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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!

It takes an (international) village… Zippey’s 2016 haul out

As I write this I am happily anchored in Liberty Bay with my yacht club. It was a hard push to get here but the effort, stress, and exhaustion of the past few weeks has been worth it.

zippey_rafted2

Zippey was far far far overdue for a haul to replace the bottom paint. Last time I had the boat out I paid someone to do the work and instead of the nice (expensive) marine paint I had purchased he swapped it out and put cheap latex house paint on Zippey. Latex house paint is _not_ even close to marine paint quality. The critters living in salt water loved attaching themselves to the latex paint. Keeping the bottom as clean and smooth as possible had been a running battle for the past couple years and it finally became too much effort at nearly this same time last year.

The Shilshole Bay Yacht Club forms a raft up (I am there currently) each year for an amazing July 3rd fireworks show for boaters in Liberty Bay. Last year the trip took Zippey SIX HOURS to make. As we limped into the bay I knew it was time for the big job of stripping down the paint completely. I have sanded Zippey in the past both above and below the waterline and I can tell you that even though she is only 23 feet long it is still quite the challenge to sand down the entire boat. I researched some local boatyards and found one that was set up with facilities that allow boaters to do their own bottom work, South Park Marina.

I was excited as Zippey’s haul out date approached but unfortunately a couple days before the haul out was to commence the marina called to inform me their machine to get my boat out had broken. It took them an entire month for their supplier to get the replacement parts they needed, and another month to clear that month’s backlog. To all told Zippey’s haul out wound up happening TWO MONTHS after it was initially scheduled. This significantly compressed the original timeline, down from 3 months to 3 weeks. I had to dramatically cut back the projects I wanted to do. Down to the following 8 projects out of a total of 25+ I wanted to do:

  • Drop the mast and fix the halyards
  • Scrape and sand the bottom
  • Roll on a couple new coats of bottom paint
  • Fix the centerboard so it swings in and out properly
  • Rig up a system to rehang the rudder, temporarily until proper rudder parts can be sourced
  • Create a new line-based traveler system (Finished back in the water)
  • New tiller installation
  • Additional anchor chain added (Finished back in the water)

That is the minimum that Zippey needed to get her back into the water, and boy was it a hard sprint to get her done in time for the July 1st-4th Liberty Bay event! Alix and I were packing and moving at the same time, then unpacking and setting up a new home, sailboat racing, and the Footloose events, not to mention a family emergency, uncooperative weather,  and a friend from another country visiting!

Zippey’s bottom may not be perfect but it is significantly better. The first couple days were spent sanding off the bottom paint as well as could be done. The day we were supposed to begin painting the weather went south and it rained. It rained for several days. South Park Marina is not a covered boatyard, which makes painting a boat impossible if it rains. So we did other projects, such as dropping the mast and fixing the halyard.

When all was said and done Zippey had become an international project. Someone from Canada came down and worked on Zippey.

I could not have gotten Zippey finished in time without the following people being a huge helping hand:

  • Joshua Wold
  • Robert Dall (Canadian)
  • Ben Matthewson
  • Alix Lobaugh
  • Momma Lobaugh
  • RaeAnn Lobaugh

Each person lent a hand with sanding, painting, or hard labor. Thank you, thank you, thank you each of you.

There are still a decent amount of projects that Zippey should have done, but their are of secondary importance. Zippey is ready to spend another pleasant summer sailing the Puget Sound!

Last year it took 6 hours to get Zippey from Elliot Bay Marina to Liberty Bay; this year she did it in slightly over 2 hours! Zippey went from chugging along at a max of 2 knots ( approx. 2 mph) to 6.4 knots (approx. 7 mph)!

Here are some photos of the process:

Zippey has a rudder!

Zippey is getting closer to splash down!

Lastnight Josh and I macgyvered a rudder set up. I have been busy with Footloose and racing other people’s boats and poor Zippey has not had a rudder in almost 2 years!

zippey_rudder

Zippey’s bottom is slowly cleaning up!

Zippey’s bottom side is slowly cleaning up. Sanding off the old junk has taken a fair amount longer than I had anticipated, however my new buddy Ben Matthewson, who I met sailboat racing, is in between college quarters and has been immensely helpful in getting Zippey ready.

Thus far I have been pleasantly surprised at the state of the bottom. I expected much worse conditions. There are only a few blisters and for the most part they are minor.

Here is another photo to keep you tantalized.

zippey_sanding

 

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