Another beautiful night with steady breeze. Being the solstice, the committee boat set a long course. This is the first time we’ve flown a spinnaker from one end of the bay (#11) all the way down to the other (#3). A marvelous parade of backlit spinnakers heading toward the lowering sun.
If ever there was a night when every detail mattered, tonight was it. Six boats out in our fleet, including Sabotage, Remarkable, Top Gun, Battlewagon and Sandpiper. Game on!
After the start, we wanted to go to the right side of the course, so we put in a quick tack into clear air to sail our own race, while the rest of the fleet went left. We didn’t quite have our usual pace, which may have been because I had dialed more tension into the shrouds before the race (it had been blowing 10+knots in the marina). Regardless, we slipped further behind all the other boats with each crossing.
Approaching the layline, I could see that each of them had tacked early, so we pushed beyond them and nailed it. The others needed extra tacks and Sandpiper tried to pinch the mark which cost them dearly. As a result, we rounded ahead of Sandpiper and just astern of Remarkable and Battlewagon. Our hoist was good and we gained quickly on Battlewagon. ReMarkable’s hoist was slow. We were almost able to push through to leeward of both of them — that would have been grand — but we couldn’t punch through their wind shadow. Once we fell back, we crossed Battlewagon’s stern, got clear air and stole their wind. With the extra speed, we got ahead, and I soaked down to their line, whispering to the guys to get ready to jibe.
We got ahead, jibed and headed for our own lane of clear air away from all the other boats. We jibed back a minute or two later. It cost us some distance, but as a result we sailed in clear air at a slightly hotter angle to the leeward mark, with a firm claim to the inside lane. It was the longest run within the bay we have ever done. At times, it felt like we were falling behind Battlewagon, at other times, it felt like we had overtaken Remarkable (who had managed to overtake Battlewagon to windward). We tweaked our trim and did everything to go fast — Squirrel even held the boom up to try to scoop some more wind with the mainsail (seemed to work!). A nice little wind shift to the North allowed us to soak down toward the mark and cut a corner off our competitors. We put in a late jibe, and held the spinnaker up as long as we dared before dousing. Every meter mattered as we rounded inside Battlewagon and powered up with them in our bad air astern and to leeward. We began to pull away as they footed off.
The home stretch was thrilling. Lots of quick tacks, had to duck a little yellow boat. Forced Battlewagon to duck us. Just got across their bow on port (that was close), and finally tried to lee bow them (unsuccessfully) at the finish line. It was a photo finish. Squirrel claims we were mast-to-mast when he heard the horn. Can’t wait to see the results!
And special thanks to Michael Verduyn who joined us tonight on the foredeck. That’s how we dared to hold the douse for so long.
RESULTS JUST CAME IN: We crossed the line one second ahead of Battlewagon! (after PHRF correction, we beat them by 13 seconds). Wow that was tight — just 0.02% difference in time, or 0.001 knots difference in average speed. Less than the last digit on our speedometer! I feel like a downhill skier!