We had a windy forecast today; 15-20 from the south going southwest and west with a cold front approaching. Things started off slower than expected with less than 10 knots of wind from 200 up to 1030. So we changed from our heavy air mainsail to our all-around main at 1030. As soon as we did that, the wind filled in to 15 knots with stronger gusts.

We had one general recall and then a black flag start. The line was square and no one got caught by the black flag. We were a bit too gun shy and got swallowed up by the pack. The course was short enough, 1.5 miles, that the boats stayed pretty tightly grouped so if you were not in the first 10 you did not have clear air. We battled around the track in 25th and wound up 20th. Freddy Loof (SWE), last weekends winner, was just in front of us the whole race and finished 17th. I think our speed was just fine, it was just a matter of getting our nose in a clear lane. Ian Percy and Steve Mitchell (GBR) won the race with Mark Reynolds/Steve Erickson (USA) second, and

Koch(GER) third.

The second race had the same sequence, one general recall then the black flag. The front was in sight at the warning to the start so it was a bit strange that the committee started us. Sure enough 2/3rds of the way up the beat, the wind shifted 50 degrees right and the whole fleet reached into the windward mark. The race committee did the right thing and abandoned the race right there and sent everyone in as the fleet was hit by a squall with 25-30 knots and lots of rain. We took our brand new mainsail down, rolled it up on the boom to save it from getting abused by the gusts, towed in behind our Protector and won the race to the dock. Upon arriving at the dock we learned that three boats were caught by the black flag and won

We finally got a finish and quite a few people did not. There were two races today, both in 5-7 knots of wind from the southeast. In both starts, we had one general recall with the line biased to the left side by 15 degrees and then without moving the line the committee put up the black flag and nailed 18 boats. Countless others got away as those who were caught covered them up. It didn

Today were are back at it in Miami after a week in Key West Sailing the Farr 40. Phil could not make it today as he was attending his wife Chrissy’s induction into the Hall of Fame at her University. So I had to bring one of my long time friends, Rod Davis, out of retirement. He had not crewed in a Star since 1977 but he did a great job. Rod has a Gold and Silver medal so I am hoping some of his skill rubbed off on me.

The day did not start our easily. First of all I got up at 0500 in Key West and drove to Miami with my wife Icka. We had a nice breakfast and got down to the club by 0930. Everything was good up to that point. Then on the way out to the starting line I realized that one of my mainsheet cleats was broken. So we had to borrow a tool from Eric Doyle and rob a spring from another cleat on the boat and put it all back together while en-route to the starting line. No real drama though as we had left the dock with plenty of time to spare. Just a little training of repairs at sea. That sparked a whole discussion on the Whitbread (“What is the worst repair you have to make at sea in the Whitbread?”) for the next 40 minutes, between Rod and I.

The race was started at 12:00 in a dying northerly wind. We wanted to go left before the start and left we went. The left paid big and we rounded the first mark 3rd behind George Szabo, (with his boat fixed1) and Nicholas Holm of Denmark. There were 71 boats out on the water today! The wind continued to die…at this point there was 5 knots of wind and patchy. We passed Holm on the run to round 2nd and Vince Brun got into third. At this point there was almost no wind. We coasted around the rest of the way and crossed the line 2nd to John MacCausland who had been about 7th at the previous mark.

I was very happy as this was the first race that I had actually finished this year and it was a damn good position. Rod was relieved when it was over because he spent most of the race in very uncomfortable positions on the leeward side of the boat.

When we got back to the dock, the race committee decided to abandon the race. That was a bit baffling. Their reasons were that too many boats finished at the same time in places 30-60, and they could not get the scores correct.

So we still haven’t finished a race yet this year. Tomorrow 2 races are scheduled

Well, it didn

We are back at it here in Miami. We got into town last Wednesday, trained Thursday and Friday and raced today. Well, we tried to race today. We actually had one of those days where you think you have forgotten how to sail.

This weekend

We had one race today on Biscayne Bay in 10 knots of wind from the North West. After two general recalls we had a Black Flag start meaning if any boat was over the line in the last minute before the start they were disqualified. You guessed it. That was us and about 8 other teams. But we did not know it at the start and usually the numbers of those disqualified are posted at the first windward mark on a mark boat but today nothing was posted. So every one raced.

We had good speed and played the shifts reasonably well to arrive at the first mark second behind George Szabo/Mark Strubbe and just ahead of John MacCausland who was in second place after yesterday. Things went well and we battled Szabo and Percy/Mitchell (GBR) most of the race and then on the final leg Howie Shiebler/Will Stout went off to the right and got a nice shift and passed Percy and us. In the end Szabo won the race with Shiebler second Percy third and we crossed the line 4th thinking we had won the regatta.

MacCausland dropped back to 15th in the race but when we got back to the dock we found out that we had been Black Flagged and so MacCausland won. Second we Hans Spitzaeur of Austria and third was Peter Bromby of Bermuda.

Ian Percy/Steve Mitchell of GBR sailed the best but they broke down yesterday in the second race. We tied for the regatta but beat them for 9th place on the tie-braker.

We were happy with our performance anyway. Very good speed all weekend and we sailed well in the shifty conditions. We think we have learned some things with our rig setup that have made us more comfortable across a wider range of conditions. The first half of our training has gone very well. This week we are trying the North sails. I have sailed with Quantum sails for the past 8 years but want to check in with the Norths in the leave no stone unturned mentality.

So tomorrow at 0700 it is back to the gym for a couple of hours. Still working on the weight gaining program 5 more pounds to go. Then down to the boat by 11:00.

We had a good work out today on Biscayne Bay. It was the first day of the Commodores Cup, a three-race regatta, held every year here, in Miami, in December. Normally there would be 18-20 boats at this event but because everyone in the US is gearing up for the Olympic Trials in March and it is too cold in Europe to sail right now, we ended up with 45 boats on the starting line this morning.

A cold front went through Miami last night and not only was it cold to day, 65 degrees(that is cold for Miami) but it was also fairly windy,18-25 knots from the North West. This is a wind direction that makes the racing very shifty as the wind is blowing off the land on Biscayne Bay. Also, there were a few breakdowns in the fleet

This weekend opened the Star season in Miami. We had approximately 40 boats for what is normally a lo-key weekend regatta due to the build up for the US Olympic Trials which will be held here in March. We were fortunate with the conditions with winds of 10-15 knots both days from the East. This wind was coming directly over the top of Key Biscayne so it was quite shifty and puffy.

Peter Bromby of Bermuda sailed consistently well to win the regatta and Howie Scheibler/Will Stout USA sailed almost as well.

These two teams were almost always going the right way in fairly unpredictable conditions.

Behind them were the two Europeans teams of Neelman/??? NED and Pickle/Kolb GER. Mark Reynolds and Andy Lovell were fifth and I believe Phil and I were sixth.

We had a frustrating weekend. It seemed like we were always on the wrong side of the course on the first leg. We would then spend the rest of the race trying to catch up. Our speed was generally pretty good but I was horrible at picking the correct side. In the last race we were over early at the start and disqaulified for that.

As Phil said, everything went our way in SF so we were paying for that. Let’s hope that’s it.

Next sailing down here is in three weeks. We will train with other teams for 8 days and also the weekend of December 5-6 is an regatta, the Commodores Cup.

It ended well. Today, we were greeted with more typical San Francisco Bay conditions. Windy, cold, foggy and big current. Both races today were decided by a big move on the first run. In the first race of the day, Howie Shiebler and his crew Will Stout hung it out into the middle of the bay and got that last of the flood to win the race. We finished fourth in that one and with Freddy Loof finishing third we went into the last race tied with Shiebler and 2 points ahead of Loof/Eckstrom.

All the starts on the city front racing, it was important for current reasons, to start at the left end of the line. In three out of the four starts we won the left end of the line, once we were over early and restarted but still won that race after quickly gybing around the pin.

We had a good start in the last race just to leeward of Shiebler/Stout. We could not pinch them off so we drag raced out to the left side. We had to tack first and duck Shiebler and this put him in control of the race and the regatta. However, he got caught up in some traffic and we sprung free of him to round the first mark right on his heels. He gybed out to the middle, a move which won him the first race, and we continued straight along the city front. It was a regatta-winning move for us this time as Shiebler and all those who gybed immediately lost several hundred yards when we converged down at the leeward mark off Alcatraz. 1992 World Champions Carl Buchan and Hugo Schriener led at the leeward mark and won the race. For us, once we rounded the leeward mark it is a matter of not making any big mistakes for the rest of the race.

We finished second and won the regatta with 12 points. Both Loof and Shiebler sailed their worst races of the regatta and that meant that Loof/Eckstrom beat Sheibler/Stout by one point, 20 to 21. Mark Reynolds and Magnus Lijedahl moved up to 4th over all with a 6,4 for the day and Eric Doyle and Rodrigo Meireles finished fifth.

It is always nice to win on your home waters and your home club. I have to say that I was proud of our clubs’ management and in particular regatta chairman Chris Shinning and our professional race director John Craig. They used great judgement in getting six good races in in conditions that are not very straightforward. And when postponing ashore for lack of wind or fog (this morning), they made an effort to personally walk around the docks and communicate what they were thinking to the competitors. I think this made the regatta fun and friendly for the all.

For Phil and I it is another nice achievement on our path to the Olympics next summer. There is still plenty of room for improvement so no slowing down for us. Well, maybe we’ll take tomorrow morning off from the gym.

Back in front! We had a great day with a 4, 1 and are now back in the lead of the Star North American Championship. Two more races will be sailed tomorrow on the San Francisco City Front course.

The wind was late in arriving again today but we got race number 3 off around 13:30 in 14 knots of wind. The current was ebbing so this kept the racecourse as open as it can be on the City front. We had a great start at the pin again but the guys just up the line, the boats had a bit more pressure and a bit more right shifted wind. We got around the top mark 4th but lost a bit to the boats who gybed out early. Eric Doyle and his crew Rodrigo Meireles made a big move there. There was more pressure out and even though the shore was favored from a current standpoint, Eric moved into the lead there and held it for the rest of the race. We rounded the second windward mark 3rd but lost Freddy Loof on the run to the finish so we finished fourth. Doug Schofield and his brother Robert sailed a great race to finish second. Shiebler/Stout and Reynolds/Lijedahl, our main competitors from yesterday were behind us so we were moving up. At that point, Eric Doyle was winning the regatta.

The second race started in much the same conditions, 14 knots of wind but the current was starting to slacken from the max ebb situation we had in the first race. We started right at the pin again but were called over early. We rounded the pin quickly and headed off on port in a clear lane. We worked the shifts nicely and round the top mark about 10th. Down the run we were one of the first to gybe out. Again, this was “bad” from a current standpoint but good from a wind pressure standpoint. In the end, the wind pressure was more valuable than the current and we gained. We rounded the leeward mark 3rd. Up the second windward leg we passed one boat and down the final run we passed the leader. We actually got very lucky here. A ferry boat went by and we surfed it’s wake. We went from being in second by 100 meters to being in first. From there we just hung on and got the bullet.

Now the standings are: Cayard/Trinter 12, Loof/Ekstrom 17, Shiebler/Stout 20, Hutchinson/Scott 23, Marazzi/De Maria (SUI) 25, Doyle/Meireles 26, and Reynolds/Lijedahl 30. After the first race tomorrow, each boat will get to drop it’s worst score. All our competitors have a worse race than we do so they will all gain on us. Considering the throughout now, we have a three point lead on Shiebler and Loof who are tied.

So it will be a tough finish tomorrow