What a night of adventure! Howling 20 knots in gusts at the start, down to 10 knots in the lulls. We opted for a reef in the main and the #3 jib. Even so we got water over the rail on the first upwind leg.
The opening few minutes of tonight’s video give you a feel for the intensity of the wind:
But by the time we got to the calmer west end of the bay, confidence was up and we hoisted the spinnaker. With Squirrel away wining and dining a client (audit was a success!), Gadget had a busy night on the foredeck — really would have been a good night for six or seven on board.
Sandpiper was the only other boat in our fleet with a reef in the mainsail, so once the wind started to drop, we were really only hunting them.
Halfway downwind we took the reef out of the mainsail, and by the time we doused and began heading up we were just behind Sandpiper. Upwind it was a really fun duel. First they crossed ahead of us, then we approached the next cross very even, but we were on starboard. They tacked and put our bow in their lee, so we had to tack again. They tacked to cover, but that put them in our lee bow, astern and to windward. We were able to point a wee bit higher as they wallowed in our dirty air, and slowly we climbed to windward of them. That was a fantastic moment!
The wind kept dropping, so that it was nearly a drifter by this point.
They tacked, we covered them, and were on a line that was close to the pin end, with them to leeward. They were going to need another tack for sure. For us, it looked like we might not have to, but we couldn’t quite fetch the pin. Sandpiper tacked. We held our line, securing a place to windward of them, tacked at the last moment and finished by shooting the line.
Our friends on Chimo II were on starboard, approaching the pin end of the line, and had to make a little room for us. At first they were irked, but afterwards Hugh Johnson realized that we were in a duel with Sandpiper, and needed to squeeze in.
We crossed 18 seconds before Sandpiper — a moral victory, but not enough to offset the rating difference: they got us on PHRF.
C’est la vie!