Good wind tonight, blowing 11-14 knots with some nice gusts and a few lighter patches. Clear sky and a warm sun. Summertime!
And the new #2 rocks!!!! With the wind up in that ‘tweener range, this was the first time we have ever sailed with a #2 genoa, and it was just perfect. Afterguy kept it trimmed pretty flat, and I had the backstay on pretty firm (about half-way in), Bert kept the main as full as possible and we pointed high and sailed fast. The speed meter was in the 7+ knot range most of the night, upwind and down. Absolutely thrilling.
Putting it all together, tonight the lads in blue put in a great performance to secure a strong second place finish (behind top gun of course), with Eclipse coming on strong enough at the finish to make us stay focused to the bitter end. Here’s how it went.
The start was its own thrill as we were able to catch Eclipse in a trap and push them over the line early. They weren’t too happy about it when I shouted “Stay up”. They hollered back that we had no overlap. This was true when the boats were parallel (Eclipse ahead and to windward, Perspective as the leeward boat with right of way). But as soon as they tried to bear off the wind, the straight line across their stern angled down across our bow, and I hollered “Stay up” again. Net result, they were over early and had to double back to cross the line again.
We started right at the gun, just to windward of Top Gun who was right beside us and began to point higher and higher (as they always do). But with the new #2, we were able to stay up and point as high as them. We carried on that way for quite a while before they aimed lower and began to pull ahead of us. And about this time Battlewagon came charging up from behind and to windward with a full head of steam. Unlike the rest of us, they were sailing their new #1 jib and coming on fast. They overtook us to windward as Top Gun pulled away to leeward, and Eclipse came on strong, making up the gap. Game on!
Approaching the windward mark, we lost some ground by tacking too early toward the Burlington shore , so that Eclipse snuck around just before us — we were now in last place. The next leg was a short reach, and we trimmed well and managed to get the inside lane on Eclipse at the next mark. Four Hands was masterful up on the pointy end getting everything ready. Around we went, inside Eclipse and up went the kite, gaining us several precious boat lengths. After a quick jibe we were on a fast point of sail, true wind about 120 degrees off our port side. With over 8 knots of boat speed in the puffs, we had the apparent wind on our beam and Afterguy did a great job keeping us fast and balanced. Battlewagon didn’t hoist their spinnaker, and we overtook them without much fuss
With the big wind, and no traffic around, we doused a little early. We might have given Eclipse a couple of boat lengths, but they were solidly astern of us. Result: nice and clean with no stress, though we did get the spinnaker a wee bit wet. Not a problem — next hoist we dried it off!
And then the magic happened. We tacked soon onto starboard and sailed up the middle of the bay, pointing nice and high, and enjoying the strong wind. We chose this course, trusting in more wind, even though it meant we had to push through the shadow of an anchored freighter. The rest of our fleet chose to sail above the freighter, closer into Burlington. A few gusts rounded us up, but we took the lift each time, holding our line through some light air into a nice patch of wind before tacking over to approach mark #5. A beautiful tack, strong wind and great pointing had us on the layline. Couldn’t have called it better! (truth be told, I thought we would have one more leg on Starboard before rounding, but the boat was pointing so well we sawed off a tremendous corner. And this kept Eclipse at bay.
Four Hands had no time to set the pole before we rounded, but he had it up and ready quickly afterwards and we filled our spinnaker, sailing deep so as to make the committee boat without a jibe. Too deep, though, we couldn’t fetch the boat. So, instead of jibing the spinnaker we just jibed the main for a few boat lengths to finish. 17 seconds ahead of Eclipse, after nearly an hour of racing. Fantastic! (that’s 0.4% difference in our speed, or the difference between 7.00 knots and 7.03 knots sustained for an hour)
And what a great night. Warm, fast, fun, and a great spirit on board. Apres sail we sat long in the midsummer light, enjoying the glow of a great night on the bay.
(And Bob Duggan popped by so that I had the chance to check if I was right to call Eclipse up at the start line — from my description he concurs: unless they could have sailed clear across my bow, they had to stay up). Cool!