Friday, March 13, 2009
Another perfect day, 78 degrees, 10 knots of wind from the southeast. We did have a big cloud come over the course today that kill the wind for a while on the second windward leg but, I don't think it shuffled the results too much.
We were convinced about the right side of the course today so we started up by the right handside of the line and tacked shortly after the start. That was wrong. We were deep all day! At this moment I am not even sure where we finished but it may have been 30th. It doesn't really matter because thankfully all those "mediocre" finishes we had all week look pretty good right now as we will count an 11th and can discard today's finish.
Peter Bromby and Magnus Liljedahl won the race and the Bacardi Cup. They sailed really well all week. Mark Medleblatt/Bruno Prada also sailed well today and finished second overall. John VanderMollen who had been second most of the week had an even worse race than us today, so we may have passed him. The Irish were over early at the start. They were just to windward of us so we were a bit lucky there but again, it wouldn't have mattered. Rick Merriman and Phil Trinter (USA) sailed a solid second half of the series to finish 3rd with Flavio Marazzi (SUI) just one point behind them in 4th. I think we were 5th but I have not seen the scores. If so, I am pretty happy with that considering my rust.
It was a lot of fun sailing the Star again and sailing with Austin. I think it is doing me some good too. Even though today was our worst score I feel so much more comfortable in the boat than I did a week ago.
We will race again in two weeks in Mississippi for the Western Hemisphere Championship.
Tomorrow Austin and I will drive the boat and truck to Gulfport, Mississippi.
Thanks for following us this week.
Friday March 12: The Crew's View by Austin Sperry
It's been almost seven months since I was in a Star boat. Given the last 3+ years of full time campaigning I was really crispy, tired and burned out....and wondered if I would ever hop back in the boat.
Then I got the call. "Hoss, it's Boss. We're going sailing," said Paul (Cayard).
My first thought was "Gee, I hope I am out of this cast (post knee surgery) in time to make the Bacardi Cup!" To make a long story longer, I rehabbed my knee five days a week. Once I was cleared to sail by Dr. James Andrews, I made the call to Paul telling him that 'the Eagle was ready for take off!'. Truthfully, I thought I was cleared too early by the doctor, but last time I checked I didn't have an MD at the end of my name.
My Dad and Paul drove together from San Francisco (man they have some good stories!!) towing Paul's Star. They stopped in Mississippi for three days where they tried out far too many waffle houses and we did some training out of the Pass Christian Yacht Club. Then the three of us road tripped together for the last 800 miles to Miami.
At one point my old man was driving and forgot to pull into the toll booth lane (apparently he thought we had a sun pass on the Florida turnpike - note that none of us live in Florida). So the cameras started to flash and proceeded to record every license plate from the Star trailer to the front and back of the big Dodge Ram. We decided that at the next toll booth we would fess up and it turned out that this was a good move especially when the traffic is full on!
We have been here for one week now and I am having the time of my life. The weather is fantastic, the wind is perfect and the water is warm. I really like sailing with Paul. The guy is amazing on the tiller. Unfortunately, I am very rusty having been out of the game for seven months, but thus far we have improved every race so the trend looks promising.
We have completed four races and have two remaining, we are in 3rd place overall with about 65 boats competing for the Bacardi Cup.
Yesterday we had a great day. We finished the race 5th. We had an unbelievable start at the pin with Peter Bromby/Magnus Lilijhdal and traded tacks up most of the beat. I have to take my hat off to Peter and Magnus they are sailing a great regatta.
Truthfully, after being away with my knee surgery/therapy I didn't know if I wanted to come back and go again but being here with Paul and the boys makes me reconsider.....besides these are my good friends so what else would I do?
One more race to go then back to Mississippi for the Spring Championships sailed out of PCYC.
Another perfect day: 80 degrees, 12-14 knots of wind, sunshine, short chop on Biscayne Bay. 70 Stars on the starting line. It doesn't get better than this.
Unfortunately, our score could have. We had a decent start but got out to the left of the first windward leg and the right was better once again. 27th at the first mark. Ouch! But that is when we start to kick it into gear. Hoss (Austin) said, "Come on Boss. Wake up Dude! We have got to get this cart in gear." That is code for; "Hey buddy, we can still catch up a bit." Every day but one has been the big comeback for us and today was no different. 4 legs and 16 boats passed to finish 11th.
The race was won by Andrew Campbell of San Diego who is a new "kid" in the class. Andrew went to the Georgetown University and sailed Lasers in the last Olympic Games for the USA. The scary thing is that I sailed on the same America's Cup team as his father Bill Campbell in the 1983 Cup! And I had been sailing Stars already for 6 years by then. I know, I know....the is just amazing considering I am just 37.
Mark Pickle of Germany led at every rounding of the race only to get ground down by Andrew and on the last leg.
Mark Mendleblatt had a good race to finish third and move himself up into 2nd over all. Peter O'Leary of IRL also had a good race finishing 4th which moves them into 4th. John VanderMollen who was second after yesterday's race finished 20th and Peter Bromby and Magnus Liljedahl finished 24th! And yes, this was the windiest day of the regatta. So the regatta is not over. We could technically still win!
Not only did we not have a stellar race, but the discard starting being applied today and we have been very consistent through out the series which does not get rewarded in a regatta that allows you to discard your worst race. So every boat ahead of us is discarding a big number; Bromby 24, Mendleblatt 23, VanderMollen 20, O'Leary 29, Meriman 44, Marazzi 65 and we are discarding just 11 points. The good news is that we have sailed pretty well every day and for a four year absence I am very happy. Also, if things go badly tomorrow we wont sink too far as the worst we will score tomorrow is 11 points.
Tomorrow's start is moved up to 11:00 and the forecast is similar to today. We made some changes to our rig this morning to account for the more wind and I think we went pretty well considering we are very light compared to everyone else.
So we are all set for tomorrow and we can go for it a bit knowing that we have 5 decent scores already.
What the heck, it is time to go for it!
Wednesday, March 11:
It is still sunny and 80 degrees. The wind blew a bit harder today 8-12 knots from the Southeast.
There was a general recall and then a black flag start. When the black flag is up, if you go over the start line early you are disqualified. This has the effect of backing people off the line. You can get a real good start if you are confident of your line sight in a black flag start. We had a good line sight but ended up not using it. We started at the pin end of the line with a bias of 10 degrees. Peter Bromby was just to windward of us. He tacked to port to cross the fleet, we followed. About 5 minutes into the race, Bromby/Liljedahl and ourselves had a 100 meter lead on the third place boat.
Ok, so we had an awesome start. That is about where it ended for us. We were noticeably slower than Bromby upwind and in fact we made some errors with our tactics so we rounded the 1st mark 4th. We then proceeded to go slow downwind and rounded the leeward gate about 10th. Bromby was first followed by the Irish team, then John VanderMolen who is now in second place in the regatta.
We made an adjustment to our rig downwind and went better up the second windward leg going from 10th to third. Then down the run we went slow for some reason, also a tactical mistake and we finished 5th. Kind of frustrating to end on a backwards move. The last few days we have been doing the passing on the last leg.
Anyway, big picture is that we have bettered our finishing position each day and are now in 3rd place over all.
John VanderMolen is very fast, especially downwind. He is using a new boat called a "P-Star" built by Mark Pickle of Germany. This boat seems to be real fast. John must be sailing well too but he did go by us downwind like we were in a Snipe.
Peter Bromby and Magnus Liljedahl pretty much have the regatta sewn up as they have a 2,2,1 score line and for the first race they will get the average of race 2-5 for their score.
Two races to go and we have to keep improving. Today was really the day that I could feel the rust of not being in the class for 4 years. When you start, sail for 30 second and then tack and cross the fleet by 100 meters, you should never see anyone. The fact that we got swallowed up by the pack is testament to the rust. As it should be! If that did not happen, the Star class would not be the class that it is. Winning in this class has always meant excellence.
Tomorrow's forecast is about the same as today; 8-12 knots from the southeast with more sun.
Monday, March 9:
Another beautiful day on Biscayne Bay. Sunny and 80 degrees with a light Southeasterly breeze. Plenty of sunburns for everyone.
We had a decent result finishing 10th. It was huge recovery after a not-so-flash start and a 30th place at the first mark.
After one general recall, the race committee hoisted the black flag for the second start. When the black flag is up, if you are over the line within one minute of the starting signal, you are disqualified from the race. So it is prudent to be conservative. Maybe we were a bit too conservative and therefore we were at the back of the pack coming off the line. A few boats were caught out at the start.
The course today was a simple, four leg, windward-leeward course - 8 miles in total. The conditions were 7-10 knots from 110 degrees. Fairly flat sea. The standard rules of Biscayne Bay don't seem to be applying so far this week. The right side of the course has be unusually good. That keeps the course more open and there is more shuffling of positions.
The race was won by Italian Lucio Boggi, with Peter Bromby of Bermuda finishing second and Peter Wright of Chicago in third. Many of the top boats yesterday had bad results today. It is tough out there.
The upshot of the redress claims in yesterday's first race was that the jury gave redress to those who complained. Almost everyone lost something in the confusion; but only four boats filed for redress. I just figured the race was going to be thrown out, but I was wrong. About four people complained, one of them being Peter Bromby of Bermuda who had a great race today finishing second. So the four boats who filed for redress will receive the average of their scores for that first race, making it a bit difficult to calculate the scores as their scores will be a moving average every day.
Austin and I are pretty pleased with our speed in this light air. We are very light in our crew weight, about 15 kilos under the Class Rule. Here at the Bacardi Cup, the class weight rule doesn't apply so there are some teams here that outweigh us by 125 pounds. Hopefully, it won't blow too hard.
I think tomorrow's forecast is still for fairly light breeze.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
The first thing to say is that the weather down here is perfect: 8-12 knots of wind from the Southeast and 80 degrees. It doesn't get better than this anywhere.
Sailing here at the 82nd edition of the Bacardi Cup marks my return to the Star Class after a four year absence. I am fortunate to have Austin Sperry crewing for me who was the US Olympic crew in the Star Class in Beijing last summer. We are a bit light in terms of weight, so the forecasted light to moderate winds is fine with us.
The 65 Star boats headed out to the race track this morning for a 1200 start. Everyone was scrambling a bit as the time changed last night and robbed everyone of an hour of sleep.
Once out on the track on Biscayne Bay, it was perfect Star weather. The fleet raced a 10 mile, 5 leg, windward/leeward course. There was confusion at the start as the main race committee vessel at the starboard end of the line signaled an individual recall while a committee boat at the port end of the line raced across the bows of the fleet in what appeared to be a general recall. This boat actually raced back across the bows of the fleet a second time. Some competitors went back to the starting area, most stopped sailing, but the main race committee never signaled a general recall and they thought it was a race.
Needless to say, it was more than a bit confusing and the jury is going to decide if we even had a race today.
As for the race, once we realized we were racing, we had a decent day. Without going through all the details, we rounded the first mark about 22nd had a great first run and second windward leg, going fast and the right way to round the second windward mark about 10th.
We went too far into one corner on the second run and lost a few boats and a lot of distance to the leaders. We went ok up the last beat and finished 11th.
All in all, Austin and I thought we were going pretty well which was good news as yesterday, in training, we were not. I read my notes from the 2004 Olympic trials that were sailed on this very course and we made some rather major changes to our mast setup for today. So that is all good.
George Szabo and Rick Peters of San Diego won the race. The Bacardi Cup is an institution in the Star Class. Originally sailing in Havana, it has been raced out of the Coral Reef Yacht Club, in Coconut Grove, since 1958. It is a six race championship. Once five races have been completed, each competitor can discard their worst score.
Tomorrow's forecast is 8-12 again from the southeast. More sun!
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