Racing Dun Laoghaire

By David Cripton
What follows is a collection of emails I sent to the Sebago community as a log of my experiences at the 2018 Laser Masters World Sailing Championships in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland:

Friday, September 7th:
Hello, Sebago supporters. My second day in Ireland had some frustration. It was a day for measurement. Our blades, battens, top section and sail were measured to see if everything was legal. Unfortunately, my sail’s country letters were not legal. I had them put on the sail professionally from West Coast Marine in Oregon, but it turned out that on the port side of the sail, the “N” from CAN was 15 cm from the leech, and they could only be 10 cm max. So, it took me two hours to peel them off and move all the letters 5 cm to the right. Then as I was pulling my boat back to my spot, the dolly had a flat tire! I had to buy a new tube and replace it! By then it was too late to go sailing. Tomorrow is the practice race and opening ceremonies. Hopefully I’ll get you another email!

Sunday, September 9th:
Well, it was a blustery day for sure, steady 20 gusting up to 29, and steep chop. All I can say about my results in the races is that I finished both of them! For me it was survival conditions. Downwind legs were extremely challenging. I’m trying something new this regatta and trying not to look at my scores until the end of the regatta. We’ll see if I can do it. The idea is that you may start to try to beat certain people because they are close to you in points and that could hold you back from just sailing your best race. Maybe it’s more living in the present, and thinking of things being process-based and less just about finishes. That being said, feel free to look up my results if you want! (Author’s note: I managed to not look at the results for about 6 hours.)

Tuesday, September 11th:
Ok supporters, thank you very much for the kind words. More adventures today: both races were also steady 18-20 with big gusts. The first race today I had on too much vang and caught myself under the boom on a tack right after the start and capsized twice in a row. Gave myself quite a little hole to dig out of which I didn’t manage to do! Second race had the real drama; the wind was really up, 75 boats on the line, I’m finally feeling pretty solid, get off a decent start. I hear yelling in front of me: it’s Mike Matan, a District 8 guy who’s excellent, often in the top 10-15 at Worlds. He’s fouled someone. I look up and it looks like he may be trying to do a 720 (!) but it’s literally 30 seconds after the start, it’s blowing 25 knots, and there are 75 boats charging at him. He can’t think he can pull it off… he heads down but can’t turn, starting to death roll and heading straight at me! There are boats on both sides of me, so there’s nothing I can do but sit back and wait for impact. It’s kind of a blur, but he is barreling down on me while simultaneously death rolling and his mast, just before it hit the water, crunches my bow, BANG!  I’ve been in a lot of collisions and that was by far the loudest. As I’m trying to extricate myself, I have to pull up my daggerboard to sail over his mast. All the while he’s saying “sorry” rather meekly. After that I managed to have my first race without a capsize, which is now a simple accomplishment.

But here’s where the fun starts: can anyone fix this? There are two stores on site who can do repairs. One says “I can’t fix this. Let’s talk to the Germans.” So, we talk to the Germans (who are providing the charter boats). They say “not a chance” that they can fix it. I should say that this is Eoin’s Laser I’ve borrowed, so I feel terrible. I speak to Mike Matan who is extremely apologetic and says he’ll pay for the damage. Both the Germans and the Irish repair people are saying it’s going to be at least $1000.  And there’s no way it can be fixed before Thursday, so there goes any chance of coming anywhere but dead last. Luckily, Eoin happens to be at the club. I tell him about the damage as if I’m telling him his dog died. He takes it very well. I’m telling him about the thousand-dollar repair, the Germans, etc. I show him the damage, which everyone who’s seen it has pulled back in a horrible combination of pity and disgust. He looks carefully and says “it’s not that bad…” We make a plan to have a third guy take a look at it, and meanwhile Eoin puts out the word that he needs a hull to borrow. And we get one. I live to fight another day!

Thursday, September 13th:
Today was a development day, but with still crap results. We play a game called “Fortunately, Unfortunately” in my family. Here’s an example:

Fortunately, I had a GREAT start today, probably top 10.

Unfortunately, it was a general recall…

Cool to know it’s not impossible to get a good start with clear air and speed (I haven’t even come close before. There are just no holes in the line).

Fortunately, I was pretty far up in the second race, probably in the 30s somewhere.

Unfortunately, a gust came through downwind and I death rolled. Total bummer.

And it was one of those where you end up really far from the boat. I had to Michael Phelps like a motherf*er to grab the top of the mast and then pull myself down to the boat by the leech!

Unfortunately, my watch strap broke at four minutes before the start of the first race. Fortunately, I had a bit of line in my lifejacket so I tied it onto the PFD so I could at least hear it. Unfortunately, the strap got untied somehow and is now at the bottom of Dublin Bay.

Fortunately, I moved one place closer to my goal of 51st. Unfortunately, I’m twenty points from 52nd and forty points away from 51st. It’s not impossible; I will soldier on!

Thursday, September 13th:
Hey Sebago family,
Day 5 of racing at the Worlds started out with the promise of slightly less wind, and the first half of race 1 was indeed a little lighter, 12-15 building to 18-21 for race 2, so still pretty friggin’ windy and the chop is challenging, especially downwind. Five days of hiking my ass off has left me a little less nimble on the boat!

Since the start line is so packed and all the sailors are so fast accelerating off it, my starting strategy has become starting at the committee boat no matter what, so I can tack off and get clear air.

Race 1 had 3 recalls and was started under black flag. I was lining myself up on the line a few boat lengths from the boat when along comes Peter Hurley, who’s currently in 2nd, who tacks below me. For anyone who doesn’t know this move, essentially he chose me as the marshmallow he was going to eat at the line to get out in front. I looked at him, like “fuck, really? Me?” I sort of know him because he lives in NJ. His look said, unequivocally, “yes, you. Sorry, but you’re the best-looking marshmallow around here”. Anyway, there was no escaping him now. I couldn’t duck under him and there were boats to windward. I just tried my best and prepared to get eaten.

Gun goes off, he speeds away, leaving me in his dust. But he’s got the same idea as me about getting clear air and getting out to the right. Because he had a good start, he was able to quickly tack to port and cross the fleet on his hip. This led to the unexpected effect of opening up a great lane of clear air for me, and I was able to tack off soon after and speed out to the right. Led to my best finish, 41st. The moral I guess is that if you find yourself being the marshmallow, hope that you get eaten FAST.

I’m still in 53rd, but I made up eight points on ITA’s Marco Boggio so I’m only three points out of 52nd.  The goal of 51st would require a couple of super races as I’m 34 points down from that spot. With a fleet this big, anything is possible!  Tomorrow is the last day of racing. Looking forward to it!

Sunday, September 16th, 8:43pm:
Last day of Worlds was light. Now it was too light; waited for two hours for the wind to fill in and then had a race abandoned because of a huge shift. Then it was 2:30 and wind was filling in but the Sailing Instructions said no start after 3. Some people headed in thinking they wouldn’t be able to move the marks and start another race. I figured I had nothing to lose by hanging around. I think the race committee considered it a challenge and they did manage to get a start off after one general recall. I was doing REALLY well off the start, and three-quarters of the way up the first beat I was probably in the top twenty, with two guys who I knew to be in top fifteen at the regatta right next to me. About fifteen boat lengths before the windward mark, seeing the huge pileup that looked like it might be forming at the windward mark, I decided to tack away early to avoid it, even though we were on a big lift. Those other guys didn’t. It proved to be a bad idea. I still needed to bear away to find a spot on the windward lay line, and there was a big current running against the mark so I ended up having to tack a second time. It was enough to lose about fifteen boats. Those other guys came in on the port tack layline, a much better angle against the tide, and ballsy, but that was the difference. (Plus, their straight line speed was amazing). Also, no one seemed to care much about the rules anymore, in the last race. So, I suppose I could’ve just blasted through, anyway. Then on the second beat I got caught on the wrong side as the wind got lighter and finished 43rd, a bit disappointing. BUT…I did manage to make up four points on my Italian rival, Marco Boggio (who I never saw once on the course or on land) and finished 52nd, one away from my goal.

From finishing DEAD LAST in the first race, needing to change boats mid-way through the regatta and clearly having very little experience with going downwind in that much wind and such steep chop, I’m somewhat satisfied. I think if the same exact regatta started today, I would finish much higher, which is probably an accomplishment.


It seriously meant a lot to me to have the emails of support from the Sebago community, so thank you very much.  I’ll see you on the water!

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