Laser North American Championship

2019 Laser North American Championship: Sunday

Sunday, the final day at the Laser North American Championship greeted us with a light west wind. We weren’t sure it was going to hold, but it was enough to race in and so we went out and did. With the lighter winds I had better starts, was able to focus on my boat speed and actually play tactics upwind.  I was a little out of phase and a little deeper than I wanted on the first leg, but made up some spots on the succeeding legs and finished 23rd.

In the 2nd race of the day and what would be our final race of the regatta – we had a little less consistent wind across the course.  I thought I had a good start, but quickly got rolled and had to tack out.  As I made my way to the right side I caught some great pressure and tacked on a few shifts to find myself lined up with the leaders about halfway up the beat on the right side.  Alas – I kept going right and they went left and while I did great over the people on the right, it was the left that won out. I made a couple moves on the reach and downwind, but it got pretty light on the downwind.  Upwind I started as far left as I could in the light air figuring the tide might help me get there if it really goes out.  This was great as the wind filed from the left and I passed a few boats, but made the mistake of going to the right for the top 1/3 of the course and left some more spots on the table.  Downwind and on the reach I was able to stay ahead of a pack of 5-6 boats and finished 19th.

After 11 races – this was a fantastic event.  Thanks to Eric and his family for the place to stay. The volunteers at BBYC did a great job running races, feeding us and keeping everything organized. I’ll definitely be back for more BBYC regattas.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | FINAL RESULTS

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2019 Laser North American Championship: Saturday

On Saturday at the Laser North American Championship temperatures had soared and neared 100 degrees with high humidity. There was no wind when it was time to leave and so we were postponed ashore for an hour and a half. Even when we did get out there wasn’t enough wind to sail and we were postponed on the water for another  45 minutes.

And then the wind came. At first it was about 8 knots when we started the first race.  I had a beautiful start and punched out for a while until the fast guys caught up and overtook me. As I tried to keep clear lanes of wind I got out of phase and ended up on the wrong side of the course on the right. Boats on the left got more pressure and a lefty to the mark.  On the next few legs I did ok and was probably deep 20’s, but at the final jibe mark I got pinwheeled with some 4.7s and a bunch of Lasers and lost a couple spots for a 35th.

By the 2nd race the wind had picked up to 13-15. I had a terrible start, tried to tack out, mis-judged the dip/cross and tapped the back corner of a starboard tacker and had to do turns putting me well behind the fleet upwind. I was able to pick off a few boats on each leg and pulled myself up to a 28th.

By the 3rd race it was even windier with gusts into the upper teens – this was a range where I was just hanging on to make the boat go and not really able to work the boat or be too strategic. I was clearly a bit tired on the downwinds and I got the tipsies and flipped a few times trailing almost the entire rest of the fleet. I was happy to finish rather than take a DNS, but it was some tough slogging.

After racing I did a nice run on the beach then got take out chicken wings and had dinner with some sailors.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | FINAL RESULTS

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2019 Laser North American Championship: Friday

Day 2 of the Laser North American Championship at Brant Beach Yacht Club started with a postponement ashore while we waited for the wind to fill in and the fog to lift.  By 11:30 the fog and the postponement had lifted and we were headed out to the racecourse with the Radial fleet doing the first start to catch up and get their 3rd race in.

In the first race with the wind at 8-10 I won the boat, albeit I was half length late to the line. I stayed in clear air up the beat and even played some shifts finding myself in the top 20 at the top mark. The rest of the way around the course I ceded some boats and finished 23rd.

The second race saw the wind up another knot or two – now at a range that required some depowering. I had a good start in the middle of the line and held my lane for a while, but eventually got squeezed off and sucked out the back.  I never really felt like I got the boat going upwind and was probably bottom 5 around the top mark. I was able to claw back a few boats downwind and reaching finishing 35th.

In the 3rd race I started midway down the line, but was a little late so I immediately tacked out to the right to find clear air.  I played the shifts much more so than I had in previous races and was a little more comfortable with the boat moving through the waves and little higher winds.  At the top mark I found myself mid-fleet and I was able to actually work the boat through the waves to catch up on boats ahead of me downwind and reaching and rode that to a 21st place finished pulling me up to 28th overall before a drop was factored in.

One fun observation today was how much better the masters sailors were on the reach. There’s a technique to it that I just don’t think the younger sailors have seen since it’s not often we sail on courses with reaching legs.

Post-sailing I did another 4-mile run, got dinner with sailors at the club and caught up with some of the junior parents from FBYC.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | DAY 2 RESULTS

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2019 Laser North American Championship: Thursday

Today was the first day of the Laser North American Championship at Branch Beach Yacht Club on Long Beach Island in New Jersey.  BBYC has a great beach and facility and does a great job running big Laser regattas and I enjoy coming back.  I was hear last year for 2018 US Masters Nationals and I sailed the 2011 North American Championship here too.

There are 3 fleets here – about 18 boats in the smallest rig the 4.7, 80 in the mid-size Radial rig and I’m in the 40-boat Standard Rig fleet.  This is a VERY competitive fleet. Only 15 of the sailors are ‘masters’ – over 35- years old and many of them are in high school and are here with coaches and spend the summer going to various regattas and training. There are quite a few sailors from Canada and even a few that made the trip from Ecuador, Barbados, Puerto Rico and a few others.

After checking in this morning and getting my sail inspected and the usual skippers meeting they took us out to the middle of the bay – an easy 30-min reach from the club in the ~12 knots of breeze out of the south under mostly sunny skies with just some small waves. After some practice and a 20-minute postponement we were ready for the first race.

The first race was a clean start for the fleet – I was near the boat and had a fantastic start right on the line and in clear air. My boat speed up the first leg wasn’t quite as fast as I had hoped for.  The wind at 12-14 with some higher gusts meant hiking most of the time.  On the reach and runs I was able to hold my own.  Near the end on the run I flipped and lost a few boats although I was able to pick a couple back up on the reach as I started to improve my speed there.

I had forgotten about the seaweed here – last year it was mostly a non-issue and today I had to remember my weed clearing techniques.

For the second race the wind picked up another couple knots out of the same direction and we now had consistent white caps.  I had another fantastic start near the boat and like the last race I was right under Leo – the 2nd place boat – who had no trouble driving over me (pictured above).  I don’t think I improved my speed upwind, but I was able to sail a little more consistently and not slow down for adjustments.

On the reaches I started to get the boat moving relative to the folks around me and I was consistently able to pick off a few boats reaching. I helped that we were finishing with the 4.7s and when they reached, they sailed high and some of the Standards went with them, and I was able to sail the rhumb line keeping the boat planing and making up more distance. This ended up as my best race – with about a dozen boats behind me.  Yes – it’s the kind of race where I’m counting how many boats are behind me – ie 12 boats behind means I finished mid to high 20’s.

In the 3rd race we had another knot of wind – I had a terrible start at the boat where I got trapped behind it in irons while the fleet sailed away and so I started well behind everyone. I still managed to not be last at the windward mark and did pick off a few more boats.  Another downwind capsize gave away some spots, but at least I was getting more comfortable in the higher winds.

As soon as we crossed the finish line there were storms to the North West of us and they sent us in for the day.

All in all it wasn’t a terrible day of sailing – I finished about how I expected given how little Laser sailing I had done this year and the fact that I weigh 8-10 pounds less than I did a year ago when I sailed here. I think that lead to the capsizes – where I’m used to throwing my weight over to keep the boat flat, only I don’t have as much to throw and underestimated the effort needed to avoid a capsize.

After sailing I beached the boat and quickly got into my running clothes to do a 4-mile run around the neighborhood before the storm came through. Eventually the storm rolled through just as we were heading over to the club for dinner.  It was great catching up with some friends and sailors I haven’t seen for a few year and sharing stories of regattas past.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | DAY 1 RESULTS

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2011 Laser North American Championship: Friday

Friday was the final day of the Laser North American Championship at Brant Beach Yacht Club.  We went out for a 10:30 start in what we knew would be a dying breeze.  After one general recall I got a pretty good start in the middle of the line.  I was in the top 20 around the first mark and held that to the downwind where I lost a few spots.  On the second upwind I headed way out to the right, through the Radial Silver fleet that had just started, and found a lot better pressure putting me into the top 10 around that mark.  On the final downwind and reach the wind died and a light sea breeze came in.  I didn’t get far enough out to an edge and those who did were able to get around me.  I finished 26 and that ended up being the only race of the day.

All in all it was a great week of sailing and I was able to learn some things and show myself that I’ve got what it takes to at least be a competitor in a regatta like this.  Winning a race completed the week and was the highlight of my sailing year.  I’ve got 3 annual regattas planned for the next 4 weekends and I’m looking forward to the smaller fleets and fun times that go with them.

Results

Taking the Cape May-Lewes ferry

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2011 Laser North American Championship: Thursday

Today started out with winds over 20 and gusts even higher.  I sailed out to the course, but sailed right back in.  With self-preservation in mind I was too afraid of one bad capsize and re-injuring my wrist and missing more sailing, so I thought it would be best to sit these conditions out.

I spent the day going for a run and catching up on some reading and email. I missed 3 races, but there 2 more left for tomorrow.

Results

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2011 Laser North American Championship: Wednesday

We sailed 3 more races at the Laser North American Championship today after a 2 1/2 hour postponement on the water.  I won the second race of the day.  During the first race – in which I only beat 4 boats – I figured out the wind/weather pattern and used that to my advantage in the second race.  There were some dark clouds out to the left of the course and everyone was fighting for the pin and going left.  I knew by the pattern a righty was coming and was very close to the boat end at the start and immediately went right.

The righty started coming in and before I knew it I was on the lay line.  After I tacked it was pretty clear the fleet was well below me, but I wasn’t sure if it was going to go left and bring them back.  At the windward mark I had about a 20-boat lead.

It was great being all by myself up front because that meant I could sail the rhumb line and fast.  It felt like a 10-boat regatta where all I needed to do was not make any mistakes, go fast, and pay attention to the wind for any shifts.  I extended my lead on the next 3 legs and had close to a 40-boat length lead, on the boats behind me, after the second upwind.  By the last downwind the fast guys, like regatta leader Clay Johnson, had gotten back up to the front of the fleet and started to close in on me.

On the final upwind leg to the finish a rivet popped out of my gooseneck and fell to the deck.  I just kept racing and crossed the finish in first.  It was a relief I made it without falling apart or being caught and it was a thrill to win a race like that against such great competition.

As soon as I finished I set to work jury rigging my gooseneck to get me through the next race.  In the 3rd race I played the shifts pretty well and kept myself in the front part of the pack putting me in 29th for the race.

I’m currently in 39th with 6 races down and 5 races to go.  If I can finish half as well as I did in the second race today I should be able to stay in the top 40 and pick up some grand prix points.

Results

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2011 Laser North American Championship: Tuesday

Today was the first day of the Laser North American Championship Regatta at Brant Beach Yacht Club.  A few weeks ago I banged up my wrist so I had taken the last two weekends off from sailing other than just going out as ballast.  Yesterday and today were my first two days back out on my wrist.

We were racing with 70 Lasers in one start.  In the first race I had a pretty terrible start and took pretty much the entire race to get my wheels going and get back in the groove.  I finished in the 50’s.

On each start we had numerous general recalls and every start was ultimately under I over Z.  On the second race my tiller universal joint snapped right at the start.  I ended up spotting the fleet two minutes while I made a repair.  I managed to come back and wasn’t even DFL at the first windward mark.  I picked off boats on every leg and wound up 45th.

In the 3rd race I had a reasonable start, hung with the bulk of the fleet and mostly held my position to the finish ending up 44th.

Not my best day on the water, but reasonable given the level of competition.  My wrist held up and hopefully won’t be giving me any problems this week. With a little less wind forecasted  for tomorrow, I should have a better shot at keeping the boat flat and staying in the fleet.

Results

 

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2011 Laser North American Championship: Monday

This week the Laser North American Championship is getting underway at Brant Beach Yacht Club. I drove in yesterday evening and got the boat ready today and went for a short practice sail in 15+.  I’ll be sailing in the Standard Rig fleet with about 72 boats.  Another 142 boats will be sailing in the Radial fleet.

Follow updates throughout the regatta on the @LaserNAC twitter account – I’ll be contributing to the off-the-water updates.

Brant Beach Sunset

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2009 Laser NAC

Lasers Beached at 2009 NAC

This past weekend I was up in Fort Erie Ontario for the 2009 Laser North American Championship. I was sailing a Radial in the 4-day regatta. It wasn’t my best showing, but I leaned a lot about sailing a Radial and how a big-time regatta at the level of a North American Championship runs. I’m looking forward to US Nationals in August. Here’s a few pictures from around the Buffalo Canoe Club during the event.

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