A pursuit race in light wind, starting an hour and four minutes after the first boat of the day.
As Skootch, David, Lazy Sheet and me approached PCYC in our lyft, all the flags were hanging limp and we expected a drifter. But when we came out to the start line, the sea breeze had begun, blowing almost straight from our destination. We had a tough decision to make: go right and enjoy the promise of a stronger sea breeze along the shore (and avoid a potential hole in the middle of the lake), or go left to take the header early for a big lift in the persistent shift to the east as the sea breeze matures. It all depended on how well established the sea breeze was at our start time. Hard to answer when just half a nautical mile from shore.
To answer, we tracked our true wind speed and sailing angles closely, as we tentatively pushed away from shore. As soon as we saw our wind speed drop a bit, we tacked back to the shore route, but we knew we would need another tack to clear Clarkson pier, so we had to head out once more. Up until this point, Battlewagon had tacked to cover us, but now they let us go. Gingerly we tested the milky patches, scrutinizing the wind. The speed did not fall off as we went further into the lake. In fact, it built some more, and our confidence grew that there would be no hole in the middle of the lake, but instead a welcome shift.
With light wind and flat water, we didn’t sail close-hauled, but cracked off with 110 degree tacking angles so that we could get going as fast as possible.
We focused on boat speed and sail trim until we were the left-most boat we could see, and then tacked back (so as not to be greedy, or believe too much in our theory of the day). We struggled to get Performance and boat speed on Port tack, so we opted to tack back and push further left. We carried on until a bit of a knock began to appear and we estimated we would need a 20 degree lift on the opposite tack. VMC was 2.1 kts on starboard. After the tack, we focused on getting boat speed and eventually had VMC of 4.5 kts.
The lift began. It grew. Soon, we were cracking off and we began to see that only a handful of boats were ahead of us (Perry-Eh, Pandora II, Magic, and a couple of the larger white sail boats). We had about 10 nautical miles to go, and the wildcard was Battlewagon, who had taken the shore route. They were a long way away, (almost not visible in the binoculars), but had a good head of steam. Were we ahead? behind? this was going to be interesting!
The shift progressed, we overtook Magic and the white sail boats. Battlewagon approached. Big Yellow was behind them and coming on. In ultra slow motion, we watched Battlewagon reach our line about 400m ahead, and bear away to cover us. With about an hour to go, it seemed they had us!
But the shift progressed further, and we had our spinnaker ready on the bow. A quick reference to the true wind angle (106 degrees) and wind speed (about 6 knots), and up went the kite. It was an almost simultaneous move by us, Pandora & Magic. Battlewagon scrambled to set their spinnaker, and in that interval we had overtaken them and stretched away.
What a fantastic way to close off a wonderful day of sailing on the lake. First place went to Perry-Eh, Second to PERSPECTIVE, and Third to Battlewagon.