Mother nature delivered much more wind than the drifter we were bracing for, so the boys in blue had the chance to work through all the gears on opening night of 2019:
- Two hoists
- Shifty wind
- Port tack start at the pin end
- Progressive persistent shift on the second upwing — yep, nailed it!
- Smooth tacks
- Lightening douse
Tonight had it all! And it didn’t take us long at all to get back our old form. Now we are ready to start layering on all the things we learned over the winter series. Bring it on!
How did it go?
We started third in a little clump with Sandpiper ahead and Top Gun to leeward. The old debate about when to tack raged and boiled, but we held our course until we all got knocked, when we did indeed tack away. The knock was short-lived, though, and by the next crossing, we had dropped a few boat-lengths and Battlewagon had overtaken us — they started closer to the boat end in clear air. But there wasn’t much in it until we needed two extra tacks to round the windward mark. Despite a great hoist and some good spinnaker work, we couldn’t close down on Sandpiper or Top Gun. Battlewagon forgot to bring their spinnaker pole, so we pulled well away from them.
We held the spinnaker longer than our rivals and had a great douse. Even so, we were a solid 5+ boat lengths behind Top Gun and Sandpiper by this time. We opted to tack away rather than follow and went for better air toward Hamilton. We had seen Bob Duggan heading out that way, so we took the hint that something good may come our way. Indeed it did, for once we tacked back onto port, we began to get lifted to the windward mark. As a result, we closed the gap on our rivals, but got hit by a terrible knock when approaching the windward mark. Once we were around — another great hoist — we’d given up too much ground to reel in the leaders.
But the final spinnaker leg to the finish was a hot reach with over 7 knots of boat speed and plenty of power in the kite.
What a fantastic feeling!
Oh, one thing I did tonight was to steer with the inside tell-tale slightly lifted. Our boat speed didn’t suffer and we were pointing as high as Top Gun, even higher at some points. First data point is positive 🙂