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.
HIGHLIGHT ONE: Morning Fog
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!