The weather for the 58th annual race to Oxford, MD looked great for the race down. Sunny skies and 15 kts out of the north. LinGin just had her bottom done for the first time in 3 years, so she was ready and so was the crew.
I jumped under LinGin to wipe down the bottom. It is so smooth now that a washcloth did the job. Beautiful! No more sea nettles now, so I was a happy camper. The crew arrived and stowed the provisions, fueled LinGin up and we were ready to go.
However, LinGin's engine was not ready to go. After many attempts, we decided to steal the battery from the power boat to see if that would help...and sure enough, she started right up. Unfortunately, it looked like we'd be 10 minutes late to the start!
Going into the race, we were behind Argo in the High Point standings. Argo won the NOODs and the Miles River race. Oxford is a long race at 29 nm, and therefore gets "bonus points" in the scoring. We needed to beat Argo in this race if we wanted a shot at High Point!
Fortunately, once LinGin's engine got going, she was ready to do some work. We got to the line just in time for the start, but were very frustrated by our inability to locate the check in boat. If we didn't check in, it was a 20% penalty. Ouch!
We were first across the line and started very near the boat end so we could yell at the race committee. Maybe we could check in with them? No luck. They did point us to the little check in boat 300 yards south--and downwind--of R2. This was not the "300 yards NE of R2" that was stated in the race particulars.
To avoid the 20% penalty, instead of heading downwind toward the first mark, we reached across the line to the check-in boat and checked in. We immediately turned south and put up the spinnaker, which in 20+ kt gusts and 2-3 ft rolling seas can be quite exciting.
Peaches overheard some of our discussion about the chute and asked, "what's a death roll." We did our best to explain it, but said, "trust us, you'll know it if it happens." Not more than 5 minutes later, we had a serious knock-down that, had we not responded quickly would have developed into a serious death roll. Peaches, laughing, said, "I like it!" He's nuts. We took down the chute.
The first leg is 11 nm and running wing-in-wing, we saw speeds over the ground in excess of 10 kts. Sweet! Windswept was ahead of us, as was Laughing Gull and Skybird. We couldn't find Argo anywhere, but with the rush to the start and the crazy check-in, we thought we might have missed them.
Scott had been disappointed in our decision to forgo the spinnaker, so when we finally decided to put it back up, he was fired up! This time the wind had steadied out a bit and was manageable. We had a few tricky moments, but with hard work we were able to keep the boat under control.
By the first mark, Scott had helped us get ahead of Skybird and Laughing Gull. Windswept was a good bit ahead of us and didn't fly their chute. While we made some distance up with the spinnaker, it was going to take more to catch them.
The next leg was a reach and while we put more distance on the boats behind, we couldn't get any closer to Windswept. The final leg was a beat to the finish line and to maximize our chances of getting past Windswept, we decided to split with them as much as possible.
First, we decided to reef the main. It appeared that Windswept was going to keep full sails up and the wind was heavy enough that we thought the reef could help keep us flat going upwind. Secondly, we watch Windswept stay on port tack coming around the mark to the last leg, so we tacked to split with her.
Ultimately, the splitting paid off. We found out later that Windswept had trouble being overpowered and one tack involved a tangled jib sheet. A few tacks up the creek and we were rewarded for our persistence with the gun.
We haven't run the numbers yet, but we're pretty sure this puts us in the lead for High Point.
Nice work crew!