What a change from yesterday. Today, the water was beckoning already at 8 o’clock when we pulled into Dalhousie marina, and it just got better from there.
Special thanks to Skootch’s personalized livery service: we all met up at my place (David and Alvin had already dropped off a car at Oakville), and Skootch delivered us to our boat in St Catherines. Couldn’t have been any easier. We especially appreciated this at the end of the day when the racing was done, and we were sun-kissed, tired and wobbly from the rolling swell that had developed. Thanks Dad!
Originally, this was supposed to be a fleet start race, which would have had us underway at 10:20. The organizers switched it up, to make it a pursuit race, which meant we had almost another hour to burn. What did we do? We went sailing!
As we tasted the wind, and got our bearings, we saw that there was a narrow possibility to fly the spinnaker. The wind was from about 60 degrees (ENE), and we were heading to compass bearing 308 — about 110 degrees True Wind Angle. Could we hold the spinnaker at that angle in 8 knots of breeze? Only one way to find out: We hoisted and tried it out. Answer: WOW that was exciting and fast, and we were asking for a broach, but YES we could!
We moved our coolers to the high side, stern corner, and Afterguy strapped them in. Anything for a bit of extra ballast. Douse, repack the bag, re-run the lines, and ready for the start — with the spinnaker ready to deploy.
Check the wind again….hmmm, it has backed about 20 degrees to more of a pure Northeast direction. Too hot for the spinnaker.
So we focused on getting a good start with the #1 genoa up. For the first time this week, we nailed the start, right at the line on time, and plenty of boat speed. We aimed 5 degrees above the rhumb line: insurance against any further backing of the wind, and hoping for a veer so we could pop the chute and blast through the fleet. In the end, neither event happened, so we changed our course about midway to aim straight for the finish line at lower, faster wind angles.
The entire course took only about three hours! Our average speed was about 7 knots, with a peak of 8.22! The secret was to try to catch the waves that had developed, and surf down them. It was all in the timing of when to steer upwind to accelerate and when to steer downwind to ride the wave. When I caught a good one it was an amazing feeling. David tweaked the genoa and main from time to time, and Alvin and Mark tested out different positions for the ballast. When they moved to the stern on the high side, we averaged 0.3 knots faster than when they were on the beam. We figured this out about half-way through the race. Carried for 10 nautical miles at these speeds, it was worth about 3.8 minutes of time. (hold that thought).
First, and most notable, Battlewagon did not gain on us. During the race we managed to extend our lead significantly. We also gained on the rest of our fleet and began to slowly gobble them up, first Lindemere and then Tardis. We had Perry-Eh in our sites at the finish, but couldn’t quite reel them in. They got us by about two minutes. Hmmm, what if we had the guys sitting further aft for the whole race? Would that have been enough? Maybe!
After we finished, we watched the rest of the boats come in, and enjoyed seeing Battlewagon overtake Tardis at the line, crossing ahead by one second! Battlewagon third, PERSPECTIVE second, Perry-Eh third. By my estimation, that puts solidly in second place overall. 2 points behind Perry-Eh, and three points ahead of Tardis. One more race to go!