Battling Old Man Winter
J World Annapolis Winter Update
The winter months often bring dismay to many sailors across the country. Before becoming a full time sailing coach I can recall experiencing withdrawal and seasonal affective disorder between the months of November and April. The lack of vitamin D, physical activity, and yachty karate can be unbearable at times. So what does J World Annapolis do all winter?
Frostbite racing, hosted by Annapolis Yacht Club, satiates our sailing cravings for November and early December. This year we had three teams participate on board our J80s. Each day started with a thorough discussion on the conditions, goals, and expectations. We would often find a few points to focus on while racing, usually based on lessons learned the week before. We would leave the dock, spend about an hour practicing before the first race, and gather our strategy for the start. The Frostbite series consists two races each Sunday. With a non-spinnaker format, point to point racing, and a warm lunch between races it offers a more laid back gate way into racing. By removing the often commanding boat handling required by the spinnaker it allows for more focus on down wind sailing angles, strategy, and tactics. For some this is a nice conclusion to the sailing season, for us it is just the start of a new one.
Here at J Port when things slow down we are quick to get our hands on the boats to perform the necessary preventative maintenance. With winches to be cleaned and greased, tillers to be sanded and varnished, and hardware to be replaced there is no shortage of work on shore. But as the creeks freeze over and the wind chills to the bone an instinct common in most migratory birds emerges. Our inner compass tells us to head south.
Florida Racing Programs
Since the inception of the J70 J World has run racing programs and participated in the Quantum Davis Island Winter Series. A three weekend racing series with events at the beginning of December, January, and February at the Davis Island Yacht Club in Tampa, Florida. Our regatta racing programs are five days and consist of two to three days of practice leading up to a two or three day regatta. The practice days are spent building a team. Three students and one coach hit the water each day venturing to hone in on boat handling and communication, rotate through positions, build a play book, delve into strategy and tactics, and sharpen their starting skills. On race days the teams hit the race course to test their metal in the hottest one design class in the world, against some of the best sailors around. Each student gets the opportunity to play every role on board as we rotate each race. We conclude each day with our internal debrief or circle of trust, listen in on the fleet debrief put on by Quantum Sails, and enjoy a drink with the great hospitality at DIYC. On and off the water our winter racing programs are a great opportunity to escape the cold, keep your sailing skills fresh for the spring, and experience a well run regatta.
Brad Braddon, who recently caught the sailing bug and purchased a J24, joined us in January to sharpen his competitive edge. After the event I asked Brad some questions about his experience:
-What were your goals and expectations? Did you meet them?
I mostly wanted to get a week’s experience sailing a competitive keel boat so I would be more confident when my season starts in May. I also did a weekend boat handling course with Jeff.
-How did your practice days go? Biggest challenge?
The practice days were a hoot. The wind was our biggest challenge; it was howling.
-Where did you eat? What was your favorite off the water experience?
My daughter came along so my evenings were spent with her and her boyfriend Will. We had a great time. We spent some time in the Ybor neighborhood.
-What was your best moment during racing?
It was all really fun.
-What was the best take away, that you’ll use in the up coming season at home?
I needed an all-around training week. I didn’t realize the importance of adjusting the rigging to the wind. I will be paying a lot of attention to the shrouds.
-If you had any advice for a future student, what would it be?
Jump in. It’s a super fun week with a lot of opportunities for learning.
All week, and around the race course, Brad could be heard hooting and hollering in excitement as the boat heeled up wind and surged forward on a plane down wind. He was an ideal student. One we’d welcome back anytime.
This coming week we will return to Davis Island for the final installment of the series. We will have another group of students on board Down The Line, coached by Tampa resident Steve Vincent, and I will be coaching on board Columbia. The following week we move to St. Petersburg to run a racing program around the St. Petersburg NOODS Regatta. Jeff Jordan and Dave Manheimer will be coaching two boats of students and I will be on board Columbia. Stay tuned for more updates and lessons learned.
The Alumni Flotilla
Tomorrow morning, before most sane people get up on a Saturday, Jeff Jordan, Dave Manheimer, and Kevin Ryman joined by twenty-four other winter weary sailors will fly to St. Lucia for the 2018 Alumni Flotilla. Upon arrival they will meet up with their four sea worthy island cruisers, consisting of two monohulls and two catamarans. They will spend a week island hopping, hiking, snorkeling, and enjoying all the Windward Islands have to offer. The Alumni Flotilla is a great opportunity to relax and escape the winter sailor blues while getting hands on bareboat experience.
Till next time,