Archives for September 2007
Just a few years ago, the Big Kahuna party was a fun event marking the middle of September, to be followed with a few more weeks of racing, including Area III followed by two weekends of MORF Open. A good number of boats would stay in the water until October or November, soaking up what was left of the full season before cold weather.
These days, Area III racing ends quickly- Saturday is the last Area III race- and MORF Open has been reduced to only one-and-a-half race days. The weather has been milder and warmer, but boats seem more eager to get put away before crew assistance vanishes.
Crowley’s move to the south makes the end-of-the-season boat delivery more exposed to the weather, and less interesting than the former traditional river trip to the old location.
Oh well, boats still have the option to stay in until October or later, the MORF Open is still a great way to extend your racing season, and the Big Kahuna is still a fun way to celebrate and socialize after the final Area III race this season!
I did not go racing last Sunday, but took a look at the weather data to see what sort of conditions my friends had for racing that day. Surprisingly, since a long distance windward/leeward race was called for, the wind direction was extremely consistent.
This illustrates the steady wind conditions observed for last Sunday’s race (September 9, 2007). The stable pattern had developed around midnight and persisted throughout much of the day.
Later on, I learned the race course was set for 5 degrees, not even close to the 333 degrees the steady winds were coming from when I had looked at the weather.
Wondering if there had been some weather changes to the extremely stable weather pattern, or if the RC had blundered by setting a skewed course when conditions allowed something much more ideal, I took another closer look at the wind data and the racing times of the boats on the course.
The easy-to-read wind data available online in real-time was now stored in a less friendly archived format. After taking a rough look at some raw data, which reaffirmed the steady wind direction pattern but left some questions about race course conditions, I decided to use the opportunity to dust off some software and start developing some rudimentary data modeling tools for sailboat racing…
Here is an interesting look at wind conditions for racing on September 9, 2007:
Crib data was used as source for wind direction. Most of the boats I race on do not have equipment to record wind data (not to mention I was not racing last Sunday!).
There may be some discrepancies with regard to using this information for race analysis. Specifically, the geographic location of the wind instruments in a fixed location not on the race course and higher than most masts; and the resolution of the data (each data point represents a 5 minute time interval).
Given these limitations, however, the information still provides some useful observations that would not otherwise be available.
Among other things, the graphical view seemed to present some insight into managing fleets in different section breaks to optimize time on the water. In hindsight, the advance decision to hold a single long distance race prevented the opportunity to benefit from the stable wind conditions. Alternatively, an earlier start schedule would have also allowed a long course or multiple races during stable and consistent racing conditions.
I imagine experienced long-time race committee planners have plenty of knowledge for assigning start times and sequencing races, but the issue seems to generate a lot of discussion and opinions, and graphic analysis such as that shown above might tend to show the pro’s and con’s of various scenarios more clearly to assist in better planning and evaluation.
Playing with more sailing data and exploring more possibilities for improving race performance and analysis is intriguing…
Hungry finches visited many boats returning to Chicago on the third leg of the Tri-State Regatta this year. The animated birds seemed very friendly, sometimes landing on or near racing crewmembers. Hopping around the boat, the little birds brought good cheer and happily ate tiny insects and pesky flies.
The finches were occasionally joined by bats. Our boat had several bats swoop by. One took a break by clinging upside down on the jib, while another one flew to the boom gooseneck and disappeared into the boom. He could not be seen anywhere inside, but outhaul adjustments or tapping the boom did not seem to disturb the heavy sleeper. After docking the boat in the harbor and night fell, the furry stowaway decided to come out and flew away.
Recognizing the nimble agility, light weight, and insect-eating abilities of the little finches, we decided to recruit them as alternate crew. The slow race gave us time to train them with the necessary basic skills to fill all crew positions on the boat. Take a look at the finch crew pictures here.