Jun 092016

Thunderstorms were coming at us from the west all afternoon, and the prospects of a race looked uncertain as we stood on the Ida Lewis YC dock and watched the lightning flash to the north of us. Yet after a period of postponement, Dr. Wallace radioed Fleet 9 that we’d be starting a race at 6pm.

As Team Grace saw the conditions aboard 107, we noted big shifts in a northwester wind of variable strength. The cell to the north seemed to be dragging the wind right at times, and we watched the wind swing from about 310 to 350 and back in the prerace warm-up. With big holes on the course, a fading ebb tide, and a first beat likely across the bay toward Jamestown, we quickly decided that wind was going to trump tide tonight.

With a gang-up at the committee boat in a right shift at the first start, the RC flew an AP rather than start the race and reset the line as the air got quite light. A shorter course was signaled, to S (Rose Island red gong) and 2 (Fort Adams nun), twice around.

Now the shift went to the left and the pin was favored. We had already moved to a longer, lighter-air setting on our headstay and made a good start, third boat up from the pin. We also had better breeze than the boats up the line, and we were able to tack after about a minute and cross. To our left, 254 and 17 tacked above us, and we drag raced on the favored tack towards Rose Island in 9-10 knots of breeze with weight on the rail. Approaching the island, we began to get a local lift and laid the green can; 17 tacked to clear their air, and when we finally tacked close to shore, 254 went in front of us and we soon had to hitch back inshore. A few tacks later, we rounded the gong a few lengths behind 254 and just ahead of 17.

On the ball, the RC shifted the course to head to 1, in the middle of Goat Island, and we jibed early for clearer air and a shot at the inside at the mark. With a little less breeze by Rose, this didn’t look like a power move until halfway down the leg when we received better breeze. Maybe the fleet was a bit more on top of 254’s air. Still, we couldn’t quite get the overlap.

With the wind building, the RC signaled a new weather mark, a drop mark well beyond S, to extend the next two legs nicely. We nearly kissed 254’s transom on the rounding and reached off to leeward to make as fast an exit from the mark as possible. Soon we pulled bow even, a length to leeward. We sailed a little lower and faster from there, and without a shift, 254 had no trouble covering us when we tacked. We hitched again to get out of phase with them and picked up an inshore lift on our next tack to starboard; when 254 tacked to port, they ducked us. We traded positions on each of the next two crosses, then tacked to port just in front of 17, coming fast from the left. With 254 to our north side, to leeward, we benefited from a small left shift; when they tacked just short of the layline, we crossed by half a length and led around the mark. We might also have had the edge on that leg because Tim on 254 asked us at every cross where we were going next—and since it was a drop mark and not one of our regularly lettered or numbered marks, I’m not sure my answer (‘it’s a tet (rahedron)’) made any sense to him.

Sailing downwind to 1 again, the breeze built, and we saw some good rocking and rolling in the fleet behind us. That provided plenty of early warning to choke down our chute a bit before the big gusts hit. A few lengths behind us, 254 took up the low position with slightly clearer air and got within a length, but we pulled away in the last 200 yards, perhaps because we had a slightly cleaner breeze as the next few boats gather not far astern.

At 1, which was the leeward mark again, Rachel, Matt, Ted, and Reed pulled off one last good spinnaker drop and the final short beat to the finish was relatively straightforward as we maintained a 4 to 5 length lead on 254, which in turn finished a few lengths ahead of a tight bunch including 17, 226 and 33.

Thank you to our patient race committee. For 107, this was a memorable race!

—John Burnham

May 312016

Race 3 Shields Fleet Nine.

The race start was between Rose Island and Goat Island, with a dropped windward mark just past the dumplings in the center of the channel. Had the windward mark been dumplings it would’ve been a 50-50 call between left course or right of the racecourse with an incoming tide. With the dropped mark it slightly favored the Ft Adams shore. Maverick started halfway down the line with 226 directly to windward of us getting a fractionally better start. It was then a drag race on starboard all the way in to the point of Ft Adams to try and get out of the incoming tide. With the wind from the southwest and incoming tide, there is often a slight right-handed wind band around the point of Ft Adams.  This proved to be the case and the boats that started at the fractionally favored pin and ended up on the outside of the 5 to 8° right-hand shift. We managed to pinch off 226, expertly helmed by Seth from Future Fibres. From the point at Ft Adams it was then just a question of holding the Ft Adams shore until we got the layline for the windward mark. We decided a bear-away set was the best choice to clear the boats heading for the mark.  The pressure downwind was right of center as was the strongest current flow.  It was an interesting time finding mark 8 in the fleet of Newport Yacht Club racers and we almost rounded their starting pin before recognizing where it was.  Then it was a matter of repeating the first lap keeping close to Goat Island avoiding the current line.  The second downwind was similar to the first of keeping clear air and staying in the current.  We did almost lose the spinnaker on the second drop but thankfully we got it in before we needed to round the mark.  At this point we did our best to keep clean air from the NYC fleet and chose the boat end for the finish.

– Ted Slee & Andy Green

Maverick #33

May 242016
Spring Series Race #2
Wind: S/SE 8
Tide:  High 6:46p
Another beautiful spring night on the water here in Newport.  The boats who have yet to launch are really missing out!  As our team made it to the mooring the wind was SE and the RC headed to the vicinity of the Connanicut YC for the starting area.  With the start being not far from where Aeolus lives, we enjoyed some extra time on the mooring catching up with our leader, Tom Hirsch, back for the summer from Wyoming.
When we first went out, it looked like the weather mark would be near the fort, but in our pre start sailing, the wind shifted right to a more southerly direction, causing the race committee to use course 46 (Rp 3p) twice around.  This is a pretty unusual course for Shields, but quite common for anyone that sails in the JYC Tuesday night series.
In our pre race planning we thought that if there were no other boats on the course, the fastest way to the weather mark would be to start at the boat, sail for about 2-3 minutes and then start working shifts on the rights side of the course out of the current.  The wind looked light to the right of the committee boat, so we felt that having to do a clearing tack off the line would be expensive.  We also felt that the further up the beat you got, the stronger the right side would be.
Quite similar to last week, we made a conservative start to leeward of the big group at the boat end.  The current got our group in the middle of the line further away than we expected and we were fairly late.  But at least we recognized as soon as we made our final tack to starboard that we were racing, so we were at full speed at the gun.  Friends on a powerboat said we were 20 seconds late, but I think they were just picking on me.  253 won the start at the boat, 158 had a good start near the pin.  We were soon able to peel off the group to weather of us and tack to port to execute our plan.  253 just crossed us coming out of the right, but this allowed us to get to the right of them for the second half of the beat allowing us to round with the lead.
We lost a bit of ground on the first run, mainly because we thought mark 3 was further inshore than it was.  We had to play blocker for the last part of the run and rounded overlapped with 226 and 158 just behind with 253 and 33 challenging as well.  Much like last week, we felt protecting the right was key, so rounding with the lead made life much easier.  For the second week in a row the boat that rounded 2nd did a clearing tack which ended up costing them a boat or more.  I think that is one of the toughest calls in Shields sailing, rounding behind someone who is headed the way you want to go.  Do you do a clearing tack and risk losing leverage to the favored side?  Or do you try to find a lane of clear-ish air following a boat just ahead?  More often than not I choose the clearing tack as well, but I’ve been trying to get more disciplined about being patient and thinking that call through and not having the clearing tack be an automatic move.  Often the boat in 3rd is advantaged because their lane frees up when the boat in 2nd does a clearing tack.  Best to round with the lead and take away that decision!
The second beat, was really just a fight to protect the right, which favored the leaders to extend.  We and 253 got to the right first and took advantage to round 1st and 2nd at the shortened mark Z.  No real changes on the last run and short beat to the finish.  33 and 226 had a tight battle to the finish, so they may have switched places at some point with 33 nipping them in the end.
Another great week for our team of Tom Hirsch, Scotty, and Nate.  Thanks as always to our stellar race committee for providing great racing.
Keep it rumbling,
Tim Dawson for #254 Aeolus.
Tim Dawson
May 132016

Hopefully we can tap into some of the off the water talent in our fleet for a great written review of the racing each week, found in the race reports under the ‘results’ tab on the menu


May 132016

Spring Series Race #1

Wind: S 10-12
Tide: Low 5:32p

What a great night to open the season. The sun came out and it was actually warm-ish for a change! I suspect the lousy weather we’ve had has several boats behind schedule for launching. The 11 boats that made it out were treated to very nice moderate Southerly wind, which was perfect for knocking off the winter dust. Our team on Aeolus was off the mooring uncharacteristically early as it was our first sail with our new mast. There were no surprises with the new mast, it was more or less plug and play, which was nice to see. Great job by our friends at Cape Cod Shipbuilding.

We were able to sail most of the first beat before the start. The wind was quite steady, with the typical waves of pressure you get from a Southerly, but no real big shifts. There was still a bit of the ebb left, which should favor the right side in the early part of the beat, though it was slowing down. Our plan was to get a clean start and try to get going right when we could. On a normal night with a bigger fleet and longer starting line, we would have wanted to start on the boat 1/3 of the line, but since the line was shorter than normal being out of the crowd and off the line clean became the priority. In doing this, we ended up being the leeward most boat at the start. Not the best position for our first beat plan, but it guaranteed a front row start with pace.

We were off clean, but were pinned from tacking as early as we would have liked. We ended up getting in close to the harbor on the left and more in the lee of the Fort than was ideal. It wasn’t looking great for a while, but we ended up getting a couple nice left puffs after clearing the Fort that put us in the top group at the first mark. I felt we were pretty lucky to get out of the left as well as we did. We rounded bow even and to windward of 107 with 217 right behind. The run was starboard jibe favored and we got some nice pressure to move forward and down in front of 107 for the lead.

For the second beat, we liked the look of the pressure on the right and we were happy to carry on on port and see how the fleet stacked up behind us, with an eye towards protecting the right. 107 tacked off early and then back to port after a couple minutes. It looked like a gain to us after 107s clearing tack and with 217 following us, we continued heading towards the Dumplings and better pressure. As we got closer to the Dumplings the wind started to go right and we tacked to loosely cover 217. A nice lefty (nearly an autotack) as we got closer to the Newport side really stretched us out to a big lead towards the top with 217 in 2nd and 107 3rd. These positions stayed established on the port jibe favored run after the leeward mark change and the short beat to the finish.

Thanks as always to the RC for setting up a great race and to our team for the night of Scotty Innes-Jones, Nate Frizell and Kyle Martin. We’re looking forward to having Tom Hirsch back with us next week.

See you on the water,

Tim Dawson – 254 Aeolus

May 102016
I have arrived in to Newport last week and would love to crew on the Shields. I will be based here until October. I used to race lasers and enjoy the new challenges of different classes. I have plenty of offshore cruising experience 🙂  I look forward to any responses
Thanking you,
Kelly Righton
kellymrighton at
phone number available from fleet officers


May 032016

The RC Duty coverage has been added to the calendar, and also appears below:
May 11: 258
May 18: 33
May 25: 166
June 1: 21
June 8: 163
June 15: 107
June 22: 1
June 29: 245
July 6: 165
July 13: 121
July 20: 201
July 27: 203
Aug 3: 222
Aug 10: 158
Aug 17: 226
Aug 24: 59
Aug 31: 224
Sep 7: 74
Sep 14: 200
Sep 21: 80
Sep 28: 253

Alternates: 143, 181, 254, 217