Winter Program Week 5

Feb. 14th 2017

Hi All,

Week 5 has just wrapped up and this winter weather is proving to be very frustrating! Saturday was completely dead so we were not able to sail but we were able to practice trapeze technique and got a lot of work done on the 29ers, we made sure to rig every boat and go over every detail as Sundays forecast was for 8-12 out of the east and I wanted to spend as much time on the water as possible. Unfortunately when we showed up Sunday morning instead of 8-12 we had 0 and the kids were growing restless. I thought to myself “Aeolus, Boreas, Zephyrus, one of you wind gods is gonna have to show up for us!” With it looking like it was going to be another skunked day I decided we might as well go out and goof around on the 29ers and do some boat yoga as we get swept towards Astoria. After some protesting from the sailors and some arm twisting from myself we launched to see if we could salvage the day. As if by a miracle the second we cleared the harbor the wind started to build. It wasn’t enough to get out on the wire at first but the boats were able to move and the kids were staying upright, We walked through some light wind tacks and dialed in the sail controls for the conditions and decided to throw up the kites to get some more power in the boats and get everyone fully out on the trap.

It was great to see everyone so willing to start blasting around and willing to risk a capsize. I was surprised by how quickly the sailors were picking up the new boat considering the less than optimal weather at the past few practices. The sailors were able to keep the boat upright through most of the gybes which is probably the hardest maneuver on the 29er as you need to keep the boat moving fast but cannot just whip it around like in a 420 or Opti. We wont be having practice this weekend due to Mitchell and I heading down to US Sailings National Sailing Program Symposium in Austin for some professional development and inspiration for continuing to grow and improve the programs at WSC, see you all in a two weeks!.

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Winter Program Week 4

Jan. 22nd 2017

Hi All,

It seems like its been forever since I wrote one of these! I hope everyone had a happy holidays, I always come back from vacation and find that my life jacket is just a little tighter then the last time I put it on, I must have lent it to one of the kids before I left  The unusual Portland winter has caused us to have to delay returning to practice. Luckily we have been able to make up for it by adding practices on Sundays to get back on Schedule.

Yesterday was the first day we were able to get back on the water and there was still ice that needed to be chipped out of the boats before we could sail. The day started off nicely with a mild 8-11 knots from the east but soon the skies opened up and it started to rain for the next three hours. We were able to get a few solid hours of sailing in though before the kids got too soaked and cold.

Today was a much nicer day, originally winds were forecast for upwards of 20 knots out of the east so I asked Haines to come out and help Riley and I so we would have an extra set of hands on the water. Practice started off with light winds around 6 knots but then slowly died right after the boats were rigged up. I ended up towing the boats up to marker 14 so the current would carry the boats back down and we could use what little wind there was to practice flying the spinnaker. Thankfully on the way back down the river the breeze started to build and once we got about half way passed tomahawk island the wind had built enough that we could turn around and use the trapeze upwind. The kids have really improved on the wire and can get out quite quickly, we are still working on doing a hand stand though, maybe after Portlandia Cup. In the afternoon we set up a short course to really force the kids to get the spin up quickly and go through a gybe. This has probably been the most difficult part of the winter program as even though the 420 has a pretty small spinnaker you still have to get the pole out without hitting your skipper in the face and keep the boat going in a straight line. The kids are still getting better each time they go out though and we are getting closer to being able to have the boat set up to go down wind in seven seconds.

We wont be having practice next week as Mitchel and I are heading to the Northwest Sailing Symposium on Saturday and Sunday to do some professional development and to have our NWISA high school sailing meeting. See you all at Portlandia Cup on February 4th!

Check out last weeks post HERE

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Winter Program Week 3

Dec. 18th 2016

Hi All,

We recently finished up our third practice of the season and what will be our last practice before taking a break for the holidays. This was our coldest practice yet with temperatures right around freezing but I always like to joke with the kids that we still have 30 or so degrees to go before hitting zero which is actually cold. The wind at practice was pretty light and we were fighting around 1.5 knots of current which meant the boats couldn’t make much up river progress so we focused on sail shape, trim, and boat tune. we have the 420s on the Columbia rigged up in the club racing format which means they have a floating block on a bridle system in the main sheet which prevents the boom from being pulled down by the main sheet when trimming in as well as a much more powerful vang system lead back to the skipper which allows the mainsail shape to be much more dialed in. Using the bridle, vang, cunningham, and out haul all together is really key for the boat to go fast as is knowing what each control does and why you would adjust it.

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All sailors are familiar with the wind circle diagram of boats sailing on different points and where the sails are trimmed and I would say most have heard “bring the boom to the corner when you go up wind” which is a good rule of thumb for beginners as it gives a good visual reference for what you should be doing but once you get passed a certain stage and are looking at racing the instruction needs to move from boom at the back corner to looking at leech tell tales and the draft of the sail. So we spent a lot of time at practice unlearning the habit of putting the boom at the corner of the boat focusing on what the sail actually looks like. This is a continuing process as you will be setting up the boat differently based on any given wind strength but eventually I am hoping all the kids will have developed their own preset settings for light, medium, and heavy and then tweak slightly for a given day.

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The sailors have been progressing well and I collected their journals from them at practice to read over winter break we will have another three week session after the holidays are over, hopefully with a bit more breeze so we can go back to focusing on the trapeze  and really step the game up. Happy Holidays! -Peter

Check out our blogs from Week 2 and Week 4

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