By Barry Keeler




I went to the boat Monday evening and as I was leaving the harbor I noticed an easterly wind was blowing. I thought “it sure would be sweet if an Easterly came in for our Tuesday night!” As I approached the harbor on this Tuesday, I saw the flag on the Crow’s nest showing an easterly. There was question as to how strong it would be, but as we left the harbor we saw it was strong enough to have a good race. We called course 11: start to Blacks, Mile to finish. Once again we gave a 5 minute horn so everyone could synchronize their watches.

On Pair A Dice, there is always a discussion between crew and skipper before each start. What is the plan? The skipper says what he would like to do, like “fight for a starboard start at the mark”. Feedback from crew is considered and when everyone knows what the agreed upon strategy is, we set about executing the plan. This night we were headed for the mark and Homer was in position to force us out on a ‘barging’ call. I luffed up to stall for a few seconds which gave Homer time to actually start. Once he was over the line I was clear to start, just slightly behind but to windward of him. It’s what I call the dance at the start. It requires quick thinking and a crew that is in tune to adjusting sails for quick actions taken on the helm. Pacific Spirit was just to windward and behind us for the start. Since they were being lee-bowed by us, they made the correct tactical decision to tack over for clear air. This plan worked well for them because as we all approached Blacks, Pacific Spirit was coming in on starboard, had right of way and was first around the mark. Right after rounding Blacks, Homer and Pacific Spirit ran a hotter line, mixing it up with each other, while we rhumb lined it to Mile.

Despite the different strategies used to get to mile, Pacific Spirit once again beat us around the mark, as Homer (Blue Ribbon) and Pair a Dice followed close behind. After the long slog into the waves toward Mile, it was great to actually be sailing again. We finally were able to sail into Homers wind and he tacked over for clear wind, while Pacific Spirit sailed further in toward the beach before tacking over for the Mark. We thought we would meet with Pacific Spirit, but they tacked back over toward the beach. As it ended, Pair A Dice was first, Blue Ribbom second, Pacific Spirit third, Diver Down, Makani, Iris, Aeolian, Dreamer (cat-27), Andiamo and Emeritus.


There were some great tactics employed tonight. When we gave Homer bad wind, he immediately tacked over for clear air as Pacific Spirit also did right after the start. One critical rule in tactics IS to ‘stay BETWEEN your competitors and the mark!’. You obviously must be ahead in order to accomplish this. Right after the rounding of Mile, Pacific Spirit had enough of a lead to tack over to “stay between us and the finish mark”. By delaying and allowing us to freely tack over to the layline, they gave up their advantage. It would have been very interesting and possibly a different outcome if they had defended their position.


I witnessed one boat approaching the finish line, but just leeward of rounding the mark on the correct side. Several boats passed this boat as they attempted to luff around the mark. It impressed me once again on the importance of knowing your tacking angle. How do you know when you are on the layline for a mark? Every boat is different and individual boats will have different laylines for each jib sail and each velocity of wind. When you have sailed your boat enough to know all of these factors you can still be destroyed by a header that comes up at the most inopportune time! So on top of learning our tacking angles, you must keep an eye on the wind: Is it consistent or shifty? Learning tacking angles is no easy skill to acquire! On Pair A Dice, with one jib, we will sight across the bulkhead. With a larger jib, we will sight across the traveler. Some people know their tacking angle and use their compass to determine what their new heading will be after a tack. Whatever method you find that works best for you, learn it and use it to your advantage!

With the beautiful, warm, clear weather and the whales all over the bay and porpoises and birds, capped by a gorgeous sunset it was a spectacular Santa Cruz evening to be sailing on the bay.

See you out there next Tuesday!

Barry Keeler

Sailing Pair a Dice

From:: Sailing Pair-A-Dice

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