Thursday, May 28, 2015

2015 Dixie Report

The 2015 Dixie Regatta in Acworth, GA had 66 Thistles over Memorial Day weekend for what turned out to be a great weekend of sailing on Lake Allatoona. 5 races for the Purple Fleet (50 boats) and Green Fleet (16 boats) were run in 5 to 15 knots through shifts of more than 50 degrees and a little bit of holiday weekend motorboat chop.

Two races Saturday saw little predictability and each leg favored one side strongly over the other, with the middle rarely working. Douglas Toney, my great friend and regular crew, sailed with me and did a fantastic job all weekend managing the course, the fleet, and me. We focused very hard on trying to stay consistent. Throughout the weekend we tried to make tough decisions, knowing we would throw away an opportunity to pass 2 or 3 boats to protect ourselves against a group of 10 or more. I believe that paid big dividends over the course of 5 races, as we were able to avoid the one or two bad races that almost everyone else experienced.

We didn’t always pick the correct side of the first beat and I didn’t always get the boat off the line in a great spot. But we were able to get clear air within a minute, go fast on our side of the course, and use any chance to consolidate our position and risk on the fleet. Our boat had great speed all weekend and even when we went the wrong way we were able to get to the top mark in the top ten each race. It was often hard to make the decision to tack back to the middle of the course without a shift and when you thought there was a puff and a header a little further out, but our plan was to keep risk as low as possible and it paid over the long haul.

Bryce Dryden led the regatta Saturday night after a 1, 2 day, followed by fellow past-national champion Chris Klotz and long time Thistler Jack Finefrock. We were happily in 4th with a 6, 8. The scores clearly indicated how easy it was for great sailors to put up a big number.

Sunday came with a bit more breeze and slightly less unpredictability (but still nowhere close to predictable). I was able to start the boat well and we were picking the correct end of the line, so we were in a good position early in all 3 races. The shakeups in scoring continued and we led the regatta after one race with a third and some bigger numbers by the boats around us.

We continued sailing for consistency and minimizing risk, but on the downwinds especially you had to go wherever you thought the next puff was coming from. Otherwise, it was easy to lose 15-20 boats on a leg. We got a bit fortunate downwind in the 4th race and took the lead and were able to hold it for the rest of the race while also keeping our risk very low.

Going into the last race, the regatta was still up for grabs between us, Bryce Dryden, Geoff Becker, and Scott Griffin. Lucky for us, we had a great start in the last race and all our competition found trouble early on the first beat. We were able to back off and play extra conservative for the remainder of that race to win the regatta.

By far, consistency was what won us the regatta. It was our ability to not put up a high score (our worst race was an 8th), and not an ability to win races, that won the event. The biggest key to being able to make those safe decisions was our boat speed.

Sailing 2-up, we were grossly overpowered for a lot of the weekend. To stay upright we had to aggressively depower the boat, often having maximum outhaul, cunningham, and vang. The difference I noticed in our boat and many others was how often and aggressively we played the mainsheet. I was easing the main as far and fast as it took to keep the boat standing upright and not heeling. My main was often out much further than I’m accustomed to seeing, but that’s what it took and gauging on nearby boats told us it was working.

With finishes of 6, 8, 3, 1, and 4 we were able to end the weekend at 22 points, ahead of first time Thistle skipper Geoff Becker with 37, Chris Klotz with 39, Scott Griffin with 41, and Bryce Dryden with 43. Larry Wagner won the Green Fleet, followed by Jack Mahaney and Len Wert. Thanks to my crew Doug and everyone at Fleet 48 for putting on a great event.

I use a Fisher main and a Proctor jib with the 0.5 oz Full Radial spinnaker. My diamonds are 4-9-4 on the black pro gauge. Rake is 27’ 0”, forestay is 24, and prebend is just over 1 inch. I use a shim under the front of my mast butt, as my mast is more bendy than most. The shim along with the lower forestay tension (normal is 26.5) is required to get my overbend wrinkles correct, which is halfway back the window in the main when full trimmed and not overpowered.

If you have any questions about tuning, trimming, or sailing your boat please email me at or call me at 704-779-9377.

Purple Fleet Results

Green Fleet Results

No comments:

Post a Comment