09 September 2009

M/N Kevin Reilly at New Jersey Laser Regatta

The morning of the laser regatta, I showed up to the yacht club with full expectations to do pretty well since there was a good breeze and I am a bigger guy. The fleet was only about 7 full rig lasers, with 3 or 4 radials included. I started out the regatta with a start that involved me getting pinched out at the committee boat, but I slowly regained ground by taking the right side of the course when everybody went left. The breeze only increased throughout the day, and it got to the point where it was blowing around 15 to 20 knots with puff pockets. I can honestly say I haven’t been so tired from hiking/balancing in a sailing regatta in a very long time. I must be out of shape or something, but it was a struggle, even during the first race. The second race looked promising right up until about 10 seconds before the start. I wanted to start off the pin, but while waiting for the last few seconds before the start, the wind clocked hard to the left, making it impossible to cross the starting line with the ripping current. I ended up having to gybe around and start on port underneath about 3 boats. Again, that race was mostly spent regaining lost ground. The last race was the most promising, but Murphy’s Law proved itself yet again- if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. I had a beautiful start off the pin and sat on top of the fleet for a very long, struggling windward leg, and ended up rounding the windward mark in first, about 10 to 15 boat lengths in front of the next laser. I rounded the mark and started planing back downwind, doing my best to keep balanced and under control. Unfortunately I caught a strong puff at an awkward angle and death rolled while on a plane. I dry-tipped immediately but had the laser turn right back over on top of me since the mast was windward of the centerboard. I righted my laser twice before getting back into the race, which put me behind two boats but still very much in the race. I managed to sail the entire leg before having to gybe and snagging my boom in the water, causing the laser to turn up and over quickly, capsizing for the third time. The rest of the race after that was just the same tune on a broken record. Overall, I managed to get 4th place, but it felt like a last place. It was a well run regatta and the breeze was great, but for me it was just amateur hour. Hopefully I will be able to practice my laser sailing a little bit more so that I will be ready for such heavy air conditions.

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