8/17/17 Beer Can Race #7

Beer Can Race 7


Last night’s BC was something of a first: It took over an hour and 22 minutes to complete a 1.25 nm straight line course.  Conditions for the race were inauspicious: a band of rain came through about 5PM, but since there was no thunder and lightning the CB decided to conduct a race.  The rain stopped before the race began leaving no wind.  I mean really no wind.  We were fairly close to the starting line before  our start and it took us about 15 minutes to get to the starting line.  There was a left over swell, not much but enough to keep the sails flapping and the wind sensors inoperative.  Even when there was a breath of wind, it was impossible to tell where it was coming from.  Not a ripple on the water and the sails just flopped back and forth.  Something like the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.  We tried pointing the boat in the direction of Mark 3, the first mark for us, but that didn’t seem to work.  Eventually we found that heading toward Mark 4 produced a little motion, i.e., 0.05 to 0.2 kts, so we kept heading in this direction with the sails fairly loose and flopping. Trying to head more toward Mark 3 didn’t work although the sails shape didn’t particularly change.  After about 45 minutes, the CB shortened the course to Mark 3 for everyone.  This was the first mark for our division and the second mark for the other boats who also had to go around Mark 4.  A little bit later the wind started to come in and increased to 2 or 3 kts.  We could tell it was coming from Mark 3 so we started tacking toward the mark and after several tacks we crossed the finish line just ahead of the first boats in the other division.  My little Garmin GPS has a very small screen but it does record our track.  I looked at it after the race.  Rather than jump through a bunch of electronic hoops, I have simply sketched the track on the course map and taken a picture of that (see attachment).  The sketch shows that even when we didn’t know where the wind was coming from, we were heading in approximately the right direction early in the race because we found this gave the best motion.  The sail trim didn’t seem to matter much.  I have drawn a wavy line on the first “tack” because this is what the first part of the track looked like.  Also, you can see that going around Mark 4 didn’t increase the distance to be sailed much.  This is because Mark 3 was directly upwind.  In retrospect ,we should have had some yarn on the shrouds as they would have been a better indicator of the wind direction than our other sensors because  of the swell.  Also,  our wind seeker sail would probably have given a much better indication of wind direction than our other sails and also have provided more drive in the early part of the race.