Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The "D" or "Dammit" Course

I've put more specific instructions on the "D" or "Dammit" Course in a later post on this blog.

Click here to read more about how I think the "D" course should be set up.

As mentioned in a previous post, I was the race officer for the Classic Moth Nationals this past September. With such absolute power, I allowed at the skippers meeting that I might run a different course if the conditions permitted. One of my pet peeves about the normal windward/leewards or triangle course is that they don't provide for a truly fast planing reach for singlehanded dinghies (unless the wind is hitting near to upper teens, close to twenty). I remember running Laser races out of SSA in a good southerly sea breeze, firing off windward/leeward courses as normal, and hearing the comment on shore that the only time the Lasers got to blast reach that day was on the sail home.

Given that the Classic Moth National courses are short and station the race committee halfway up the windward leg, I came up with the "D" course; a course I would use if I deemed the wind was strong enough to get the Mothboats planing. This course is not new; I remember using a variant of this for Europe Dinghies (back when they were an Olympic class) out of West River Sailing Club in the 1980's. It is called the "Reverse P" course (originally the Harry Anderson course - refer to the comments) and essentially shoves a triangle in the upper half of the course and a leeward leg in the lower half of the leg. This allows for close to a beam reach on one leg, the ideal planing angle for conventional singlehanders. As an added benefit, for me (yes, sometimes it is about me), this course would have the competitors round the RC boat, allowing the RC crew to watch and dissect some racing up close.

A rough drawing of this course shows the top heavy configuration of the two reaches, a feature that has prompted some jokesters to nickname this course the "Dolly Parton" course. To acknowledge this moniker, for the Classic Moth Nationals I renamed the "Reverse P" course the "D" course (helped by the fact that the "D" flag is not used for any other RC function and is available to designate a course).

Note: I changed the course layout as shown on the drawing. The leeward mark rounding was changed to a starboard rounding instead of a port rounding to avoid the curlicue.
With the competitors fully briefed, I was itching to try it out. The wind had been strengthening during Race 1 and before Race 2 there was the beginnings of just a hint of whitecaps. The "D" course was subsequently signaled and off they went, unfortunately in a breeze that now looked as if it was softening up. On the first reach the wind continued dropping and then just shortly after Joe Bousquet, the leader, rounded the reach mark, the wind around the RC boat completely dropped away and shifted to the south, making for a beat on the second reach. Joe was able to round the RC boat after putting in one tack but the rest of fleet got caught in a very light, frustrating, fluky beat around the RC boat. At one point, George, the brains behind the blog Mid-Atlantic Musings, loudly opined from his Europe Moth, "I don't know about this "D" course, I'd say this is closer to a "Dammit" course!" Other competitors bitched and moaned as they flopped from one tack to another but the fleet eventually drifted around the RC boat. For the third race, the wind returned to the original direction, although lighter, and I reverted back to the more conventional triangle courses for the rest of the day.

I got some good natured ribbing about the "D" course over the beer cups that night. But the "Dammit" Course is now out there and I'm itching to use it again; somewhere, sometime.

The grizzled old PRO, fiendish schemer of the "Dammit" course, on station at the Classic Moth Nationals with his able assistant Elisabeth (picture stolen from Greg Duncan's Facebook page).


Tillerman said...

I understand that this course is fairly well known in college dinghy sailing and is named in honor of the legendary Harry Anderson. Both of the major Laser frostbite fleets in New England (Cedar Point and Newport) use a version of it, and call it an "H" Course.

It can provide some exciting reaching legs, and a great opportunity for the RC to shoot some video and photos. You should definitely use it again when the conditions suit it.

Tweezerman said...

Absolutely right again Tillerman! It must be a New England thing but I haven't come across the Harry Anederson or Dolly Parton in my years doing the Mid-Atlantic racing scene. In the 1980's, the Europe regatta was part of a Pre-Olympic Regatta hosted in the Chesapeake. We actually set a different mark half-way up the beat to end the beam reach (the start line was at the bottom as normal for large course racing). Seems to me this course should be in the repertoire of any PRO running a singlehanded regatta.