October 05, 2015

Kingston Laser Masters - The Good, the Bad and the Unexpected

The last part of this video is interesting because it might be the first time ever that a Kiwi has helped an Aussie win a Laser worlds!

September 22, 2015

ILCA - Legal Mumbo Jumbo

by Pam
I rarely read the Sailing Anarchy forum these days but when I do I always get a quick read on the some of the questions being asked by the class members (and non-members). Things usually begin with a little speculation, then a few people throw in a couple of facts, then the speculation continues on this mixture of speculation and facts. 

It's like reading one of those historic fiction novels where you can't tell where history leaves off and someone's imagination kicks in.  Finally, I get frustrated and head to the Internet to look everything up for myself just to satisfy my curiosity. 

One of the questions recently was about the ILCA.  What kind of entity is the ILCA?  Where is the main office?  I did a little research and couldn't find a definitive answer but it appears the ILCA (or their attorneys) may be misrepresenting the organization in some legal documents.  I always start by following the patents and other legal documents.  Presumably, they'll want to be sure to get this stuff right:


Radial Sail with Reinforced Luff Tube
US 8739721 - (US patent)  filed Dec. 9, 2010 and granted Jun. 3, 2014
WO 2012/076852  (PCT international application) filed Dec. 9, 2011 - will never grant
AU 2011340315 (PCT national application) - not a patent - it's still in examination
GB 2499751 (PCT national application) - not a patent - it's still in examination
US D664493 - (US design patent) filed Feb. 9, 2010 and granted Jul. 31, 2012


In 2011, the US patents were assigned to the ILCA (UK address).  

In 2013, when the UK patent application was filed, the UK database indicated the ILCA is "incorporated in the United Kingdom"

In June 2013, the Texas Comptroller lists the name of the ILCA as "Laser Class Association Inc" and indicates it is a Texas non-profit corporation with offices in Austin, TX.  The formation documents at the Texas Secretary of State list the management as Tracy Usher, Hugh Leicester, and Andy Roy with Eric Faust being the organizer and registered agent for the LCAI.  The Assumed Name (the d/b/a or doing business as) documents list the International Laser Class Association as the d/b/a for the Laser Class Association Inc.

As of Septemper 13, 2015, the UK Land Registry shows Jeff Martin as the current Lessee of 51B Church Street, Falmouth, UK TR11 3DS but the lease also indicates the lease termination date was January 31, 2013.  Companies House has always been the 'go to' place to find information about a UK company and yet the ILCA isn't listed. 

It has been suggested on Sailing Anarchy that the ILCA is an Isle of Man company which doesn't have records that can be looked up to verify anything.  It has also been suggested on Sailing Anarchy that it is a British unincorporated association which isn't required to register anywhere so it can't be verified.  

Why would Jeff Martin have the lease for the UK ILCA office in his own name unless the ILCA really is an unincorporated association, as I believe those types of entities can't hold title to property?  It is my understanding that under British law, the Isle of Man is not part of the UK.  So, given the legal documents in place that have declared the ILCA to be a UK company, I'm leaning toward believing that it is an unincorporated UK association. 

If that assumption is true, then how can the ILCA hold title to the US patents (if a UK unincorporated association has no such right to hold title to personal property which is what a patent is)?  And how could it ever hope to enforce its rights in the US patents (since it would have no right to do so)?  So, why wouldn't the ILCA want the Texas non-profit corporation to hold title to the patents instead of the UK entity? 

So, I'm left with more questions than answers. I'm going to have to stop visiting Sailing Anarchy.  It makes my head hurt.

September 17, 2015

Update on Kirby/LPE Litigation

by Pam

Karaya LASER TM Cancellation Proceeding (92/057,167)

10-Oct-14 Proceedings Terminated - contractual estoppel - the "Head Agreement" dated July 11, 1983 stated BKI "shall not at any time question or contest directly or indirectly the validity of the trademark ‘LASER’” and would not do any act “which would or is likely to invalidate the trademark ‘LASER’ in any country of the world . . . "
Velum LASER TM Cancellation Proceeding (92/057,217)

12-Oct-15 Plaintiff's Pretrail Disclosures
26-Nov-15 Plaintiff's 30-day Trail Period Ends
11-Dec-15 Defendant's Pretrial Disclosures
25-Jan-16 Defendant's 30-day Trial Period Ends
09-Feb-16 Plaintiff's 15-day Rebuttal Disclosures
10-Mar-16 Plaintiff's 15-day Rebuttal Period Ends

Kirby v. LP Lawsuit (3:13-cv-00297)
Parties: BKI - Bruce Kirby, Inc. (Plaintiff-Counterclaim Defendant)
BK - Bruce Kirby (Plaintiff-Counterclaim Defendant)
LPE - LaserPerformance (Europe) Limited (Defendant-Counterclaim Plaintiff)
QM - Quarter Moon, Incorporated (Defendant-Counterclaim Plaintiff)
ILCA - International Laser Class Association (Defendant)
GSL - Global Sailing Limited (Additional Counterclaim Defendant)
PSA - Performance Sailcraft Pty. Ltd. (Additional Counterclaim Defendant) - DISMISSED 11-20-14
KL - Kayara (Jersey) Limited (Defendant) - DISMISSED 2-27-14 - lack of personal jurisdiction
VL - Velum Limited (Defendant) -
DISMISSED 2-27-14 - lack of personal jurisdiction
ISAF - International Sailing Federal Limited (Defendant) -
DISMISSED 2/27/14 - lack of personal jurisdiction
FR - Farzad Rastegar (Defendant) -
DISMISSED 2/27/14 - failure to state claim
174 Motion to Dismiss by ILCA
180 Motion for Summary Judgment by BK, BKI
183 Motion for Summary Judgment by ILCA
184 Motion for Summary Judgment by GSL
186 Motion for Summary Judgment by LPE, QM
18-Sep-15 2:00 PM Hearing on 174, 180, 183, 184, 186 motions

Update: 9-18-15 Minutes

September 06, 2015

Duct Tape - Is There Anything It Cannot Do?

By Doug
There are many ways that we use duct tape on a Laser boom.

Around the gooseneck prevents the cunningham from getting jammed... 

Around the vang key prevents it from falling out...

As a quick repair kit (saved my butt in a race at the 1991 Worlds in Greece)...

I've even seen people tape a banana to their boom.

But as I get older, there's one more use that I have just figured out. When the vang is really cranked in, I'm finding it harder and harder to get under the boom when I tack and my mainsheet sometimes gets caught behind me on my life jacket. In fact, tipping because of this cost me a first place at a local event last year.

So here's one more use - make this...

...and put it here...

But is this legal? I checked with the Laser Class Chief Measurer Jean-Luc Michon at the recent Kingston Worlds. He said yes, it's perfectly legal.
Awesome coach Rulo from Cabarete with Jean-Luc.
So, no more getting caught under the boom... and one less thing to worry about as I get older!

August 27, 2015

A Gold Medal Performance

By Doug
Bruce in Australia was reading some old posts and sent us comments and questions. These along with my comments (in italics) are reprinted with his permission:  

I've been reading a few of your older posts and was wondering if you could do an analysis of Lijia Xu's extraordinary medal race in the last Olympics? One thing that worked for her, that didn't work in the men's race, was the right side on the beats. In one of the aerial shots there are Lasers way in the background. We can assume that these were the men waiting to start their race. It is interesting that the right side did not work for the men.

She ducked the fleet soon after the start and went right. Was this because she was bailing out and struggling to hold her lane? Usually if you are quick, you stick close to the leaders and match them. For a medal race, she was really taking a risk I thought, but was she? I watched the video again and recall reading that her coach had told her to go right. If that was correct, the risk was not following her coach's instructions.

Her downwind penalty. This rule can be very subjective sometimes. What is your take on her penalty? Was she really breaking Rule 42 at the time? Did she change her style after the penalty? She was still fast! I could not see anything bad, but at 19:00 you could see the judge boat closing in. The announcers said that this was the first yellow flag they had seen so the fleet must have been clean. The call was really picky in my opinion. Thankfully, it did not affect the final results.

After her penalty, she makes ground incredibly quickly to regain the lead. How did she do that in such a competitive fleet? She was lighter than the other leaders, but she also seemed to have picked up some pressure by sailing between NED and GBR. Some call this the 'venturi effect.'

At 20:11, CHI is in the middle perhaps gaining from the 'venturi effect?'
She wanted to go around the right gate but did not have the inside, so she luffed hard and bore away to gain the lead and the mark position. That's not quite how I saw it. She was between NED and GBR about to round the left (or right) gate in second place. At 20:23 GBR tried to cut inside and took CHI's wind, and CHI would have slowed down. So CHI defended by luffing sharply and regained the lead. Great move.

What I find interesting is that the leaders chose the right gate to go left which did not work on the first beat.

When GBR tried to go inside CHI, GBR gave up getting room at the left gate. So why did CHI not simply head for that gate to round and then go right as planned? Luffing two boats, rounding the right gate, and then tacking seemed a lot riskier. And why did GBR give up the left gate?

Would that happen at the front of the fleet in a Masters Worlds? It's very competitive at the front of the fleet. I would not be surprised to see exactly the same moves.

She then gets ballsy and goes right again up the beat. Why didn't she cover? Great question. At 21:27 she tacks away.

Rather than stay with the leaders, CHI does a risky cross to go right on her own.
The factors at that moment:
     ● Cover her competition by continuing left, or
     ● Protect against the boats that were going to the favored right, or
     ● Follow her coach's instructions.

My guess this that she chose the latter, even though it was dangerous because she could easily have fouled NED by tacking. Even on the third beat while in the lead, CHI again chose to go right.

Anything else that for you is significant about her race and what she and her competitors may have been doing differently? Watching the race again, I was impressed by how smooth CHI looked going upwind. The others, especially NED, seemed to be wrestling with their boats.

This was an impressive race because there was a virtual 4-way tie for the gold medal in this medal race. Here's what we can all learn from this gold medal performance:
     ● Have a plan and if you're confident with your speed, stick to it.
     ● Be in shape. CHI did not seem to be breathing at all hard.
     ● Courses now have downwind finishes, so downwind speed rules.

Final comments from Bruce: One thing I had never considered when CHI gained so much so quickly after her penalty was the possibility of the venturi effect. Wow, if that was what it was, it was very powerful. Sure she was the lightweight of the fleet at 60kg but I couldn't imagine her weight making that much of a difference so quickly.

As you say, XU looked so smooth upwind and I also put that down to supreme fitness. She seems quite tallish too, so had great leverage from consistent and seemingly effortless straight leg hiking.

The race was super instructive in so many respects.

August 15, 2015

Kingston Starting

By Doug
People email us updates and questions. Pam and I appreciate this and many of our posts have started with updates and questions like "how do you use your compass?"  I used to give courses for HP in Australia and learned then that one of the best ways to learn is actually by teaching. So, please feel free to contact us using the link in the right column.

We received this from Rod in Brisbane (reprinted with his permission):

I tried your “approach on port and find a hole to tack into” technique in the last two races on Sunday, RQYS. It worked really well, for some reason it seemed a lot easier to see the obvious midline sag and be able to tack in front of the starboard tackers all luffing each other.

It must be pretty challenging doing this in a Worlds-level event though with so many on the line. Do you only do it if it’s a longer than usual line? Do you try to time it to tack onto starboard then just go go go, or tack with still time to luff and defend etc? 

Each location calls for it's own starting strategy. For me, these were the factors at Kingston:
  • The more competitive the fleet, the more risky the port-tack approach. With a world's fleet, it's more difficult at the favored end of the line where the best sailors are because there's a chance that the person you tack below is good at defending and can shut you out.
  • With the prevailing wind from the southwest, there were no line sights looking at the committee boat, so this was another reason favoring a starboard tack approach.
  • There was some current that flowed from right to left. This made starting at the pin very tricky and, in my opinion, too risky. It also made starting at the committee boat really hard because there were others trying to get into the same spot, especially a really good fellow from NZL who was great at judging the current.
  • But starting at the committee boat had one big advantage - being able to escape from a bad start by tacking away and then back again as necessary.
  • But it was a go-left course and the best starts tended to be near the pin which was usually favored.
  • But it's hard to judge the wind on port or in the middle of the line.
  • And I like to circle the committee boat every 2 minutes to get compass readings before making a last-minute decision of where to start.
 Putting this all together, this is what worked well for 14 of the 17 starts that we had in Kingston:
  • Keep making wind readings at the committee boat, leaving all options open as long as possible.
  • If committee boat-favored, try to be right at the boat and go left, but tack into clean air if needed (we have no pictures of this from Kingston, so the following Pam took at the Hyères Master Worlds - I'm 195708):

A warning: if you look closely, there was a platform at the back of this committee boat. As it rocked up and down, this platform went up in the air and then crashed down under the water. I was less than a meter away and it could have damaged both my charter and me. Starting at the committee boat can be scary!

  • If pin-favored, sail down the line watching the line sight staying on top of the sag. When 2/3 of the way down dip below a few boats and then pull the trigger a little before the others.
Like this when it works, blue top on the right.

It’s the great guys such as yourself, Beyer, Bethwaite et al who get there early, and use your experience to experiment for the conditions, pace one another, and reassert that edge in speed, who usually do well. I guess this is a psychological advantage as much as a real speed advantage?

It's both, and it's not surprising that the best people arrive early to practice. This is especially important for people like me who do not have training partners back home. But the best part is being able to practice with the best master sailors in the world. 

PS With your meticulous and fascinating race-by-race observations, I still think your blog is far and away the best Laser blog ever, if not the best sailing blog ever!

Pam and I like to share what we learn and really appreciate when it helps others.

July 24, 2015

2015 Laser Master World Championships (Kingston, Canada)

by Doug
These are my Worlds race journals.  I send daily updates home to friends during the events and often receive good advice each day but I also find them to be a useful analysis tool when preparing for the next event.  I’m making them public so that others might also learn something from them.
After 22 hours of on-the-water practice with Mark Bethwaite (AUS), the competition starts today. Two in our fleet have won this before, three have been runner up, and several others have had a top five result. Should be a blast.

Day 1

The World Championship is divided by age into fleets and the youngest in each tend to have an advantage. So when a person goes from, say the Masters (45-54) to Grand Masters (55-64), they are usually the ones to watch.

I'm sailing in the Grand Masters fleet and there are several excellent sailors who have recently joined us, most notably is Peter Shope (USA) who came third in the Master Worlds last year. My money is on him to win this year. Being just 4 months shy of my 65th birthday, I'm probably the oldest in the fleet and after today, certainly feel it.

Talking to the various coaches and people who know the area, going left on the course is popular but the Open World Championships was won last week by a fellow who played the middle right. And the storm breeze comes from the north, so it's cold and very unpredictable.

Race 1: The breeze was from the usual southwest and ranged from 10-15 knots. This would not normally be considered a strong breeze, but with 50 miles to build the waves were larger and choppier than you would expect. The wind shifted to the right before the start and I wanted to start at the committee boat but misjudged the current in each of the 2 general recalls. Under a black flag, we got away with me squeezing between a Brit and the committee boat. With good height, I was able to hold my lane but Peter Shope and Andy Roy (CAN, second in last year's Worlds) below me had better speed. Near the port tack layline, they tacked and crossed me. At the mark, two more came in from the right so I rounded a close 5th.

The run was tough because some of the waves were hard to catch, and those in front were better at it than me. At the bottom mark, I chose the right gate but Peter Vessella (USA, former Worlds runner up) and Tim Law (GBR) got room on me. Still in 5th place but it was a really bad rounding.

The leaders had similar speed and played the shifts differently but the positions remained the same with some close racing. Then, at the second windward mark, I made a mistake.

Wolfgang Gerz (GER, former Finn World Champion) approached on starboard with several others on his hip. I tacked under hoping to get inside room at the mark, but there was more current from right to left than any of us had expected. I had to wait for them all to tack and rounded 10th. Ouch! I got greedy and it really cost me.

With the jury boats watching us closely, playing the waves aggressively to move up was too risky. The top reach, run, bottom reach, and beat to the finish were uneventful with no more changes in positions.

If I had ducked Wolfgang and the other boats, I would have had starboard tack advantage at the mark and probably would not have lost those positions. Good close racing, but getting greedy at the marks rarely pays.

Between races, I checked the position of the gate marks and they looked even. This would help in the next race.

Race 2: It was very tempting to start at the committee boat again, but it just felt better to be further down the line, so I started on Andy Roy's hip 2/3 of the way down the line. We both had a good lane, height, and speed and went left. Peter Shope, who won the first race, tacked behind us to go right. Andy tacked near the port tack layline, crossed me, and I tacked above him. At the mark, 2 boats above me rounded in front of Andy and me, so a 4th at the mark with a bunch of good sailors right behind, including Peter Shope.

On the run, Peter passed me and everyone else except Andy by being better with his wave selection. Trying to avoid the crowd at the right gate, I took the left gate in less traffic and started the second beat on port going right.

This was a little risky because the general opinion is that going left works better, and several positions were changed. I went the furthest right and came in to round just behind the leaders in 5th place.

The top reach and most of the run were uneventful, with the first 5 in a tight group. As we approached the bottom of the second run, I was right behind Lynne Shore (USA, Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year and Olympic Gold Medalist). Hoping to get room at the mark, I sailed right behind her, caught a wave, and hit her stern (this was not the plan). Lynn was as surprised as me, yelled 'Hey,' and I did my 720 penalty circles. Thankfully, I was just far enough ahead to hold onto 5th place. But a little inside Lynn and 4th would have been possible.

It goes without saying that being chicked by a women sailing in these conditions was impressive!

So, I'm in 6th place with a 10 and a 5. My mistakes prevented a 5 and a 4 which would have put me in 3rd place. Not bad as these are not my best conditions, but Peter Shope and Andy Roy are definitely the ones to watch.

Day 2

The good news is that we had less wind today, which I prefer.
The bad news is that the wind was not steady enough for racing... darn!
Three races are scheduled for tomorrow and it looks like we'll have more wind.

Day 3

The breeze was from the south and the forecast had it dropping from 15 to about 12. This turned out to be very accurate.

Race 3: The leaders lined up at the pin to go left so I joined them. Many hold back so it paid to pull the trigger a few seconds early.

A good start (blue top on the right) from www.sailingshot.com
With a good lane and speed, I wanted to tack to go right, but there was a boat blocking my way, so I waited a few seconds and decided to go behind another two boats. This meant tacking and bearing off sharply, and I focused so hard on not hitting anyone that I forgot to move my feet. So when I went to hike out I missed the straps, fell out of the boat, and it tipped. There's a first! With the boat up, I went right behind the entire fleet to find a clear lane. DFL. That's the bad news.

The good news is that the shifts were easy to read, so I worked up from 55th to about 30th by the first mark. Catching small waves on the run and then more shifts on the beat moved me up to 20th at the second windward mark. The top reach, run, and bottom reach were a little crazy and I finished 13th. But Pam was on the finish line taking videos and I finished just behind seven others, so it was close to being a really good comeback.

Race 4: Started again near the pin and watched Peter Shope (USA) get hammered at the pin. The middle left seemed to have the best pressure which is where I played in the front row. Rounded about 10th. On the run, some went way right while others went way left. There were lanes in the middle and that worked for me.

On the next beat in the front row, it was great to be able to play the shifts without the usual traffic. At the end of the second beat, I rounded in 4th right behind Peter Vessella (USA). He was faster on the reach, run, and reach, and I found myself defending against several really fast downwind sailors. Was happy to finish 4th, while Peter Shope sailed a great race for the win.

Race 5: The wind was dropping a little and had gone right, so I started at the committee boat at full speed with good height. But it was a general recall. Then the rain came in from the right and Bill Fuller (CAN) pointed out that the wind might go way right. For the second start it had gone left so I started near the pin between the leaders Peter Vessella and Peter Shope. We stayed close and worked our way left, as usual. As we approached the windward mark on port, the wind shifted 20 degrees to the right, hurting us and helping everyone on the starboard tack layline, including Bill. Rounded about 20th. On the run, both Peters sailed by the lee while I jibed, but our speeds were similar.

With the windshift, the left gate looked favored but crowded, so I took the right gate and immediately tacked. This worked really well and gained a few places. Protecting the right, I played a few more shifts. The reach, run, and reach were good and I worked up to 7th. Peter Shope sailed a great race to finish 3rd while Peter Vessella never recovered and finished 38th. I was that tough.

One of the ways I measure a race is the position at the first mark vs. the finish. On the first day, my 5, 4 ended with a 10, 5. Not very good. Today, my 30, 10, 20 ended with 13, 4, 7. So in that way, it was a pretty good day. Now, if only I can keep my feet under the straps!

Tomorrow is our lay day but with strong winds in the forecast, we'll be sailing again. I've dropped to 7th and would like to move up.

Day 4

Mark Bethwaite (AUS) and I have been training all week and we like to compare notes before the start of each race. Today was summed up by Mark when he said "my plan is not having a plan" meaning anything can happen and we have to keep our options open. The final day of the Open Worlds had similar conditions, and runner-up Philipp Buhl (GER) had finishes of 13, 48, and 1.

The breeze was cold from the north 10-20, but what made it difficult was that at the top of the course, there were 30 degree shifts. It rarely paid to play it safe up the middle and the compass was not your friend because you might be on a lift but the boat 100' behind you was on a much bigger lift... and in more pressure.

In each of today's races, I took the lead briefly and was also deep in the 20's. But so were many others.

Race 6: The line was pin favored with a good line site, so I started close to the pin on a header. Thinking it was possible to cross the fleet, I tacked onto port just as the wind shifted back right, so I had to put in another tack onto starboard. The boats below tacked on another header and crossed. Not finding a good lane, I continued on starboard and then tacked.

The fleet had split with about half going left on my side and the other going right. We continued in good pressure and a lift and at one point sailing on port I could not see a single boat in the window of my sail. I thought boy, are the ones on the right toast. As we approached the first mark, we were in a lull and they right came charging in on a lift with much more pressure. Rounded deep in the 20's... how quickly things change!

The run was strange because the waves were going left to right against the current and were easy to catch when in pressure. I took the left gate and played the pressure on the right as much as possible, but the left paid this time as I approached the windward mark for the second tine.

The top reach and run were mainly watching people and trying to stay in clean air to pass others. The finish was confusing because we had run into the fleet ahead. Finished 11th.

What was learned from this race? It's very much a lottery when percentage sailing works best. But this means sailing one option while protecting the other option. This did not work because the middle of the course had too many dead spots, so you really had to commit to one side and be prepared to play catch-up.

Race 7: Same line and line sight. Good start, called back. Under a black flag, same good start, called back. On the third start again under a black flag, got away near the pin in a good lane. Working to the left, played a few shifts with series leader Peter Shope (USA). This time, the final shift with pressure came from the left and we reached to the mark and I rounded in 3rd behind Gavin Dagley (GBR) and Peter.

Positions did not change on the run and was still in 3rd. The leaders took the left gate and went right. Playing the shifts and pressure with Peter Vessella (USA) put us into the middle and we got stuck in a hole. At the top mark, the pressure came in from the left and we rounded in the 20's. The top reach was crowded and it paid to stay low. The run was then very interesting. Andy Roy (USA) was just in front and he went high to the left while others went very low. It then became clear that some were heading to the inner gate on the left while others were headed to the proper outer gate on the right. I stayed in the middle looking upwind for more pressure. Looking upwind, it came from where Andy had been so I sailed off the course, got the pressure, and passed about 7 boat that were just 100' to my right.

Things got crowded at the bottom of the run as everyone converged and the bottom reach was interesting because people tried to get up into the passing lane. Defending by going high would have left the door open for those right behind, but a few good waves helped me protect my position. Finished 7th.

I'd really like to have a day with lighter conditions and tomorrow looks ideal, but they've made it our lay day and we will not race again until Friday when it gets windy again.

Day 5

The breeze was steady from the south 10-15. There were shifts so the waves were a bit lumpy. It was an interesting day on the water. Mark and I talked again before the first start and his suggestion was to protect the right side of the course.

Race 8: Started at the committee boat, tacked, and went right while most of the fleet went left. At one point, we must have been half a mile apart where the smallest shifts can have a major effect. When we converged, the two groups were even and I rounded behind Gavin Dagley (AUS) and ahead of the pack. We were able to hold our positions on the run.

Gavin took the right gate and went left on the next beat, and I followed. Felt slow and out of phase and could not get a feel for the conditions. As those on the left approached the windward mark again, there was a large right shift and a parade of boats came in from the right. Rounded 20th, ouch. Made up a few places on the downwind legs to finish 9th.

Race 9: Wanted to start at the committee boat to have the best options on the first leg but got boxed in after a port tack boat tacked when I told him to cross. Missed a shift, never got into phase, and rounded in the 20's. Things did not improve much on the run and beat and was able to share my misery with Peter Vessella (USA) who was having a similar race. And then there was the second weather mark.

I was barely on the starboard tack layline with a bunch of boats right behind. The current took me below the mark so I tried to put in 2 quick tacks. They were not quick enough because I fouled the boat that had been on my hip, that fouled the boat on its hip, etc. At the end of the chain reaction, half a dozen Lasers were locked together, head to wind, going nowhere. Bringing out the Canadian in me, I said sorry about 5 times, bore off, and did my 720.

This put me deep in the 30's. With no drop race and with no desire to play the waves and risk being yellow-flagged, I took it easy for the rest of the race and finished 37th. I was reminded of the quotation from the American fight for independence "if this be treason, make the most of it."

Race 10: Thought to myself, I don't care how good the committee boat end looks, I'm starting near the pin. And it was a good start and lane. We went left, played a few shifts, and I rounded about 10th. The run was good with a few waves to catch and the next beat had good shifts. Except it seemed that the entire front row was having the same good fortune. Still in 10th at the top of the second beat, with series leader Peter Shope (USA) leading. He was not using a compass but had good speed and a very good feel for the shifts. The top reach was competitive and those who went low lost several places.

The run was the most interesting leg of the day. I wanted to go left but the boats behind did to, so I sailed back to the right to get a clear lane. About half way down the leg it I realized that Peter was not sailing high but to the gate of the inner course and not the correct outer course. There must have been better pressure on my right side and the waves easier to catch because at the bottom mark I took the lead just in front of Peter and Andy Roy (CAN). Peter tried the passing lane on the lower reach but the positions were unchanged.

Rounding the final bottom mark, Peter was just behind me and tacked. Andy and I continued on port. When I could lay the finish line, I tacked and Peter approached on port. He ducked me and I tacked to cover him. A few seconds later, our boats touched. My thought was that he too had tacked. With just a few feet from the line, I considered several options:
  1. The rule is that when 2 boats tack at the same time, the one the right is in the right. I was on the left and was in the wrong.
  2. But if Peter had tacked a moment later, he had not given me the room and opportunity to keep clear, so he was in the wrong.
  3. With 2 races to go and no bad races, Peter had deservedly won the championship. But if I protested him, it would have delayed the inevitable either by a few hours if he prevailed or by one day if I prevailed. Both seemed like a shitty thing to do.
So I did my 720, lost 6 places, and finished 7th.

When I described what happened to judges after the racing, they thought that I was probably wrong. But when Pam showed me a picture she took from the finishing boat, I had finished my tack before Peter started his.

This was a painful race because getting a bullet in this fleet is really hard. I do not regret my decision to take my penalty turns, but I do regret messing with a very good sailor rather than just heading for the finish line less than 100 feet away.

Tomorrow is our last day and I'm in 8th place 7 points out of 5th and a cube. 
PS: Pam got up at 3 am and wrote this on our blog. It includes a picture at the critical moment with Peter.

Day 6

We waited onshore for the breeze to pick up. I prefer to sail with minimal clothing because it helps to get a better feeling for the conditions. Pam took out my hiking pants just in case and I put them on before the first race because the wind was already building. It would not be in the 5-10 knot range that I prefer.

Race 11: The southwest sea breeze was building as indicated by the clouds to the north, so Mark and I agreed that it would be another 'protect the right' day. This seemed to work last week for the open worlds people, and watching the fleets ahead of us showed right paying even though most went left.

So I started at the boat, tacked, and went right. There was good pressure and the breeze stayed left. I thought that when the breeze goes right, the right side will pay as planned. Except it actually went further left. When we met the main fleet at the mark, the entire left fleet crossed and I rounded in the 40's. So much for trying to play weatherman.

The good news was that my drop race at this point was a 13, so I could take risks with playing waves downwind and the shifts upwind. The bad news is none of it salvaged another really bad race. Finished 32nd.

The lesson learned (again) was that the collective knowledge of the main fleet is usually better than individuals who roll the dice. Besides, boatspeed and percentage sailing are my strengths so I decided that my final race would be near the pin, in the crowd, and I would go with them.

Race 12: The pin was favored, crowded, and had all of the top sailors. We only had a few minutes to start before the 3:00 deadline and our PRO did and great job getting us away on time. Had an OK start between 2 of the top sailors, pointed with no vang or cunningham, and was able to hold as several of the top had to bail and tack behind the fleet (this was the risk of this plan, and these sailors had bad finishes).

So far, so good. By the time we got to the port tack layline, I was in second place in my group. With the wind increasing, rounded 5th behind a few who were just below. Went left on the run trying to protect my lane but the right seemed to have more pressure. Rounded the bottom gate in 8th, went a bit right to get clear air, and then followed the leaders left. Good speed with a little extra power as the waves built.

Rounded the top mark in 6th and held even on the top reach. On the final run, there were about a dozen just behind and it was hard to catch the waves, so I went way right to get my own pressure and passed one to get into 5th. Held on the bottom reach and final beat.

Final thoughts: Our fleet had a lot of good sailors and playing catch-up was hard most of the time. Living in Dallas, I don't have fast sailors to train with so I practice boatspeed. For me, the final race summed up the event - get decent starts, stay with the crowd, be patient, and try to use any boatspeed advantage.

One thing that my training partner Mark Bethwaite said was that each fleet gets harder as younger people join. The world championship was won by Peter Shope (USA) who was one of the youngest while I tied with Wolfgang Gerz (GER former Laser master champion and Finn Gold Cup winner) for 7th (he won the tiebreak). As the oldest person in the fleet, I'm happy to be in the top ten and look forward to joining the great grand masters at next year's world championship in Mexico.

Mark was able to successfully defend his GGM world championship after a bizarre series of events that I'm sure Pam will describe. We'll be in the same fleet next year which we both look forward to.

Kingston put on a great show - the town is great, the people are great, the organization was great, and of course meeting friends from around the world again was great. It was one of the best worlds we've had the pleasure of attending.

The final results for the Standard Grand Master Fleet are here.
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