It was a lovely evening to be out on the water. The start of the fall season felt like the first day of school for us out on the water too. A clean slate in nice wind, watercolour sky and just enough time for a race before big winds and thunderstorms arrived.
At the dock, the low engine oil light came on and sure enough, she needed more. Somehow the oil filter had jiggled loose and oil had leaked out. Nonsuch had some extra on board and we were good to go for now. Clearly I’ll need to look into that more carefully tomorrow. But as soon as we were out of the marina, up went the mainsail and we were at the committee boat in no time at mark #6. Which headsail should we set? At first it seemed as if there would be similar wind to last Tuesday, indicating a #2, but things weren’t quite so strong, so we opted for the #1, risking a bit that we’d be overpowered, but that was rarely the case, and it turned out we made the right choice.
For the start, we wanted the pin end on starboard tack because the line was pretty square and the better wind seemed to be in the middle of the bay. A quick jibe and tack and then we went for the line, well timed about middle of the line and we were off. Raisin Eater and Top Gun to windward, Sandpiper to leeward and Battlewagon onto port tack early. Once in better air we tacked and were able to carry that all the way to a short layline with some nice gusts and lifts in there (as well as lulls and knocks).
The approach to the windward mark was memorable. As we approached the layline, Christephanie was on the line on starboard and we were approaching on port. Rather than dipping, we went for the lee bow, and by the time we were powered up on the layline, we were clear ahead. To leeward, Pandora II was pinching to the mark so we were able to roll them just as we hoisted, but Raisin Eater had to go around the outside of them.
Downwind was also really fun. Our hoist was amazing and we sprinted away from the mark in a lane of good wind, quickly drawing even with Battlewagon, who were to windward. The wind kept shifting forward and aft as we crossed streaks of good air. When we did, it was like snakes and ladders vs Battlewagon and Perry-Eh. We were to leeward of both so we took the stern of each boat eventually to reach clear air to windward (after trying to get by Battlewagon’s leeward side — no dice). Coming back into the leeward mark, all three boats arrived at the same time, with Perry-Eh on the inside, us in the middle and Battlewagon on the outside (they had taken our stern to get to windward later in the leg). We doused a bit early (too early?) to make sure we were good to jibe at the mark. That gave us the chance to push Battlewagon up a bit, but it didn’t really pay off. At the mark, for some reason, Perry-Eh got very slow all of a sudden and I had to steer down to avoid clipping their engine — it was close! Battlewagon had to make a little room for us, and around we went.
We powered up quickly and were able to climb out from under Perry-Eh’s shadow up onto their line and it looked like the finish line would be a fetch. Still, we took all the height we could, and started feeling good about our situation since Battlewagon was to leeward. Raisin Eater, astern, opted to tack at the leeward mark, so we were sitting pretty for a second place finish…
…but then we got knocked…
Suddenly RdE was in the right spot and both we and Battlewagon would need another tack to finish. They had footed off for speed and were able to tack onto starboard forcing us to dip them. You could have used a micrometer to measure the gap between us. A brisk tack and up to speed, Battlewagon across the line, we shot up to cross….was it close enough?
No it wasn’t. They got us by eleven seconds. Seven would have been okay. Nonetheless, it was such a fun night out there, with great teamwork from the crew, lots of tactical decisions, great wind, and fun tangling with the other boats all throughout the course.
(Hmmmm, now I’m thinking about where we could have gained four seconds….probably by dousing later?)