Ten boats showed up for a practice race in 5 knots of breeze on a cloudy, cool May evening. They started us all at once, but that’s not where tonight’s story begins.
Kiwi, Afterguy, Four Hands and I all got to the dock in plenty of time, took a look around and got familiar with the new instruments. A Velocitek compass/start timer that is really easy to use (if you hear the 5 minute warning gun), and an iPad showing Performance on a scale where 100 equals the Polar Table theoretical speed for the conditions.
At six, we left the dock, motored out and hoisted sail. A few tacks later, we had swept away some cobwebs and started to remember the way things go. By now, we were pretty far from the committee boat, and decided to hoist the spinnaker to sail downwind toward them. Good thing we did — we found out that the spinnaker halyard was caught between the genoa halyard and the forestay, so we had to take down the genoa in order to free it. Once that was done, we were flying our great big blue kite….
…and we had a long way to go to the committee boat. Over the radio we heard that they were about to begin the start sequence, and we were still ten minutes away. A little diplomacy over the VHF, and the start was delayed ten minutes. Wonderful.
Douse. Tap the pin end of the line and the committee boat on the Velocitek. Oops, pressed the wrong button. Do it again. Got it!
Horn. Hit the gun button. Get focused. Kiwi at the helm, bring us near the line with a minute to go. We sail along it. Horn. Away we go.
Wow, what a great start — all the rest of the boats are way back. Hmmm. Something wrong? Horn. Ahhhh, we started a minute early! (but somehow so did Battlewagon!)
Back we went for our second start, with Battlewagon just astern.
Upwind we played the wind shifts well, and stayed in decent pressure, so that we climbed back above everyone else except Perry-Eh, who were sailing really well. The feedback from the iPad was really good, pushing us to not be satisfied with our trim. Hoist was smooth, and we were comfortably secure in front of Pandora and Battlewagon. Tonight all the maneuvers were really smooth. It was great practicing in the light breeze.
But then we got greedy. Rather than sailing a deep line to the finish, following Perry-Eh, we opted to jibe, sail higher and faster and then jibe back. Unfortunately, we sailed out of the good air, and by the time we rejoined the others we were to leeward and just a hair behind Battlewagon and unable to overtake. They finished about 15 seconds before us.
But this is why we practice!