2014 Etchells Piana Cup - Jaguar Series Event #1 - Miami, Florida
Posted by on December 07, 2014
This event proved to be exciting for my team on Aretas. After a great campaign in 2014 with a 7th in the Jaguar Series, 5th in the World Championship and 7th in the North Americans, we have shown signs of consistently finishing at or near the top. Of course the Etchells class is probably one of the tougher classes to be consistent in due to the depth of talent and how equal all the boats are. That adds to the team feeling good with where we've come in 2 years.
The ’14 season didn't come without its highs and lows. Some of the highs involve the team coming together, of course. That, and help from our new coach David Dellenbaugh, has us focused. There were some lows. Prior to the worlds, there was a mishap with the boat that involved a tree and our mast. Fortunately the mast was down, but caused us concern prior to the Worlds. Fast forward to the NAs where we were involved in a 6 boat pile up that resulted in us locking rigs with a competitor….it was determined that we needed a new mast! So for the 1st Jag event, we fitted out a new Sparcraft rig. The usual challenges and anticipation followed as it wasn't tuning the same and we just summarized that we needed to put some time on it.
We arrived for the early December event a few days early. We practiced Thursday and Friday with Coach David, which allowed us to look at our ’13 Dieball Sailing sails that we've had on the shelf for a year. Long story as to why we are just now using them, but suffice to say we were excited to give these a go and fit them to our new mast.
Thursday we set the boat up with a forestay at 48.5”, butt position at 6.5” and normal caps and inner tension. Upon our first trim-in, I could tell that the mainsail was setting up full (due to a stiffer mast perhaps) and that needed to be addressed. We have a slick new mast-ram that Andrew Palfrey engineered. It allows us to fine tune the mast at the deck without the traditional blocks. So to get the main set up, we moved the mast forward 5-7mm at the deck. This softened the forestay, which allowed for some backstay pull. Everything set up nicely. We took pictures for evening analysis and had a solid debrief of the day.
Friday we had a full day. We matched up with many boats and felt reasonably fast. We were waiting for our primary training partners to do some extended match up. They are fast. Really fast. We held our own on both tacks and had a few gears that we could achieve, so this added to our confidence. Coach David helped both us and our partners summarize at the end of the day and we all were feeling good.
The racing on Saturday was terrific. 12-15 most of the day with 5-7* shifts. This meant that there was little room for error. Having been away from the Etchells for a few months, we were a bit rusty at the corners, which happens. Coming into the top mark provides some opportunities if you plan correct…or it can bite you if you mis-manage the traffic. We didn't do a great job at the top mark all day Saturday and as a result, we lost some valuable points in both the 1st and 3rd races. The 2nd race we were OCS, and getting back was tough with the wind so stable. End of the day, we had 13, 36, 15. Not our best scoring, but we were back in the boat and doing valuable laps and learning the new mast and how the Dieball sails tune up. Sitting in the mid-20s, but points were tight and we cold claw back.
Sunday’s forecast was for a light Northerly. There was a decent drainage Westerly when we got to the boat park, and it was just odd enough for the RC to postpone. We sat for probably 30 minutes before they simply decided to send us in the Westerly, which clocked a little to the North.
The first race on Sunday we summarized that we had seen either side pay in our collective experience and we felt there was better wind on the right. We started in the middle of the line with a great lane and within 200 yards of the start had fully changed our strategy as we saw more wind on the left and felt that those that started to leeward and crossed were well ahead of the boats on the right. We hipped up and only had 2-3 boats to the left of us and rounded the top mark in the top 3. The rest of the race was a push/pull with the top 3 boats and we had great pace downwind with Jon Mclean’s trimming and our RG-1 spinnaker. We sailed on for the race win, which was sweet!
The last race the wind was very unstable. We felt the breeze was still better on the left, but with the forecast being almost 15* to the right, we were nervous of the right. We started in a pack and the entire pack was called over. Jon heard our number quick and we were able to clear and have a reasonably good lane heading right. Jeff Eiber called a great 1st beat having us weave middle left and we got to the top just outside the top 10. Difference between this race and Race 2’s OCS was the conditions. It was plenty shifty and we could grind back.
On the 1st run, we were first to gybe in. Jeff was growing frustrated with what he was seeing with the fleet and sensed there was a puff down the middle. He was right again and we nearly rounded the bottom mark in 1st. The wind was plenty light at this point and our gut was that it was going to shift to the right and fill. It didn't, unfortunately. We dropped 11 boats on this beat simply by turning left at the bottom and sailing for a bit. Too bad as a top 3 would have gotten us to the top 3 in the event. We settled for 10th.
An incredible experience of a weekend. New mast, different sails….pretty much an overhaul above the rails. To pull a race win and top 10, this says a lot about the support we receive. Can’t wait for the next event in early January!