Aug 032016

The conditions 12 to 14 knots from Southwest. There was a 15° Windshift right before the start, with any boats towards the pin end having the best starts of all.  We took advantage of this and quickly tacked crossing the fleet of boats that started near the RC Boat. We raced for the pin at about 2mins and managed to start mid line and tack for better ride on the right. 254, 107, 74 & 226 were all in the hunt on the first downwind. 254 solidifying a handy lead with a pack of three or four surfing each other’s quarter wake trying to find a tactical advantage to the mark. The second upwind we managed to get to the right of 254 and laid the top mark to take a slender lead. The boats in 2nd and 3rd had to pinch for the mark giving us a good lead before heading to the yellow inflatable off the Navy base.  Here we decided deeper was faster pointing the boat directly into the current eventhough the mark was a starboard reach.  After defending our lead we rounded the leeward mark and fought off a challenge from the ever graceful Grace and held on for a happy win. Hard earned in an always competitive fleet.


Ted Slee & Andy Green

Jul 262016

Here’s the Report from 258

The Start

After the general recall, we moved down the line, away from the pack, and started mid-boat. At about 20 seconds to the gun we realized we were racing due to the flooding tide and seemed to still be a bit late to the line but a boat length ahead of the boats around us. We felt good about this position as we were able to be full speed off the line, still receiving the right shifts off our shoulder, and sailing into max pressure coming course middle/mid-left.

Off the line, we were able to hold our position on starboard and continue sailing in max breeze. We held for the majority of the first half, and kept an eye on the bottom right corner (boats that had tacked out right early on). Those boats had a better starboard angle, but we were sailing for pressure, as pressure differences seemed to be more diverse. When the small pack of boats to leeward tacked onto port, we knew that we wanted to lead back right to consolidate with the right-most pack, but were patient in waiting for either a nice puff or a bit of a lefty (which only came shy of the bridge).

For the top half, we were more middle-course. There was a current line mid-left that we played with as it provided a bit of positive chop. We also began tacking on the edge of the shiftier puffs by Jamestown, rather than digging into them, as they were shorter blasts. Generally, we erred towards mid-left of the course because the pressure seemed to be more consistent. We switched focus to the small shifts accessible to us (even when other boats were on the edges sailing with better angles) focusing on boat speed through the transitions — especially those short winders!

The Run
We knew that we wanted to get back out into the current after rounding the can in jamestown harbor and with the course change to just off the war college it made the run pretty simple. We extended on starboard back into the channel and once we were on lay for the next mark, gybed. There were a couple boats that made significant gains on the run bringing the puffs down but we knew if we could keep a couple boat length lead that we could extend covering on the next beat.

2nd Beat
After rounding the bottom mark we wanted to go left as well as control the boats behind us. Luckily everyone else had the same idea. We tacked onto starboard when everybody else did and beat up towards the bridge. A small righty helped our cause. Once we got to the bridge we were solidly in 1st and wanted to stay there. We did what we had done on the first beat and kept left away from the Jamestown harbor. I think this paid more because we had more wind on that side and possibly some “good” current giving us an artificial lift.

All in all there was nothing but good vibes and beers on 258. Big thanks to the Race Committee and the crew Bob Savoie, Katia Dasilva, and Ben Wilkinson. We have been changing crew weekly so this was the first time the four of us had all sailed together. We look forward to seeing everyone next week!

Jun 242016
Spring Race #7
Wind – vacuum
Tide – Low 3:54
“If you’re not first, you’re last” – Reese Bobby
Wild race last night. A massive storm passing through Maine brought thunderstorms as far South as Fall River and sucked the air out of Newport. Great job by the RC in being patient and setting a fair course once the breeze filled in a bit.
I don’t have a whole lot to say about tonight other than whatever you’re doing, try to go fast. There was nothing about our race tonight that went according to plan. We thought we wanted to win the pin and lead left, but the set up didn’t really work for us so we ended up not being able to make the pin on starboard. I think there was a big wind shift, but Kyle is pretty convinced the 2 extra beers I had during the AP played a part. Scotty quickly realized that we should tack since we were in such bad position, but at least we ducked the whole fleet with good pace in a nice lefty!  We hung out there with 107 to windward and 224 (nice to see you out there), who were over early, out to the right.
Somehow, the left near the Dumplings (where we wanted to go) got really light and we started to look better and better where we were and we were leading our small group to the left.

Next thing we knew we had a clear lead, wow.  We’re in first!  We rounded in front with 107 right on our transom.

Light air runs suck. Everyone hates them and when you round first they are extra stressful. There’s few

more frustrating feelings than rounding the top mark first and watching the boats behind press down inside you with better pressure, locking you out from jibing to get to the new shift.  From the minute we set we we looking for an opportunity to jibe and we never thought we had a good look, too much bad air to sail through.  Eventually, the forecasted NW wind came back in as we were becalmed and were the last to get it.  We’re in last!  I say last, but Bill Shore was South of us heading towards Castle Hill last time I saw him. Has anyone heard from Bill?
Fortunately for the home team, we eventually got going as the rest of the fleet started to slow down, presumably a bit in the lee of Rose.  Having a full spinnaker (instead of a hanging one) became a real advantage over the rest of the fleet.  We probably had more focus on that run that we’ve ever had collectively on board.  It became apparent that if we simply kept moving, we’d get back into the race.  The new leaders who were the first to jibe really slowed down after jibing back to starboard and we were crossing.  We’re in first again!  If we can just manage to get around the mark . . .  Fortunately we were able to ghost around with the lead and hold on the short beat to the finish, with 226 nipping 33 for second.
It was one of those races where at the end all we could do was laugh really, as the race could have gone either way for us at any time.   My takeaway from the race as I said at the beginning is to always make sure to be going as fast as possible at all times.  It’s easy to get distracted when things aren’t going your way.  But you can’t compound the mistake by going slow.  Who knows, you may find yourself being the only boat with a full spinnaker on the course and sail around the entire fleet.
Great job sticking with it by our team for the night of Scotty, Nate and Kyle Martin.
See you North of the bridge next week!
Tim Dawson for #254 Aeolus
Jun 242016
Spring Series Race #6
Wind: SW 12ish
Tide: High 5:24
Apologies for the late report.  After last weeks race, focus quickly turned to the weather picture for the Bermuda Race.  A potential developing low off Hatteras put the faster boats (other than Comanche) at risk of seeing some serious boat breaking conditions for our types of boats.  In the end 47 boats decided not to race including the entire Gibbs Hill Division.
This was an interesting race in that it took place during a current change.  The course set was Q, 8 twice around.  We had a good start in the middle of the line, with 253 having a slightly better start to windward of us.  A small right shift gave them advantage early and they crossed and put a loose cover on us not far from Ft. Adams.  As we continued on port in clear air, we considered stepping back to the left as there was good pressure and some left shift closer to the shore.  We were in a similar situation a few weeks back and lost ground by not stepping back to the left.  However we noticed 226 tacked early and looked better and better to leeward the further we went.  There was a very distinct current line showing the current ebbing on the right side and still flooding on the Newport side.  We decided to carry on across the current line into the ebb, which resulted in gains on the boats that stepped out past 253.  We rounded the top mark in 2nd behind 253 with 226 right on our stern.
Thankfully on the run both 253 and 226 jibed early, keeping them in the ebb flow.  226 says they were heading for the wrong leeward mark.  We stayed on starboard to get back into the flood flow and hopefully better pressure.  This proved to be the race winning move for us as it got us into the lead at the leeward mark coming from better breeze and current.  The race was tactically pretty simple from there as it made sense to get to the right side into the ebb, so we loose covered the groups behind, protecting the right side.  It was a big advantage to be leading.  We had a nice extension on the beat, but managed to give most of it back with a not so great set at the 2nd weather mark which kept us having to work hard for the rest of the race to keep the lead.  253 finished close behind in 2nd and a great performance by 33 to get to 3rd and keep the series close.
Thanks as always to the RC and look forward to seeing everyone out there tonight for the Spring Series Finale.
Tim Dawson for #254 Aeolus

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

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

Sep 052013

Interesting wind directions – 235 near Goat Island, 245 – 260 near Dumplings before racing.

Set up north of South Bay Mark 6 with course 86  x 2 and line bearing 141 deg. Wind speed 14 kts Great start with good spread all down line – wind went right exactly at start so that first mark was exactly upwind instead of slightly offset to right to account for incoming current. Boats played current on down wind leg initially but the wind went to 260 for a mostly port tack run.  At leeward mark “8” the second windward mark changed to “Z” for 260 breeze.

17 made a huge gain by sailing all along Goat Island shore before tacking across to Jamestown. Three boats failed to honor the small green can off Rose Island, recognized their mistake and set spinnakers to correct their error. (S.I. # 20) Wind down to 9-10 kts at finish but a great evening’s racing on the Bay with a couple of very close finishes.

Bill O’Hanley will be P.R.O. next week.


Submitted by:

Robin Wallace

Jun 132013

5-29-13 Bullet Blog

From #107:

Sometimes the best way to a bullet is to be way over the line at the start with the I-flag flying. Knock the Windex off Maverick’s mast on the way back. Take some extra time spinning a circle. Sail up the wrong side of the first beat.

…And hope there’s a second race.

Fortunately, our prayers were answered (and Maverick (33), with Andy driving, took advantage of its low-windage configuration to win the first race). The course signaled was to the special mark at Hammersmith and then the special mark by the bridge. Tide turning to flood and southwesterly, softening and backing.

After being over early not once, but twice (yes, that’s twice in two races), we started well and sailed up to the tidal relief near the Fort. Tacked to leeward of Bill Shore in Karasalet (74) and began a long port tack, gradually lifting, until national champ Tim Dawson (254) tacked right in front of us and pinged us inshore for clear air where we found a fresher breeze and current relief.

Lisa (59) with Stubby at the helm, was in a fast lane, and we took his transom with the usual banter and then tacked on his weather side. We’d both overstood, but were able to reach into the mark, Stubby with a nice lead and us just ahead of Virginia (224).

With the shift, Charlie flag was up, directing us to R, the bell buoy across the channel by Clingstone. Unfortunately, we couldn’t head that way and keep the kite pressured up. So we reached along the shore and worried that the boats behind us were sailing a lower angle in a different breeze. Ahead of us, Stubby was even closer to the shore than us, and fell into a hole. He jibed, and we again took his stern but there was less banter this time.


We carried on down the shoreline until we indisputably owned the corner, then jibed on the layline, or perhaps a bit past. Fortunately for us, the rest of the fleet now had no more wind than we did, and we were able to sail a fast angle across the channel.

Robin made the excellent decision to shorten course at R, and we crossed the line to the welcome salute of the gun. Virginia finished close behind in second, and Maverick won the evening with a third-place finish just ahead of Karasalet.

A few lessons I picked up along the way:

Starting on the correct side of the line has its advantages.

  1. It doesn’t hurt to follow Bill in 74.
  2. Sometimes the national champ is doing you a favor by planting one on you.
  3. On a light-air run, keep the boat going fast, even if you might be going the wrong way.
  4. On the most beautiful of sailing evenings, don’t object when the race is shortened and you’re in the lead.

Lastly, my special thanks to crewmates Rachel, Matt, Pete, and Reed. I promise not to be over early this week, but from our perch on the race-committee boat, we’ll be looking out for you!

– John Burnham