Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bareboat Cruising: Weather and the Sailing Environment,35.html

Before you leave the charter dock, check the weather prediction for the next few days. Local weather stations will carry up-to-date information. Rapid and/or large barometric pressure movements usually indicate major changes in the weather.

East Coast
East Coast weather patterns change constantly as the continental land mass reconfigures passing weather fronts. Cool Canadian highs mix with warm, moist air from the south to create towering cumulus clouds which can become thunderstorms in the warmer months. Cold fronts move unpredictably but are usually followed by puffy and shifty northwesterlies. Early summer fog is common along New England’s shores, particularly in the warm days of May and June.

West Coast
West Coast weather forms over the Pacific Ocean. Winter storms track across the ocean and bring rain. From April through October, a huge, relatively stationary offshore high pressure system, called the Pacific High, provides sunny weather and steady westerly breezes. Coastal areas experience regular sea breezes as the land heats up and the air flows from the sea to the land. Those areas adjacent to warm inland valleys frequently experience very strong afternoon winds and fog during the summer. Strong westerlies sometimes counter tidal currents and create unusually short and choppy waves such as can be found on San Francisco Bay. Winter cold fronts over the desert cause strong easterlies, called Santa Anas, which can extend many miles offshore in Southern California.

Island Weather
In the tropics, where large land masses are scarce, trade winds predominate. Usually lighter in the morning, these winds peak at around 20 knots in the evening. Puffy, flat-bottomed clouds scud across the brilliant blue sky. Close to the equator, the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) features light winds, squalls, and warm, overcast weather. The Caribbean’s easterly Christmas winds may bring some wind velocities up to 30 knots. Spring features lighter breezes and dry weather.

*For the best cruising instruction like this, purchase Bareboat Cruising on the US Sailing Store. US Sailing's network of accredited schools offer seven levels to help you sharpen your skills and gain confidence. Learn more

Dave Perry's Rules Quiz of the Week,726.html

A race committee boat is anchored at the port end of the starting line. Boat X starts and immediately catches the race committee boat’s anchor line on her centerboard. Reacting quickly, X’s helmsman heels the boat while her crew goes to leeward, pushes the anchor line down and frees it from the centerboard. X does not touch the committee boat, nor does she do a turn after the incident. Boat Y protests. You are on the protest committee; how would you decide this?

Boat Y’s protest is disallowed. X does not break rule 31, Touching a Mark, because she does not touch the mark. The definition Mark reads, “An anchor line or an object attached accidentally to a mark is not part of it.” Furthermore, X does not propel herself by pulling on the anchor line; therefore she does not break rule 42, Propulsion.

Dave Perry's 100 Best Racing Rules Quizzes highlights specific aspects of the racing rules in a fun format designed to help you become more familiar with The Racing Rules of Sailing. Increase your knowledge of the rules and your racing will improve. Purchase this publication today!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Speed & Smarts: Avoid the laylines and corners of the beat

By David Dellenbaugh

One reason why you should sail the longer tack first is so you avoid getting to the laylines and corners. These are usually bad places to be because:

• you risk overstanding the mark and therefore sailing extra distance;
• you will lose to other boats if you get lifted or headed; and
• other boats may tack on you and give you bad air all the way to the mark (or else you’ll have to do two extra tacks and overstand the mark).

For more racing tips and resources from David Dellenbaugh, visit the Speed and Smarts website

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Reflections from the President

By Tom Hubbell, President of US Sailing

On Father’s Day I got to race my Thistle at the home fleet with my daughter, Sophie. That was fun! For the three weekends before that I raced Thistle regattas in Ohio and New York, and one day of a C Scow regatta on Cuba Lake in New York. One woman said she heard the President was coming to the regatta and that she expected to see a guy in a blazer and regalia; guess she was pleasantly surprised that presidents of US Sailing wear dinghy sailing clothes and actually go sailing.

I keep a tally just for fun. I have gone sailing on 32 days, experienced seven kinds of boats, competed in 29 races, in 10 locations scattered coast-to-coast in six states. There is a recurring theme at all those venues: energetic, outdoor-minded people who are fun to be with and who are nuts about trimming the sails and making the boat go. Many are so full of the sport that they desperately want to share it, to bring in new people. You might be one of those spark plugs. We are lucky to have a bunch of them on the Board of Directors and on our staff at US Sailing. Check out our Board of Directors’ roster. It is quite remarkable the depth of sailing talent, insightful leadership, and commitment to the sport of sailing represented on this Board of Directors. Our staff is a parallel world of excellence as well.

We saw and heard a lot of you spark plugs at the Sailing Leadership Forum in San Diego in February. That was such great karma at the SLF that we are changing our fall get-together into a National Conference (formerly the Annual Meeting). You are invited to Milwaukee this October. Every member of US Sailing is welcome to join the discussion and the fun of this conference.

The three days will include sharing of ideas, a deeper dive into current programming, and informal social breaks and parties. We will hear about several very successful events and programs. We will visit the Harken factory and recognize our outstanding sailors at an awards banquet. There is time for committees to meet face to face along with any interested sailors in attendance. It is a time for us to welcome potential new leaders and volunteers to the national discussion. The very brief Annual General Meeting and Board meetings will get the official business done. The real business consists of getting all you spark plugs connected to each other to energize our wonderful sport. It won’t be as good if you are not there, really. If you can’t make it to Milwaukee, push hard for your other enthusiastic sailing buddies to make the trip, especially from your yacht club or sailing center. I promise that being there will change the future of your local sailing experience for the better.

We have a new US Sailing website and we are building a new US Sailing for the 21st Century. We need all sailors on board as members supporting this adventure.

See you on the water and in Milwaukee,

Tom Hubbell
President of US Sailing

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Speed & Smarts: Watch out for other boats’ wind shadows

By David Dellenbaugh

When you want to go fast upwind, bad air is your enemy. So watch out for other boats, and look ahead for lanes of clear air.

Wind shadows extend farther and slow you more in light air than they do in heavy air. So when there’s not much wind, don’t stay in a position that’s to leeward of or behind another boat. In breeze, however, it can be OK to sail in a boat’s bad air, especially if you’re on a lift or going the right way.

For more racing tips and resources from David Dellenbaugh, visit the Speed and Smarts website

Dos and Don'ts of Planning a Cruise

An integral part, and part of the fun, of any cruise is planning for it. Preparing for a bareboat charter includes a number of responsibilities to consider.

Here is a list of "Dos and Don'ts" of planning for your cruise.

• Do make travel arrangements well in advance.
• Do leave some extra time in your itinerary and dollars in your budget.
• Do use up-to-date charts and guides when making your plans.
• Do note stopover points where you can refresh supplies, including food and water, or pump out the holding tank.
• Do make back-up plans for adverse wind and weather conditions.
• Do make sure everyone knows beforehand about medical conditions that may exist among the crew and the procedures for handling any situations that may arise.
• Don’t over-plan.

*For the best cruising instruction like this, purchase Bareboat Cruising on the US Sailing Store. US Sailing's network of accredited schools offer seven levels to help you sharpen your skills and gain confidence. Learn more

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Speed & Smarts: Sail the longer tack first

By David Dellenbaugh

When you’re not sure where the next shift will come from, get onto the longer tack to the windward mark (the tack on which your bow is pointing closer to the mark). This is one of my most reliable strategies.

Sailing the longer tack works because of probability. Your chances of success are better when you sail the longer tack toward the middle of the course rather than the shorter tack toward the layline. Of course, once in a while it pays to go to the layline early, but more often than not the windshifts favor taking the longer tack. And your odds improve as the two tacks become more and more uneven.

For more racing tips and resources from David Dellenbaugh, visit the Speed and Smarts website.

Bareboat Chartering: A world of possibilities

Each charter destination offers its own special aspects. You may have nursed a life-long fantasy to loll on a snow-white beach in Tahiti or climb the ruins of the Parthenon. Advance research will inform you how to fulfill those dreams or where to go for new adventures. Travel books, boating magazines and charter company brochures are good places to start. Charter brokers with firsthand experience can advise you on appropriate choices that suit your needs and experiences. Other sailors who’ve chartered can also be helpful.

If you’ve never been to your charter destination, there are a few factors to keep in mind as you plan your trip.

Climate. If you want hot, tropical weather, aim for a spot near the equator, which is warm all year. As you head farther north or south, expect cooler weather with seasonal changes. Make sure that your trip coincides with a favorable time of the year at your destination.

Experience. Sailing skill is one factor in choosing your first charter. Will you feel comfortable handling the boat in the waters and winds of your charter area? Are you confident enough in your anchoring skills to sleep through the night? Consider also that you may be in a foreign country with its unfamiliar language and customs.

Affordability. In addition to the boat, your charter costs will include transportation, pre- and post-cruise lodging, food (on board and dining out), extra equipment, additional supplies such as cooking gas, water, fuel, and incidentals. To ensure a good time, leave extra room in the budget for the unexpected.

U.S. East Coast. Good sailing waters can be found on the east coast from the southern tip of the Florida Keys to the northern tip of Maine, including the Chesapeake Bay and inland on the Great Lakes. The more northerly climates feature excellent summer weather, but you’ll want to go further south to areas like the Gulf Coast of Florida in the winter.

U.S. West Coast. The rugged Pacific coastline offers a variety of opportunities near the busy harbors of San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco as well as coastal and island destinations such as the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara, CA. You’ll also find an abundance of protected waterways extending from Seattle’s Puget Sound north to the inland passage of Alaska.

Caribbean. The most popular charter area in the world, the Caribbean possesses many attractive features, including easy access from the United States and Europe, warm and protected waterways, safe anchorages and a color-ful infusion of cultures from both sides of the Atlantic. The Virgin Islands are ideal for first time charterers.

Peak sailing season in the Caribbean runs from December through May, with steady trade winds from the southeast. Substantial discounts may be available during the off season.

Europe. The waters of the Atlantic around northern Europe and the Mediterranean present a wide array of sailing options. Most chartering takes place during the summer months. July and August in the Mediterranean can sometimes bring strong meltemi and mistral winds, but they are followed by excellent sailing weather in the fall.

South Pacific and Asia. Tahiti, Tonga and Fiji support an active charter industry. These islands enjoy a dry season with steady trade winds and occasional tropical squalls fromearly May to late October. Other areas, including New Zealand, Australia and Thailand, enjoy warm weather during North America’s cold winter months.

Other Areas. Good bareboat chartering can be found in many other areas of the world, with reputable charter companies there to serve you.

*For the best cruising instruction like this, purchase Bareboat Cruising on the US Sailing Store. US Sailing's network of accredited schools offer seven levels to help you sharpen your skills and gain confidence. Learn more

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Speed & Smarts: Sail toward the next shift

By David Dellenbaugh

This is a sure-fire rule of thumb that works in any wind condition. Of course, you must be able to predict which way the wind will shift next. But if you can do this, all you have to do is sail in that direction and you will come out ahead (assuming you don’t overstand the windward mark).

In an oscillating breeze, sailing toward the next shift is basically the same as tacking on the headers. In a persistently shifting breeze, sailing toward the next shift is the same as digging into the favored side. In both cases, this strategy works because when the wind shifts you end up on a higher ladder rung than boats that went the other way.

For more racing tips and resources from David Dellenbaugh, visit the Speed and Smarts website.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Speed & Smarts: Follow Your Strategic Plan

By David Dellenbaugh

This sounds simple, but it’s not always so easy to do. A strategy is your game plan for how to sail fast up the first beat, a guideline to keep you going the right way. It’s not so difficult to develop a strategic plan – you just have to get out to the starting area early and gather information about the wind. But putting that plan into action is another story.

When you come off the starting line, it’s easy to lose your focus amidst all the distractions. But if you want to be succesful you must do two things:

1) Keep your strategic plan in mind and make it your number one priority; and
2) Use good tactics and anticipation to stay in control of your race. Don’t let other boats keep you from following your strategy.

For more racing tips and resources from David Dellenbaugh, visit the Speed and Smarts website.