We began the day with a theory based on the weather forecasts. There was light wind from the south bringing another day of stultifying heat. Over the course of the day, it was expected to back to more of an easterly breeze, and then as the storm front approached, all bets were off about what would happen.
So, Gil and I harkened back to the reading we had done several winters ago. Gil remembered “take the bad tack early”, and I remembered “sail toward the expected shift.” Since both of these pointed in the same direction, we agreed that we would sail on starboard tack first, toward the SE. This, despite the fact that there was a seductively decent sea breeze setting up along the shore. That sea breeze attracted nearly all the boats today, but all the top honours went to the boats that sailed the road less travelled.
Heidi & Marika were tending the jib sheets today and put in several great tacks to give us a good start. It was great to be sailing with my girls!
One more lesson from our reading popped into my mind: we didn’t need to be greedy. So long as we were positioned favorably relative to the fleet, we didn’t need to take extreme measures. So we tacked once we were further east than the other most easterly boat. And as the wind rotated toward the East, we headed straight to the turning mark in Stoney Creek, easing our sheets and gaining speed, while all those who went along the shore had to climb all the way back to the rhumb line close hauled. Along our course, we overtook Chimo II, who had made the same choice we did — a great reassurance that we had chosen the better side of the course.
Sure enough, the entire fleet appeared astern and to leeward of us. We were feeling great! Mark kept his eye on the chart plotter to help me steer the best course, we trimmed to get the most performance we could, and Gil readied the spinnaker, hoping for a nice run down to the finish line. We were clearly in the lead as we approached the turning mark, while Perry-Eh had to put in some tacks to get up to the mark.
But just as we were preparing to round, we got a very large and very inconvenient knock. There was no way to make the mark, and the pole was in the way. We tacked with the pole there, and almost hove-to or got caught in irons. By bringing the boom way above centre-line, we were able to gain some distance to windward and round the mark. What a massive surprise at exactly the wrong moment. Probably cost us a minute.
That wind shift also meant that our last leg began as a very hot spinnaker angle. Pole forward and low, main in, we began to fly away from the others. Things were looking pretty sweet for us, until the wind continued to turn, and we couldn’t hold the kite anymore. Gadget pulled off the hottest douse we’ve ever done (60 degree apparent wind angle in 12 knots of breeze!!), and we finished the race almost close hauled on the #1 genoa.
It was so satisfying to get line honours today: the first boat across the finish line — and a full five minutes ahead of Perry-Eh! The road less travelled had everything: strategy that paid, a tricky rounding, and a very athletic surge to the line. Was it enough to claim first place on Perry-Eh? My doubts were confirmed a little later on. Not quite enough. We owed them about eight minutes, so they got us on PHRF. Never mind, it was a great thrill to lead the fleet home!