Thursday, March 4, 2010

NAs Day One, Really.

Pics 1. Moving out to the starting line. Great ice, no wind. Click to see detail.

Pic 2. Lining up hopefully... on a new line. Wind shift!

Pic 3. Pat Fitzgerald uses a critical piece of equipment on a day like this, his chair.
Pic 4 if there is only one, isn't it just an M?

The forecast 5-7 knot winds did not arrive, or at least stick around long. There was one silver qualifying race and three or four line resets. FInally, at 4 pm, the race committee called it a day. No one complained, it had been eight houurs on the ice at that point.

The breeze arrived just as most of the boats were under cover for the night. A dozen or so went back out to enjoy the 10-1 knot breezes until just before sunset at 645 pm.

The qualifying race was good, and I personally was happy with 5/6th of it. We had a light, steady breeze of just above 5 mph at the start. The left side was in a bit more breeze, and those on the right went close to shore for a lift. As it turned out, the right side made out slightly. I started in the middle of the port tack starters. Unable to run, I reached behind the boats near me, got good boat speed, and sailed fast in clear air. I tacked early, which paid off some, and tacked back to port in the middle of the boats coming in from the other side.

I rounded about 18th with great boat speed and immediately passed anothe three or four boats. I was 14th at the leeward mark, and working on passing Randy and Sam. My upwind speed and pointing were good, and I finally got by Randy as he tacked a bit before me for the mark, and I sailed a bit further and approached the mark lower and faster, Sam was hopping out of the boat at eavry tack and jibe to push the boat up to full speed. Ah to be fifteen and with two good legs. But I need to discus the "return the boat to wind propulsion" rules...

I was 13th at the leeward mark and keeping speed up well. One more boat to pass to qualify up! Again pointing well and sailing fast up wind, I passed another three boats by the windward mark. Everyone was well spread out, and some were being lapped. With great speed after rounding the weather mark, I saw the boats in front of me slowing. As the wind pressure diminished on my rig, I knew I had just left good wind, and it was moving down the lake, so I jibed. Big mistake, I lost lots of speed and had to go up to almost close hauled to get it back. I jibed back, sailed fast, but lost at least six boats, finishing 17th, or fifth after the 12 qualifiers. Boat speed is king, dummy me.

Most of the faster boats used flat sails (ABSS or JD Speed sails) and I used an FO1. Later, Pete Johns and I both experimented with sails in the light winds and bith concluded the flat sails were better in the light winds with this fast ice.

But that was all the excitement. The only other high point in the pits was finding a lost M&M. As it melted into the ice, there were interesting "worm trails" of blue carying the coating away down into the ice. Not the exciting racing we all expected, but something. Loretta is posting results, so I will not duplicate here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

NAs Day one, kind of

The German Flag and anthem, start of the opening ceremony.

Ahhhhh iceboating. A beautiful venue, bright sunny sky, wonderful black ice in March, 50 or sixty of your best friends, boat and set-up done, race committee in place. What to do? What's missing?


Nice opening ceremony with four nationalities present (Poland, Germany, Canada and US). See pics. Eight or ten brave souls push-kicked onto the sheet, across the three cracks. The morning was cold, so the ice sheets had shrunk, and a bit of open water was between the cracks, ao runners needed to be lifted over the 2 foot gap at the first crack. The rest were tight enough to push or glide right over. There was the hint of a breeze, and the ice was so fast that the boats could sustain speed if you got them going. Barely. But a turn slowed the boat enough that it would coast to a stop. Mostly it was lulls. Kicking, scooter style, would allow the boats to coast over a hundred yards, so transport was energy-economical.

So on a windless day, lots of ice discussions were had about the pit, and in knots of boats everywhere they happened to be. My personal knot happened to be over the second crack where we intend to sail. The marks from the day before were still up. Early arrivals yesterday sailed around a course between marks set a mile and a half apart, and the distant mark stayed distant today.

The ice is clear (black) and thick. The bright sun was causing it to expand. A local news reporter (TV) was getting no action, but he did get to experience a great little ice quake. View the video and listen carefully to a few seconds to the sounds of the ice discussing the day...

For the non-sailors, you also get a view of my boat packed for a day of sailing. Six runners are in a saddlebag style carrier draped over the front of the boat. A second sail, a speed sail in this case, is tied to the side. A tool kit, water, and the stickers required to identify the components used in racing are in the cockpit.

Alas. A windless day. At three, the race committee called the day over, and we adjourned to the hotel for meals, meetings and more discussions.

The annual meeting followed pre-dinner and was quite business-like. Two proposals will be on the ballot, to allow foam cores where solid wood is not specified, and to specify a minimum bottom thickness beneath the cockpit. A third proposal to alllow 3/8 plate runners went down in near-unaminous defeat. A short editorial paragraph by me is below on that subject.

The Ice Opti mast raffle prize was awarded. A new mast, donated originally by Jeff Kent, won last year by Ken Smith (me), was finished, fitted with an external hound made (but not donated) by Bob Rast, and donated to fund-raise for youth sailing. Mast graphics were donated by Acuity, who is a supplier of hull number vinyl graphics. Neil Lynch, a yooper newcomer to the sport, was the luck winner. Go Neil!

Oh if tomorrow brings wind with the glorious setting and weather, what a regatta this will be!


The proposal has been kicking around for a few years. Making 3/8 plate runners would or would not be feasible. They would or would not be strong enough. Adding such plates would or would not incerase runner inventory.

Well, one of the guys made a few sets, sailed them in extreme conditions, and found them to be great in snow, equal or better than 1/4 inch plates in hard ice, and a great bargain. For a new guy, a good investment that would have him in a competative runner in most conditions. Further, if 36 inch 3/8 plates were legal, that one runner set would be potentially the Universal Runner. It would make 3/8 inserts, now the most universal runner, most advantageous only in certain conditions. The other niche specialty runners would still be niche specialty runners for certain conditions, of course.

Wow. One runner set for fast smooth ice, with a capability to sail in three to four inches of snow also. Thats what I find most all the time!

So who is the proposed rule change good for? A. Anyone trying to enter the sport. A much smaller initial investment gets a runner set that is good-to-great in mostly all conditions. Runner inventory is not a big barrier to competative edge!

Who is that bad for? Everyone that has a huge runner inventory. No market for 1/4 inch plates, reduced market for other inserts. And now a new set of runners to invest in!

But for a new-to-the-sport person's perspective: No need for 1/4 inch pates or expensive sets of inserts. One set to do almost everything!

Who votes to allow such measures on the ballot? All the guys and a few gals with runner inventories and an a continuing commitment to the sport, the fanatics who travel all over teh world just to slide around a lake for a few hours.

Too bad, this is not good news for growing the participation base, IMHO. I was one of the dissenters.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pits Monday, practice day

Here are a few views of the pits in our small cove, late afternoon Monday.


Thanks for the great feedback from the Worlds blog. I wasn’t going to blog the NAs, but it’s a long trip. . .

After searching, hoping, trying, sailing, and fighting weather, the conclusion was that the North American Continent had no sailable ice within range (not counting Canyon Ferry, MT) in either the US or Canada. But JD and Jim McDononagh decided to go to the “unofficial” site in northern Michigan by way of the north shore of Lake Superior. They confirmed the rumored great ice (and no snow) on the north shore of Gitchie-goomey.

In the conference call at which the decision was made, there was much hand wringing. Our by-laws require the regatta to be complete by the Saturday after the called date. There was neither ice nor the forecasts anywhere that would lead to new ice, or refreshed ice, anywhere. Sigh. OK. Thunder Bay is the only game available. Have fun guys, it too far for us.

Now how and who to travel with, because even from Chicago, its over 700 miles to there. The WI/IL contingent (after soul searching and spousal pleadings and work planning) consists of Wendell Sherry (who was in Traverse Bay waiting), Peter Johns, Lou Loeneke, Bob Cave, Mark Isabell, Steve Orelebek, Pat Fitzgerald and me. The MN contingent is to be determined as well as who is in from the East and Centrals and Canada. There are four European entries traveling with our resident Polish sailor from Chicago.

Pat Fitzgerald and I ended up driving together. Sunday found us in Duluth, where it was recommended we stop. The deer and moose hazard on the roads north were considered excessive, so we got a good night’s sleep, found Izzi/Orlie and Loneke/Cave and Pete also stayed at the same place. The ice is great, the wind was light and lots of nice practice this afternoon. There were 50 boats on the ice when we left for dinner. Racing starts tomorrow, Wednesday.