Sunday, September 23, 2012

South Winds and Fair Skies: Race to Queenstown

This past Saturday, we had the annual race to Queenstown.  The weather cooperated, blowing a fresh ~15 kts out of the south.  That was good news for those of us coming from the south--there's nothing worse than banging into big waves and a north wind for 2+ hours trying to get to Baltimore Light for the start.

Having done the Queenstown races for many years, I've found it usually be a fairly relaxing race.  Because the course takes us straight across the bay, it's often a long reach.  If the wind is coming from the right direction, the 13 mile race can have zero tacks!  (It's happened before; I was there.)   I think the race committee should have the option of giving us a mark for the race across that would give us at least one tacking leg.

Our start for this race was a little wacky.  Glen said, "the breeze is strong enough that we'd be okay with a Laser start."  He meant that it was windy enough that we could luff very near the start line, pull the sail in just before the gun and be up and going in short order.

I somehow managed to get us to the line a little early and pointed toward the race committee boat head to wind with about 30 seconds to go.  A small shift started us heading the wrong way--back away from the start!  I yelled to Glen to backwind the main, knowing full well that while that will cause a Laser to sail backward, it doesn't work very well on an A30.

Is a matter of a few seconds, we were relieved to see the boat push backward slightly and head toward the line.  Not the "Laser start" that Glen envisioned, but it worked for us!

From there we lead the group across the bay.  Since we were off the wind, we moved the jib cars forward until all the tell tales on the jib were breaking evenly.  We kept an eye behind--Windswept was less than 2 boat lengths back all the way to the first mark.

We rounded, wondering if we should have reefed the main; we were overpowered, but steady.  Not too long later it was clear that the setup worked.  We had distanced ourselves from the rest of the fleet.

The final leg was downwind and you better believe that Scott was itching to put the chute up.  We didn't really need it to protect our position.  However, we all like a good chute run, so we put it up.  After a fitful start with some rounding up, we got her under control and were charging to the finish.

We soon realized that we had a shot of getting line honors (being the first boat in the whole race to finish) with a PHRF boat gaining quickly on us.  We hunkered down and sailed our fastest.  All of us were quite sure we got the line honors, but the race committee at the awards ceremony suggested the PHRF boat got us by 3".  Bah humbug!  We did it.  I saw it.  :)

It was a gorgeous evening on the bay.  I actually had the chance to join the band and play some guitar at the party.  We tested out LinGin's new grill with good results: steak + sweet potatoes = happy crew.

Nice work crew!  (We had Glen, Peaches, Ryan, Scott and me.)

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