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So I’m on a plane back to NOLA.  I’m eager to get home after finishing the Mini Pavois, and am satisfied with my placement on the second leg.  Nothing amazing out there, but I placed where I should have, 10th out of about 40 boats overall with series an protos combined, and 8th in the proto class. 

For me this race was significant in two major ways.   The first being that I have completed my 1,000 miles of Classe Mini racing, and all I have to do now is complete my 1,000 mile qualifier and I’m in the Azores Race.  The second is that I learned a lot about racing minis, and about my boat.  It’s really the first time I’ve been able to line up with the more professional sailors, and those guys were really fast.

Okay, it was significant in three ways…  The third is that I had a blast out there sponging as much from the experience as I could.  In an ideal world I’d be out there doing every race possible, because it’s such a challenging place to sail, and the competition is so good, one could get really good really fast.  I want that so badly now.  Before it was a concept, now I can taste it.  I just didn’t know I’d love Mini racing so much.  

I learned about some of my performance weaknesses too.  I used to assume that my boat was pretty quick upwind in breeze, because on paper it should be.   I was blisteringly adequate in light to medium upwind stuff, but once the wind was above 15 knots, I wasn’t performing.  Maybe I wasn’t using the boat properly, but there are some other things that I’ve changed recently that could have contributed, all of them having to do with the mast set up.  I know how to undo those settings, but couldn’t do it on the water, and it was a mostly upwind race.  I will have to wait until I get back to experiment with them. 

Also learned some things that seem slow intuitively, but were not, such as leaving water ballast in longer than I would usually, and also leaving the dagger board down in lighter winds upwind.  Any time I was near another boat, I’d start playing with this stuff, because it was really the only time I could get any actual performance feedback.   I would like to do some two boat testing off the race course, but it’s not so easy.

So I’m coming home to see Louisiana to build a sail, see some loved ones and to help protect Louisiana from the BP oil spill.  Living in South Louisiana is a lot like living in an old boat.  Very challenging, and we are always trying to keep our state from sinking.  It’s become a constant fight, and this is just another major blow we need to stand up against.   I’m in touch with America’s Wetlands to see what I can do in the short time I’m here.

More on that later.

-Ryan

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