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OYRA 2013 - a look back and a look forward to 2014

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  • OYRA 2013 - a look back and a look forward to 2014

    I am starting a thread to get input from racers who did OYRA races in 2013 (skippers and crew) to get a feel for what we did right and what we can do better.

    A look back at 2013

    We finally had an actual skippers meeting in 2013 and it was well attended, we'll have one in 2014 as well.

    Jibeset became our tool of choice for collecting boat and crew information. Most of the regulars figured out how to deal with it but a few new comers struggled. Ray Irvine (the guy behind Jibeset) made several changes to make managing crew information easier for repeat racers.

    We clearly got lucky on the weather. We avoided the extremes of too much wind and generally to little wind, although some of us did not have enough patience or time on a Sunday returning from Drakes Bay to let the wind finally fill in. Other than DB Sunday, most of the boats finished most of the races.

    I think the new simplified gear list was a plus. It made it easier for new boats to comply and boats that already did OYRA saw only a few changes.

    Gear inspections were new for 2013 and for the most part things went smoothly and most boats passed. We have some work to do to make sure boats don't get inspected multiple times, and that more boats get the opportunity to pass an inspection.

    We started earlier working with Half Moon Bay on the post race festivities. There was no wedding this year and I think the party was a good one. According to some dinner was 'just OK' so we'll work on having more options for next year.

    The Americas Cup chased us off our usual start/finish line and we had to endure the painful starts and finishes at Corinthian YC. It sounds like we may have the problem again in a few years, but for other than Drakes Bay most of the starts will move back to the city front for the foreseeable future.

    Drakes Bay a little later in the year gave us a good race and a peaceful anchorage, at least in terms of the conditions. I think the flare shoot was a great success and plan to schedule one for next year.

    That's what I've got for 2013. Please let us know what you saw as successes or failures so we can plan 2014 accordingly. We had many boats sign up but not do very many races. I realize there are lots of reasons for that, but if there is something we can do to help fix it please speak up.

    A look forward to 2014

    I think 2014 will be similar to 2013 in terms of planning. The schedule is taking shape and we have roughly a race a month starting in mid April and ending the first week in October. The official schedule will be out in November once all the other pieces are in place.

    Ray from Jibeset is continuing to work on streamlining the crew list process for repeat racers.

    One complaint from 2013 turned into a suggestion. It was said that the Southern Cross race was a parade with just a reach to reach course. We are going to try something different in 2014 on the courses. In the past have given the RC flexibility on course length so they can give us a race we can finish based on conditions. Now for some races we will give them flexibility on where they send us as well so they can give us the best possible race. For example instead of only going to the Southern Approach buoy we'll give the RC the choice of the Southern Approach, the Western Approach or Northern Approach buoys on the same day. Lightship, Farallones, HMB and DB will not change.

    Even though US Sailing is getting closer on a national simplified gear list we are going to stick with the NCORC list for at least 2014. There may be some very minor wording changes to the NCORC list but there should be no new requirements other than those already scheduled to take effect in 2014.

    One of the new items for 2014 is that your fixed radio has to be properly configured for DSC. If your radio is less than a decade old it probably already has DSC, but it needs a GPS input to know where you are and you need to get a MMSI # to identify yourself. Both of these are relatively simple. The hard part is for all of us to learn how to use the DSC functions in our radios. Your handheld needs to be DSC also so for most of us that means a new unit. Start your Christmas list now.

    OK, that's a starter list for 2014. Now we need you to add to it.

    If you want to comment but not do it publicly you can send me a private message or if you don't do forums simply email me at

  • #2
    Andy, First, let me thank you and the OYRA Board for a great OYRA Series this year. OYRA racing just gets better and better. I agree the weather cooperated, but all of the work you guys did made it even better. I want to thank the OYRA Race Committees that volunteered their time and a special thanks to the CYC for stepping up with their race deck. I actually don't mind sailing out of the CYC; it makes for interesting starts and finishes that sometimes are just drag races to or from the bridge on the other side of the Bay.

    The NCORC MRs were easy to meet and the pre-season (thanks Tony) inspection flawless. I'm happy you're sticking with the published version. Yes, a new handheld DSC VHF and GPS enabled Epirb will be on my Xmas list.

    I want to finish my thanks by thanking my competitors in the SHS Division. You made the racing fun and challenging and I anxiously awaited Jibeset's (thanks Ray!) postings since the PHRF spread was pretty wide - but that's not anyone's fault.

    I thought (I know we won) the Southern Cross did have passing lanes when you factor in the currents heading out and coming back in. I know we passed quite a few boats that started ahead of us before passing under the bridge. I think any single point race (S. W. N. Buoy) is pretty much a drag race - even the Farallones.

    I'm looking forward to the skippers meeting and the first ocean race of 2014! Pat Broderick - "NANCY"


    • #3
      Thank you Andy for seeking some input.

      first, thank you all for making these races possible. I am a big fan of ocean racing and you are all my heroes.

      My only comment is to increase participation. This year the rules were tightened even for boats that were usually grandfathered into some rules because of the way they were built even though they have proven to be very seaworthy (for instance stanchion spacing, if there is a one inch difference...) - boats that have done these races for 20 years without any problems (disclosure: I own an Express 27). I would recommend to look at this on a case by case basis and consider exceptions if safety is not a concern.


      • #4
        Here is a post from an email...

        Lacking permission to post to the forum, here are my thoughts:

        1. Jibeset is good. I liked the feature that I could add or subtract crew, once their data were in the system.

        2. You did a great job in 2013 of selecting race days with flood tide at the probable finish time. This made the passage under GG Bridge safer, and/or feasible if wind died.

        3. Please communicate about the offshore safety training requirement for 30% of crew to have sea survival training. For double handed boats, this means 100%. For a crew of 7, this means 3. Having 2 trained crew is enough for crew of 6, but for some boats, a crew of 7 might be safer than crew of 6, even if the 7th did not have this training. I think some alternative training requirements, such as USCG Captain license, or wilderness first aid for crew, might suffice for races less than 100 miles.

        Thanks for doing a great job with this race series.


        Stan Phillips, owner, Frequent Flyer

        Fleet Captain, Farr 30 Northern California Fleet


        • #5
          If an Express 27 has 18" single lifelines that meet all other specs and the only issue is stanchion spacing I would recommend a waiver. To date none has been requested.

          If a boat has no lifelines, or if the lifelines don't meet the rest of the requirements, such as the Express 27 class legal 'hike assist' wires that are much lower and don't surround the cockpit I think a waiver or exemption would be difficult.


          • #6
            The wording for training in the NCORC gear list is:

            At least 30% of those aboard, including the person in charge, shall have attended a US Sailing sanctioned Safety at Sea Seminar within the last 5 years, or other course accepted by the NCORC. This rule is effective 1/1/2014.

            That means that a crew of 1-4 needs 1 person, 5-8 needs 2 people, 9-11 needs 3 and so on if you have a really big boat.

            OYRA has also agreed that a 4 hour coastal safety class is acceptable.

            A Safety at Sea seminar is never going to cover all the training and knowledge needed aboard an ocean sailing boat, especially if things go sideways. It is intended as a minimum.


            • #7
              Add back the Windjammers and Spinnaker Cup to the season scoring. Drop the Southern Cross.


              • #8
                You have a trailer. For the rest of us, adding in the delivery makes it a too big of a commitment for a season counter.


                • #9
                  Here's another one I am cutting and pasting from email while Steve waits for posting permission.

                  Hi Andy,
                  I registered for the Pressure Drop site, but it hasn't given me permission to add anything yet, maybe there is a time delay. Anyways, here is my input on 2013.
                  - Thanks for running OYRA again this year!
                  - I was only able to make a few races this year due to unforeseen health issues, vacations and America's Cup. I expect to do all or most races next year.
                  - I've done the Safety at Sea seminar, I'm not sure this is really very useful unless you have no experience and I fear will cause lots of sailors to avoid racing because of this requirement. Since the safety at sea doesn't require any hands on testing, maybe we could have an option for a online questionaire/test instead?
                  - Jibeset is great, lots easier to register
                  - Typically the race committee radio is only useful out to point bonita, maybe we suggest a designated communication boat (a volunteer in the race who is willing to handle relays) to relay radio calls? Like they do on Pacific Cup?
                  - When boats check in prior to race, the race committee should be able to tell if it was via DSC radio or not, no need to inspect for that.
                  - I suggest you designate which boats will be inspected prior to start of race so they know they need to come in after race. Maybe tell them as part of check in? When you are coming back in under gate you often are too busy to monitor radio to know you are requested to come in for inspection.
                  - any thought on having a cruiser division or non-spinnaker division? This might get some boats out that want to do ocean races but aren't ready for spinnakers yet?
                  - maybe add an interclub award where two or more boats from same yacht club are scored against other club's entries?

                  Steve Haas
                  ~~~~~_/) ~~~~~ _/) ~~~~~ _/) ~~~~~_/) ~~~~~ _/) ~~~~~ _/)


                  • #10
                    Within the SHS division, how about bringing back the singlehanders' credit? At one time it was 12 sec/mile.

                    I enjoyed doublehanding this season and did well in those races. It's hard to compete against DH boats when SH however.


                    • #11
                      Continuing from above, that's why in SSS, SH'ers and DH'ers are never scored together.

                      Andy wrote " ... we are going to stick with the NCORC list for at least 2014. There may be some very minor wording changes to the NCORC list but there should be no new requirements other than those already scheduled to take effect in 2014."

                      Could you put the list in a logical order? D, E and H belong in the equipment section, the subheadings "Vessel Structure" and "Safety Gear" don't go with some of the items under them, and similar items of equipment (like electronics) aren't grouped together. One other suggestion from an inspector's viewpoint: Group together those items that are normally above deck, and then those normally found belowdeck. It makes the inspections go quicker (you're not up and down the ladder constantly).

                      Steve wrote: "I've done the Safety at Sea seminar, I'm not sure this is really very useful unless you have no experience, and I fear will cause lots of sailors to avoid racing because of this requirement."

                      I don't want to reopen a sore subject, but I have yet to talk to any skipper who has attended a US Sailing SAS seminar and thought it was very useful. I have one more year (under the MOR) and then I'll have to attend another one. I hope by then they've made the content more relevant. Maybe the four hour deal will be more targeted to what we're doing?


                      • #12
                        My hope is that the proposed US Sailing list becomes something we can use for our gear list as early as 2015. If it passes as proposed we might have to modify some areas but that's OK. An incredible amount of effort went into getting agreement on the current NCORC list (it was not unanimous) and I don't think there is the required energy for a complete re-write when the list is only a year old and a potential replacement is on the horizon.

                        I have heard many with the same feelings on SAS. Part of the problem is that most of the SAS seminars put on locally are by the Pacific Cup Yacht Club in preparation for their race. They cover issues that matter to offshore sailors and don't to coastal sailors like life rafts. I think they have also become a little tired in their content overall. Even the moderator in one I saw last year described it as "all the different ways you can die on the ocean".

                        So what should be in a 'Coastal Safety' seminar?
                        - MOB recovery / hypothermia
                        - Breaking wave development / lee shore
                        - Communications within the fleet
                        - Knowing how and when to call for help, and when to accept it
                        - Helping another boat without endangering your boat and crew
                        - Dealing with potential problems such as dis-masting, loss of rudder, sinking

                        Most of these items are in the ISAF/USS description for what should be in the training sessions.

                        What else? I think we could cram this into a 4 hours session if we drop some of the sea stories.


                        • #13
                          In response to Steve's comments about communications and a communications vessel.

                          I think communications is one area where we can improve. The NCORC Comms committee has been working on a technology solution (basically a poor mans Rescue 21) so that we can connect the race committee with the fleet. The initial thought was to build one, and that is now moving toward buying a purpose built commercial solution. Paying for it may be an issue, but once more is known it may just be a few dollars added to entry fees to cover ongoing maintenance.

                          In reality the race committee is not able to help you if you have a problem. The Coast Guard will always be there to help you, but they may be an hour or more away. Our best option as a fleet is to keep the required radio watch on VHF 16 so that we can help each other and be self sufficient as a fleet. In most races we all have other boats in sight most or all of the time. Even if a boat is a mile away they could be to your location within 10-15 minutes.

                          We need to change the mindset. The radio is not something you turn on to call for help. The radio is something that stays on and is monitored in case your fellow racers need your help. And if we all play by the same rules they are listening in case you need help.


                          • #14
                            Re the training sessions, that's almost a wrap with what you have.

                            Add some local knowledge/playground hazards: Potato Patch/Bonita Channel, South Bar, inside of Mile Rock, transiting the Gate in adverse current, USCG rules re sailing in the ship channel (don't play on the freeway), lee shores, etc.

                            A bit on reefing and heaving-to? A surprising number haven't done either.


                            • #15
                              The Monterey Bay races are a problem for the "middle sized" boats. Big boats can bash back. Little boats can come home at 55 mph on 101. It's too much for me and for my boat. I know two 40 footers who opted for Benecia instead of Monterey this year (not OYRA boats), even though they had to plow through the mud to get into the marina.

                              Besides, they're often spinnaker drag races until the sun goes down. Then they turn into drifting drag races. I've sat by that fake lighthouse in Santa Cruz enough times in my racing life. Besides, Benecia is warmer in the morning.