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Drag Race to the finish

Race Details

  • Wind: 10-15 knots SW small gusts, with a ten minute lull down to 5 knots.
  • Course: 14S-1-7-1F
  • Temperature: 25C°C
  • RaceQs Link: Visit
  • Results Link: Visit
Course Map


  1. Bowman: Kiwi
  2. Mastman: The Cunning Ham
  3. Understudy: PeteP
  4. Pit: Nonsuch
  5. Foresail Trimmer: Lazy Sheet
  6. Mainsail Trimmer: Gadget
  7. Helm: StarPort


This was a drag race all-right!  Results are in and three boats crossed the finish line within 24 seconds of each other, after over an hour of intense focus.  Happily, we were the first of those, to clinch a third place finish on a beautiful, balmy summer evening with wry breeze that was mostly strong, except when it took a siesta.

But this was not just a night of a photo finish, it was a comeback story with all the high drama that Hollywood does so well.  Here’s how it went down (check out the link to the RaceQs replay to see the whole race animated, including second-by-second display of speed, VMG, and analysis of every tack and jibe):

Our start was solid, maybe second over the line, but in good clear air.  Once again, we couldn’t point as high as some of the others, and we found ourselves astern of Sandpiper, then saw Top Gun cross our bow, Remarkable out point us, Eclipse pull of their lee bow maneuver successfully (again, sigh!), and even Battlewagon made it around the windward mark ahead of us.  At this point we were dead last, but we weren’t far behind any of them.  Upwind, our top boat speed was 6.8 knots — we were all flying, with plenty of heel.

(About the pointing — I think it is time to shorten the forestay a wee bit to reduce forestay sag)

Spinnaker time, and our hoist needed a little extra time to sort out some lines that went afoul.  Top Gun, Sandpiper and Eclipse extended their lead while Remarkable took some time to get set, and Battlewagon struggled as we did.  Once we filled and jibed, we were just a boatlength astern of Battlewagon, and the wind began to subside.

Slowly, slowly, we crept toward the Burlington shore, sailing a higher course than our fleet with a bit more boat speed, but wandering off uncomfortably far from the competition.  Top Gun, Sandpiper and Eclipse began to grow small in the distance, and our only hope seemed to be to outpace Battlewagon.  But then the wind began to fill again, we jibed and were the first to catch it!  Within minutes we were cruising along over seven knots of boat speed, closing down on Sandpiper and Eclipse.  By the time we doused and rounded, we were only a handful of boatlengths behind them.  Our top downwind speed was 8.7 knots!

Our douse wasn’t particularly pretty or efficient, but we were ready to jibe at the mark and power up, and this move made all the difference!  Eclipse and Sandpiper rounded ahead of us, very near to each other and got caught up in each others wind shadows.  As a result, they were slow to power up, but we hardened up quickly on the new course and closed the gap to just a few boat lengths at the start of the upwind leg.  The drag race was on!

Sandpiper tacked away early, found clear air and a solid mode.  They looked unstoppable, so we turned our attention to Eclipse and Remarkable.  Top boat speed upwind was an impressive 7.4 knots, which helped us keep pace with the bigger faster boats, and we chose our  tactics wisely to finish the race on a starboard tack.  It all paid off as we crossed the line a few boat lengths ahead of Remarkable, who was followed closely by Eclipse.  Top Gun and Sandpiper were ahead of us.  Battlewagon was a distant sixth.

High fives all around! The feeling among us was the  welcome exhaustion after an extended period of focus that paid off.  It’s hard to describe, somewhere between satisfaction and contentment, between pride and gratitude.  There is a joy of knowing we are in the hunt, that the new gear performs better than expected.  Even though we have many things we can improve, we are already participating in tactical duels with other boats in the fleet, and this is adding another dimension to the experience.  On a warm summer evening in late spring, it felt like the beginning of something grand.

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