Diego NOODs 2005
by Steve Bowman
Racing with the U20s in the San Diego NOOD was a blast! Good sailing and great folks mixed together with one-design racing equal fun. Sailing World even featured us on their web site at www.sailingworld.com. More photos can be found at www.da-woody.com in the photo gallery.
Day One - "surprise, we're just as good as they are"
We won the start of race one and lead the 7 boat fleet openning all the way to a huge finish. The prototype was very competitive with the stock U20s in light air and smooth water. We were able to point higher at similar speed. By far the most important factors were flawless crew work and tactics that kept us in the puffs more consistently than the rest (all my crew's fault).
In race two we again beat the fleet to the start but had a harder time upwind as the wind and waves increased. UFO dogged us all the way around the course and "skewered" the last leward mark when Trent's spinnaker pole failed to retract and he got caught behind to windward with no room. On the last beat he came back strong. We finished a close second and were feeling very confident about the boat and our sailing.
We pulled off a first row start in the third race and battled against a very close fleet as the other U20s found their groove. At the last leeward mark, we were in close second but botched the spinnaker takedown and lost a place. The last windward leg was a disaster in the building wind and chop. We never could get the boat back in the groove and fell all the way to 6th. The class was very close most of the time. I was surprised that the chop hurt us so much, but later realized that the increasing heeling angles, weather helm and twisting of the deck were problems.
Day Two - "don't get cocky"
Heavier winds and chop were the order of the day and we suffered from crew work and tactical melt downs. Two of the three starts we were over early (my fault). In all three races we had problems with both jib and spinnaker handling. We eventually learned to keep the lazy sheets tensioned before any maneuvers. Especially upwind, the stock U20s just walked all over us. I was fighting a lot of weather helm and occasional uncontrolled round-ups in the big puffs. The old prototype rudder and a sticky main traveler were clearly detriments. Despite screaming reaches in every race, we ended the day with 6th, 6th and 7th place finishes. At least the tacking duel for last in the 6th race was fun! Saturday night required some deep reflection.
Day Three - "never give up"
After looking closely at the other boats, we decided to shorten the forestay and move the mast head forward. While at it, one of the other owners (I just can't remember who it was anymore) came by and pointed out that we had the lowers attached to the aft chainplates and the uppers to the forward chainplates - backwards. So we fixed that as well. We also heeded his suggestion for 450 lbs of tension on the uppers and about 300 for the lowers. Off we went, excited to try the new settings. On the way out to the start of race 7, accelerating in a big puff with the spinnaker up, the deck-mounted spinnaker pole brackett failed and the pole ripped free. Immediately after the ensuing knock-down, we retrieved the sail and the pole and continued on our (not so merry) way. By tying a block to the towing eye in the bow and the bow pulpit (which was also bent up by the failure), we were able to fly the chute without a pole.
Race 7 brought back our tactical game and crew-work with flawless start and sail handling. The boat went upwind much better with the adjusted rig and reduced weather helm. We actually passed boats downwind despite the missing spinnaker pole. We just edged Clifton and ETHYL MERLIN out to finish a hard-fought 3rd.
In race 8, we enjoyed similar success to finish 3rd after a very tight tacking battle at the finish with John on ENIGMA. One-design sailing is just great! Overall, we earned a respectable 4th out of 7. On board, Diego Gomez called the tactics to perfection and Dan Childers trimmed the jib and crippled spinnaker like a pro.
It was a pleasure to see Clifton take first place home after his inspirational performance despite gaps in the crew the first day. The whole U20 crowd made this one of the most enjoyable regattas I have experienced.
See results below, Click here for Photos.