For the 3rd and final day of the Severn Sailing Association Soling Frostbite we had another day of light thermals and mostly overcast skies. I was once again the middle guy flying the chute and calling tactics on Mike Waters boat along with bowman Al Tierney.
In the first race we were a little late to the start and wound up behind the other 4 boats. We worked the left while the rest of the fleet went right and wound up rounding the first mark in last. While the rest of the fleet took the rhumb line to the mark in wind that had shifted to the right looking upwind. We instead went downwind for a bit, straight out into the bay to meet the new breeze coming in and then gybed downwind in pressure and carried that to the downwind mark. That new wind took a while to reach the rest of the fleet and we found ourselves in 2nd at the leeward mark.
Going upwind we picked the shifts and pressure well and passed a boat to round in first. Again we headed out into the bay while the boat just behind us did a tight rounding and headed down the rhumb line to the finish. We were out of the wind barely making headway to the left of the course while our competition was nearly halfway to the finish. Other boats were rounding and following the other boat and making better distance on the finish than we were. And just like clockwork, the breeze came in from the left and carried us right by everyone and we won the race.
In the second race we got a good start and just played the shifts and pressure upwind and kept ourselves between the other boats and the next mark and were able to win that race as well.
In the 3rd race we had a pretty solid lead using the same strategy as the 2nd race. On the final run we just tried to just stay ahead. Unfortunately, the wind didn’t cooperate and brought some of the boats behind us right up to us and one boat was able to squeak ahead of us at the line.
In the end a 1-1-2 was enough to win the day and pull ourselves up into 1st overall for the frostbite series. In the last 43 years the winter series has only been won by 3 different guys. Congratulations to Mike Waters on becoming the 4th person to win the series. I was glad I could be along for a ride, I enjoyed getting to try some Soling sailing and I can’t wait to do it again.
For the 2nd day of the SSA Soling Frostbite we had a bit more variable conditions than 2 weeks ago. This time we had 5 boats out and were able to get 2 races in. Mike Waters was skipper, Josh Page did bow and I was in the middle flying the spinnaker and doing wind/tactics.
We did well in the first race by having good boat speed up wind and making the left work for us. We finished 2nd having held that position all race.
In the 2nd race we had another good upwind and rounded in 2nd. At the leeward mark, there was no committee boat and we mistaked which one of the two marks was our rounding mark and lost some distance to the leader. The next two legs each had 180 degree shifts in them making it challenging, but it switched swiftly and did little to change the results as we still ended up second.
Saturday I got to sail on a Soling for my first time in SSA’s Soling Frostbite. A Soling is a 27′ 3-person keel boat and I was sailing as the middle crew with skipper Mike Waters and bow Gretchen E. We had a bit of a slow start as we dialed in the boat and got through each of the crew mechanics the first time. We learned, we got better and while our results don’t show it, we were actually pretty competitive.
Today’s weather was perfect for frostbiting. Air temperatures on land in the high 50’s with a water temperature of 38. That created great thermal conditions and we had relatively steady wind that started around 8 and built to about 12 before coming back down to about 10 out of the SSW.
In the first race we had a good start, were 2nd at the windward mark and were the first boat to the leeward mark. Unfortunately for us we couldn’t get the spin halyard down and ended up sailing 1/2 mile past the leeward mark before we were able to free the halyard to retrieve it. We took a DNF in that one.
The 2nd race went much better for us. While we weren’t able to fix the core problem with the spin halyard, at least we knew the problem and could work around it. We ended up leading that race wire to wire. We did a great job picking the shifts on both upwind legs and kept a comfortable cover on the boats around.
For the 3rd race we had another great start, got to the windward mark first, but lost a boat downwind. On the 2nd upwind we got on the wrong side of the course as more pressure came from the other side dropping us back to 5th.
Overall the racing was really tight with only a few points separating the boats, but with our DNF we got the short end of the stick and wound up 5th overall. It was a great learning experience and I’m looking forward to going back in a couple weeks for the next frostbite day.