J/70 MRA Series 1 Day 3 Recap
Written by: Jud Smith
Everything you need to know about ground tackle but were afraid to ask...
A not so cold front passed through on Friday night from the North and all the wind models indicated the NW morning breeze would swing to the North and drop out as the land heated up with clear blue skys. One of the predict wind models nailed it. I found it helpful to look at 8 km map (with the dancing arrows) that illustrated that a light seabreeze but to expect some anomalies in direction on our course area during the day. WindGuru Nahant was also accurate for velocity and direction but Predict wind 8 km (or 1 km resolution) map indicated there would be some SW component mixing in with the local seabreeze.
The Corinthian YC RC decided to position the starting line a 1/2 mile NW of Tinkers gong which is “ground zero” for the battle zone between any inshore gradient and the sea breeze further offshore. The committee was communicating on the competitors VHF channel 71 much of the time which was helpful “and entertaining” for us competitors since we can follow and understand their intentions. Since the wind was waffling around from SE to the S the committee had to keep re adjusting the pin end to square the course.
The buzz words of the day was “ground tackle” and the buzz phrase was “P2 this is Pegasus do you copy?”. I’m adlibbing the race committee dialogue on VHF but this is what I more of less recall.
“Pegasus this is P2 we are ready to stream” . . . . ”Pegasus can you talk to us”
“P2 prepare to drop” . . . .”P2 this is Pegasus you’re going to have to pick up and re position green”
“Pegasus this is P2 we only heard DROP” . . . . “P2 this is Pegasus can you switch to race committee channel” . . . . “Tinkers line competitor’s we are going to re position the line for the new wind direction . . . . “
“ Pegasus this is P2 we are ready to stream” . . . . “P2 this is Pegasus can you switch to secure channel” . . . . “P2 this is Pegasus drop , drop, drop”
“Pegasus to P2 green mark is drifting” . . . . “Pegasus this is P2 we are down one ground tackle”
“Copy that P2 down one ground tackle and confirm the green mark drifting”
“Pegasus this is P2 we are preparing additional ground tackle” . . . and this all took place before the first gun.
Once the course was laid for a 125 wind direction the wind continued to move right during the sequence. A Rhodes on starboard to right of the committee boat showed a big righty filling in before the start. By the gun the fleet was piled up near the windward end fetching the windward mark. REGATTA FLUFF won the start and TUFTS TEAM just to windward were punched of AFRICA next to the boat followed by LEADFOOT, JUMPER, TUMBLING DICE. REGATTA FLUFF pinched off the fleet to round first. The fleet set on the offset leg and gybed at the offset mark to nearly fetch the leeward mark.
The new windward was changed to 145 for the second beat and wind speed was down to 6 knots. The wind continued to clock and the fleet was fetching as the S-SW breeze filled in. Top 3 boats were all even and jib reaching. On AFRICA we moved the jib car forward to hole 10 and eased outhaul. AFRICA was first to set the spinnaker followed by LEADFOOT and REGATTA FLUFF.
AFRICA decided to do a Mexican take down at top mark since the final leg looked too tight to carry. We started this maneuver by deploying jib about 3 boat lengths from the mark. We then did a slow gybe at the mark without gybing the spinnaker. The helmsman completes the gybe but sails a softer angle for a few seconds while the spinnaker is lowered while laying against the jib on the new windward side. Once the spinnaker is half way down the helmsman can then come up to course as the remainder of the spinnaker is gathered. Standard Mexican takedown, (a gybe onto port and dropping spinnaker onto port)
LEADFOOT gybed with the spinnaker and sailed a fast but lower course below the rhumb line. The remainder of the fleet jib reached and LEADFOOT dropped kite 1/2 way down the leg. AFRICA was above rhumb line and able to do a windward set as the breeze lifted again. We first deployed pole and then pre-fed out the tack of the spinnaker to the end of the pole while containing the head. Once the tack was at the end of the pole we bore away some to hoist and came gradually back to course once the kite reached the masthead. The spin sheet can then be pulled and the clew then blows around the and headstay. The fleet did the same and we did another drop and hoist as the wind shifted coming into the finish.
The race committee between races apologized for the big wind shift, but other than hoisting a postponement or abandoning the race they can't control the wind. We actually liked the challenges the wind and course presented in the first race since it presented the fleet with some different boat handling and trimming techniques. The CYC committee did move the second windward mark but the wind was shifting so fast that it was impossible to keep up with a square course. Race #1 was the most challenging and the following two races were well done but not as much fun.
Between races while the J70's were waiting for the Rhodes and the townie's to finish the race the committee dialogue was ramping up again on VHF 71. . . adlibbing once again.…
”Pegasus this is P2 we are down another ground tackle”. . . . “Pegusus to P2 come back” . . .
”P2 to Pegasus we have no remaining ground tackle . . . .we repeat . . . P2 has Noooo ground tackle on board”.
“Pegasus to P2 we copy that . . . . additional ground tackle lost . . . standby 71”
“P2 to Pegasus, affirmative, additional ground tackle lost . . . . P2 standing by 71”
Even though I'm poking fun at the CYC committee, we really liked the communication with competitors, particularly the countdown to the warning and prep. We like it when we hear what is happening with mark movements. In truth we are VERY GRATEFUL for their contribution and without them and all the volunteers from the clubs we would not have been able to have such a great day of racing off Marblehead.