Today the weather played every tune it knows, but it didn’t give us much wind. The morning was gray, the early afternoon it poured, then the sun came out and the wind disappeared. Slowly, slowly the wind built to something pleasant. Slowly, slowly it faded away. And slowly, slowly we sailed around the course. It was warm and sunny and there was live music from Hamilton’s shoreline. A splendid evening, but a little more wind would have made it perfect.
Drifters like this are tricky. It’s hard to stay focused, yet focus is needed to keep the boat moving and find the ideal trim. And just when you’ve got the boat going, the wind shifts or fades or builds and you have to start over. And there’s too much time to think about tactical and strategic decisions. Too much time for second guessing, and regretting.
The race began with a fine start, leeward of Top Gun, just astern of Legacy, and we pushed far to that Hamilton shore. Sandpiper had the same idea and pushed even further than us. But once we tacked over onto port we had trouble building boat speed and fell into some holes. Even so, we rounded in a good position, hoisted quickly and searched for the wind. There were little puddles of wind here and there, too many choices, none of them great! Battlewagon kept it simple — sailing high over toward Hamilton and jibing back to the mark. It was the best choice. Top Gun, Legacy and Big Yellow, jibed over toward the middle of the bay. It was the worst choice. We split the difference, and were able to close in on Big Yellow by the leeward mark. In fact, there wasn’t much distance separating the fleet at that point.
As we prepared our douse, on port jibe fetching the mark. Big Yellow approached on Starboard jibe. I called out offering them mark room — they had a definite overlap on us — but they kept calling out Starboard, and aimed right at us. Odd. They were deliberately overstanding the mark, and preparing to jibe? In typical fashion, they wanted to engage in robust dialogue while on the course, an invitation I declined. We doused, headed across their stern rounding to windward of them, puting in a ‘quick’ tack back toward Hamilton. Meanwhile they got stuck in a cloud of sails, as smaller boats had by now established a position between Big Yellow and the mark.
Here’s the replay
So, we were in a great position relative to our fleet, and sailing in the direction we wanted, but then the twitchy wind and the details of sail trim got us. Slowly we lost ground to Big Yellow. Then Sandpiper overtook us like we were standing still. And finally, it looked like Eclipse might overtake us before the finish line. We rallied our focus, found another half knot and made darn sure to put ourselves between Eclipse and the finish line.
With a sigh of relief we crossed ahead of them.
Drifters just prove how much we still have to learn! Proof? Chatting with Bob Duggan at the dock afterwards. He had a terrific race! I felt like young Luke Skywalker talking to Yoda. Time to go get some power converters!
(But the engine works now!)