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The one that got away

Race Details

  • Wind: 20g25 SW dropping to 15g20
  • Course: 6S-1-6-1-6F
  • Temperature: 30C°C
  • RaceQs Link: Visit
  • Results Link: Visit
Course Map


  1. Bowman: Fourhands
  2. Mastman: null
  3. Understudy: null
  4. Pit: Squirrel
  5. Foresail Trimmer: Squirrel
  6. Mainsail Trimmer: Skootch
  7. Helm: StarPort

Three seconds!  Just three measly seconds!  That’s how much Battlewagon beat us by.  We almost had them, but couldn’t quite real them in at the finish.  It was an exciting end to an exciting night on the water.  Once again we had big wind, and once again we flew the spinnaker.  The Thursday night lads got back on the bike again after our humbling last week — even though we were only four of us on board!

Of course, we’d a had ’em handily if I didn’t get caught at the start — this time Sabotage shut the door on us at the start line, so we had to circle around behind them, which cost is 30 seconds right off the top.  Not my week for starts — time for a new technique!

Sorry no video feed tonight — such a shame since we had water on the rail many times, a nice close crossing with Battlewagon when we had to dip them by a hair, and the slightest bit of a rolling motion starting when the spinnaker was up — those all would have made great highlights, and the finish would have been precious to record.  What a night to forget the camera!

Here’s how it went.

At the dock, we turned the boat around and changed to the new #3 (the deep one that doesn’t point very high).  In the pre-start we had 25-28 knots of wind blowing on our nose, so we reefed the main too.  Even so, we were going 8 knots on a reach (with the jib furled)!

We waited until the approach to the committee boat before opening up the jib.  Once again, we were faster than I was expecting, and before I could decide to slip to leeward of Sabotage, Doug was hollering — “you’ve got no room, Rob!” while he hugged the layline to the committee boat.  At the last moment, we tacked away, jibed quickly and charged at the line again.  It seemed really fast to us on board, but RaceQs shows that loop, and at least 30 seconds went by.  By this time our fleet was well away and we had to reel them in.

And here’s where the narrative gets technical.  I got some advice from Doug about tuning the shrouds differently for high wind — much tighter uppers and mids — and to max out the backstay.  On the first upwind leg, we were pointing as high as Battlewagon, and sometimes it seemed as we were pointing nearly as high as Sabotage — that was a new experience, and that was with the mainsail reefed.  Big Yellow was breathing down our necks from astern, but could not catch up to us!  By the windward mark, we were in a solid third place:  Sabotage, Battlewagon, us, and Big Yellow.  We decided against hoisting the spinnaker — the wind was still really strong.  Instead, we shook out the reef, and put in several jibes downwind.  By the leeward mark we had neither gained nor lost ground on the boats ahead of us.  Big Yellow fell well behind.

The next leg was magic for us.  With slightly less wind, and the reef out of the main, we pointed even higher.  RaceQs tells us that we sailed 10% less distance, and pointed 7degrees higher.  As we approached the windward mark we had almost caught up to Battlewagon, having to dip them when on a port tack.  Game on!  Four hands got the spinnaker ready, Squirrel took on two jobs, and we rounded and hoisted the big blue chute.  The sound of the wake was fantastic as we began to close in the distance.  One neat jibe late on the leg and we flew to the finish on a hot point of sail.  It looked as if we could sweep in just before the competition, but the pin end of the line was favoured, and Battlewagon got us by a boat-length.

If only I’d had a clean start!

But kudos to the Thursday crew for being the only boat in our fleet to fly a spinnaker, and doing that right after our excitement last week.  The vibe after was fantastic, and soon Chris called us over to Battlewagon to chew the fat on a gorgeous warm summer evening.


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