Daily Archives: August 7, 2010

SLVT QFinals begin

Following several weeks of SL-VT qualifying matches, last week’s six-hour Regatta at Free Adriatic marked the end of the open phase of competition.
A spare, final fleet of 10 finalists remained.
Courtesy of Naeve Rossini, here’s the SLVT ACA33 Dream-Team, and their club affiliations:

In the next few weeks this decade of determined competitors will go head-to-head to earn the ultimate ACA Match Race prize… the SLVT Trophy.

The quarterfinal competition will consist of two Round-Robins held on Aug 7 and Aug 14.
The two dates will hopefully provide wide, convenient options to the contestants (since they have real lives, too).

Two skippers will advance from each Quarterfinal Round-Robin;
In fact, Armano Xaris and Takabou Destiny already won First and Second Placein the initial Aug 7 Semifinal Round.
The other half of the dance card will play out next Saturday on Aug 14.
After the Aug 14 regatta, the final Fantastic Four Cast will reconvene on August 28th for a nine-race shoot-out that will determine the 2010 SL-VT Trophy winner.

Here’s the tentative layout for Aug 28:

Match Races 1-3: The First Place Skipper from Aug 7 (namely, Armano Xaris) will race against the Second Place Skipper from Aug 14 (TBD). The first skipper who wins two races will advance.
Match Races 4-6: The First Place Skipper from Aug 14 (TBD) will race against the Second Place Skipper from Aug 7 (namely, Takabou Destiny). The first skipper who wins two races will advance.

Match Races 7-9: The winning two skippers from the above rounds will compete against each other in three final races. The first skipper who wins two races will be named Regatta Champion, and win the SLVT Trophy.

Don will fill in the important details for the Final event over the next few days..

Finals Round Robin Aug 7

Here’s the layout for August 7’s semi-final Match Series. With five sailors matched against each other in a round robin, 10 races were scheduled.

Perhaps appropriately, the location for this and subsequent final events returned to Dire Strait and the Fedallah startline, the home waters of GGYC.

In some championship regattas, competing skippers might rightfully complain that the final race course gives advantage to the home team, or at least the fleet of skippers that commonly race there. Fedallah/ Dire Strait is fairly new, and could easily be vulnerable to that criticism.

Luckily however, Don is not a very quiet Commodore; in the past few months he’s held multiple ACA races and SLVT practice rounds in Dire, and SLVT Round 3 was hosted by GGYC as well. Any ACA skipper unfamiliar with Fedallah and Dire Strait… should first check to see if they have a pulse…

Having said that, the August 7 semifinal regatta racecourse was a bit more complicated than the typical, plain-vanilla, Windward/Leeward qualifying courses. This one included a fairly long upwind beat to the mark in Yojo, followed by a brief reach to Bildad.  The race boats then made a hairpin turn back to Stubb, potentially overlapping the course of any opponent following a short distance astern. The raceboats then took a clockwise turn at the mark in Stubb, and the boats subsequently fell on a multi-sim downwind run to the turn in Rachel. Once that was cleared, it was a fast broad reach home.

When I first looked at this course, I thought it was too big, too long, and maybe inappropriate for a match race. Grin…

Each time I look at it now, I see I was wrong. I now think it’s a remarkable economy of form. Yes, it takes most skippers over 10 minutes to complete, but take a look. That 10 minute course tests…  just about every skill any SL sailor has. Nice design work there, Commodore Don. If you win on that course, in 10 minutes you just showed the online world that you deserved to win.

August 7 Race Two: Astro and Takabou

OK, You know me, I talk too much. I would love to tell you about all the races, but maybe I should just tell you about one race I thought was pretty interesting. If I have time I promise to come back and tell you more!!

I know, I know, Armano Xaris came out #1 in this regatta… I’ll have plenty of time to tell you about Armano :-). Today, however I want to write about something else, the second race in the series. I thought it was the most exciting race of the day, and it pitted Takabou Destiny against Astro Marksman.

I’ve written about both of these skippers in previous articles. I know I’m grossly oversimplifying things, but after watching more than a year of race events, I think Takabou has extremely strong fundamental skills. He’s hard to beat unless you sail a perfect race or have a trick up your sleeve.

Speaking of tricks, Astro Marksman knows some good ones.  In Round Five I flipped through a few thousand individual frames from Astro’s races, watching him go toe-to-toe with Carmen and Gemma (the latter duo is often referred to as “the devil’s spawn” (but in a nice way, of course 🙂 ). Astro showed his stuff in that competition; he was as good on the water as it ever gets, and the high level of competition brought it out. If you doubt that, go back and look. Astro was incredible.

The Aug 7 Semifinals between Astro and Takabou proved an equally amazing matchup!!

The countdown in the Aug 7 Round-Robin was only two minutes long; very few finalists took advantage of that small window to pull out their heavy tactical weaponry. Astro, however, came at it loaded for bear. He looked as though he had waited two weeks in an over-caffeinated rush awaiting this confrontation, and he raised sail with guns blazing.

When the clock began it’s countdown, Astro tacked and turned brilliantly; it’s actually hard to imagine anyone but the Destiny Duo of Takabou and/or KazumaHs who could hold up against Astro’s intense onslaught. The boats jabbed and weaved, trading punches throughout the prestart. My static pictures can’t give you the whole story, so here’s the last 90 seconds of video, courtesy of elMegro Magic:

Let me also show you a few pictures from my own perspective. 🙂 Take a look below.

Both TD and AM were jockeying for starboard tack as they crossed near the green buoy (windward) end of the line near the end of the countdown. This could be called the “money start.” If you can pull this start off so you cross first on Starb at the windward buoy… you should earn a win. Both sailors knew this…

Look what happened next, however!!

Takabou ducked below the line, hoping to come in on a reach powered by full momentum; you can actually see him using this exact tactic in SLVT Round Two.

Armano’s also been working his pre-start tricks, however. This time he swings wide and stays lee of Takabou. Just as important, he uses the stationary Race Committee dinghy as an obstruction to box Takabou in. TD’s an excellent sailor, but TD slams into Astro’s Starboard Forequarter above. He actually has no choice; Astro set him up. As soon as the collision occurs, Astro smiles and calls PROTEST! Pretty great sailing, Astro!

Actually, sigh, for a moment it’s even worse than you think for poor Takabou… look below!!!

In order to avoid such an intimate collision contact with Astro that a transmissible disease might result, Takabou is forced to turn windward sooner than he wants, and actually crosses the line a fraction of a second ahead of the clock. He’s called ‘Over Early.” Takabou Destiny needs to go around again and re-cross the  start line… losing a full 30 seconds!

OK OK OK… any reasonable sailor at this point would be saying to themselves “Time to go home and practice for the next race.” This race was over and done, right?

GRIN. WRONG.

My entire point writing about this race is to emphasize two things. the first is how remarkable and audacious Astro’s prestart maneuvering was; I was in the judges’ conference, and it was full of gasps, woots! and loud applause over Astro’s command of pre-start strategy.
Astro?
What you did was simply brilliant 🙂 .

The trouble is, Astro was up against a salt-seasoned, expert, determined skipper. There was no chance Takabou Destiny would give up, no matter how far back or how disadvantaged. Takabou got a valid start, made a legal penalty turn, and roared off upwind following Astro, who by then was a few sims ahead.

Grin. There is an English phrase that applies here. I apologize to my friends in other countries, since the phrase may not make sense. Actually, after researching the origins, it apparently makes no sense in English either :-). Anyway:

” The opera’s not over till the fat lady sings.”

The picture above shows Astro, stalwart and in solo lead, rounding the yellow buoy in Bildad.

Yikes! He then lost direction and overturned, traveling south as he took a new sextant reading. We all know that lag in headings and boat control are often frustrating… and sometimes incapacitating. That apparently occurred in this case; Astro made a bad slip. (Sometime you just need to close your eyes and ‘Sail with the Force,’ ignoring your instruments)

Surprised Astro made a slip? Grin… Remember Takabou also made a bad slip ten sims earlier too. These are great skippers, but the pressue of a tough course, an expert opponent, and high wind speeds can often induce fatal errors.

Here’s a key point though… Takabou was still in the race and relentlessly trying to make up the lost distance. After the start line foul-up, that may have seemed folly to any observer; there was no chance Tak could beat Astro… unless Astro also made a mega mistake. Well, that happened in Bildad, and Takabou was in striking distance. He roared in, rounding the buoy flawlessly as shown above, ending up a full half sim ahead of Astro!!!

WOOT! What an incredible, sudden turn of events!

Did I say  incredible? Grin… maybe that’s an understatement. Neither skipper made any other error on the way home; these sailors are pros, the Best of the Best.

In 10 minutes, they proved what sailor racing and SL friendship are all about. A matched pair that showed sailing substance and true grit. Each sailed their own style, and each demonstrated “how it’s done.”

I think we all learned important lessons from Tak and Astro in Dire on Saturday  :-)!!!