A splash of bubbly anyone?
I think you know what that means, right? Yes indeed, we managed to best our friendly neighbourhood Saboteur (and got Top Gun while we were at it). In fact, tonight was our first first-place result of the season!
And it was an odd one, to be sure.
The wind was light as we left the marina, and threatened to get even lighter, so the race committee set a short course. With the wind from the SSE, they set drop marks near 6 and 14 for a windward leeward course across the bay. We were ready for a slow battle to find wind.
But as the start sequences began, we noticed the wind shifted to the NE. The shift began curiously as the wind was so light and patchy it was hard to tell if it would persist. But by the time the sharks were away the wind began to fill in and became consistent in direction. The windward leeward course just became a drag race with the wind on the beam. That means almost no passing lanes and it would all boil down to the start and sail trim. The wind continued to fill.
The boat end was windward, and therefor strongly favoured, so we worked our way up toward it, tacking onto port with about 40 seconds to go and powered up. Battlewagon was ahead of us and a bit to leeward. They began to push us up before the start, but this was more to kill time as they were a bit early. We started right on their tail, but with more boat speed, and were able to roll over them closely to windward in the first 20 seconds of the race. Kudos to Ihab on the mainsail and Bert on the genoa. Both of them trimmed perfectly throughout the race, but it was never more critical than in the escape from the start line. Once we were ahead of Battlewagaon, we had clear air. Sabotage was ahead and to leeward. And of course, they began to gain distance on us so our air grew even more clear as it freshened up.
From that point, the race was a combination of managing traffic — David and Sean were reporting from the front of the boat like callers at a horse race — and closing down any passing lanes for Battlewagon (Lazy Sheet kept me updated whenever they tried to sail a higher or lower course, so we could adjust accordingly). And with Top Gun behind Battlewagon, our rivals were as intent on keeping Top Gun astern as they were on overtaking us.
The last rounding was interesting as we closed in on WellWet. Fortunately, a crack opened up to windward as they rounded, so I jibed hard to claim that windward lane and we pulled away. As we approached the finish line, it became clear that no one would pass anyone. With the J35s astern, we were confident of a second place finish. The question was whether we were close enough behind Sabotage to get them on PHRF.