Sunday, September 7, 2014

2014 International Canoe Worlds - Practice Race

Today's report from Earwigoagin's on-site reporter, Fran DeFaymoreau, at the Richmond Y.C.:

"Saturday September 6, 2014. Practice race. The start line is set west of Albany Hill in the east bay between Richmond and Berkeley. Wind direction 225, velocity 5 to 8 knots. This is a typical San Francisco pattern, with the marine layer covering the entire bay [ed. note: marine layer as in fog]. As the Central Valley heats up and pulls cool ocean air into the bay, wind speed increases and continues to increase as the afternoon progresses.

"By start time, 12:25, the wind is at ten knots, at 220 degrees. At the first weather mark Chris Maas [ed. USA and reigning World Champion] is 100 yards ahead of the second boat. By the time they go around the reach mark he has stayed out front and at the leeward mark he peels off and retires back to the harbor having demonstrated that he is still the one to beat. Robin Wood [ed. GBR and winner of the last Worlds in San Francisco - 1993] wins the practice race showing that he is still one of the front runners.

Everybody to the back of the bus!

One of the things etched in my mind about the 1993 Worlds was how differently we set the International Canoe up to race in the San Francisco breeze and chop. Back then, as it is today, the sliding seat on the International Canoe is on a track so you can adjust the live trim. In the Chesapeake Bay we would crank the seats back for heavy air reaches and move them forward for the beats. In San Francisco, once the breeze was on, the seats stayed back, upwind and down. In 1993, I set my seat forward for the first beat which usually was in lighter winds, 12-15 knots, then pulled it back for the first reach and never touched it again. It was full on - stay at the "back of the bus" sailing.

Similarly when setting the daggerboard. Even though I was using one of the smallest daggerboards in the fleet in 1993, I was "reefing" it by pulling it up a foot or more. I usually had it down for the lighter first beat. After that, as the breeze came up the daggerboard came up, stayed up, never to be adjusted for the rest of the race. Completely out of the norm compared to our Chesapeake Bay racing.

Here is a video of "Big Dave" Gilliland reaching in an International Canoe with the seat cranked all the way back. This is a good approximation of the view I had bombing around the 1993 Worlds courses. (To complete the visualization, add some boats crossing this way and that, plus some marks I had to get around, waves I had to avoid stuffing the bow into, tacks that were a bear to complete...the entire drill of racing an International Canoe in a breeze.)

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