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Tag: Sailboat Racing

Seattle Duck Dodge Sailboat Race in a Minto on July 16, 2019

Raced a Minto dinghy in the Dock Dodge- near tragic ending!

Robert Dall sailing Martha the Minto - Seattle Duck Dodge Sailboat Race in a Minto on July 16, 2019My buddy Robert comes down from Canada every year to volunteer at the Footloose Disabled Sailing Blake Island trip. Along the way, Robert participates in the famous Seattle Duck Dodge sailboat race in my 9 foot Minto sailing dinghy. This year I was able to get out with him.

 

The theme of the race was pajamas. Robert dressed up, brought a Teddy Bear, and decorated the boat. We headed out from the northern side of Lake Union and hopped into the mix. There were well over a hundred boat- they all dwarfed us. Imagine a Pack of Saint Bernards running around your backyard and two Yorkies desperately trying not to get run over. We were the Yorkies.

The course was fairly long for the Mintos, and the wind lighter than I would have liked, but they made it around the course handily.

Before the course started we were milling around the start line and it was a bit dicey with the big boats trying to start. I took of up north and thought Robert had followed me. He had not. The boat Absolutely nearly crushed him while he was looking back at me and talking. After that he hung near the pin end of the starting line. I cruised up north in pursuit of the big boats. They headed there to make a long straight shot at the start. I figured I would do the same behind them, but on the downwind I found that the Minto kept up with several of them and I reached the start 8 minutes early. I started tacking east and west across the lake.

Robert Dall sailing with big boats - Seattle Duck Dodge Sailboat Race in a Minto on July 16, 2019

Our start came and I was ready to nail it, till a Catalina barged through. They had missed their start by 5 minutes and I guess figured running me down was ok. Missed the start horn by 30 seconds. Screamed down to the leeward pin and did pretty well. I waited near the pin for Robert and then we headed up to the windward mark near I-5. I passed a Catalina 22 and a Macgregor 26! Lost sight of Robert in the back of the fleet.

Catalina 22 I passed in a Minto! - Seattle Duck Dodge Sailboat Race in a Minto on July 16, 2019

Rounding the windward mark, We beamed over to the Aurora bridge mark. This was the biggest battle for me. Having such tiny sail area compared to everyone else, I really had to be on my games. Tactics were of high importance. I had to have clear air because every other boat out there could steal it and kill my momentum. I got a lot of praise for how well I sailed on this leg. Most of the big boats around me were on their second lap. Passed a Catalina 25.

Rounding that mark, I could not see Robert behind me anymore. He was struggling with the same stealing of air that I had and even more of the big boat fleet was around him! On this downwind run to the finish I had a couple beers thrown to me and passed a 30 footer, to finish second to last in my class, but only 5th from last overall. Not too bad for a light rowing dinghy with a sail.

Seattle Duck Dodge Sailboat Race in a Minto on July 16, 2019

I was very impressed at the performance of the Minto. She sailed well. 3 knots more wind would have helped a lot, but overall I was satisfied. The mental game was the most fun. When you have a lot of sail area it is easier to sail sloppy, when literally every boat can park you the game becomes much more strategic. I did well because I was trained and mentored well by Joe, and exceptional racer. Robert did ok for being in a little dinghy not meant for speed. He would have done better had he deployed the same tactics as myself. He did win a black duck though!

Overall it was a very fun night and I enjoyed it far more than I anticipated. I kinda want to do it again even!

July 28, 2016 Race Results for the Downtown Sailing Series

Tonight’s race was much better than last week! We started well and almost ended well. I am getting to know the course better. Shane and I tweaked and dialed Zippey’s settings, and added some new things.

We wound up in 45th place out of 49 boats. Not as good as last week, however we were able to sail the entire time this race!

I have crewed on race boats for two seasons and being in the skipper seat on your own boat is significantly different. I have to give a big props and thanks to Joe Bozick for his great teaching and deep technical understanding of all things sailing. He has made me a much more competent sailor and race winner hopeful!

Quick Notes

What we did well

  • Paid attention to the wind shadows of other boats. As one of the smallest boats out there everyone steals your wind!
  • Wind was puffy. We played into it as well as we could given Zippey’s current sail inventory.
  • We set up iRegatta to track our speed. That helped us as we tinkered with Zippey’s settings to find the fastest.
  • Shane put a cunningham on the main. That gave the main a significantly better shape, and it was easier to read the main.
  • Shane had some extra tale tales that he stuck on the headsail.

What we could have done better

  • I misjudged our speed to the start and we were a couple minutes late over the line. We should stay closer next time.
  • Getting away from the breakwater as early as possible would be a fantastic idea.
  • We stayed in close to shore on the second leg. The wind seems better further out. Next time we tack over after rounding the first mark.
  • Replace the broken slugs on the head of the mainsail.
  • Put the slug on the back foot of the mainsail into the end of the boom.
  • Have more lines available of varying lengths to rig up impromptu things.
  • Had a traveler system set up.

Race Overview

The start is along the Elliot Bay Marina breakwater and for a small boat like mine the start is tough. The start is downwind and the breakwater blocks a lot of wind from my tiny sails. This gives the larger boats a significant advantage.

As soon as Zippey pulled away from the breakwater she hit a channel between the marina and the cruise ship dock. That area seems to always have a good strong breeze coming down it. Zippey loves riding that. The wind shadow fills in a bit going towards the first mark. On the way to the mark Zippey did magnificent. Only one boat passed us. We caught a couple, including an older Pearson race boat, Dynamite. Zippey made a good consistent 4.4 knots to the mark on a broad reach.

After rounding the first mark is was a downwind slog. Zippey tooled along at about 3.9 knots. Last week winds were really light and the boats that tacked out made it to the second mark quickly. Tonight with the stronger breeze we thought we would make it fine, however as the shore approached the wind strength retreated. Shane was running the headsail and we popped onto wing-on-wing (manually, no whisker pole) and slowly scooted away from the other boats near us. We watched boats start to park in front of us and tried to skirt around them but got becalmed briefly also. Our momentum was able to carry us to the mark, which Zippey proudly rounded in front of a C&C 29. The C&C 29 has a PHRF of around 171 whereas Zippey is a North American Spirit 23 with a rating around 240 (Yet to be officially rated). That means the C&C 29 should have charged ahead of us by 69 seconds per mile! Overall she should have beat us by around 550 seconds. She did take off after rounding the mark and smoked us to the finish. Skipper made a tactical error early on that allowed us to pass.

The drive back to the finish is loooooong. Wind strength further away from the shore was better but still oscillated. Zippey’s centerboard is stuck up in the keel which prevented us from being able to point high. Tacks were huge degrees! We managed to keep Zippey in the 4 knot range most of the time. Shane rigged up a cunningham to pull down the front of the main and we experimented with the vang tension. All the little tweaks helped both Zippey’s speed and pointing ability.

We sailed well right up to the finish. When we were about 150 feet off the finish the wind died on our side. We watched at least 20 boats correct for the wind and sail right passed us. Bummer.

Overall great race! We learned a ton about Zippey and how to make her go faster. With some more tweaks I think she will have great potential with her current sail inventory.

Photos

Zippey’s first official race!

Lastnight was the first of what hopefully will be many races for me as the skipper. I decided for my first race I wanted something that was not going to be as competitive as the races I typically crew in. The Thursday night Downtown Sailing Series fit the bill perfectly. Zippey is moored in the Elliot Bay Marina, which hosts the race.

The Downtown Series is very laid back. So laid back in fact that they encourage you to use your motor if you would need to make it through the course on time. The only 2 marks you are required to round (of 5) are the start and finish marks. Otherwise you can cut the others if you want to, though I want to legitimately win!

The wind last night was very flukey. It altered direction as much as 90 degrees every minute. And it was puffy! Sometimes Zippey would scream along as 5.5 knots, only to drop back to 1.4 knot for the next 20 minutes.

We did pretty good on this race overall, though I made an extreme tactical mistake at the start. I thought I could sneak by the big boats by staying inside near the starting pin…whoops, the big boats stole my wind cause I was leeward! Stupid mistake that I will not soon make again (I hope)!

The rest of the race went pretty well tactically. It highlighted the need for a new main and a much larger headsail. Currently Zippey has what may be a 95% headsail and a main from 1977. If both were in better condition I would have finished much better. As it was I finished in 17th place out of 30 boats in my class.

As for the 17th place…the course is about 7.8 miles. That is a pretty long course. And there is a 1.5 hour time limit! In contrast the races I typically crew in have a 5 hour time limit and the course is variable size based on the wind. So we may have gotten 17th place, however we did sail for more than 2/3 of the course. We only fired up our engine when we realized that there was not enough wind for us to make it to the finish line in time, and we did want to place.

Speaking of using an engine, typically that is not allowed. This race in general is peculiar in that it allows and even encourages use of the motor.

I am guessing that had we fired up our motor at the same time as the rest of the class we would have been closer to 5th place or above. Not too shabby for Zippey’s first real race!

Zippey’s first almost race

My dear brother Brandon is moving three days to Orange County :(. This evening I had the pleasure of taking him and his daughter on a farewell cruise. Thursdays throughout the summer my marina hosts a fun casual sailboat race and we had the good fortune of being on the water to watch the race! Zippey has her race number registered, however we arrived a couple minutes too late to enter join tonight. Instead we were able to enjoy a leisurely cruise while taking some great shots of the race. Here they are for your enjoyment 🙂

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