Three seconds! Â Just three measly seconds! Â That’s how much Battlewagon beat us by. Â We almost had them, but couldn’t quite real them in at the finish. Â It was an exciting end to an exciting night on the water. Â Once again we had big wind, and once again we flew the spinnaker. Â The Thursday night lads got back on the bike again after our humbling last week — even though we were only four of us on board!
Of course, we’d a had ’em handily if I didn’t get caught at the start — this time Sabotage shut the door on us at the start line, so we had to circle around behind them, which cost is 30 seconds right off the top. Â Not my week for starts — time for a new technique!
Sorry no video feed tonight — such a shame since we had water on the rail many times, a nice close crossing with Battlewagon when we had to dip them by a hair, and the slightest bit of a rolling motion starting when the spinnaker was up — those all would have made great highlights, and the finish would have been precious to record. Â What a night to forget the camera!
Here’s how it went.
At the dock, we turned the boat around and changed to the new #3 (the deep one that doesn’t point very high). Â In the pre-start we had 25-28 knots of wind blowing on our nose, so we reefed the main too. Â Even so, we were going 8 knots on a reach (with the jib furled)!
We waited until the approach to the committee boat before opening up the jib. Â Once again, we were faster than I was expecting, and before I could decide to slip to leeward of Sabotage, Doug was hollering — “you’ve got no room, Rob!” while he hugged the layline to the committee boat. Â At the last moment, we tacked away, jibed quickly and charged at the line again. Â It seemed really fast to us on board, but RaceQs shows that loop, and at least 30 seconds went by. Â By this timeÂ our fleet was well away and we had to reel them in.
And here’s where the narrative gets technical. Â I got some advice from Doug about tuning the shrouds differently for high wind — much tighter uppers and mids — and to max out the backstay. Â On the first upwind leg, we were pointing as high as Battlewagon, and sometimes it seemed as we were pointing nearly as high as Sabotage — that was a new experience, and that was with the mainsail reefed. Â Big Yellow was breathing down our necks from astern, but could not catch up to us! Â By the windward mark, we were in a solid third place: Â Sabotage, Battlewagon, us, and Big Yellow. Â We decided against hoisting the spinnaker — the wind was still really strong. Â Instead, we shook out the reef, and put in several jibes downwind. Â By the leeward mark we had neither gained nor lost ground on the boats ahead of us. Â Big Yellow fell well behind.
The next leg was magic for us. Â With slightly less wind, and the reef out of the main, we pointed even higher. Â RaceQs tells us that we sailed 10% less distance, and pointed 7degrees higher. Â As we approached the windward mark we had almost caught up to Battlewagon, having to dip them when on a port tack. Â Game on! Â Four hands got the spinnaker ready, Squirrel took on two jobs, and we rounded and hoisted the big blue chute. Â The sound of the wake was fantastic as we began to close in the distance. Â One neat jibe late on the leg and we flew to the finish on a hot point of sail. Â It looked as if we could sweep in just before the competition, but the pin end of the line was favoured, and Battlewagon got us by a boat-length.
If only I’d had a clean start!
But kudos to the Thursday crew for being the only boat in our fleet to fly a spinnaker, and doing that right after our excitement last week. Â The vibe after was fantastic, and soon Chris called us over to Battlewagon to chew the fat on a gorgeous warm summer evening.