Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hampton Trapeze - Jay Smith

The 2012 Hampton Trapeze was true to its name with crews having a view from outside the boat the entire weekend.

Coming off the 5o5 Spring Regatta in Wrightsville Beach, a venue that did not produce its typical 15-20 knot sea breeze, the Hampton Trapeze was a welcome change. Winds were light in North Carolina providing mostly sit running. In Hampton, a predominately southerly breeze that built throughout the day kept crews on the wire up and downwind. Temperatures were near 80 degrees under sunny skies. The overall conditions, plus some tidal advantages, offered three and half great days on the water. This is the second consecutive Hampton regatta with quality conditions that will undoubtedly fuel the friendly wind/no-wind rivalry with West River.

Formal racing was preceded by a day and a half training session with Gary Bodie. These clinics gave novices a chance to tune against class leaders. Bodie lead the six-boat fleet in a variety of up and downwind drills starting in ascending and descending sail number order and also with rabbits. All scenarios initiated opportunities for boats to remain close together. Bodie was able to coach sailors on boat speed, basic handling and set up. The sessions also allowed more novice sailors to remain close enough to leaders to visually compare sail shape, point of sail and weight distribution – elements that the less experienced typically hypothesize on how the leaders actually address. The training provided intimate, immediate on-water feedback on what each boat was – and was not – doing correctly.

“I discovered that I have been neglecting the jib and that this was the largest source of our point problems,” said Jim Englert of boat 7776. “I was also gravitating to a lead too far forward. As it stands now, the best the boat has felt for us is when we have the jib tacked as far down as we can at the bow and our leads are all the way back. I now have some concerns that I cannot get my leads far enough back on the jib with my current system. Every time we are in that no point mode, we have the leads in a more forward position. It was good learning.”

Charles and Jay Smith of boat 8952 were able to use the training session to improve their sail shape by putting on a lot more ram. “Our ram doesn’t match the numbers on our card so we think it may not be calibrated correctly. Either way, the additional ram provided the sail shape we desired,” said Charles Smith. “We have a 16-to-1 system to set the vang, which is less than most teams,” said Jay Smith. “To make it easier, I set the vang from wire. We’re now cranking on the vang on to match the leech of Tyler Moore and Henry Amthor. I would say with the ram/vang combo, we're starting to learn how to think beyond the numbers.”

Post racing, the fleet spent time Sunday afternoon doing more tuning. Having practically applied the pre-race training, Sunday’s session focused on upwind pointing and honing downwind jibing skills. Comments from participants proved that everyone walked away feeling more accomplished and with positive “home work” with could leave each boat more prepared and faster during upcoming events.

Hampton also offered a chance to welcome new members to the fleet. Dave Burchfiel of boat 8822 brought Evan Trudeau on board as a first time crew. Trudeau was trapping and wire running on his first day out – proving that favorable conditions, quality training and an welcoming class can help grow the fleet.

A special thanks to Jane and Tyler Moore who again opened their home to sailors, their families, children and dogs, all of which had a great time. Good wind and Hampton hospitality made the event fun for all involved.

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