Yes, that is the measure of the true wind speed that met the fleet just prior to the first start. It all came from a monster cloud growing over Mordor in the southeast. When provoked, Smaug’s dragon breath came for us with destruction in its mind. (OK, I’ve spliced the Hobbitt and the Lord of the Rings, but can you blame me?)
Needless to say, the race was abandoned. We were among the fortunate, who had not yet set a headsail. In fact we were debating between the #2 and the #1, waiting to see what that big cloud would do: bring more wind, or snuff out the 8 -10 knots that were coming from the west. It turns out #0 was the right choice!
Like a lion’s roar in the steppe, it was powerful and short-lived. Like a gazelle, we got out of there. In ten short minutes it was over. In that time we carried all the way to the west end of the bay, going over eight knots on a luffing mainsail alone. Fortunately, the new wind was from the south, so we could keep it on our beam and get away from the worst.
And then, just as quickly as it started, it was over. No one had seen lightening, so we opted to hoist a jib and sail in the light rain. Besides, we were already wet, and it was nice and warm out. At the time we were making up our mind, Sandpiper came along and we challenged them to a friendly race to #11 and back (we were near #1 at this time). They accepted the challenge and away we went.
We were more prepared with our headsail than they were, so after a while we put in a few tacks to let them (almost) catch up, and off we went again. By the time we were approaching #11, there was a steady 9 knots on the beam — we needed a bigger headsail! Les and I got the #1 ready using one of the guys as a sheet, with the plan to douse just before rounding, jibe at the mark, and then hoist the new sail on the other tack. It worked pretty well, except that we dropped the #3 a bit earlier than we needed to, and Sandpiper made up several boat-lengths in the interim.
Once the #1 was hoisted and trimmed, we stretched out a bit, but they were able to stick pretty close to us until the wind started to drop toward the west end of the bay. Les touched mark #1 to claim our win. Great fun!
And it was great to have Ken on board for the first time tonight, while Mark, Alvin and Rob were away. He taught us a few new things about flaking our sails into the North headsail bags. Good to know, and welcome Ken!