February 04, 2013

Laser Master Midwinters East - Day 2 & 3

By Doug
Day 2 was one of the strangest days on and off the water. It had everything from great racing to rumors that I was in the hospital with a heart attack.

The first 2 races were ideal - a tight line, clean starts, good shifty breeze, and close sailing. Some good sailors got caught on some of the shifts, but the leaders generally had good finishes. I would have had a 3 and 4 except for losing 2 boats on the final run. My downwind speed is still a problem in certain conditions.

After the second race, I noticed that my downhaul was set up for heavy air (both up and down on the same side of the boom) so I undid the vang, pulled off the boom, readjusted the lines, and then put the boom back on... when a gust hit. The boom slipped out of my hand, hit the deck, and the plastic insert at the forward end of the boom came out and went overboard. So, I'm a mile from shore with the next race about to start, and with a major problem.

Note to self #1: it it's not broken, don't fix it. Duh.

Feeling rather stupid but creative, I stuck the end of the boom over the gooseneck and pulled on the vang hoping that it would hold. But it looked really bad. So, I headed for the nearest support boat and asked if they had a radio, showed them the problem, and asked them if they could bring another boom from the beach. The said they would and started talking on the radio. I headed for the starting line and actually got a decent start, and rounded the first mark about 10th.

The problems started on the run because the mast would not rotate easily with the boom. Like, it was just hanging there. At the bottom mark, I had room on an unsuspecting fellow and warned him that things could explode, so he kindly gave me a wide berth. Sure enough, things did fall apart shortly afterwards and I retired from the race.

I tried to chase the original support boat but he was heading upwind, so I sailed down to another support boat and asked where my boom was. The fellow called on the radio, talked with someone, and then told me that "it was denied." Realizing that I was very confused, he pointed to the committee boat. So I sailed over where the PRO told me that they could not spare any support boats and that my request "had been refused."

Note to self #2: when you ask for help, get an acknowledgement.

I thanked the PRO and told him that I had retired from the race and sailed back to the beach to get another boom. I missed the next race and missed out on the final race by about 10 minutes. After watching it for a few minutes I headed back to the beach, where I left the boat rigged (the hose for rinsing off the salt was not working), had a shower, and filled out a form requesting redress for the 2 races I had missed.

Redress can be given to a competitor through an error or omission by the race committee. It turns out that the original support boat was immediately told that help was being refused, but this was not passed on to me. Had I known, I would have headed straight for shore, got a replacement, and only missed the one race.

Note to race committees: you have the right to accept or refuse a request for help. But you also owe it to the competitor to give them a timely answer.

After 30 minutes of deliberation, my request for redress was refused on the grounds that support boats are there for safety reasons and not to help competitors (this in spite of the fact that they were handing out water, keeping extra gear for people, etc.) So instead of being in 3rd place, I thanked them for their time and left the room in 31st place.

Looking back, I realize that it might have been possible to fix the problem on the water with lots of duct tape, but did not think to ask.

Note to self #3: remember duct tape can repair just about anything.

Pam refers to these bonehead mistakes as a way that I prepare for the Worlds. I'll be glad to get all of these out of the way!

The good news is people kept bumping into me looking surprised and happy to see me. You see, another competitor had chest pains and was quickly taken to hospital. When people got back to the beach, they saw my unrigged Laser and assumed that it was me.

So instead of spending the night in hospital I watched a great Super Bowl game with friends. Life is good.

Update: on the final day, not enough wind for sailing, John MacCausland sailed really well and has won.


  1. How is the guy with chest pains?

  2. Doug said he heard he was taken to the hospital, held for observation and later released.


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