Friday, July 29, 2016

Thistle Nationals Race 7 Report

Race 7 Report by Brad Russell, 3948

Friday started out much lighter than the previous 3, waking up to glass across the lake. The isobar map showed that there shouldn't be much in the morning, but the breeze would likely return sometime in the next 12 hours and a new pressure system would form.

Luckily the fleet headed out in 3-6, but only a short AP was necessary before the breeze turned back on and we had a fantastic moderate breeze.

The RC work was exceptional all week and we again got off the line under Z with only one boat OCS. In sailing before the start our boat was getting numbers well left of anything we saw previously in the week, which doesn't do much other than make you nervous.

The majority of the fleet started towards the boat, and correctly so, as starting on the pin half saw us around fewer boats and also underneath all the boats on the lifted tack.

Our approach all week was to hold serve upwind. No matter how good or bad you looked at any given time, play the numbers you have and the next puff you can see - nothing more. Taking a big swing at the course rarely paid for people. The trick was going fast and keeping status quo, then trying to figure out the safest and fastest way to manage the very top of the leg.

While we were on the wrong side of the line at the start, we stayed fast, got clear air, and started playing the numbers. At times we looked to be leading the race, at times it was bleak. But the cycle continued and you just have to keep doing the next right thing.

A last second shift at the top took us from top 5 to 15th or so, making the run a lot more difficult and exciting. I just look up at the spinnaker so I'm not really sure what went on. The second beat we kept chopping away at the numbers and made gains steadily. By the top, the continuous shakeup at the front slowed and Sam Ingham led the way with Lettenmeier and Marc Daudon close behind and us in 4th.

We managed to pass the 2 boats we were worried about for our position in the regatta and started sailing more safely. Of course the biggest breeze of the day came on the second reach leg and the lead pack was sailing well below the leeward mark, planing but also working incredibly hard to stay upright.

Sam Ingham went on to win the race. We were happy to sail safely up the last beat to a 6, allowing us to secure 3rd in the regatta. Per usual, our team started the regatta off slow, but did manage to have the lowest score in the last 4 races. I guess we should work on being at our best early in events, before the pros already have a good jump on everyone.

We couldn't have had a better week in Eugene. The club rivaled the best of southern hospitality, the RC did a bang-up job, and the weather was just perfect for sailing and camping. If you thought about coming but didn't make it, I highly recommend it next time.

Mike Ingham won his umpteenth Thistle National Championship with Paul Abdullah a little behind. My boat with Kyle Finefrock and Nicole Shedden finished 3rd and I believe Mike Gullum was 4th and John Baker 5th, although they may be flipped. Results are not yet available so I'm unsure of the Presidents Division results.

We hope everyone has a safe trip home and we will see everyone at the next event!

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