This is why we love to sail! Tonight all the elements came together in fluid teamwork to produce an exhilarating race, blowing away any cares that were stewing in the back of our minds. Did I mention that it was windy?
And the result was exactly what we needed to clinch 2nd spot for Tuesday Spring Series.
Our success began at the dock as we hardened the shrouds for the expected wind, and bent the new #3 to the forestay. I think we’ll call this new weapon “Black Magic“. (You’ll see why in a minute). Once that was done, a short pause, until Dinghy basically sprinted from his car on board and we set off. His class in Toronto had run over, and he missed the intended train. Away we went to meet the whitecaps driven by the SW wind. We opted to hoist the mainsail with a reef, but after a few tacks, confidence was up and we shook out the reef.
Kiwi was at the helm. so of course we had a good start, choosing clear air at the pin end. And tonight was the first chance I had to focus as tactician, and pass a keen eye on our sail trim throughout the race. I really loved the role, finding little opportunities to eke out a bit more performance, sometimes boat speed, sometimes pointing, and keeping an eye out on the competition and other boats on the course. It’s amazing what you can see when you are at the stern of the boat, and not staring at tell-tales!
Back to the race: Black Magic struck immediately, as Sandpiper gained on us from windward, but couldn’t hold our line. By out-pointing them, they ended up in our bad air, fell astern and footed off beneath us. So often that has been us, in the backwind of one competitor or another, and here we were for the first time on the winning side of the exchange. It also helped to have a complete set of big lads hiking hard to keep the keel gripping the water under the hull.
But our friends on Sandpiper are not easily deterred. By sailing low and fast while we sailed high and slow it was an even contest, and each time we crossed, we exchanged positions, with the port tack boat dipping the starboard tack boat. When it mattered most, though, they were able to eke their way around the windward mark just ahead of us. Game on!
The lads put in a clean hoist, filled the kite and got right abreast our rivals. Kiwi drove us onward, while we changed the headsail to the #2 for the final beat. The wind had begun to slacken a bit. There was a hint of an opportunity to push both Pandora and Sandpiper up as we converged with leeward boat rights, but Pandora’s wind shadow proved too much of a deterrent. Eventually, they jibed before us, and we opted to take some leverage, before putting in our own clean jibe. This proved to be a game-changer, since our approach to the leeward mark was a bit hotter and faster than Sandpiper’s. Although they had the inside lane, we pulled clear ahead just before the three boat-length circle, held our douse until the last possible moment, and rounded ahead. Even better, a smaller boat from an earlier fleet had overlap on Sandpiper, so our friends had to give them mark room. By the time they were around and clear, we were well ahead. It’s amazing how a boat-length can turn into an entire minute!
Now our job was to cover Sandpiper, and with the slightly lighter wind, and my favorite headsail (#2), we had the perfect combination of power and pointing to do just that. Special shout out to Dingy for masterful and attentive mainsail trim throughout the whole race — glad we waited for you at the dock! The net result was a finish a minute ahead. Yes, Top Gun took first, but this was the result we needed to secure second place in the Spring Series.
The feeling on board was irreplaceable. Everyone was in the zone the whole race, the teamwork was incredible and the result was so gratifying. After putting everything away, our toast had the gusto that comes rarely in life and is so addictive. Let’s do this again!