Great to be back on the water tonight!
After a couple weeks away myself, some holidays that were staggered amongst us, and Lazy Sheet’s rehabilitation, tonight’s drifter was like a reunion. Â We were just missing Kiwi nursing a broken bone in his hand. Â Even Skootch and Stitches stopped in for the apres-sail, after watching the finish from shore.
And great to welcome David Harpur for his first race — come again David, when there is actually some wind!
No footage tonight, so stick with me — this light wind race was actually a very close-run affair and the excitement came from many reversals that happened in slow motion. Â RaceQs shows it all well, and you can see the number of times we and Sandpiper changed the lead during the race. Â In the end, they got us by thirty seconds or so, while we got Battlewagon by about a minute. Â Top Gun took the gun as usual.
Our start was rusty, and I tried something new, trying to avoid getting sandwiched at the committee boat. Â As a result, timing was off, and we crossed the line about 20 seconds late, to leeward of the fleet. Â Battlewagon had a perfect start, and Sandpiper was ahead and to windward of us. Â Our first starboard tack was twitchy, suffering from a lot of bad air, Â but once we came about, we caught clear air, trimmed the sails and out-pointed Sandpiper so that we crossed just astern of them as we approached the layline.
Or at least we thought it was the layline. Â Nope! Â The entire fleet was fooled by the light air at the windward mark, and we all had to put in an extra tack to get up onto the real layline. Â If only, if only, if only we had held our port tack to the true layline, we would have gotten ahead of Sandpiper. Â But the extra tack (and a tangle with the foreguy) cost us several boatlengths to the windward mark. Â We rounded last.
A flawless hoist, bear-away set and we took the road less traveled, heading toward Burlington in light clear air, while the rest of our fleet sailed deeper toward Hamilton. Â We could see Top Gun, Sandpiper and Battlewagon slowing down with limp Spinnakers, and in our hearts we could already hear the gun (an adage about counting chickens springs to mind).
When to jibe? Â When to jibe? Â Where’s the committee boat? Â Okay, we see it it! Â Is now the time to jibe? Â I think so. Let’s go.
Jibe Ho! Â (oh no) Â Much too early. Â We’re slowing down, forced to sail higher while the rest of the fleet begins to accelerate toward the mark. Â Battlewagon, now trailing, jibes over to give us chase.
There is something to learn here — what is the best angle to sail in such light wind? Â what is our jibe angle? Â Without a downwind polar table, it was a guessing game and we guessedÂ wrong.
Decision time: Â can we catch Sandpiper, or should we jibe to cover Battlewagon? Â Lots of discussion! Â Decision: Â cover Battlewagon. Â They are ahead of us in the summer series, but we are close on their heels. Â Sandpiper has missed many races and we are well ahead of them in the series. Â Let’s make sure we gain a point on Battlewagon, instead of risking it to try to beat Sandpiper.
Jibe ho! Â Well done (even though the spinnaker wants to hang limp like a shy teenager at a highschool dance). Â Battlewagon is well astern, and now we are watching them like hawks, ready to jibe when they make their move, to stay between them and the finish line. Â And while we are doing this, we are gaining on Sandpiper once again.
Battlewagon makes their move, and we jibe again. Â Not pretty, but effective. Â We’ve closed the door on them, and they are well astern. Â Heading for the pin end of the line to keep up the boat speed. Â All eyes on Sandpiper. Â Can we catch them? Â A nice puff of air, or a slightly hotter angle and we might have done it. Â But Nonsuch kept his discipline and we made sure to cross the line well ahead of Battlewagon, letting Sandpiper slip away. Â The duel between us and Battlewagon will come down to PHRF handicap, since we owe them time. Â I’m optimistic, but we won’t know until the results come in.