Well, I think you know by the title who won that battle! Yes, today, nature decided to teach the confident lads of the Thursday crew a few lessons, which culminated in our spinnaker laying in the water and the boat stopped on the second downwind leg. Â Some people learn from other’s mistakes. Â Us? Â We gotta make ’em ourselves! Â So, we will learn: Â we will learn how to avoid a death roll; we will learn how to sense a broach developing and counter it early; we will learn how to break 10 knots of boat speed!
But we didn’t do too badly: Â no one got hurt, nothing got broken. Â Oh, well, one thing got broken tonight: Â OUR SEASON’s SPEED RECORD!!!!!
It was a very blustery day with 25 knots on our nose in the lulls before the start, so we set up with the #3 jib and a reefed main. Â Even with that big reduction in sail area, we had water over the rail, big gusts to manage and an average upwind boat-speed of 6.4 knots. Â We could feel the wind strength fading down to something slightly below a roar, so we shook out the reef after the first windward mark. Â In the final analysis, this is the fastest race we have done (even faster than Tuesday):
Leg 1 (upwind): Â average 6.4 knots, max 7.7 knots
Leg 2 (downwind): average 7.5 knots, max 9.5 knots
Leg 3 (upwind): average 6.4 knots, max 7.7 knots
Leg 4 (downwind): average 7.5 knots,Â MAX 9.9 knots!
Leg 5 (upwind): average 6.3 knots, max 7.7 knots
and our average for the whole race was 6.4 knots. Â Just a hair faster than Tuesday, mostly because the wind didn’t drop nearly as much.
But the story tonight is not about speed. Â It is about nature’s power, and what can go wrong in high wind with a symmetrical spinnaker. Â We had the infamous death roll beginning on the boat twice. Â The first time, we were near enough the leeward mark that we doused — four hands got that chute down lickety split! Â The second time, we had barely begun to react when the the boat began to round up into a broach. Â Everyone responded so quickly, blowing sheets and halyard that we got the boat under control and then hauled in the spinnaker (sopping wet) without incident. Â Great crew, and aweome reactions — you’ve got to watch that video clip.
Are we daunted? Â Absolutely not! Â This is a great chance to learn how to avoid these high wind spinnaker challenges, and how to recognize them developing early enough that we can react to keep things settled down. Â A quick chat with the old salts back at the dock had advice with great words like “barberhauler”, “tweaker”, and “vang”. Â In plain English, I think that means it’s time to drill a few more holes in the deck so we can install another padeye at the chubbiest part of the boat, shift the guy turning block forward, and add an extra line to force the spinnaker sheet to stay low, instead of riding sky high.
(I can hear Gadget and Squirrel rummaging through their tool boxes already — have I mentioned we have an awesome crew?)
Oh, hey, I almost forgot to mentionÂ WE GOT THE GUN!!!
(Do I have to admit that we were the only ones in our fleet brave/dumb enough to sail tonight? :-))