regatta was moving from Minnesota to Princeton, Wisconsin on Lake Puckaway. That reduced the drive time considerably. We arrived by about 4 am, slept for a bit, and headed to the lake later in the morning. There were already a few guys from Canada, Chris Berger from Chicago, and a couple from Wisconsin setting up and sailing with a stiff breeze. It was the first sailing of the season for most…
The New England Ice Yacht Association is well represented with ..Bill Bucholz from Maine, Chad Atkins, Chris Gordon from Nantucket, Jeff Kent, T, Greg Cornelius, and me.
The wind was blowing between 6-8 maybe puffs to 10 by the time I got out. The ice was relatively smooth but a big hole was found by one of the Canadians (one of his runners actually went into the hole) and quickly marked. A course was not set up so folks were just practicing and coming back to the pit to adjust setting etc.
Friday was to be the the first day of racing but no wind predicted and the forecast was spot on. Many other sailors arrived including Ron Sherry, John Dennis, and several brand new to the sport sailors even one guy from Georgia.
And today. T is sitting in first with a one point lead over Ron Sherry. Chad is seventh. In the silver fleet Chris Gordon is first and Bill Buchholz is second. New England is looking good!
From the shores of Puckway,