What a wonderful day! Spinnaker up for 3.5 hours from Port Credit yacht club to the Burlington bridge in a breeze that started off around 6-7 knots and built to 14 or so by the end. Not only did the breeze build, but the swell came on as well. Right now while typing this, i am still swaying in my chair!
This was our first chance to try a spinnaker start — something I’ve always wanted to do, but of course, had no real concept how to do it. We watched closely as Adrian Hanley (It’s a Conspiracy) pulled off a perfect spinnaker start in the fleet before us. Under mainsail alone he maneuvered to a position ten boat lengths to windward of the line. Then with 30 seconds to go, he bore off and went for the line, only hoisting with ten seconds to go. Bingo, he accelerated and hit the line just a few seconds after the gun.
OK, I can do that (says me), but one problem…I’m near the boat end of the line and can’t accelerate under mainsail alone. What to do? Improvise. We just drifted up parallel to the line. With twenty seconds to go, we were up near the pin end not far from Adrian’s spot, and we did the same thing he did. Bingo!
Away we went, with the best start in the fleet, spinnaker full and charging away. But something was wrong. Smaller boats were overtaking us with their spinnakers filled. Aha — the halyard was on the wrong side of the forestay, so our hoist wasn’t complete. What to do. Quick decision. Genoa out. Douse spinnaker. Calvin rejigs line. I sail higher, across Battlewagon’s stern to windward of them. Hoist. OK, we are only a few boat lengths back, and start gathering speed.
Next mistake: our fleet sailed out toward the middle of the lake on a high angle in search of better wind. Rather than following and looking for an opportunity later (maybe trim better than they do, or something like that), I chose a lower, slower course that was more of a straight shot to the finish line. I guess, I was thinking that the breeze near the shore would grow first. But I was putting all my eggs in one basket, and as it turned out, the bet didn’t pay off. In fact, as our air softened, I had to sail hotter angles to keep up boat speed and after about an hour, it became apparent that we had fallen quite far behind our fleet
It was time for a bold move. We jibed back toward shore and sailed deep again. Once again we were on the rhumb line, and now the stronger breeze supported a deep point of sail with good boat speed (nearly 7 knots, sometimes more!). For a while it was looking good, and I learned later that we made the fleet nervous as they saw us picking up speed and sawing off a massive corner in the course. But when we converged, Battlewagon was ahead, PerryEh crossed at the same time as us and Tardis was just behind. Correcting for PHRF, it was a fourth place for us.
But what a great day to fly a kite!