Wednesday, 10 June 2009

LSIS #1 - Racing Like We're cruising Pt. 1

I went to the first of the Lake's "interclub" races on the weekend. For crew I had my wife's cousin and a couple guys off the trailer sailor forum. With 4 of us on board, it was the biggest race crew I've ever had.

The sail across to Lagoon City (LC) was without event. I left JP about 4 hours behind schedule on Friday, and knew that I would be arriving in LC after dark. Luckily Tabasco was going at the same time, and I could just follow them across the lake. I sailed most of the way, and then motor-sailed for the last hour into LC. I was arriving late, and my crew; Jamie, was waiting for a long time for me to arrive. She had filled the time by making new friends and sharing libations.

Finding the gap through the LC breakwall in the dark with a quartering sea was a little nerve wracking. I was thankful that the beacon was lit, and that I could light up the daymarks with our “superflashlight” but getting pushed sideways through the narrow gap was a real fear, plus once inside the breakwall, I couldn’t see the channel markers. I managed though, and felt my way through the dark to LCYC.

The folks at LCYC saw me coming and from the dark I could hear voice yelling over the drone of the outboard “Over here! I have a slip for you!” my response wasn’t exactly eloquent. “I can hear you, but I have no idea where over here is! Give me a light signal!” Eventually I was able to connect the voice to a body standing on a dock, arms flailing the air and I slid the boat into her slip.

On arrival at LCYC, I was tired and hungry, and after buttoning up the boat, I took care of primary needs (food, drink, rest) before engaging in the company of the yacht club. My head wasn’t altogether in the right space, and I may have been a little cranky. It was late; I sat up with the other skippers and crew for a few minutes, and then went to bed.

LCYC has some of the best hospitality on the lake. They had given Iris her own slip with hydro, had adopted my crew and were great to us throughout our stay. I always like visiting there. Too bad it’s such a long sail across to say hi.

Saturday morning came early. The first event was a pancake breakfast complete with all the sides you could imagine. We ate our fill, got the boat set up, and were ready for the skippers meeting. Additional crew arrived, and now we had 4 aboard. Surely we would do well with so many helping hands. Jamie had only been sailing once before, but Eric and Austin were regulars.

At the skippers meeting the course was announced, rules were established, and then everyone rushed to their boats in order to be the first ones out to the course. The course for the first race was a long upwind haul to the Maynard’s Shoal Marker, then around Thorah Island, and finally back to LC where the committee boat would be waiting.

Before leaving I listened to the VHF for the marine weather forecast. They called for rising winds with a small craft warning. Previous experience had shown that the weather changes very quickly on the lake, and between Maynards and Thorah, you can get caught in some wicked winds. I decided to put up our 110% jib rather than larger sails just so we would be prepared when the wind piped up. This proved to be a critical error.

I don’t remember the start really well, except that it was a short line, we got to it early, then ran down the line. When the horn went we were beyond the pin and had to do a 360° turn to come back to the line. Sadly, when we did that, we managed to miss the line again, and had to do a second spin to get to the line. We cut the spin short to come out on port tack, and started the race in second-last place. We later found out that the boat that started behind us wasn’t even in the race, but out for a daysail following the course to see how they matched up with the raceboats.

The slog up to the Maynards shoal marker takes forever, and it felt like we were backtracking. We watched the rest of the fleet moving ahead of us, and usually felt like we weren’t pointing as high, going as fast, or catching up to them. A completely frustrating and humiliating leg. Adding to our frustration, the handheld GPS wasn’t showing our tracklog which I use to get a fix on my tacking angles. This led to a number of poorly planned tacks. I couldn’t get the GPS set right despite numerous attempts, and eventually I just used it to hold our bearing on the mark we were going for.

We rounded the Maynards marker, and could see 2 boats ahead of us. I was hoping that the reaching leg would be an advantage to us since Iris does well with the wind on her aft quarter. Sadly though, we had some pretty sloppy waves and the boats motion was at best confused. For the first time I felt nauseous on my own boat, and we weren’t catching up with the other boats at all. To make things worse we were now definitely in last place.

Through this leg we really needed the larger headsail. I should have bit the bullet and put up our mylar 155% but I feared the lost time from my brutally slow sail changing abilities, and the small craft warning kept ringing in my head. I handed Eric the tiller, and tried to get a pole set to hold out the sail, but it really didn't work well.

Through this leg, with Eric at the helm, things definitely went better. He was able to make up time on the backside of the island, and keep our course in the confused waves. I was also able to get know Austin a little. He plays in a band, and doesn’t need a bongo player. Good thing I never let on that my bongo skills aren’t really up to snuff.

To raise moral (and since folks were hungry) we broke out the food. Eric had brought some really good polish sausage and cheese we had tomatoes and lettuce aboard. Sandwiches it was, washed down with lemonade. Coke, or whatever. Ginger cookies for dessert helped calm troubled tummies. As we rounded the back of Thorah Island in relatively shallow water we felt like we had caught up a little on the boats closest to us, but the rest of the fleet was way ahead.

Behind Thorah the slop of the waves wasn’t as bad, and the wind began to move in different directions. The rest of the fleet had managed to sail to the finish on a long single tack, but by the time we reached this final leg, the wind had moved so that we had to tack about 5 times to reach the finish. To make things worse, there was a 30° oscillation in the wind so that we would alternately be headed and lifted on each tack. The oscillations were short enough that to tack on each header would have killed us. We just had to ride it out.

As we crossed the finish line, the committee boat packed up and followed us in to LCYC.

Once we finished, we headed into LCYC for the post race party which included a couple Dark & Stormy’s, then a dinner of perogies and cabbage rolls followed by much boasting and some awards. Again I went to bed fairly early, a departure from last year’s routine.

Eric and Austin headed back home since Austin had to fly to an exotic locale the next day. I had a really good time sailing with them, and look forward to the next race they can make it out to!

LSIS Race 1 Stats:
Distance Covered: 37.6 Statute Miles (Slip to Slip)
Time on course: 5:35:34
Corrected time: 5:01:12
Time out of 1st (Corrected Time): 1:06:48
Iris was on course 19.91% longer than the first place boat.

Course Sailed:

Day 2 of racing to follow…

1 comment:

  1. Are you sure we want to admit to racing in the Sunday race? It was a hoot, but do we have to tell that story?
    Oh and thanks for not getting me with the superman impersonation story.


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