A broad mix of conditions at the VX One Winter Series #3 made for an extremely fun yet challenging event for each team on Sarasota Bay February 8th and 9th. Chilly temperatures and great breeze early Saturday were short lived and competitors were greeted with classic Florida weather and a dying breeze into the afternoon. Conditions Saturday forced teams to be on their toes tactically as well as with checking/adjusting the rig with each new race given the gradual drop in breeze throughout the day. VX 269 found their success with consistently strong starts allowing the team to hitch into the first line of pressure and correct phase early into the expanding portion of their first beats. Although sailing the best angle to the marks were always important, as the breeze backed off significantly, teams were forced to put a premium on finding the best pressure on the course and worrying about the shift afterwards. Keeping the boat moving fast forward would eventually help out with angle too; however, this was challenging given the differential in wind velocity by the end of the day. Overpowering puffs and cratering lulls pressed teams to change gears efficiently. In the larger puffs, vang sheeting prior to being hit was essential to keeping proper sail shape as the main was eased to depower which translated into speed. As the puff moved on or as we sailed into lulls, it was vital to readjust the vang to slack and put the bow down a couple degrees to keep the momentum fast forward. By keeping the boat speed up in the lull, any net loss in angle was quickly made up for with speed.
Sunday provided the exact opposite range of breeze conditions as seen on Saturday. A moderate wind velocity gusting into the mid-teens was welcomed across the fleet and teams sailing three-up were excited to see a steady build throughout the day. Sailflow recorded stingers up to 30kts before the Race Committee pulled the plug on a potential Race 7 which concluded the event. As the breeze started to ramp up it was vital that teams were adjusting their rig and depowering as necessary. The most important factor in teams’ success on Sunday in the big breeze was simply staying in control. Whether it was upwind or downwind, broaching the boat and losing control for minutes on end separated the fleet vertically and very quickly. It was encouraging to see most of the boats start each race and give it their best shot. Although losing control contributed to some teams having to retire from races early, the most comfortable teams were able to hit boat speeds well into the high teens!
Report by Esteban Forrer, 269 helm