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Magic at the Windward Mark

Race Details

  • Wind: 5-6 knots NE
  • Course: 14S-7-1-14F
  • Temperature: 15C°C
  • RaceQs Link: Visit
  • Results Link: Visit
Course Map


  1. Bowman: Fourhands
  2. Mastman: Squirrel
  3. Understudy: null
  4. Pit: null
  5. Foresail Trimmer: Lazy Sheet
  6. Mainsail Trimmer: Skootch
  7. Helm: StarPort
  8. Extra Crew: Bob Duggan joined us in the pit

News flashes:

  • First ever pictures of the new Spinnaker in flight are below — thanks to Jane Thomas on Coyote!
  • Sandpiper shows up on our RaceQs simulation.  We can study the upwind leg to gauge how we are doing.  Since they didn’t fly a spinnaker, the downwind leg isn’t a good indicator of their performance.


Like Tuesday, we crossed the finish line just ahead of Remarkable with Eclipse in tow to secure a second place finish by a whisker.  Sandpiper and Battlewagon trailed.  Was it déjà vous?  Was it Groundhog’s day?  Or was it a smart race with great crew work?  Definitely the latter!

Tactically, we got all the major decisions right (thanks to our special guest and master tactician Bob Duggan), and Four Hands and Squirrel got the kite up around and down without a hitch.  Skootch kept all the tell-tales flowing upwind and Lazy Sheet did a great job keeping the spinnaker powered up the whole way downwind.  What a great night – we were calm, organized and communicated well the entire race, and the result was up for grabs until the final approach to the finish line.  Check out the intensity on board as we readied for that last tack to clinch our finish:

Ready to Tack

(OK, all this excitement about finishing second?  Really?  Yes.  Because the only boat finishing ahead of us was Doug Folsetter in his Viper 830, a speedy rocket that has never been caught in the green fleet.  Whenever Doug shows up, the real contest is for second place – and we took that prize tonight).

Here’s how it happened:

Our start was impeccably timed, crossing the line right at the committee boat within a second of the starting gun.  I thought we would be in trouble during the approach, but no one was in position to push us over the line, so we got away with clear air well to windward and ahead of the fleet.  Once again, the J35s and Eclipse pointed higher than us and made up ground.  Battlewagon began to gain on us from astern, but got caught in our dirty air.  (Bob’s tactical lesson number one:  pinch up to put dirty air on a faster competitor attempting to overtake).  At the first crossing, we were ahead of Remarkable, but later on we had to dip Eclipse (I shaved it closer than ever, despite some warnings from the foredeck – maybe I’ll listen more next time!)  By now, Sandpiper and Battlewagon were well astern.

By the windward mark, Eclipse and Remarkable were rounding just ahead of us, so I sailed to windward of them.  Our hoist was a thing of beauty, and our kite filled, steeling the air from our competitors.  By the time they got their sails full, we were pulling ahead!  For a moment, Remarkable tried to get to windward of us, but we sailed higher and kept them at bay.  (Bob’s tactical lesson number two:  don’t let them take your air!)


Next was a major tactical decision that made all the difference.  There was a giant red freighter parked in the middle of the bay and all the boats had to make a choice.  Like Robert Frost, we took the road less travelled, choosing a slightly higher course on the Burlington side of the ship.  Just about everyone else chose the Hamilton side.  By the time we all emerged from the other end of the freighter, we could see that our choice was the better one.  All the other boats got caught up in a clump, fowling each other’s air and loosing speed.

Jibe number one was textbook, and we had a long fast run across to Hamilton in clear air, adding distance between us and the others.  Jibe number two was almost textbook (I turned a bit too fast), and we began to hunt our friends on Coyote from the fleet ahead of us.  At the leeward mark, we doused well, jibed at the mark and powered up for the sprint home.


Despite our great downwind leg, Remarkable and Eclipse were not far behind as we headed upwind, and their speed and pointing ability began to reel us in.  (Yes, I do want to shorten the forestay a wee bit – maybe just a centimeter?)  Remarkable was especially threatening, but we held on long enough to cross their bow on port tack while they had the right of way.  If we had been even two boatlengths slower, we would have had to dip them and it would have been game over.  As it happened, we cleared them,  then tacked to cross the finish line on starboard a few boat lengths ahead.

In a race over an hour long, just a few seconds made all the difference!  Every decision had to add up to create the result.  And this time, we were able to check all the boxes.  What a thrill!

Only one downside – our new (to us) genoa has a tear in it where the top spreader poked through.  Time for some repair, and more effective reinforcement.  And I suppose we need to work on our tacking technique a bit.  Always something to learn!

2 thoughts to “Magic at the Windward Mark”

  1. From Doug Folsetter to me by email after the race:

    You definitely had a good race. (Nice start too!) The big boat guys at our club have all commented about how much better you’re doing this year – It’s fantastic to see you in the hunt!!

  2. Oh, and thanks to Jan Varkevisser for a tip about the jibe: bring the mainsail to centerline during the jibe so that the spinnaker stays filled while the pole is being switched It worked!

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