What a surprise! Â The day started as sultry as they come: Â morning drizzle, humidity like a greenhouse, a hot sun beating through the veil of clouds. Â The rain had stopped, but the deck of PERSPECTIVE was wet when we arrived. Â By the time the gear was stowed below and the sail covers were off, my shirt was as wet as a shammy at an all day car wash. Â Floating around at the start line looked like this, and the wise sailors swam under the oppressive tropical sun.
Race was delayed thirty minutes to let the wind fill in a bit. Â And then a wondrous miracle began. Â A tickle of a breeze filled in slowly to six, even eight knots of steady air from the north-east! Â Calvin and I didn’t trust the breeze to hold, so we took a page out of our notebook from Tuesday, and sailed low and fast. Â We escaped the clumps of bad air at the start line to build boat speed, and choseÂ a course closer to the shoreline than everyone else, who headed straight toward Bronte Harbour (almost due north). Â We didn’t venture far west before turning up, gradually taking five degrees at a time in an arc that was aboutÂ half a kilometer west of the rhumb line at its extreme. Â I liked the insurance this would give us against some holes appearing in the middle of the course, but we were exposed to a knock if the wind chose to back.
The miracle is that there were no holes in the lake, and the wind veered a bit to give us (and everyone else) a lift. Â This made for a very short race — only 90 minutes! Â WeÂ were all surprised, especially given the conditions at the starting line. Â But no one was more surprised than the race committee. Â When they called on the radio to find out what our ETA was, we let them know the first boat would be there in twenty minutes. Â They had to drop their lunch and hurry out in the boat to set the finish line.
In the final stretch, as we converged with our fleet, we were even with Stigaro, behind Big Yellow and Bobby McGee. Â We had sailed further, but faster — just not fast enough to pull ahead. Â The last twenty minutes were interesting as we saw Big Yellow fall into a hole near the pin end of the finish line, and it cost them a lot of time (and the race) as they tacked in light air to pinch across the line. Â Seeing this happen, we tacked while still in good air 200m away. Â Bobby McGee and Stigaro managed to limp across the line at the pin end without tacking, and we closed the gap at the boat end, finishing a few seconds behind Stigaro.
So, we played a strategy that didn’t pay off: sailing a longer course as a hedge against probable holes in the lake that didn’t appear, and tacking to avoid a hole at the pin end that filled in just strongly enough for our competitors. Â Would I make those choices again? Â Absolutely!
What about the sailing you ask? Â Marvelous! Â Absolutely marvelous! Â The wind was so steady, and the lift happened so gradually that Squirrel and I were able to adjust trim one centimeter at a time to squeeze out improvements in boat speed in increments of 0.1 knots. Â We were moving like cats at the start, weight on the low side and forward — Calving watching the tell-tales, and calling information to me where I could reach all the lines. Â By mid-point we were both on the high side, and we were making the competition nervous with our boat speed. Â They heaved a sigh of relief once they could see we would converge among them, and not ahead. Â Next time!