On one of the breeziest Tuesdays of the year, the boys in blue put in a clutch performance both upwind and down to claim a second place finish (behind Top Gun), and secure third place in the Tuesday Summer Series.
With gusts in the low 20s before the race, we dithered on our headsail choice, but when we saw the course with a long near-fetch to the finish line, we didn’t want to risk being underpowered. The wind ‘settled’ down to a mere 15 knots so we hoisted the #2. With hard shrouds (tuned perfectly for tonight’s wind) and plenty of backstay, Dinghy was able to hold the boat mostly flat-ish and we attacked the course.
Lazy Sheet was away, so we had Deadweight in the pit who climbed another notch up the learning curve tonight. He and Afterguy put in a series of beautiful brisk tacks, and the pointy end was in great hands with both Four Hands and Nonsuch up there taking care of business. Kiwi managed another great start, and me? I just kinda looked around a bit and talked a bit. I think I furled a jib, and might have tweaked the jib sheet once. What a great team!
The start was very interesting. Port tack and the pin end were strongly favoured, but we reckoned there was better air in the middle of the bay, so we (and everyone else) opted to start on starboard near the pin end. Our timing was solid, and we had good boat speed when the gun went off. Only Top Gun was ahead, right at the pin, but that was enough bad air for us to struggle to point for the first minute or so, but once we found clean air, we began to get in the groove. Sandpiper and Battlewagon were astern, Raison d’Etre to windward. RdE got leverage on us during that first minute, but after that we kept them nearby. Ahead lay a wind line and bigger air, so we waited until in it before tacking to the mark. By this point we were nearly on the layline, and boats that had tacked over before that wind line fell back. At the layline, Top Gun and RdE were ahead.
We were barely on the lay line 30 seconds, but somehow the pole was up, the guy was pre-fed (and cleated) and we began our hoist just as we bore away. Bingo! That gave us a great leap on RdE who fell off a bit to leeward. This leg began as a hot spinnaker reach, but the wind shifted forward and aft a bit until it settled into a deep run. Alvin got the kite juicy and full like a big balloon and we gobbled up smaller boats and made small gains on RdE while maintaining the all important inside lane.
Before the douse, we tried free-flying, but the wind was too strong and too unstable, so we ended up dousing a bit early. In no time the foredeck was clear for a jibe, and around we went with a few boat lengths’ margin on RdE. Top Gun ahead, Battlewagon and Sandpiper duke-ing it out behind us.
The last leg wasn’t quite a fetch, so we chose our moment to tack out of traffic. RdE went first, we eventually covered them, but were primarily watching Sandpiper. We went when they went. Battlewagon held their line, splitting the course from us. RdE tacked back early, and we could see they wouldn’t fetch the finish line, so we pushed out further, found the layline and nailed another crisp tack. One and done, we tracked to finish while the others eventually tacked onto our path behind us.
Tonight had it all: water over the rail, planing boat speed, tons of pressure on the kite, a hint of a death-roll (just a premonition), tight teamwork and great spirit. What a perfect way to cap off the summer series for Tuesday!