Shortly after the start tonight we had Starboard advantage on Battlewagon at a close crossing. We hollered and hollered until finally someone popped their head around to see us. Too late to dip, they put in a crash tack and we rolled over them. Check it out:
And that took care of Battlewagon for the evening. The real battle was with Sandpiper, and they got us by four seconds at the finish. That’s two photo finishes in a row! Here’s how it went…
It was another perfect summer evening, steady 10-12 knots with a few gusts here and there. A great night for technical sailing. Our start would have been good, but all the other boats had perfect starts, and we got squeezed into a sandwich. Once clear of the committee boat we tacked away into clear air and enjoyed a nice high line. We flew the #2 genoa, which was nice and fast and allowed us to keep the mainsail filled. In fact, we often had to ease the traveler to keep good balance, so it was the right choice for the night. The bigger boats in our fleet (all of them) flew their bigger headsails, so we were happy to hold our own upwind and round slightly astern of them (aside from Battlewagon).
During the hoist, something funny happened at the mast track, and the pole popped off. I scampered up to the foredeck and had a look. Nothing serious…just dropped the mast track car one position and all was good. After a slightly delayed hoist we heated up and began to get moving. But this put us closer to the Burlington shore than the fleet — not the desired strategic position — so we jibed, crossed just astern of Sandpiper, and headed over to better air toward Hamilton. This is the third time in a row we have made this move, and each time it has paid off. Not only did we have clear air, we had slightly better wind, AND we had the inside lane approaching the leeward mark!
Sandpiper was ahead and outside, and had just put in a jibe. We were debating whether to jibe to cover them (and keep hold of the inside lane), or to stand pat for a while, trusting to hotter angles for more boat speed. At this time Christephanie managed to tangle with Sandpiper. They had crossed our bow on a hot angle on Starboard. Because Sandpiper had just jibed onto Port, they had to give way, and began sailing deeper, slightly away from the mark. That was our cue. We jibed, and sailed to the leeward mark in the inside lane. Afterguy and Irish put in a crisp douse and at the rounding, Sandpiper were just astern. Perfect!
But somehow, this advantage began to slip away. We should have been able to smother them with dirty air and then cover them to the finish, but first we weren’t pointing as high, then our next tack (across their bow) got fouled with the jib sheet caught in the hatch cover (and maybe an Irish leg?). By the time we recovered, we had lost a crucial boat length or two.
We separated from them to try to regain advantage, but it came down to a photo finish that went their way, a bit less than a boat length between us.
It just shows once again how every detail matters. It’s so fun to be in the hunt!