Canada Day was VERY hot, with a firm breeze in the forecast (8 kts building to 12, no gusts), so they set us off on a 23 nautical mile course. As you can see above, the forecast wasn’t quite right! It was a long hot day out in the sun, for the crew, and our guests: Michelle, Cathy and Renee came along for the ride.
We had to choose which way to go around the course: clockwise or counter-clockwise. It seemed obvious based on the forecasted wind (clockwise), but out at the pre-start, it was a toss up. In the end we chose clockwise, as did most of our boats. Only five boats chose counter-clockwise and they won all the top honours.
Our start wasn’t great. We horsed around a bit with the spinnaker bag and pole to try to make Battlewagon think we were going to go counter-clockwise, as a result, we started slowly, and Top Gun had overtaken us before we even started 🙁 (Since it was a pursuit race, we started at 11:14, while they and Battlewagon started 20 seconds after us. To give you an idea of the spread, Chewan started at 10:00).
The first leg to the CCIW spider was a close reach, with the #1 genoa up and the shrouds still soft. We were flying along at 7+ knots, keeping Battlewagon astern and almost keeping up to Top Gun.
We jibed around the spider, whereas Top Gun and Battlewagon bore away, pushing more toward shore. After some time, we jibed too and were doing well, until the entire clockwise fleet fell into an enormous hole. The wind ground to a halt, and all the boats that started before us were bobbing along helplessly.
At first it seemed like we would be able to ghost through, and we overtook many boats, but then the inevitable caught up to us also, and we began to wallow. Closer into shore, Battlewagon and Top Gun had a little better luck, ghosted further and then were able to link up with the building sea breeze nearer the shore. They were away and one by one boats began to pull away, until it was our turn. We spent more than half an hour in the doldrums, but it felt like an eternity. Sanity was preserved by ice cold hats of water thrown on us, and frozen juice boxes.
Once away, we began to cheer up. Even though we were well astern of Battlewagon at this time, nearly the entire fleet was behind us. About this time, Perry-Eh, Stigaro and Tardis passed us going in the opposite direction — the three boats who took top honours in our fleet, likely because they were able to avoid the hole on their way upwind. Also about this time, Battlewagon doused at the wrong mark and began to head to the next turning point. We didn’t notice right away, but when we figured it out, I hailed them on the radio to let them know. They turned back to round properly, but that cost them the race.
Leg three was close hauled in a growing breeze for 10 nautical miles. We had left the shrouds soft and the new breeze was feeling a lot like the forecast, so I asked Calvin and Mark to try to harden the shrouds while we were sailing close hauled. Somehow they were able to do it — and that made a huge difference on the next leg. At first, we were sailing a course about 20 degrees low of the mark, and I began to wonder if we should tack to consolidate our position, but slowly the wind began to veer and we got lifted gradually until we were right on the layline to the mark. We could see Top Gun ahead with their black sails, and there were three others that we were hunting.
Leg four was a thrill ride, almost close hauled in a breeze that was bigger and gustier than forecast. The big gusts were easily 20 knots of wind. We were over-powered with the #1 genoa up, but the guys were on it. Gadget worked that traveler and sheet like a piston, and Squirrel eased the genoa sheet in the biggest gusts. We were flying! Slowly we started to gain on the boats ahead, and we slipped by one of them. Up ahead, the second one got hit by a gust so hard they lost control and did a complete 360 degree turn! When mother nature got the best of us, we had the cockpit full of water. Calvin had to unplug the drain hole to bail out 4 inches worth!
I didn’t see the final results, but we counted 7 or 8 boats that finished ahead of us, out of a total complement of 53 racers. A very gratifying result, and enough for a third place finish in our fleet for GHYRA day one.
But the next hour was a genuine highlight. We dropped anchor, quenched our inner heat with a long swim in chilly water, enjoyed perfect Mojitos (complements of Gadget the mixologist), mourned the spoilage of beautiful shrimp kabobs (courtesy of Lazy Sheet) all on the awesome cockpit table (courtesy of Squirrel). This is a team sport! The spirit on board was fabulous as we watched boat after boat come in for the finish.
We timed our return to harbor so that we wouldn’t be waiting long in the heat for dinner. Newport served up a perfect steak dinner, but we were baking like potatoes. After the results were called out, and we picked up one more GHYRA glass for our collection, we went back out, dropped anchor again and enjoyed fireworks from the boat in the comfortable twilight temperatures. Nearby there were several impressive displays, the FIASCO organizers set off donated fireworks (thanks Gadget & Lazy Sheet!) and then in the distance we could watch the colossal shows from Bronte, Burlington, Confederation Park, and Hamilton.
GHYRA is off to a wonderful start with a SPLASH, many BANGS, and a third place finish!