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Which mark #7?

With our fearless leader away, and light wind, no one expected anything unusual. A good start ahead of most of the fleet, heading towards Burlington. Once we tacked we were behind most of the fleet. We lost track of Top Gun, Sandpiper, and Raison d’Etre, but were focused on Battlewagon, as our closest rival in the Tuesday standings. As we headed to the windward mark, Four Hands quickly got the bag set, muttering to himself, “That was a really short upwind leg”. Then we rounded just behind Pandora II, with Battlewagon just ahead of them. A sharp and well-timed hoist let us pull ahead of Battlewagon, and we settled in and looked around for the rest of our fleet, who was nowhere to be found!?!?

We quickly realized that we had rounded mark 14, along with 1/2 the other boats, included most of the sharks. But our first mark was #7, much further down the bay. Kiwi called a quick douse, and we turned around, managing to stay ahead of Battlewagon. We gathered ourselves, and got back into the race, which for us was now a two boat race.

We sailed well upwind, and did another good hoist, directly from the hole this time, and were just ahead of Battlewagon. Sailing hotter angles let us put some distance between us down the bay, but in the lighter air by mark 3, they made up some ground. The wind died at the mark, and the douse was a bit messy. We managed to stay ahead just enough to finish mere seconds before our rivals. What lessons did we learn? Don’t always follow the sharks, no matter what the commodore says ūüėČ

Starting to acclaim

What we thought would be a drifter may have actually been our best race of the season!

The race was initially postponed for about 15 minutes, and then a new course was set. When the race was scheduled to start, there wasn’t any wind at all, but it quickly built, and a good race was on! Without enough time to reset the start line, it ended up almost parallel to the course, with the boat end heavily favoured.

Kiwi had us lined up perfectly for the start, right next to the boat, only a bit early. He brought us into the wind to stall us just long enough that we weren’t over early. Then we were the first across the line, to shouts of acclaim from the committee boat.

On the first crossing Top Gun was just behind us, with Battlewagon further back. Sandpiper tacked early to the Burlington shore, and we didn’t see much of them for the rest of the race. Not sure if it was poor wind on that side of the course, or the fact that they only had 3 crew that got them on this night.

We rounded just behind Top Gun and Battlewagon, and were a bit late on the hoist. The spinnaker halyard caught on the steaming light, with the pole up line behind it on the last tack before the mark. That cost some time, and then Four Hands was rather flustered trying to remember how to set the pole by himself.

We accelerated nicely downwind, getting well past Battlewagon and gaining on Top Gun, who had done a better job with their hoist. Lazy Sheet and Afterguy were playing the spinnaker like an instrument, and the hull on the water played a beautiful tune.

Ken walked us through a different douse, leaving the pole up, since we just needed to harden around the mark. It went smoothly, the foresail came out, we pulled the spinnaker under the genoa and onto the deck, rounded, and then worried about getting the pole down and out of the way.

Heading up to the line we thought we still had a shot at Top Gun but we tacked early (won’t name names, but it is the last time we listen to ____ _____), and rather than crossing at the heavily favoured pin end, we actually had to make another quick tack just to cross the line before the boat. Even with that error only 40 seconds behind Top Gun, and 5 minutes ahead of the rest of the fleet.

A remarkable start

It a weird night. Lazy Sheet forgot the tech bag, so he left Kiwi to prep the boat while he ran home. Four Hands was so late that he almost had to take a running leap off the pier onto the boat (fortunately cooler heads remembered that he was bringing snack, Perspective was pulled up tight to the wall). Our goal was to beat Remarkable, and we did beat them over the (start) line, but then reverted to our previous ways, and beat Sandpiper instead. And we witnessed the naming (well, decal application) of Pandora II.

There were two highlights in an otherwise un-remarkable night. First of all, the start was one of the best of the year. Kiwi directed our tacks masterfully to have us first across the line. We rode that great start into our first tack, and crossed just ahead of Battlewagon. And then the wheels fell off. We steadily lost ground to our fleet all the way to the windward mark.

We missed the layline, and were below the mark, causing Remarkable to change course to give us room (after they had already rounded). A quick tack-tack, up went the pole, the spinakker was hoisted, and we were away into our second highlight. All the way downwind we steadily drew closer to our fleet, who were all ahead of us at that point. Nonsuch had the kite flying well, and Afterguy and Four Hands executed the jibes as if they were one.

A fine douse, and Ken’s mainsail trim had us continuing to chase down the leaders. Alas, there was not enough race course left, and we finished 3rd, behind Remarkable and Battlewagon.

Drying the spinnaker

Guest Author: Gadget

Crew: Lifeline, Skootch, Twisted, Lazysheet, Gadget

We decided to go with the #2 headsail, and as the wind freshened steadily throughout the starts, we were glad we did.  We had a clean start, but were challenged to get to the windward mark ahaead of the fleet.  Some of the stronger gusts on the upwind leg convinced us to forego the spinnaker and head downwind wing on wing.  After rounding, it became clear that it was worth the risk, out came the bag and up went the chute.  The gusts had abated enough that with nearly 7 knots of boat speed, we were able to handle them cleanly.  Unfortunately, most of the damage had been done.  We made up a bit of ground, had 2 out of 3 clean jibes, and a decent enough dowse, but managed to dip a clew in the drink.  The rounding and final upwind were clean, the crew executing crisp tacks and a well judged lay line to the start finish.  We managed to finish ahead of Sandpiper, a nice reward for our efforts.  On the downwind back to the marina, we hoisted and flew the spinnaker with one sheet to dry it out, which worked well, and saved us the humiliation of hanging it in port!

Stay up!

Another Tuesday without our captain, another win over Sandpiper, and loss to Battlewagon.

When we left the dock, the wind was very low, and proceeded to drop to almost nothing. The race committee set a course, then shortly thereafter we heard 2 blasts, and they announced over the radio an AP (answering pennant), and that the race start had been postponed.

After about 20 minutes the wind shifted around, and picked up considerably. The race committee adjusted the line, and set a new course. Prior to the start, Kiwi started tacking back and forth with Sandpiper. He managed to get right next to them, and forced them up over the start line. They had to tack and head down to dip below the line, while we were away with Top Gun and Battlewagon towards Hamilton. Sandpiper continued towards the Burlington shore after dipping the line. The wind seemed to favour the Burlington side of the bay upwind, and we took advantage, with Gadget keeping the mainsail well-trimmed. However, we were not able to point as high as the J35’s‚Äďwe suspected the rig was too tight for the wind conditions.

Racing Merlin
Passing Merlin

A nice rounding, and textbook hoist had us well away downwind. As per last week, Kiwi sailed a hotter angle for speed, which was working well until we had a messy jibe, and hit a bit of a hole. Sandpiper made up some ground for a bit, but then we got a good line of wind, and Afterguy had us flying down to the mark. Kiwi left me to call the douse (we discussed how it makes sense for the foredeck to make the decision on the timing), and we left later than Battlewagon and Sandpiper. That allowed us to round the mark ahead of them without any traffic, as Dinghy hauled down the spinnaker and appeared on deck in record time to clean up the lines. Lazy Sheet left me flailing about with the pole for a few seconds before releasing the pole up line; his idea of a good time?

A short run upwind still allowed Battlewagon to finish before us. There was a thought that we might have beaten them on PHRF, but that was not the case. However, we did get Sandpiper, so it was a successful night.

We lost…

Guest Author: Gadget

The course was set between marker #6 and a drop marker towards the Hamilton side.  A fairly short course. The wind was better at the pin end so we decided to start by running along the line, then heading up at the start, at the pin end.  We had good, clean air. The wind had veered considerably, and for a while, we were making the mark on our starting tack. The leeway slowly pushed us off and we had to put in a quick tack to make the mark.  The boats who had started at the boat-end were able to make the mark, so we had some catching up to do.

The hoist was clean and away we went.  We had gained a spot by the time we started our dowse, but the short course caught us out and we were still cleaning up the foredeck during rounding.  We tacked a bit too early, with lines in the way, and by the time we got the mess sorted out, we had some catching up to do.

Somehow the second hoist was clean, and although Battlewagon had hoisted their kite upside down, we weren’t able to gain quite enough on them before the finish line. 

We kept flying after the finish, overtook the soon to be soused sailors, and gave them the bow of shame, narry a moon to be seen.¬† Here’s a glimpse from on-board Battlewagon


Sailboat finishing the race

As requested

From the moment we arrived at the boat, it was apparent that it was going to be a wonderful night. There was a lightness in our bearing, and camaraderie was at an all-time high. We hardly needed to use words to communicate, we were so in sync as a crew. It was we’d been blocked by something, and our untapped potential was finally realized.

All teasing aside, Starport was away, and we’d been given a task. His last words, as he headed to the city of weird popcorn, “Have fun guys, and remember to focus on beating Sandpiper, even if that means Battlewagon slips by”. As requested, our focus was on Sandpiper, and right from the pre-start Kiwi worked to get ahead of them.

We had a good start, not far behind Top Gun, Remarkable, and Battlewagon, and ahead of Sandpiper. On the upwind leg we got a big knock, and Sandpiper crossed just ahead of our bow midway through. Everyone was on the high side, and Kiwi thought it would be fun to give us a scare; he saw them the whole way, and took joy in our shouts of caution as a large navy boat suddenly appeared from behind our big #1.

Heading to the windward mark, I had the bag set, but was slow to get the pole. It made for a rush to get it set before the mark, but Dinghy’s able hands helped get it rigged in record time, and we hoisted quickly as soon as we rounded. Sandpiper may have had a different crew tonight; they rounded first, then took their time getting their spinnaker up. Most boats headed directly for the mark, but Kiwi took us on a hotter angle towards Hamilton. Nonsuch kept the sail full, and the boat fast. After a few smooth jibes, we came screaming down to the mark ahead of Sandpiper.

We agreed to leave the chute until the last moment, and Lazy Sheet’s exemplary wrist action ensured that the pole came down so fast that Nonsuch was left shaking his head in amazement. The douse started well, but then the spinnaker halyard tied itself in knots. The same thing happened to the furling line when we unfurled the jib; not sure what was happening back there in the pit. However, Lazy Sheet and Nonsuch cleared the issues smoothly and quickly, and we were away towards the finish ahead of Sandpiper.

Ken trimmed the mainsail with aplomb, his experience and knowledge coming through as he anticipated every maneuver. He’s been a great addition to the crew, and contributed to some interesting post-race discussion. Lazy Sheet is already trying to rope him in to as many nights as possible. Dinghy packed the spinnaker for the first time, so Thursday crew, you may want to check that…

So our Captain was missed, but we did as we were asked, and had a great race. Maybe next time he should tell us to beat Top Gun?