A beautiful night with plenty of breeze, and bright sunlight poking through layers of clouds. Â The boys in blue were ready for action, with Gadget trimming the foresails in Lazy Sheet’s absence. Â Kiwi took the mainsail and went forward to help on the foredeck, and Gil kept an eye on it when his hands were free.
The wind was coming from the northwest, so the race crew set a tough course with three laps, giving us plenty of opportunity to practice our spinnaker work. Â Unfortunately, half-way through the second downwind leg, a freighter came into the bay on its way to dock near marker number 12, and the race had to be abandoned — can’t have sailboats dodging an oceanliner!
Too bad! Â We were sitting pretty when the race was called. Â Here’s how it went:
Our start was fantastic — we’re really getting the hang of this. Â Our goal was to cross near the boat end of the line, which would let us carry the favoured tack in good air all the way to the layline. Â When I turned to approach the line with about a minute to go, it was clear we were going to be a bit early. Â Kiwi had the lads luff the foresail so that we lost speed, and that helped a lot. Â With about twenty seconds to go we powered up and went for the line. Â We were still a bit early, so we reached along the line a bit building tons of speed before hardening up at the gun. Â Top Gun and Battlewagon started down at the pin end. Â Top gun went onto Port tack early, Battlewagon stayed on starboard. Â As we approached the layline, Battlewagon had just caught us, but were still to leeward. Â We tacked onto the layline and put them in our dirty air.
The air up at the windward mark was twitchy since it was near the shore: Â light, with shifting wind direction. Our first hoist was a bear away set, which sent us away from the Burlington shore, down to the stronger wind. One we jibed and caught good air, Battlewagon was far astern and it looked like we were making ground on Top Gun. Â We doused and got around and had to make a strategic decision. Â Top Gun was heading to the middle of the bay before tacking (essentially repeating their first leg); Â we decided to tack early and stay in the air we knew was good down near the Hamilton shore. Â When Battlewagon rounded, no surprise, they took the opposite approach, splitting the course. Â Unfortunately it worked for them: Â when we met at the windward mark, they were half a boat length ahead of us.
The traffic was really tight up there. Â Only half of the story is caught on the video. Â We followed Celtic Spirit’s line to the mark, but pointed higher than them, so when we approached the layline it looked like we were going to T-bone them. A last second tack and we tucked between them and Battlewagon, who was pinching to get around the mark. Â We gave them room, stalling as we pinched too, and then turned quickly to put in a jibe set and head away from all that traffic. Â It was a good move. Â Although it took us a couple minutes to get set and fill the spinnaker, we had clear air, whereas all the other boats were in a clump of bad air with limp Spinnakers. Â And so we began to pull ahead.
After a while, the other boats began to fill their spinnakers, and they were sailing more directly toward the mark. Â We contemplated a jibe to get back to the fleet, andÂ were just about to begin when the wind strengthened and shifted so that we had a full head of steam heading straight to the mark. Â We cancelled the jibe and enjoyed the good pace.
This is where we were — sitting pretty — when the race was abandoned because of freighter activity. Â What a shame!
Back at the boat, our own personal pizza delivery guy (Mark Reed’s twin bother Gino) greeted us with a pepperoni pie and cold ones to share. Â Ahhh, summertime :-).