Preparing for the 2018 Sailing Season

As Mr. Obvious points out on Page 1, our Marblehead sailing season is short, so it is important to make the most of what time we have. Following is a list of milestones on the critical path towards making the most of another great summer:

I. Mark up your calendars:

The 2018 MRA schedule is out. We accept that otherwise well-intentioned sailors sometimes choose to sail other events in boats other than Rhodes 19’s, but those other events can obscure the important ones that involve Fleet 5. These are cherry picked below:

Home events: 22 race days x 3 = 66 possible MRA races, + 12 Thursday Twilights = +/- 78 total! Be aware that when it comes to ‘Rhodes to the Cup’ scores, the old adage ‘90% of success is just showing up’ could not be more apt.

  • MRA Spring Series (RIP)
  • Spring One-Design Regatta; Memorial Day weekend, May 26-27
  • MRA 1st Series; Four race days, June 2, 9, 16 & 23
  • Twilight Series; Starts Thursday, May 31
  • MRA 2ndt Series; Four race days, June 30, & July 7, 14 & 21
  • Race Week, Our toughest event of any year; Thurs July 26- Sunday July 29
  • MRA 3rd Series; Three race days, August 4, 11 &
  • MRA 4th Series (Labor Day Regatta); Sept 1-2
  • MRA Fall Series; Three race days, Sept 8, 22, 29

Away Events: More advance planning (housing, trailers, etc.) required, so start on it now!

  • R-19 East Coasts; June 22-24, New Bedford Yacht Club, Padanaram, MA. Buzzards Bay is a great sailing venue. MRA scoring byes available for boats that choose to go.
  • R-19 Nationals; October 4-7, Southern Yacht Club, New Orleans (Details to follow). Rocky Sanchez, of Host Fleet 7, says that the Big Easy will be celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2018. Even if they started partying back in January, in New Orleans it could still be going strong in October.

II. Start Negotiating Hall Passes:

It’s never too early to start trying out excuses for missing things like weddings that are unfathomably scheduled during sailing season.

  • Full Season Hall Passes; Those with significant others that are mystified by this boat racing thing could try the following: “We don’t gamble, we don’t do drugs, we don’t hang out in bars until all hours, we’re just hard to find on Saturday afternoons for three short months”. (This typically results in an eye roll from my bride, and a rueful acknowledgment that she chose to marry a crazy person); NB that for those who actually race with their significant others, hall passes are not needed, but counseling can be.
  • Individual Weekend Hall Passes; Management (both business and home) may forget or not fully understand that one weekday off in June (East Coasts), two in July (Race Week), and possibly an entire extra week off in October (Nationals) may be vital for your mental health. It might be helpful to mention to your boss or partner that you are only asking for the extra days because you feel a responsibility to the rest of your team. Unless you tried the same ploy last year…

III. Prepare Boat:

  • Read Kim’s article (below) over and over and over again. It covers all sorts of maintenance and repair issues that we may have forgotten from last year, or (even worse) have chosen to ignore. It also touches on a number of areas of potential concern that may not have even occurred to most of us.
  • Prioritize you own prep list. You may not get to everything on Kim’s list, so it is critical to start with the absolutely essential, and work down to the merely important. A smooth bottom should be at the top of any list, and ‘fresh’ sails should certainly be close behind. New sails are always fastest, and our Class Rules allow us one new suit (one each, main, jib and chute) per year. However, while it is true that jibs are only fast for one full season of use, mains can be OK for 2-3 years, and who knows with spinnakers? They are big and round and their shape is hard (at least for me) to judge. Old chutes definitely get porous, however, which can’t be fast. Kim is certainly on point with his pro-active approach to checking and replacing aging lines and hardware. Many of our boats are +/-40 years old, and our fleet is famous (infamous) for breakdowns when (if!) the wind gets over 12 kts. Some of our standing rigging is as old as our boats (see below photo!), and our booms, goosenecks, and rudder pintles are notorious trouble spots. Can anyone remember the last time Team Pandapas had a breakdown? Read Kim’s article carefully to see why.

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