OK, let me get this out of the way right away: Â we finished second in the green fleet, hunting Top Gun to the finish line! Â (Sandpiper and Battlewagon were so far behind there was no contest). Â It’s a huge result after aÂ full season of near last-place finishes last summer. Â And it feels great!
Here’s how it went.
We spent quite a bit of time at the dock getting everyone familiar with the rig. Â Kiwi took the foredeck ladsÂ through the details of setting the pole, hoisting the spinnaker, jibing and dousing. Â Once all wasÂ set, we headed out, hoisted sail and enjoyed a little cruise over to the committee boat. Â On the way, the foredeck lesson continued and we all enjoyed the beautiful but crisp May evening: pale sun in a cold sky, pastel lemon and peach clouds, fresh light breeze. Â And many boats came out to play — most ofÂ our favorites were there — Coyote, Pandora, Battlewagon, Free Spirit — but some were missing — Badger, Induljence, Sonic Boom.
As everything felt new again, we minimized: no camera, no calculation of starting time/sequence, no measurements of wind angle, no timing of the line, no estimation of favoured end, or preferred side of the course. Â For the start, we just went on instinct, and our instinct was spot on! Â A few short tacks near the committee boat and we approached the line on a beam reach, with Top Gun coming up beneath us on a close haul. Â We were able to slip beneath their stern and were trying to get a hook on them, but couldn’t get an overlap. Â With 20 seconds to go we hardened up and went for the line, timing it perfectly, to windward and ahead of the entire fleet! Â A perfect start to kick off 2016 🙂
Upwind was tricky in the light breeze, but the new jib was marvelous! Â Last year, we would have quickly fallen behind the fleet using our #3 jib (100%). Â But with the new #1 jib (155%), we had all the pace we needed, and it was a matter of sailing a smart race to stay ahead. Â The new jib car track and fairlead system worked perfectly (thanks Gadget & Squirrel!), and once we firmed up the jib halyard, the foresail was perfectly shaped and all the tell-tales were streaming (all that winter reading paid off!). Â OK, another key to success was the rig tuning (more reading paying off): we have a straight mast (no pre-bend, no backstay tension), with maximum rake. So far that seems to be the right mode. Â Time will tell. Â And let’s not overlook the mainsail, which was perfectly trimmed the whole leg by Gadget.
So with the rig working for us, we could focus on sailing a smart race upwind. Â By watching other boats, we avoided a few dead spots, and approached the windward mark well ahead of Sandpiper and Battlewagon, and only 4-5 boat lengths behind Top Gun! Â Compare that to last year, when might win a start, but then quickly fall behind the bigger boats with their bigger jibs.
Spinnaker went up quickly without a hitch, thanks to great work on the foredeck from Kiwi, The Cunning Ham (that’s Neil’s new nickname — think Ron Howard), and Pete (still to be nicknamed), withÂ Nonsuch mastering the lines in the pit better than an octopus could. Â It took a bit of time for us to find the right angle and mode downwind; the key that unlocked things was when we noticed that the lazy guy was caught on something. Â Once freed, Lazy Sheet trimmed the spinnaker like an old salt, and the distance between us and the boats behind just continued to grow. Â Top Gun chose to sail hotter angles downwind and put in two jibes instead of one. Â Looking back, that choice won the race for them, so we will need to build our downwind polar table to pick the right angles for different wind speeds. Â But our jibe went well! Â Not perfect, but we can blame that on the light wind, which makes these things tricky. Â Never mind, compared to last year with the asymmetrical spinnaker, it was night and day — we would have sacrificed our entire lead on the downwind leg. Â We are safety boat no more!
Crossing the finish line second in the fleet felt like a personal victory after all the thinking,learning, time and energy that we put into improving our rig. Â A special hats off to Gil and Calvin, without whom I wouldn’t have dared to drill 70 holes in my boat. Â This ‘personal best’ is dedicated to you!
So there were many improvements over last year, but the most important thing stayed the same: Â lots of laughter amongst a great crew, and a shared joy of letting the wind blow our cares away.
3 thoughts to “Great crew & new gear starts the season in style!”
Always raising the bar for the Thursday crew eh?
Looking forward to feeling the power of the 155…
Wow , now that was a story I liked reading. Particularly the comments about sailing on your instincts .it is great to have all the instruments ,but when your instincts are right ,you won’t go wrong….
Results are in. Click the link at the right for the details.
Summary: 2nd place finish, trailing top gun by 2:35. Six minutes ahead of Sandpiper and 21 minutes ahead of Battlewagon.
Just need to sail 3% faster to win. That’s the difference between 4 knots and 4.12 knots of boat speed. It’s so tiny, I’m convinced we can do it.