Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mid-Winter(s)

Damn the groundhog, walking to work in 8 deg F has really gotten old.



Thankfully, both 7346 and 7611 will be racing in the 505 Midwinter Championship at Fort Desoto, FL this weekend. Also, one of our fleet prospects will be sailing 8351. 7346 had a strong showing at this event last year and Fleet 13 is looking forward to another strong showing. In spite of the tough economic climate (how sick are you of hearing that?), the Midwinter's fleet has grown this year by 6 boats to a total of 28 registered at the time of writing.



In the spirit of 505 sailing, I wanted to post some thoughts and recollections on the regatta venue from last year:

Threw together a little image of the sailing venue so you'll have some idea of what to expect.
While we were down there the breeze was NNE-ENE all three days so that's all I have to reference.

As you can see, we launch off of the southern side of Fort Desoto, I marked this as launch. Tampa Bay is to the east on the right side of I275, that's the big bridge from St. Pete to Sarasota. The Gulf is to the west (left) outside of Egmont Key. The sailing area is divided in half by the shipping channel which is considerably deeper than the surrounding areas so the big ships can get into Tampa. This gives the RC basically an inner and an outer course. We sailed on the inner course on days 1 and 3 and the outer on the second day. Flood current obviously goes left to right towards Tampa and the ebb goes right to left out into the Gulf.

The limit of the inner area is marked by a Govt can about where I marked the leeward marks, that's where the RC sets up for the inner course. You have to stay out of the channel as there is a lot of commercial traffic.

Inner Racing Area: Our first day on the inner course was light and partly cloudy, 3-8 kts ENE shifting NE. We saw both flood and ebb during the day. There was less current towards shore (on the left) but it was not a make or break deal. There were generally a lot of left shift as the breeze bent towards the shore. Particularly towards the end of the day as it got lighter. Day three was windy after a cold front came through overnight, 16-22kts NNE-NE also on the inner area. There was a flood tide. Much larger waves on the right side with generally stronger breeze right. Flat water left but puffier and shiftier. It was also puffy and shifty at the weather mark as it was closer to shore, this was a more NNE breeze. Top teams were neither hard left nor hard right but starboard layline seemed generally better. It was critical to gybe out right around the mark to get back in the big breeze and out of the lee of the beach.

Outer racing area: Day two was overcast and saw breeze of NE 5-13 kts. There did not seem to be much current relief on this racecourse. We were far enough from the channel that I did not notice any great difference between the sides. The breeze was more of a true oscillation in our first race out here. More important to be in phase with the pressure and angle than mailing it to a side. Race two saw weather come through and a persistent left shift with rain.

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