Everything was brilliant tonight. The sunshine, the lack of humidity, the breeze, the course, the sunset…
…and the crew! We needed a good start, a clean race, expert trim, good tactical decisions and a master-class on the foredeck tonight. And we got all of that.
The course was very interesting. A short beat that was nearly a fetch, a short leg deep downwind, a jibe mark, then a hot spinnaker reach, a long beat that was mostly on starboard, and a spinnaker run. Before the race, we calculated that the two hoists would need to be different — a bear-away first, and then a jibe-set the second time. David (and understudy Ihab) launched the jibe-set from the hatch on the second hoist, and it was a thing of beauty.
But the highlights came at the start, and on the first downwind.
The boat end of the line was so strongly favoured that everyone went for it. We were a bit early, so we had to go down the line a wee bit, with a forest of J35s trying to push us up an over. Ken kept his cool, and kept us on the right side of the start line until we were away…with Legacy to leeward working hard to push us up. Even so, with so many other boats around, we struggled to point in bad air, and opted for a quick couple of tacks to hit the layline at speed.
Top Gun was away tonight, so the rounding order was Sabotage, Remarkable, Battlewagon, Legacy, Us, and then Sandpiper (who had little grand-kids on the foredeck…clearly out for a joy ride). That double tack cost us dearly and we had work to do.
No problem. Our hoist was textbook, while Legacy struggled. The wind swirled around, and we chose the right moment to jibe, gaining precious distance on Battlewagon.
And then the second highlight — as we rounded the jibe mark, we heated up and took a line to windward of Battlewagon, gaining steadily. And as we began to blanket their spinnaker a gust came that shot us forward of them, and gave us the chance to separate. Approaching the leeward mark, there was a forest of white sail boats ahead. We were able to put several of them between us and our rivals, but there was still one rounding just inside us. Down came the kite, the pole and all the lines so that we were clear to tack as soon as we got around. Brilliant indeed! Away we tacked into clean air.
Battlewagon split the course from us, and Legacy gave chase astern. They had work to do to overtake some big boats: Christephanie and Wellwet. Still, they came on strong and closed the gap. But we were still ahead when it was time for the short tack on port to the windward mark for the second hoist. This time around it was Sabotage, Remarkable, Us, Legacy, Battlewagon, Sandpiper. We had climbed two spots!
And now the jibe-set was magical. It only took a moment for the pole to get set and the kite to go up. It was a straight deep run to the finish line, with no other boats threatening to take our wind. Meanwhile we took a little height on the fleet to avoid big wind shadows ahead. Battlewagon did a bear-away set, which put them well off the pace, but Legacy followed our example. We had our eyes on them. When they heated up, we did too. When they soaked down, we did too. But when they jibed, we didn’t cover them. It was a signal that they were focused on covering Battlewagon to leeward.
We crossed the line, and looked back to enjoy this photo-finish showing Battlewagon (white spinnaker) ahead by a nose, with Pandora (red spinnaker) to windward and Legacy (Blue spinnaker) to leeward.