ILCA-NA Laser District 3

Ninety-four sailors made their way to the Carolina Yacht Club in Wrightsville Beach, NC for the North American Masters championships, May 15-17. I had been to CYC two years ago for the US Laser Masters, and just loved the setting, sailing conditions and the southern hospitality. This was a must event on the 2009 Laser Masters schedule for quite a few of us. The Canadian turnout was quite impressive with I think 10 entries from District 3 and one from Quebec.

The first day brought a light southerly that never amounted to much. I think I might have leaned out once or twice to use my hiking strap. The RC quickly discovered that using the black flag would likely be the only way we'd get race starts off. The first start I ended up in the second row near the boat end, and had to clear out on to port as soon as I could. To make matters worse, left was probably the best way to go on the first leg. Not a great start to the regatta. I managed to somehow hang in there and pass a couple boats around the double windward-leeward course, but a 16th in the first race wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

The next two races I had a little better starts, again near the boat end, but played the first beats too conservatively, and ended up middle or even towards the left hand side. I heard someone say later, "You need to go right in Wrightsville!" This proved true in races two and three, and if you weren't most of the way on the right on the first beat, it was difficult to find any passing lanes to improve your first mark position by more than a few places. So although I didn't have a disaster race on the first day, I knew my finishes of 16-12-13, or 12th overall, would be a tough hole to dig out of for any hope of a podium spot.

Top boat on the day was Scott Young from Austin, Texas, with scores of 2-3-6, which is not too shabby on a light air day. Scott is a very good sailor, and has some impressive results on his resume.

When we got back to the dock, CYC volunteers were ready with trays of rum punch for us, so I imagine it was tough for anyone to be too down from whatever happened to them on the racecourse (Rob, how about you?)

Saturday greeted us with warm sunshine and some decent breeze and waves, so we'd get our butts out over the side today. It blew a steady 12-14 all day out of the south, with small oscillations and decent waves to ride. The wave pattern was, however, quite sloppy, so upwind you needed to really concentrate on steering a nice groove to keep the boat moving. I decided to start more in the middle of the line all day, and count on the mid-line sag prevalent due to the scary black flag flying from the RC boat. This strategy worked well, as I was able to get off the line with clear air, get the boat moving nicely and pick the side I wanted in all three races. I had excellent upwind speed, and rounded in the top three in each race. On the downwind legs I seemed to have decent speed and was working the waves okay, but okay is not quite good enough against some of these guys. I seemed to hit the occasional slow patch or possibly lighter wind area. With a few fast guys close behind me starting the downwind leg, I couldn't afford a case of the slows for more than a couple waves. The slow patches ended up costing me a three-bullet day, as I was leading all three races most of the way down the final run, just losing a pair of boats near the bottom mark in two of the races. Still I was really pleased to "win the day" by posting a 3-3-1. The last race was particularly rewarding as I managed to lead all the way around the course. As I crossed the line I was disappointed to receive the signal from the RC to head in for the day. I would have like another race, as I was really in a groove, it was only 3:30 pm, and the conditions were ideal. I never did find out why the RC elected to send us in.

The Club put on a wonderful buffet dinner, preceded by an open bar cocktail hour or two! I don't think I've ever seen that before at a regatta. Following dinner the regatta organizers held a draw for various sailing paraphernalia prizes, with most people walking away with some kind of loot.

My good day on Saturday jumped me up the scoreboard to 5th overall, and if Sunday brought another nice day with 2-3 races of hiking breeze, a top 3 finish was certainly in my sights. Unfortunately the morning weather forecast indicated possible thunderstorms later in the day. The race organizers decided to keep us on shore and wait a bit to see how the weather developed. They must not have liked what they saw, as racing was called off for the day out of concern for safety. Prizes were handed out, and the Club fed us again with a tasty BBQ to send us on our way. Peter Vessella won the event on a tie-breaker over Scott Young.

Wrightsville Beach is a regatta location I will always try to get back to in the future. Warm, windy (usually) and, as mentioned above, tremendous hosting from Arland Whitesides and her band of CYC volunteers.

Andy RoyAndy Roy races in the Laser Full-Rig class in District 3.