At the marina, we were preparing for a night of light wind, maybe one of those races where you spend most of the time trying to figure out where the holes are and how to avoid them. With just four of us on board, that suited us just fine, but what we got was much much better — one of those delightful nights with steady wind around 9 knots where the race comes down to technical details: crisp maneuvers, sail trim and small shifts in wind speed and direction.
But the first order of business was to sail out of the dock. Both start motor and throttle control were in need of repair, so we had to go old school. The wind was right on our nose, so we hoisted the main at the dock, David gave us a mighty shove and then we turned to a beam reach and filled the sail. Easy peasy.
In the pre-start, the Sharks all went deep into the corner near Stelco, a strong clue about where the wind would be. The line was pretty square, so I focused on clear air and timing it well, and put into practice the general start pattern from the winter series. It was fun to sail on port toward the committee boat and then tack just before intersecting the fleet on starboard. It worked pretty well, and we only had to spill a bit of wind to time the pin end. Next, though, we needed to get onto port tack to get down to the better wind to the south. Hmmm…maybe it would have been better to be a bit late at the boat end of the line? We ended up dipping a few members of the fleet (except RdE who were far enough astern, and Legacy, who had already tacked to port).
Sure enough, the breeze built as we went south. Legacy, ahead and to leeward, tacked onto the layline. Had they overstood? We tacked earlier, and at first it looked golden. But as we approached the mark, we got a fierce knock that called for two more tacks AND the need to dip Sandpiper at the layline. Too bad! We went from a golden opportunity to round first to being second last around the mark. Such is the affect of one ill-timed knock! (and the value of a safety margin when judging the layline from afar — Legacy nailed that decision and it paid off in spades).
I should point out that neither of the perrenial leaders were in the fleet tonight: Sabotage and Top Gun were both away.
Despite a very short layline after those extra tacks, Super Dave had the pole ready in a jiffy, our hoist was supreme and we jibed right away to get back toward the stronger wind in the southern part of the bay. This was enough to slip by both Sandpiper and Battlewagon. Remarkable didn’t hoist and Legacy pushed far to the Hamilton shore. We followed suit, keeping the kite nice and full. Once we got into a stronger band of wind, we sailed a lower course to enjoy that wind as long as possible. Another clean jibe at the Hamilton shore and we were able to sail directly to Mark #3.
Legacy was still ahead. Battlewagon had staid in the middle of the bay, and we were about even after the jibe, but our better breeze paid off, and we got to the leeward mark with a good margin on our rivals.
Free fly the kite. Pole down. Jib out. Douse. Round. Harden up. Ready to tack…it was all so smooth, you wouldn’t know that there were only four of us on board.
And for the last upwind, the wind filled nicely. Legacy was uncatchable, and no one was threatening us. A lovely sprint to claim a second place finish!
Looking back after we crossed the line, the wind dropped and shifted, so that boats had to work hard to finish. We made it just in time. What a great night 🙂
But that light breeze meant we needed a tow back to the marina from the Able Sail coach boat, who was out gathering drop marks.