What a blast! Â This was the biggest wind we’ve ever racedÂ in, with gusts that were knocking boats over. Â We stayed on our feet, but gave both sides of the deck a good rinse.
I don’t have video proof tonight — of all the nights to leave the camera off — but one scene should sum it up in your mind: Â Mike McBrien wringing out his socks on the dock after the race!
The race was a bit messy, but the joy of speed and the intensity of being on the edge of control was absolutely thrilling. Â We started with a reefed main and the little jib, which was a good configuration upwind, everything on the boat was as tight as possible to remove power — shrouds, backstay, halyards, outhaul, cunningham. Â Even so, a big gust rounded us up just as we were approaching the start line. Â Good thing we weren’t closer to the committee boat! Â From there, boat speed was excellent, but every gust threatened to round us up into irons. Â Gadget was in the zone tonight, instinctively anticipating eachÂ gust and depowering the mainsail in perfect rhythm with each gust, and powering up again with each lull. Â I wish I had the film — picture easing and hauling constantly on each upwind leg. Â He’ll sleep well tonight!
The rest of our fleet flew big jibs and most didn’t reef their mainsail, so it wasn’t much of a contest. Â Just a joy ride for speed. Â Even so, we were hunting them by the leeward mark — no one had their spinnakers up, and we shook out the reef in our mainsail. Â On the second upwind leg, we were even faster but chose a slower side of the course, and just missed the layline for the mark, causing two extra tacks in shifting air that slackened just when we needed something more.
The last leg was a run, and we saw some spinnakers flying. Â Kiwi got us ready, but then we saw some impressive gusts wreaking havoc, and left our kite in the bag.
After the finish line we powered up on a reach and hit 8.63 knots, burying the rail deep in the surf!
And that just about sums up this thrill ride!