Skip to main content

This race has 27 minutes

We left the marina with the feeling that the wind had blown itself out. There hasn’t been much wind for the last few hot sweltering days, just 30+ degrees of sunshine.  So, we were just happy to be out on the water in these balmy conditions for one last Tuesday night race around the bay.  With sweat beading on our foreheads, we hoisted the sails and set the boat up for light wind — everything soft and round.  Two big ships anchored in the middle of the bay, forced the race committee to set up far down in the west end, across from RHYC.  And as we approached, we could see a promising texture on the water in front of the yacht club.  Sure enough, it filled in and when it reached us we suddenly had 10+ knots of tropical air drying our sweat, and heeling the boat.  Fantastic!

The race committee had already set their course — a rather short one since the sun would set at 7:14pm — so we left the big #1 genoa up front, as it didn’t appear from the wind direction that we would be sailing close-hauled all that much.  Indeed it was a bit of a drag race tonight, with few strategic decisions.  As a result, the race was won and lost in the big maneuvers:  start, hoist, douse and leeward mark rounding.  If only we had a better start!


With the starting line set at Mark #5, near the Burlington shore, and the committee boat even closer in to shore, there wasn’t much room to sail around near the boat end of the line.  The water gets shallow there. And I’m so used to gauging my time by using the boat as a reference point.  But tonight we had to approach the start by running parallel to the line on port tack, then tacking onto starboard at the right moment and going for it.  I think we should practice this kind of start next year.  Bottom line, timing was good, but we ended up quite close to the pin end of the line, when the boat end was clearly favoured.

That put us in plenty of bad air among the other boats that were just to windward of us, so we tacked over, crossing just astern of our fleet to find some clear air.  It definitely helped, and we even got some promising lifts, so that we rounded the windward mark just astern of the fleet — Remarkable just ahead of us, and Battlewagon a few boat lengths ahead of them.

We rounded, got onto our line and the hoist was clean.  As usual, we closed the distance on our fleet with the spinnaker up.  But there was no opportunity to pass anyone, since no jibes were needed — just a drag race on a bit of a broad reach.  Nice and fast, and great fun.  We maneuvered to a lane inside Remarkable and Battlewagon before dousing.  Remarkable was just far enough ahead to get around before us, but Battlewagon was further outside and we were able to slip in front of them at the rounding.  It was a great tactical maneuver that we actually planned, and it almost went exactly as planned!  Rather than bringing the genoa out on port side, and then jibing both sails at the mark, we dropped the pole, flew the spinnaker for a bit without the pole, doused and then brought the genoa out on starboard for a wee bit of wing on wing before the rounding.  This way, as we jibed around the mark into close hauled trim for the upwind, all we had to do was bring in the main and trim the genoa as we turned.  Bingo!  We were able to slip into a spot just beside Remarkable, with Battlewagon behind.

Upwind everyone except Remarkable and us tacked away to find the layline for the finish.  We started off windward and half a boat length behind Remarkable.  I was determined not to lose a pointing match with them, so we pinched a bit to stay high.  Eventually, they footed off a bit, and we could fill our sails without any bad air.  Both of us stayed close to the burlington shore and enjoyed a few lifts that teased us into believing that we could fetch the line — that would have been great, and we would have had a fantastic result — but it was not to be.  So, we had one important decision to make — when to tack.  We kept our eyes on Remarkable.  They tacked.  As they powered, up on starboard, we thought we might be clear ahead on port, but it was not to be.  Do we dip, or do we tack?  Roll the dice, and the answer is….let’s try to lee bow them!  (We should practice this too :-)).  At the last possible moment, we tacked, and put ourselves int the right position to give them our bad air, but they had so much momentum, that they rolled over us before we could get powered up.  Nice try!

One last tack, to fetch the favoured pin end of the line and we savoured finishing 25 seconds ahead of Battlewagon (just 20 seconds behind Remarkable).  Great fun!  On the bow of of Battlewagon, our friend Ken gave us a gracious bow of his own, and we turned away for a pleasure sail on this tropical night.

For about an hour, we sailed the length of the bay as the setting sun gave way to a bright half moon and the twinkling lights of the Hamilton skyline.  Total relaxation, gratitude for one last balmy night, and disbelief that it was almost October.

Thanks Tuesday lads for a great season — next race: May 8th.


Fred Gilbank double-handed race

It was a chilly morning, the kind of morning that makes you think of apple picking and raking leaves.  Sailing isn’t usually the first thought on a day like that, but the sun still had early September strength, and there was hope for a warming trend.

But there wasn’t hope for wind.  The forecast predicted something around 4 knots out on the lake for the Fred Gilbank memorial double-handed race.  Nonetheless, FourHands and I set out at 8:30 to represent the PERSPECTIVE team, wind or no wind.

Well, with one caveat:   I had to leave for the airport at 4:30pm for a 6:30 flight, so the 4pm lift bridge was a hard cut-off (3:30 preferred and the target), so there was a strong possibility that we would have to abandon.

We changed the mainsail back to the clear Doyle sail.  More depth for the light wind. And we started the engine early (just in case).  No issues.  At the skippers meeting, everyone agreed to shorten the course a bit due to the light wind forecast.  Perfect and simple:  to the Shell Pier and back.

While motoring out to the bridge, Les and I reviewed the conflicting wind forecasts, so that we arrived at the lake on the lookout for one of two possibilities:

  1. Wind starting just a bit north of the rhumb line, veering gradually about 30-40 degrees.  This would favour port tack early, which would also position us strategically to get lifted on starboard tack later in the leg.
  2. A sea breeze starting in near the shore.  This would favour starboard tack at the start, and hugging the shoreline tightly.

As we hoisted sails and set our car position out on the lake, we were pleased to see 5 knots of wind, with lighter patches of wind toward shore and what looked like stronger wind away from shore.  Option 1 looked to be the game plan.

So we did a port tack start near the middle of the line!  A gutsy move with eight boats on a short start line, and only the two of us on board.  Two boats were clear ahead, we had to dip badger, but the rest were astern.  Bingo, we popped into clear air and began trimming our sails.

Not wanting to separate too far from the fleet, we tacked about ten minutes along, and began to enjoy a progressive lift toward the mark.  Okay, it was a great game plan, but it didn’t feel like the textbook.  Even though the wind speed was pretty steady, the direction was very shifty.  Now a knock, now a lift, now a knock, now a lift.  Slowly over time, the lifts out-lifted the knocks and we shaped our way toward the mark as the breeze strengthened gradually.

Before long, the entire fleet began to separate, with Battlewagon and us pulling ahead.  They were inshore, but tacked over to cover us about halfway along.  I think they noticed that we were unlikely to fetch the mark, so they pushed out further into the lake than us, crossing just ahead.  They added distance on us but weren’t pointing as high, so by the time we each spotted the mark, we both had to tack across to it about the same distance.

By this time the wind had built to about 9 knots.

We began to plan our hoist on the upwind leg, and as the wind shifted further toward the east, it became clear that we needed to do a jibe-set.  Les changed the lines and got the bag ready.

Battlewagon rounded first and went for a bear away set, which took them perpendicular to the rhumb line, sailing straight toward the shore.  We put in a swift jibe at the mark, and then hoisted quickly pointing toward the Burlington lift bridge the entire time.

(well, okay, we had an hourglass, got a bit overpowered when I didn’t steer correctly, and there were so many lines all over the place, the cockpit was like a bowl of spaghetti)

But the undeniable result of that jibe-set is that we tore away from Battlewagon, who took a long time to jibe, and chased us the entire way to the finish. We learned later they had one of their lines routed through the pulpit and had to re-rig before jibing.

As we sailed to the finish line, the wind built in strength a bit more and continued its shift a bit further, so that we were sailing a very high angle with the spinnaker.  Very fast!  But also a lot of power to manage with just two guys on board.  Les and I both sat on the high side: with the spinnaker sheet routed across the cockpit to the cabin top winch, two wraps and handle in.  Once we locked the pole in tight, low and just off the forestay, it was a hot fetch to the mark.  I used the lulls to head up the course a bit, and then steered down in the gusts.

Could Battlewagon catch us?  Nope!  In fact, it looked to us like we extended our lead a bit, and crossed the finish line 1:25 ahead of them, just a hair under two hours to shell pier and back!

The finish was cause for some heartburn, though.  We had to cross between the lift-bridge pier and a mark just 100 meters or so from the end of it.  There was nowhere to turn down to douse, so we had two choices:  cross the line under spinnaker, risking a broach right near the concrete wall (and then turn toward the beach, hoping to douse before reaching the shallows), or douse a bit early, and finish under genoa.  We took the conservative option, and that was exciting enough — once the pole was released, the spinnaker filled up quite high and heeled the boat very strongly.  Quickly releasing the sheet did the job, and Les had the kite in the hole in no time.

We watched Christephanie finish with their spinnaker still flying, and we were very glad we made the choice we did.

Back at the dock, we gathered to munch pizza and toast the memory of Fred Gilbank.  While waiting for the results to come in, there was a sense of expectation that perhaps PERSPECTIVE would be engraved on the trophy, but this was not to be the case — a few boats with higher PHRF handicaps also had great races, and Christephanie had the quickest corrected time.

No matter, PERSPECTIVE made her mark, and Les and I had a blast!

From gale to drifter

What a night of adventure!  Howling 20 knots in gusts at the start, down to 10 knots in the lulls.  We opted for a reef in the main and the #3 jib.  Even so we got water over the rail on the first upwind leg.

The opening few minutes of tonight’s video give you a feel for the intensity of the wind:

But by the time we got to the calmer west end of the bay, confidence was up and we hoisted the spinnaker.  With Squirrel away wining and dining a client (audit was a success!), Gadget had a busy night on the foredeck — really would have been a good night for six or seven on board.

Sandpiper was the only other boat in our fleet with a reef in the mainsail, so once the wind started to drop, we were really only hunting them.

Halfway downwind we took the reef out of the mainsail, and by the time we doused and began heading up we were just behind Sandpiper.  Upwind it was a really fun duel.   First they crossed ahead of us, then we approached the next cross very even, but we were on starboard.  They tacked and put our bow in their lee, so we had to tack again.  They tacked to cover, but that put them in our lee bow, astern and to windward.  We were able to point a wee bit higher as they wallowed in our dirty air, and slowly we climbed to windward of them.  That was a fantastic moment!

The wind kept dropping, so that it was nearly a drifter by this point.

They tacked, we covered them, and were on a line that was close to the pin end, with them to leeward.  They were going to need another tack for sure.  For us, it looked like we might not have to, but we couldn’t quite fetch the pin. Sandpiper tacked.  We held our line, securing a place to windward of them, tacked at the last moment and finished by shooting the line.

Our friends on Chimo II were on starboard, approaching the pin end of the line, and had to make a little room for us.  At first they were irked, but afterwards Hugh Johnson realized that we were in a duel with Sandpiper, and needed to squeeze in.

We crossed 18 seconds before Sandpiper — a moral victory, but not enough to offset the rating difference:  they got us on PHRF.

C’est la vie!

Crew Scramble #3: Drag Race

We continued the fall tradition of Crew Scramble — hey maybe it will become an annual tradition? — with Bert at the helm. It was one of the most beautiful evenings on the water: warm evening sunlight, almost clear skies with just enough cloud to make a glowing sunset and allow the full moon to sneak up on us.  It would have been the perfect chance for a night sail after the race.  A missed opportunity!

But the race was great fun!  The wind was out of the Northwest, which made the course into a bit of a drag race with few passing opportunities, but the wind was full of impish mischief that kept us all on our toes.

We put in a conservative start, at the boat end, just astern of Battlewagon, and a boat length behind the fleet who were spread along the start line.  Dirty air from Battlewagon forced us lower and we lost some ground to the fleet.  Bert did a great job holding PERSPECTIVE in the groove, and our tacks got more and more crisp with each maneuver.

With the course set this way, there was a short lay-line to the windward mark, and a jibe-set was the preferred maneuver, so we set the bag on starboard and took our time setting the pole after jibing around the mark.  Alvin and Mark put together a perfectly clean hoist and we held a nice high line all the way to the leeward mark.  No jibes needed tonight.  As we sailed into the middle of the bay, the wind built, and we had plenty of boat speed with a nice heel angle.  A few gusts hit us and we rounded up a bit, but Bert was the epitome of calm as we recovered well and kept gaining on Sandpiper.

Too soon, it was time to douse, and Sandpiper was still ahead.  A nice orderly douse by the gents on the pointy end — was this really their first time working together? And off we went on the drag race to the finish line with the golden sun dead ahead.  We made up even more ground on Sandpiper but bad air off Christephanie held us back and we couldn’t overtake.  C’est la vie!

Back at the dock, we watched the moon rise and talked a wee bit about what we’ve learned from the crew scramble so far.  Some said that it helped to get an idea of what the other people have to do.  Others said it showed how everything has to go right to win a race — especially at the beginning of the race.  Not much went wrong tonight at all, but the little things add up, and when we are in our regular positions, we get those details right.  Some called for us to get back to our regular spots — its more fun to beat Battlewagon!

I’m smiling, because we’ve got a great crew and a great boat.  Bert summed it up well when he thanked me “for the keys to the Ferrari”.  Let’s keep scrambling this fall.  The investment will pay off.

Crew Scramble #2: Wild Ride

A stiff breeze out of the north on a crisp sunny night made PERSPECTIVE as thrilling as the main attraction at the CNE — a combination log-ride & roller coaster.  (Thankfully no bumper cars!)  And we added to the thrill by continuing to move people around the boat.  Lazy Sheet took his first turn on the foredeck, and we put big Dave Holloway to work trimming sheets.  But it was Gadget and Squirrel who worked hardest tonight.  Gil had to grind the winches with all his might, and Calvin pumped the sheet and traveler constantly to keep the boat as level as possible — impossible tonight, even with six big lads on the rail.

The wind was deceiving.  Coming out of the North, there was no fetch, and so there were no whitecaps.  Sailing downwind to the start line, I was thinking we might set the #2, but when I checked the true wind speed (14-18 and building as we sailed toward Hamilton), it was clearly time for the #3.  We haven’t used this sail much — it basically only comes out on nights like this — so it was a chance to try something new in exciting conditions.  We also changed the mainsail to the old mainsail which is cut much flatter.  The theory here is that this sail would be backwinded less.  That probably was true, but it was hard to draw any conclusions with so much wind being spilled most of the time!

With the wind out of the North, the race committee dropped a mark near the Hamilton shore, dead downwind of LaSalle park, and we raced across the bay two times in 15+ knots of wind, and some great big gusts on top of that.  Woohoo!

With many folks sailing in unfamiliar positions, we wisely left the spinnaker in its bag, though most of our fleet did fly their chutes.  Instead of getting caught up in the competition, we smiled, and enjoyed the ride.  Have a look:


Crew Scramble #1: Four Hands

After such a great performance in the summer season, I’ve got the idea to use the fall season to scramble the crew around so we all get a taste of other jobs on board.  Tonight was the first crew scramble, and it gave Four Hands a chance to helm the boat.  Wind was perfect, around 11 knots at the start, fading to around nine knots by the finish; nice and steady.  We used #2 with a fair amount of backstay and outhaul at the outset, which we eased as the race progressed.

It was a wonderful August evening, warm sunshine with a fresh edge in the breeze.  Just enough cloud cover to make a perfect sunset.  A great night on the water.  (and as I was not on helm, a great opportunity to look around and enjoy it!)

How did the crew make out in their new positions?  No problem at all!  Tacks were solid and kept getting more and more crisp each time.  Hoist was clean. Jibe was perfect.  Douse was efficient.  Check it out for yourself.

A few details…

  • Start was good, timed well, about mid-line in clear air
  • Upwind we tacked several times to keep near the middle of the course — the rest of the fleet chose to sail further toward Burlington shore, which seems to have helped them.
  • We got caught in the bad air behind Celtic Spirit, which cost us a bit
  • We also misjudged the layline, which cost us two more tacks and a few more boat lengths
  • Once we hoisted the spinnaker, we quickly overtook Battlewagon, who only had three crew on board, and left their kite below decks.
  • Slowly we gained on Eclipse, but there was too much ground to make up, so we doused calmly and enjoyed the beautiful sailing to claim our third place finish.

Way to go Les!

Watch for more Crew Scramble reports in the coming races!

Secure in second!

While I was grilling burgers at anchor in the Benjamin Islands, Kiwi and the Thursday lads clinched our spot with a marvelous performance in light air.

Piecing together the remarks from several aboard, it went something like this.  A well timed start and an extended low speed drag race on starboard, a few tacks sticking near the middle of the course.  Rounding shortly behind Big Yellow.  The fleet jibed away to the center of the bay, but PERSPECTIVE held the Burlington shore in nice clear air while the others fought in a cloud of canvas.  A late jibe back to the rhumb line (or to the finish — was there another jibe?).  No matter, the result was clear.  Top Gun finished first, PERSPECTIVE overtook Big Yellow to claim second, while Legacy, Sandpiper and Battlewagon followed.  A strong second place to secure our spot in second for the summer Thursday series (behind Top Gun), and second overall for the summer!

Three cheers for guest skipper, Kiwi, who even docked the boat in reverse with his typical calm.  His feedback on the race:  crew work was awesome — everyone knew their roles, maneuvers were flawless, and the guys on the pointy end did a great job of spotting the wind and relaying the necessary info.

Bravo to all!

Too many Marks!

We often have several Marks on board, and its easy to get confused among them.  But tonight, we had a different kind of Mark confusion.  All of us had our eyes on a navigation mark near #14 when starting the race, rather than the real mark.  With that reference, we timed a perfect start in clear air ahead of the fleet, lot’s of boat speed.  And then we got confused, as the race committee honked a horn and hoisted a flag.  Was that us?  were we over?  Strange, we were being so careful, it didn’t seem likely.  In our confusion we sailed on, but eventually I radioed the committee boat and inquired if we were over early.  Yes we were!  And then it clicked.  The real #14 was further back, the real start line was further back.  Yes, we were over early.

So we turned around, sailed back and exonerated ourselves.  Not sure exactly how much time it cost us, but I think somewhere around 5 minutes.  OOPS!

But the good news is that there were only three boats in our fleet.  We closed the distance, but didn’t really have a solid hope of making up that much time.  So, we finished third, behind Top Gun and Eclipse.  Notably, the boats closest to us in the standings didn’t turn up, so we sustained our 2nd place on Thursdays, and added a bit of cushion between us and the others.  And for that, we can thank the rain!

On the way to the marina it was raining cats and dogs and that kept a lot of boats away.  But the rain turned to drizzle, and then it stopped while we raced.  Until the last ten minutes, during which we got completely drenched!

How was the race?  Great fun!

14 knots or so of wind at the beginning, a bit gusty and shifty, dropping to more like 8 knots or so at the finish.  We got good balance with the #2 genoa and the backstay near max, with the mainsail spilling some wind.  On the first upwind, the #3 might have been the better choice, but as the wind dropped, we began to ease the backstay and fill the main more to keep us moving fast.   Average upwind speed first lap was 7+ knots, about 6.5 on the second lap.  Love it!

Even though we weren’t vying for position with any other boats (in fact we were almost the safety boat tonight due to our late start), the race was not without misadventures.  First, misreading the layling for the windward mark, pinching badly, getting backwinded and then head to wind before we got around — that was slow!  And then our second hoist had an hour-glass that took some time to sort out.

But it was a great night nonetheless — and what an awesome crew, willing to come and play in the rain!

While the cat’s away…

***While the cat (me) was away, the mice went out to play…Here’s a race report from Nonsuch, alternate skipper for tonight’s race

Tonight’s race was tremendous fun with a Cracker Jack crew that needed very little direction at all.  Everybody knew their job and did it amazingly.  Josh was magic on the head sale keeping it adjusted perfectly while Bert on main kept us powered up on all points of sail.  The foredeck of David and Gil were truly amazing with the best chute sets I have seen all season.  They were so fast on the downwind leg setting the chute and the take down was a thing of beauty with very little chatter, the whole ballet was directed in the pit by Mark Lazysheet with perfection.

Our start was very interesting as we went into sequence with a strategy to stay close to our competition and a cover Eclipse.  We approached the line in lots of traffic with Remarkable, Top Gun, And Eclipse with Battle wagon a bit behind.  We all were a little early so we tactfully jibed around in traffic along side Top Gun and Remarkable and Battlewagon was also close.  Eclipse was luffing on the line and running to the far pin while at 8 seconds we powered up and hit the line on the gun with Remarkable on our port bow and Top Gun on the starboard side.  As we powered down to Mark 5 and got into clear air in short order continuing to point quite close to Remarkable while Eclipse was way off to port and Battlewagon charging down on starboard.   We covered Eclipse as soon as they tacked with a great lea bow and continued to power to the lay line.  Our move forced Eclipse to tack back which caused him to incur a few more tacks.  We came down on the first Mark in low traffic with Celtic Spirit to port and a C&C 27 to starboard we threaded through the two of them as the first hoist went flawlessly fast and we needed to get the chute filled quickly.  This allowed us to power down the bay on a bit of a reach taking some nice gusts along the way with Josh flying the chute well and Lazysheet adjusting the pole on Josh’s cue. 

The White sail folks were turning at Mark 7 while we were going to Mark 11.  We did get a little close to Mark 7 while Chico II was rounding along with the Beneteau 23.  We managed to adjust for the Beneteau and did our best to miss Chimo II however I owe Hugh Johnson an apology as we got pinned a bit in our move around him but we kept our boat speed all the way. 

Approaching Mark 11 we followed Remarkable to the pin while dousing the chute flawlessly in record time and powered up the main and jib for the rounding and a quick tack for the beat home to Mark 14.  As we were sailing home to the finish we passed Eclipse and Sandpiper still on the down wind leg to Mark 11!

Battle wagon rounded just after us at 11 and we had a drag race down the Bay to the finish at 14. We maintained a slight lead on them however they started to gain as the wind gave us both a few knocks.  Battlewagon were to port and we determined they would need to tack while we had a tight line to the pin end of the line.  Sure enough we made the pin and Battlewagon was still tacking across well after we crossed the line.  We believe we’re a solid third in the race only beaten to the line by Top Gun and Remarkable but not by that much distance.

Only issue the rookie skipper had was backing into the slip which the crack crew made easier and ensured we put Perspective back in her slip safely.  It was a great night nobody got hurt and better still no boat damage and a 3rd place finish!

Thanks to Cap’n Rob for having the trust in letting us take out his baby for a great sail and the crack crew that made it a wonderful night.

***You are more than welcome Mark!  And three cheers for the boys in blue for a great race and a great result!

OYS “Vibes” Regatta

Had a fantastic day in Oakville yesterday with Josh & Michael on board.  It didn’t take long at all for this frankencrew to gel, and we had a lot of laughs together in the summer sun.  Looking back, there were six highlights.


Motoring out of the marina, we entered the twilight zone of coastal fog, so thick that we could only just make out the top of the masts of the boats we were following!  The shore began to fade, and we wondered if we would lose all visibility, but we stayed close enough to the others to stay connected.  Eventually the committee boat realized they should set the course a bit further off shore.  Sure enough when we motored a few hundred meters more, we emerged in sunshine.  Looking back to the coast, the fog patch was low — sunshine all around!  About six knots of wind.  Game on!

HIGHLIGHT TWO: The shakedown race

With Michael on the pointy end for the second time, and Josh on board for the first time, race number one was a shakedown.  Sure we had a couple of things to sort out, but so much went well that we’ll start with that.  First off, our fleet was in the first start — something that is so difficult for us because it is hard to start the countdown timer at the right time, and there are no other boats on the course to help select the strategy.  Nonetheless, Michael was on it, and we got the timer started right as the 5 minute gun went off.  #1 genoa out.  Timed the line well and put in a good start.  Off we go.  Upwind, Josh and Mark settled into a quick rhythm for the tacks, Bert kept us twisted and powered up, and we followed Sabotage to choose our course.  That’s not usually a bad idea, but of course, they point higher than anyone, so we ended up misreading the layline for the weather mark, having to pinch for a long time (we already had the pole set), and it was painful to be overtaken to windward while we wallowed up to the mark.  Hoist #1 was good!  Jibe #1 was perfect.  We sailed a good course downwind to reclaim our spot in fourth and make up ground on Battlewagon who was ahead.

At this point, it would be good to describe the fleet.  Six boats, with a very tight range of PHRF ratings.  A Beneteau First 41.7, rated 58.  Sabotage, rated 63.  Battlewagon, rated 72.  Us, rated 73.  A C&C 39, rated 77, and another boat I can’t remember!

Douse was clean, and away we went, but the first tack was problematic.  We left the spinnaker lines attached so we could hoist from the hole each time, but the spinnaker halyard interfered with the jib sheets.  We lost some time sorting this out, but recovered quickly.

Once again, I got caught pinching at the weather mark, and it was painful again.  On this hoist, we were worried about our halyard and jib sheets — had we really routed things properly?  It turns out we had, but for a while there we weren’t sure.  Somehow, when hoisting the halyard got stopped by the upper spreader, and Michael thought it was made.  Once we trimmed the sheet, the spinnaker wouldn’t fill.  What was wrong?  Bert took the helm, I dashed forward, and then we spotted it — easy fix:  drop the halyard a couple of feet, pull the sail a bit and then hoist.  Another quick recovery and away we went to the finish line, well behind Battlewagon.

I wondered all day whether one of the boats behind us might have gotten us on PHRF, but in the end they didn’t :-).

Score:  PERPSECTIVE 0: Battlewagon 1

HIGHLIGHT THREE: Now we’re racing

Between races, we had time for a snack, and to consult at the pointy end on how to avoid the halyard tangle.  We settled on the plan to disconnect the spinnaker halyard after dousing, and taking care to keep the head of the spinnaker from getting tangled.  Worked like a charm and now we were in a groove.

Once again Michael got the timer started perfectly.  This time, most of our fleet were fighting it out for a pin end start, so we took the opportunity to sail along the start line, build up speed and then turn at the last second.  Fantastic — we were away with just Sabotage and the Beneteau ahead of us.  And it stayed that way the entire race.

We lost some ground at the windward mark which was my nemesis again (lighter wind, knocking us a bit and maybe some current, too), and we needed to put in two extra tacks at the last minute, which meant Michael had to drop the pole and set it again in a hurry.  No problem!  Two clean hoists, with early douses and we kept Battlewagon well astern.

Score: PERSPECTIVE 1: Battlewagon 1

HIGHLIGHT FOUR: Every maneuver counts

Between races we downed some awesome sandwiches and decided to change the headsail to the #2 genoa (my favorite), as the wind had started to fill to about 9-12 knots.  While we were doing that, the race committee adjusted the course.  We noticed they set the start line almost parallel with a close-hauled starboard tack, in such a way that the pin end was strongly favoured.  With that in mind, we wanted to do a pin-end, port-tack start.  Gutsy!  In the start sequence, it was clear that we were not the only ones with that idea.  Our timing was great, though and we didn’t have anyone coming at us on Starboard that we needed to worry about, so we went for it in a nice patch of clear air, closer to the pin than the boat.

Soon, we had to dip one of our competitors, and it was a thing of beauty, just shaving their stern as we powered up.  with the bigger wind and the flatter headsail, we were able to point nearly as high as Sabotage, rounding just ahead of Battlewagon.  A crisp hoist, early jibe and quick spinnaker reach to the leeward mark added some distance.  Douse was sharp and away we went for lap #2.  The teamwork was awesome by now, as we had our systems ironed out and the communication was great.

Upwind Battlewagon closed the gap on us, we tacked early, not wanting to paint the corners of the course.  Battlewagon tacked to follow us.  Halfway to the windward mark, we tacked again and went looking for the layline.  Battlewagon followed.  Onto the layline, we tacked.  Battlewagon pushed beyond us and tacked onto what they thought was the layline.  Who was right?  Turns out they were, and we needed two more tacks to fetch the mark.  This cost us the lead as they now had the inside lane to the mark.

At this point, Josh’s sailing experience came through.  With our extra tacks, we had overstood the mark a bit, and he trimmed the foresail perfectly to keep us fast as we chased Battlewagon.  As a result, we were right on their stern when it was time to hoist.  And this is where the magic happened:  we chose a lower course than Battlewagon, hoisted quickly sailing deep, which gave us the inside lane — to leeward of them.  A quick and flawless jibe put us on the layline to the finish line, with Battlewagon astern, still needing to jibe.  By the time they came around, we had put more than ten boatlengths between us, and managed to extend that by the time we finished.  That last hoist & jibe gave us the victory — every maneuver counts!

Score PERSPECTIVE 2: Battlewagon 1

Final place in the standings:  3rd place after Sabotage & the big Beneteau First.

HIGHLIGHT FIVE: The journey home

Over the radio, shortly after 3pm, we learned that there would be no more racing, so we looked at the beautiful weather, considered our options and decided to sail for home.  Within minutes we were on a course to fetch the Burlington lift bridge, making well over 7 knots of boat speed.  For a full hour, we streamed along enjoying the very best that Lake Ontario has to offer.  Blue sky, blue water, stable wind and very little swell.

We could see a storm developing over land with plenty of rain hitting the Oakville harbour.  And we felt really clever, out in the sun, while all our friends were getting doused.  30 minutes later, it became clear that the storm had grown and was moving out over the water.  We aimed toward the bluer sky that was moving toward Stoney Creek, but there was no way to out-pace the storm.

First came the cold.  The temperature must have dropped ten degrees in an instant.

Then came wind. From about 12 knots apparent to 20 in just a few minutes.  We furled the genoa.

Then came rain.  We were soaked in the first 30 seconds.

Then came wind.  We reefed the main.  Now 25 knots apparent.

Then came more wind.  We started the engine and dropped the main.  Now 28 knots true wind!

There was thunder in the distance, and lightening to match.  We all wished it was further away.

And then, just as quickly as it came, the storm left.  Blue sky opened, the warm sun shone.  We hoisted the mainsail, opened the jib and enjoyed a leisurely sail in lighter breeze.  Our wet clothes hung drying on the lifelines, and we slowly started to warm up.

At the lift bridge, we held back to let a big freighter leave the bay, and the bridge closed before we got into the channel, so we had to wait for the next bridge.  By the time we got through, the clothes were dry, the boat was tidy and we were warm again.  In the bay, a nice breeze helped us along as we motor-sailed with the genoa alone.

Docked. Flaked. Tidied and crammed into our little car.  Made it back to OYS for dinner and the results.

HIGHLIGHT SIX: Two new ringers in the crew bank

We had such a great time sailing together, gelling quickly as a team through the whole experience — the fog, the races and the storm on the journey home — that it was hard to believe this was the first time we had even met Josh, and had only sailed with Michael once previously.  Both of the Verduyn brothers will feature aboard PERSPECTIVE in the future.  Apparently there are two more brothers and a dad who like sail — sounds promising 🙂

Thanks for a great day, guys!