I’m in a state of euphoric disbelief as I pen this race report. But something transpired that was both unexpected, and even unsought this evening. And it was GOOD!
Our mission was simple tonight — a match race with Battlewagon to secure second place in the Thursday Spring Series. We were one point ahead going into the race, but needed the win to avoid conceding on a tie break. Simple enough to state, but not something to count on. We were focused.
From the wind forecasts, I had a theory: the wind at the start was a sea breeze that was weakly formed and would die early because the gradient was almost parallel to the shore. We should watch for the sea breeze to die and be replaced by weak gradient wind from the NE. This proved to be almost prophetic: when the sea breeze died, it was replaced by a breeze from the north.
The start was solid. Ken-too-san at the helm (yes, we imported him from Japan), Skootch on the main, Squirrel on the foresail, Lazy Sheet in the pit, Twisted debuting at the mast and Lifeline on the bow.
But we struggled upwind. During our apres-sail it became apparent: we still had our shrouds tuned for the conditions we experienced on Tuesday (yee-haw conditions requiring the #3 and producing water over the rail). Tonight however, we were sailing in the dying breaths of a reluctant sea breeze. Sure enough, it was light, soft, dying and backing significantly as the evening progressed. And we were too tight.
Note to crew: at the dock we should be always assessing if our shrouds are at the right tension.
Even though we had been charting the wind direction, and vigilant for a shift, our upwind progress set us last in our fleet to round the windward mark. But I enjoyed another chance to focus on tactics, and we jibed away from the Burlington shore ASAP to head toward better wind on the south side of the bay. This maneuver made all the difference. Even though Top Gun and Battlewagon rounded well ahead of us, they each carried their course further toward the Burlington shore before jibing. They fell into a hole from which it was hard to climb. Suddenly we had leaped from last place to forth.
On the downwind, we were all in a state of flow, fully engaged in what was happening all around us. We shifted weight forward (including mine), and followed closely the prospects of the boats ahead. This helped us to recognize the moment when the wind shift was upon us. Whereas Sandpiper and Legacy (ahead of us) doused their spinnakers, we merely jibed and carried our momentum beyond them. Suddenly (aside from Sabotage, already sipping martinis at the club bar), we were ahead of the fleet.
Where was Top Gun?
Are you serious?
OK, time to calm down and focus on finishing the race in a dying breeze. Not so simple as it seems, because, basically, the boats behind keep catching up in distance and the boats ahead are impossible to pass. With our weight forward, and careful consideration of every adjustment of course, we did indeed cross the line second in our fleet (behind Doug in his Viper). The teamwork and communication was just perfect as we took our time to consider every option before committing.
There was a great sense of gratification on board as we knew we had sailed an excellent race, especially the downwind leg. We had certainly accomplished our goal with at least Legacy between us and Battlewagon. But, from a depth of unconscious calculation, I began to wonder if, possibly, perhaps, it might be conceivable, if we had (rather) done just enough to perhaps…..
YES WE DID!
Congratulations PERSPECTIVE Thursday crew for the gold flag, Spring Series Thursday!!!!!!