St. Augustine Sailing Sisters Spring Fo’Ward Race 2023

St. Augustine Sailing Sisters Spring Fo'Ward Race 2023, St. Augustine Sailing Sisters Spring Fo’Ward Race 2023

All Female Crew

Rendezvous With Destiny, a Jeanneau 349, took third place in the 2023 SASS Spring Fo’Ward Race. It was hard work; we pushed the crew and pushed the boat. The boat owner, Florentino and I identified our goals – get some St. Augustine Sailing students out on the water, get some SASS members into the race, get his wife away from work, participate in a SASS event, and get the boat out there. Also, maybe, dial in the boat’s performance a bit more.

We accomplished all that and so much more.

Skippers’ Meeting

From our crew, owner Charlotte and SASS events coordinator Michelle and I attended the skipper’s meeting at the St. Augustine Yacht Club – the race sponsor. As we waited for the race committee to arrive, SASS T-shirts, hats, bags, and more were available for purchase. Early morning excitement gave way to serious planning as the course rules changed and penalties reviewed.

After the captains’ meeting, St. Augustine Sailing students Lisa, Rebecca and Sophia met us at the boat and we got ready to get underway. Owner Florentino had the boat ready for us, as the captains’ meeting had been delayed by the time change.

We headed out of Camachee Cove into the Intracoastal Waterway for some practice tacks and gybes.

After a lunch of finger foods, we got down to the serious business of evaluating the wind and current and determining the preferred end of the starting line. It was the West side of the line.

Dialing In the Sails

First we tackled main halyard tension. Our goal was the find the “sweet spot” for our beam reach to downwind legs. We experimented until we found exactly where we got the best speed, and marked the halyard with a bit of black electrical tape. We discovered we could effect a .3 knot difference with adjusting halyard tension. We quickly calculated that gain over a six-mile race as a third of a nautical mile an hour, so, at five knots, about two minutes’ difference. Worth it!

Second and next, the outhaul. To our surprise, we found that the outhaul was completely slack. The boat has a stack pack that hides the foot of the sail – the boat probably has sailed a couple months like that! We learned that full tension slowed us, medium tension was the best, and simply slacking it resulted in enough tension to hold the foot to the best possible shape. We realized we could effect a .2 knot difference with outhaul tension.

On the Jeanneau 349, the main sheet runs back to both jib sheet winches. Florentino re-ran it for us in the position we usually place it for racing – on the starboard cabin top, utilizing that winch. The main halyard is on the port winch. The moves some clutter away from the aft portion of the cockpit, and frees up the lazy winch.

Third, we worked on the jib tweakers. The Jeanneau does not have jib sheet travelers, but instead, a ring that can be moved higher off the deck or closer to the deck. We experimented getting the leach flatter, and had to move the tweaker down to the deck. However, the knot holding the tweaker fouled the jib sheet on the first tack, so we immediately eased both sides a couple inches to clear the knots. We found we could induce a .3-.5 knot difference by flattening the leech of the jib thus.

Fourth, we tackled the leech line on the jib. The line kept vibrating out of the jam device, so we put a slip knot into that, with the knowledge that it probably would luff loose eventually. We learned that being able to tie a good knot fast is definitely a worthy skill to possess.

Line Handling Choices

I had to choose where to “spend” the energy of the crew, and with the cabin top now involved with main halyard adjustments, main sheet adjustments, and outhaul tension adjustments, I chose to focus our energies there and not fuss with the boom vang. For the next race, I need to consider if I should adjust the boom vang and not the outhaul. With fairly new crew, I already knew I would be pushing their limits if I asked for all the sail trim I really wanted. Every 45 seconds isn’t too often for trimming – is it?

Once we had those bits dialed in, we made a couple practice tacks, lost a hat, did some approaching the line and timing our rate of advance with the current, and re-sighted the lost hat. Lots of boat traffic ran over it so it was completely lost, we got distracted, and by then the current turned and our approach-the-line numbers no longer accurate.

St. Augustine Sailing Sisters Spring Fo'Ward Race 2023, St. Augustine Sailing Sisters Spring Fo’Ward Race 2023

The Race

We were late 40 seconds on the start. We knew we needed to be 49 seconds ahead of the lead boat, and here we not only gave up a good start, but. were already behind. Lucky for us, we had the best windward position and thundered to the first mark without having to tack twice, as the rest of the fleet did.

We made a total of three laps around the course. Winds ranged from very light to 24 knots; sometimes we were making two knots, sometimes over seven knots. Our total time on course was one hour 14 minutes. Our third place win was hard-earned.

Sometimes we were neck-in-neck with boats we had no business being near – they should have been far, far ahead of us, sometimes we were behind boats that should have been looking at our stern.

What Worked

In our debrief, we noted. that we not once completely lost control of our jib or our main. We did have two different instances where jib sheeting got slowed by overrides or inattention, and one time the main sheet slipped and we lost a bit of momentum. One tack we went a bit too far wide. Other than that; we sailed a clean race, followed the rules, worked the lines, had fun, bonded as a crew, learned a lot, and pushed the boat a bit further, faster.

St. Augustine Sailing Sisters is our group of local sailors who encourage each other, host races, and raise money for womens’ charities. Our next race is the Wendy Thompson Memorial Race on Sunday, May 15, then our big fundraiser, the Bikini Race on Saturday, August 6.

St. Augustine Yacht Club is Florida’s oldest yacht club, and sponsor of SASS races. Upcoming races.

St. Augustine Sailing for sailing lessons, charters, memberships and yacht sales.

St. Augustine Sailing Sisters Spring Fo'Ward Race 2023, St. Augustine Sailing Sisters Spring Fo’Ward Race 2023

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