Archive for July, 2011
July 28, 2011
Wow! My legs are burning 🙂 in a good way! Last night I did my first session of Booty Camp http://bit.ly/nY0Xxp . It’s time to get this flabby body in shape for hoisting sails, dousing sails, and everything in between. The first session of Booty Camp was awesome, killer and a real sign that I’m not anywhere near the shape that I need to be in. Booty Camp does a combination of cardio and muscle toning / building, to the extent that you want. It’s an hour of hard sweaty work, with a great benefits in return. AND, there’s a location in the Beaches now…PERFECT!
July 25, 2011
This year’s Port Credit In Water Boat Show is shaping up to be a great show! On August 26th through to the 28th you can come down to the Port Credit Harbour Marina and see OGOC and I on Q dock along with all the other exhibitors. We’ll be in the water so you will actually get to see inside the boat and feel what life is like in a mini 🙂 See you there!http://bit.ly/py88Oq
July 19, 2011
On the dock today a friend reminded me of an important saying “friends don’t let friends race PHRF”. PHRF is a handicapping system applied to boats to try to make them equal for racing. Needless to say it’s far from perfect, and it would be pretty impossible to create a system of handicapping that was perfect. That’s called “one design” racing. Racing the mini against 30-35 foot boats and owing them time makes for an impossible battle to win. When a boat is going upwind, it’s very difficult to go significantly faster than your hull speed. When a boat is going downwind, it’s very easy to get the boat up and out of the water (if she’s built for it), and SCREAM down wind. This is the handicapping battle when you race a mini against a standard kind of boat. Here ends today’s lesson.
The race synopsis.
This was a great Lake Ontario 300! It was a fantastic training run and a wonderful opportunity to tell people about Guarantee Company of North America during the pre race events at the Port Credit Yacht Club. Race day was a gorgeous Saturday morning. The single handed division had the first start. My mission was to get to the start line on time. Turns out the line was much further offshore than I had planned time for. Not to worry! We motor sailed our way out as fast as possible and just as we got near the finish line the warning signal was fired and I cut the engine. That gave me exactly five minutes to pull the engine and the mount off of the stern and get across the start line. We (OGOC and I) sailed part way up the start line and tacked for the line with 20 seconds to the start of the race. We were on time for the line, but buried in the fleet. Now the job was to dig our way out for clear air and haul butt to the first mark Gibraltar. Once we got to Gibraltar there was a nice surprise. Two boats from my club were hanging out to wish the fleet off!
There are essentially two strategic legs in the Lake Ontario 300. PCYC to Main Duck and then Oswego to Niagara. The plan for the run to Main Duck was largely based on the weather. We were socked in to a large hi system that was being followed by another hi to come through a few days later, and a short lived trough in between the two hi systems. This means that the land gets very warm during the day with a potential for a “sea breeze” development, and then at night as the air temperature cools another inversion happens and a night breeze develops out in the lake keeping the shoreline inactive with wind. We were going to head out into the lake to get a good night breeze. Autopilot on and we’re on our way! Wait a minute….why is the compass heading on the pilot changing? OGOC has a new pilot computer and a rebuilt drive arm. Hmmmm. Once we were on our new heading, I ran through a series of tests to see if I could figure out why the compass wasn’t holding. Nope….several hours later I was still at a loss. Fortunately the pilot is working great on apparent wind.
Not a problem….stick to the race plan and if the pilot goes down, use number two. The plan was coming together nicely. By 1700 the wind started to shift and the anticipated knock was large enough to tack on and head us to Main Duck. Perfect! Going into the night the moon was out. At 2300 I was down below doing a plot when……clunk clunk clunkity clunk down the side of the hull. It was earth shatteringly loud. I ran up on deck to try to see what we had just hit. We were far enough out into the lake that there wouldn’t be any fixed marks from clubs or privates. What the heck was it? Whatever it was it was long gone. There didn’t appear to be any damage other
than surface. Phew! A little while later the wind continued to come around and we put the Code O up and then Big Blue. What an amazing sail through the night with the big kite up and sliding along nicely!
By noon the next day we were on the back side of Main Duck Island. A great run! 24 hours to get to Main Duck Island! After rounding Main Duck Island you have to head to Oswego. That would put us on a close hauled course that was so tight we would barely be able to make it in one shot. So, in anticipation of big wind at Main Duck, a freighter in our path and a sharp right turn to Oswego, I decided to pull the kite down about 4 miles early. Did I mention that Big Blue was up? The sail is called Big Blue because she’s huge and rated for a max of about 18 knots. Lots of sail to take down and the last thing I wanted to do was blow out another sail or have a scary take down in a panic! Down she came nicely and out we headed to Oswego.
I think every time I have done this race the wind has been out of the West for the leg to Oswego. It’s a tight close hauled run straight to Ford Shoal at Oswego. All of the big boats that were behind me came out from behind Main Duck and started to just truck through my lee! This is where today’s lesson comes into play. Remember what I said about PHRF! Those boats marched forward while OGOC and I
did our best to hang on to the 6-7 knots we were doing.
After Ford Shoal we moved into the second strategic opportunity of this race. It was an uphill slog on the US north shore. I listened to the weather again and then decided to head out rather than stick to the shoreline. You have to get around Rochester, and unless the weather is predicted to build from the south or the east, I always avoid a shoreline run up to Rochester like the plague. Every time I have sailed there there has been little to no wind. After Rochester there is a straight stretch of shoreline for a few miles and then the shoreline slopes slightly south to Niagara’s R2 mark. On the straight stretch the plan would be to keep the miles down and stick to the shoreline. The forecast was for the wind to switch from the west to the south west and this should ensure some shore breeze to keep us moving without tacking too much to get to Niagara R2. Another fifty miles down the track as we were approaching Rochester it was time to listen to the weather again. This is the second time in my life now where I’ve switched on the VHF weather channel and heard “all vessels seek
immediate shelter”. Right….where was I going to go? I appreciate that OGOC’s cabin is vast and spacious with all sorts of luxury accommodation, but come-on now…..I wouldn’t call that “shelter”! There was a serious squall coming through in that trough I told you about, with winds were anticipated to reach upwards of 35 knots. Not only could I see the squall forming in the sky, but the weather report actually timed it for 0800 to 0930. Okeydokey then….shorten up with a single reef and switch from the Genoa to the jib. Ron told us about this cell in the skipper’s meeting weather briefing…just like he did last year! As anticipated, as the squall came through there was a significant veer to the north. The rain was coming down so hard that you couldn’t see anything fifteen feet away from the boat. Gosh I crossed my fingers and hoped that no other boat was out there on my same path! Imagine coming upon a freighter during this? How could you get out of the way in time? As the wind veered, it eased a bit and we tacked onto a new course laying us right to Niagara R2. Behind that cell came another bucket load of rain, but not anywhere near the volume of wind. 35 knots was a pretty decent blow….it’s not 60 knots, but it can still be damaging and shifty. Behind the storm there wasn’t a lot of wind. Fortunately….there was enough wind to keep us moving! Still going upwind though. Tacking back and forth and back and forth and back and forth! Nothing like being passed by your competitors in 10 knots of wind rather than being able to put a kite up! Ugh…..At Niagara R2 we gently made our turn north and headed for home. The sun went down, the sky was bright with stars and the traffic around us was plenty. Another listen to the weather channel and the report confirmed that there were squall watches for western Lake Erie, Eastern Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence. As the night got dark, you could actually see the cloud formations to the east every time their lightening ignited. It was a pretty impressive light show and fortunately it was heading south east, but unfortunately it was also taking all of the wind with it.
Light air was starting to look like non-existent air! Then around 0100, we gently slid into a path of wind that we were able to hold all the way to the finish line! A nice little 8-10 knot breeze out of the north east, gently taking us home. Of course we had to share with the rest of the kids….but not to worry!
At 0400 something in the morning OGOC and I crossed the finish line. We had had a great training run and another exciting adventure.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to claim a podium finish in this race, but nonetheless we achieved our objective. Nothing significant broke or failed us in a debilitating fashion. The autopilot adventures continue with great success as we continue to work out the bugs in the system with the fantastic help of CMC Marinehttp://bitly.com/cKEmKy , and we have more miles under our belt. Thank you to everyone who followed along and
enjoyed the ride! Thank you also to Guarantee Company http://bitly.com/hO5Rub for their fantastic sponsorship, UK Halsey http://bitly.com/aX4oBY for stitching the sails back to gather yet again (time for a new suit for sure!), Lori Mason at The Store http://bitly.com/9czhbY for her continuing support of equipment on the boat, and to Aquafolia http://bitly.com/le6qXN
for their awesome skin care products and fantastic sun tan lotion that kept me from frying like an egg!
July 16, 2011
In sticking with the plan I headed out into the lake for more breeze. The wind is light in shore and tonight there should be a good night breeze out in the shipping lanes. This will also put me in a good position for when the breeze shifts to the south west. I should be able to get the code 0 up and then a spinnaker as it continues to shift, while the boats on the inside will simply lift to Point Petre. It’s always tough racing a mini against 35 foot boats on handicap. It becomes a waterline race. BUT if I have the wind behind me then I can start to do justice to my handicap number. BTW, OGOC’s PHRF-LO is 117. We’re the second fastest rated boat in our division, and the smallest boat in the race! Crazy! The wind is still light around 6 knots, and we are doing between 4 and 5 depending on if auto is driving or if I’m driving :-0 Time for coffee and a change into warmer clothes for the night.
July 16, 2011
Checkstays are flipped, the world is good, and the trip up was simple and a nice little workout! Time for lunch 🙂
July 16, 2011
Well what a great start to the race! Across the line with the fleet, and heading out to Gibralter. First mission was to dig out of the dirty air from the other boats. Then with clean air we worked on height and speed (a bit of a contradiction), but I didn’t want to fall back into the fleet and I wanted to protect the inside. After Gibralter I ran the autopilot for a while. Turns out the heading alignment and response needed adjustments, but no big deal. Everything else seems to be running well otherwise, except it seems that both checkstay fittings in the mast have flipped. They need to be sorted out so they are in alignment for when they get loaded. This means climbing the mast. It’s just a little under half way up, so no big deal. I’ll let you all know when I’m down, but as signal seems sketchy, don’t be alarmed if you don’t hear from me for a while! 🙂
July 16, 2011
Today’s the big day! It’s the start of the Lake Ontario 300 and OGOC and I are in the single handed division starting at 1025 this morning. You can follow the race below with the tracker on the lo300 website. 🙂 Cross your fingers and hope for wind! The forecast is light and shifty for the first two days and then the hi should start to move out and a lower pressure will come through. It’s a tricky low though. This time of the year on Lake Ontario when lows come through they tend to be fast and furious. Last year’s low caused a little havoc on the race course, so people are probably paying more attention this year to the low coming through. It could be a standard low….25-30 knots with shifty gusts lasting half an hour or so, but as we’ve been warned, if there’s a big veer, it’s an indicator of more ferocity behind the low. The front side of the low will probably have rain but the back side may have big big wind behind it….so pay attention everyone! Hopefully all the other boats have practiced using their storm sails and are ready for a good pounding. Murphy’s law will say that if we’re all ready for it then it will just be a harmless low. Bottom line is this. To finish first…..first you must finish! Have fun watching the tracker everyone 🙂 I’ll try to keep you posted throughout the days!http://www.lo300.org/
Yesterday was a great day with the booth at the LO300 with our friends at Guarantee Company of North America. We’ll have the booth again this morning while I get OGOC ready to get off of the dock for the start. We sold a bunch of T-shirts and told people about Guarantee and about the campaign. Nice to meet you all yesterday and to see some old friends as well!
July 15, 2011
We have OGOC T-shirts for sale! $20….great price and it all helps get the boat to France in the spring 🙂 Get your t-shirt at the Guarantee Company booth today at the Port Credit Yacht Club.
July 15, 2011
Today we’re at Port Credit Yacht Club at the Guarantee Company of North America booth on the front lawn. Registration and the skipper’s meeting is also today, then tomorrow morning first gun is 1025 tomorrow morning. Hope for wind! 🙂
Here’s the website for the LO300 which will also give you the link for the race tracker.
July 13, 2011
Here’s the link for the Lake Ontario 300 race tracker. 🙂