It was another #2 night, with winds in the mid teens and occasional gusts. Fantastic to have two great nights in the same week. This one was even warmer, though, with a softness in the strong breeze and a watercolour sky. Fantastic night on the water with another fantastic result.
We’ve got a really fun rivalry building with Eclipse. Basically, they pull ahead of us upwind and we overtake them downwind. Tonight’s highlight reel has us changing places with them several times. Ultimately? On the last downwind leg, we struggled to overtake them, but eventually prevailed and broke out of their enormous wind shadow to claim third place.
Sabotage took honours and Top Gun got us too. No surprise there! Battlewagon fell behind early tonight and didn’t hoist their spinnaker, so they didn’t threaten us. Big Yellow didn’t come out.
Here’s how it went:
Brisk wind at the start and we wondered whether to fly the #2 or the #3. Finally we opted for the #2, noticing a slightly less voracious wind near the start line. We thought maybe we’d be a bit overpowered upwind, but this way we’d have more canvas in case we didn’t choose to hoist the spinnaker. It turned out the be the right choice — yes we had some gusts that rounded us up, but we were able to get good balance most of the time and fill both the mainsail and the new ominous black foil to fly along above 6.5 knots.
At the start, there was an opportunity to go for it, but I was a bit shy, since it seemed like Eclipse was offering me a trap, and I worried we might have been too early. As a result we started a bit late, in a big wind shadow. No problem, though, since we just waited for clear air and then tacked onto port. We’d seen other boats start on port and fair pretty well.
For us, by the time we crossed the fleet, Battlewagon was astern, but the others were ahead. We held a nice line to the windward mark, pointing wonderfully high again (I really have to run RaceQs again to measure our tacking angles — they must be in the low 80s). By the windward mark, we were not far behind Eclipse or even the others.
At first we thought we wouldn’t hoist, but once we were around we saw a few other spinnakers go up, and decided to go for it. After all, it was the only chance we had to catch Eclipse. Up went the kite and the boat surged ahead running deep for the leeward mark. Along the way, we swept by Eclipse, keeping them well to leeward so they couldn’t force us up.
An early and clean douse, and around we went for another lap.
We tacked early onto starboard and pushed down into the bigger wind about mid bay before tacking. At first it appeared we had claimed the layline, but a few knocks proved that we should have pushed even further to Hamilton. Eclipse made the right choice and squeezed by us at the windward mark.
And then we got another knock and really had to pinch to make the mark, heading almost dead upwind at the last moment so that our momentum carried us around the mark. Phew!
In that moment, Eclipse gained a handsome lead. Up chute, and away we chased. As we bore down on Eclipse from astern it was like deja-vu. I remembered a time last season when we could not get past them. So we coiled up like a spring, and started to sail a hotter angle to try to climb over them to windward. But they were not flying a spinnaker and the risk was that they would push us up until the spinnaker collapsed (they were leeward boat with the right of way). Sure enough, Ken spotted us, and began to take us up. We were ready, though, and once it was clear that we wouldn’t get past him, we changed our approach, turned deep and pushed beyond them on the leeward side. It took some time, but we eventually pushed past his wind shadow and accelerated away for a solid third place finish.
A nice coup-de-gras after an exhilarating race.
The evening was so lovely we doused the spinnaker, left the genoa furled and cracked open the grog as we toured the bay under easy sail, enjoying a watercolour sunset as we approached the marina.