After Saturday’s less-than-fantastic showing on the race course, I figured things HAD to get better for Sunday. My crew at this point was reduced to Jamie, who was going to fearlessly man the winches and keep the jib doing all that it was supposed to so that I could just worry about course and mainsail. At the skipper’s meeting the course was reviewed – a basic triangle, two times around, start flag review (my request), and general goodwill all around.
Once again the VHF was calling out small craft warnings and high winds so I hanked on the 110%, then we headed out to the lake to see what was in store. We were just about the last boat out, and Jamie hoisted sail as we left the breakwall.
Out on the lake there was a fair breeze blowing, but not enough to really warrant the smaller sail. I scanned the sky for hints of the rising wind, and then set in to our pre-race routine. We timed the line (short!) and circled the other boats while we waited for our start. Eventually we were into our countdown. With 2 minutes to go we were approaching the line, so we did a 360° spin to burn some time. Still way to early, so we did another spin. With less than a minute to go we were coming up on the line, but we had lost a tonne of speed in the spins.
Without speed we couldn’t point, and were getting pushed toward the leeward mark. Behind us Tabasco was fighting the same losing battle. I fell off to try and shoot the mark, and watched as the rest of the fleet passed us with power. In their dirty air we drifted closer and closer to the mark until I heard the distinct ‘clunk’ of hitting the start mark. Behind us someone on Tabasco yelled out “Iris is on the Mark – She has to restart!!”
I watched the little flag from the start mark trace the bottom of the hull, it followed the keel, then popped back up, firmly wedging itself between the rudder and our transom. We had actually attached the start mark to the boat. Since it was attached to us, we dragged it out of the way of Tabasco (who would have also had to restart) and one other boat.
Now not only were we being penalized, we had given them an advantage. I climbed down the swim ladder, freed the mark, and then turned the boat around and restarted the race. By the time we crossed the start line, the rest of the fleet was more than halfway to the first mark.
We tacked up the course and actually had some pretty good speed going. Jamie showed her abilities in trimming the jib, and was able to get the sails filled so that I could focus on driving. We rounded the mark, and set off to try and catch the rest of the fleet. We were making up time on the reaching leg, but the wind moved around us until we were no longer reaching but pointing, and we were low on the second mark. In order to round it, we had to throw in a couple extra tacks, and that cost us all the ground we had gained.
The wind still wasn’t strong enough to justify the110% jib I had up, so after we rounded the mark and began the running leg, I took down the working jib and put up our 155% genoa. With the genoa on and pole set, Iris found her feet, and we began to regain lost ground. After rounding the downwind mark, we headed back up, and with a nice heel, we made our way back up to the windward mark.
The rest of the race went like it was out of a textbook (OK, not the end, but thats another story). We hit all the pins at the spot and time I wanted to, the GPS tracklog began working, the sails held shape and position nicely, and we didn’t miss any marks. Sadly, it was too little too late. We still came in last both on actual and corrected time. We were a little high on the finish mark, and had to throw in a couple extra tacks, which added at least a minute or two to our time.
But we were out of 3rd by less time than the fiasco at the start line had cost us… And out of first by about 10 minutes – that’s about what we lost to the start, sail change, and sailing with the 110%.
Things are starting to click.
LSIS Race 2 Stats:
Distance Covered: 18.3 Statute Miles (Slip to Slip)
Time on course: 2:00:55
Corrected time: 1:48:32
Time out of 1st Place (Corrected Time): 0:10:15
Iris was on course 9.44% longer than the first place boat.