I think the Thursday crew is blessed with fine weather in 2017, whereas the Tuesday lads…not so much!
A lovely 20C, sunny with a mild 8 knots of wind off the North East corner of the bay, and we were in long sleeves and short pants. What a welcome change from the drenching fog and blustery wind two nights earlier. And we were all keen for a sail. Everyone was there early, Skootch and Lazy Sheet had the covers off and bags installed before I even arrived. Squirrel brought doughnuts to celebrate a great customer audit at work, and we were away with fenders off by 5:47pm, after changing the headsail at the dock.
That gave us plenty of time to set our halyards and genoa cars to where we wanted them, and then settle in to enjoy the pre-start. No surprise, just about everyone came out tonight, making a splendid show in the evening sunshine.
Our start was well timed, crossing at the gun near the middle of the line, ahead and to leeward of our fleet. After a short stretch, we tacked onto port so as to stay on the Hamilton side of the bay, where we knew there was more wind. Our fleet tacked too. And just before we would have crossed below Top Gun, they tacked and sailed down to smother us in their lee bow. Nasty — by the time we recovered boat speed, we were ten boat lengths behind them. Harrumph!
But pay no mind, we were pointing higher than Sandpiper who was ahead and to leeward, and by the time we crossed them after a few more tacks, we had to dip them — shaving them by a hair and maintaining great boat speed while they struggled on the opposite tack.
One advantage of starting last and following the other fleets to the windward mark is the chance to judge the lay line. Tonight we got it right. We avoided painting the corners, noticed many boats struggling, tacking or pinching, so we chose a higher line to approach the mark. Perfect!
Battlewagon, Christephanie, Rehab and we all converged at the windward mark. I thought Battlewagon (approaching on port) would have to dip all of us, but they tacked early and pinched up to the mark, just squeaking through. Al four of us rounded in one concentric wheel. Battlewagon inside, then Christephanie, then us with Rehab on the outside. Fun!
Our plan was to jibe at the mark, and then set the spinnaker, since we wanted to get away from the Hamilton shore as soon as possible, back to where the air was moving better. but with Christephanie in our path, we couldn’t put in the jibe right away. Eventually, their spinnaker filled and we could swing around, jibing and then heading up to get to windward of them.
A smooth hoist and we kept a hot angle, focusing on boat speed to get over to the better air. Sure enough, we eventually found the good stuff, jibed sweetly and enjoyed a nice hot run to the leeward mark with the wind building as we went. Great to get real boat speed again and to hear the gurgle of the water on the hull.
By this time Top Gun was ahead — they had the same game plan as we did — Eclipse was sailing a low and slow course directly to the mark, way over toward the Burlington shore, Battlewagon was following them and Sandpiper fell behind — they didn’t hoist, and I get the impression they had some sort of trouble with their sails.
We tweaked and tweaked and built more and more speed, but Eclipse filled nicely and managed to get to the leeward mark ahead of us. So we doused early with no pressure. Still, something got tangled up front, so our jibe at the leeward mark was a bit a bit untidy. That was quickly resolved and we enjoyed a nice calm fetch to the finish line.
Apres sail, we chatted long, enjoying the warm evening, the long light and a full moon rising. Idyllic!