Wednesday, 1 July 2009

LSIS #4 - Racing Like We're Racing Pt. 2

Sunday dawned with dead calm air and rain in the forecast. LSIS #4 looked like it was going to be a bomb. Around breakfast everyone was wondering if there would be a race. We had our yogurt and bagels, and joined the glum faces at the skippers meeting.

The race committee shared the instructions and gave a reminder about safety gear and the need to be sure everything was right on your boat before heading out. It was a grim reminder of the events the day before. Folks all nodded; a few who hadn’t heard the news gasped, and then we went to race.

At the marina we had formed a raft of about 12 boats jammed into the space allotted for 5, so it took some time for the raft to break up and get out of the marina. Because of our great results the day before, we were the second last boat out of the raft. One of the boats leaving the marina ahead of us got stuck in the channel and held things up a little longer. Sometime between the skippers meeting and the raft breaking up, the rain front arrived.

At first the rain was falling nearly straight down, but it didn’t take long for it to start slanting, and the wind continued to build. It was the sort of strong, steady breeze that Lake Simcoe is famous for not having. It was perfect for racing sailboats.

In a repeat performance of Saturday’s pre-start, we headed for the wrong spot on the lake looking for the start line, and then found it just in time to start with the fleet. Judi set the timer, and we got our position set. We were going to be early to the line, so we pulled a donut, and got positioned. Icarus, who we were sailing against, came around us as we circled. I’m not sure what he was doing, but he went to the back of the fleet before turning back to the line.

We approached the race start with speed, right on time. To our windward side was I Am Canadian, leeward Newfie Screach was up higher on the line. I pushed Canadian up as high as I dared, and tried to push him over, but it didn’t work well. Eventually I gave up and just drove my own race, leaving him to his own devices. In a heartbeat we had passed Canadian, and were off to the first race mark, Newfie trailing right behind us.

The wind was blowing strong and steady as we rounded the mark, and I was looking forward to a good reaching leg, but as soon as we rounded, the boat wanted to round up.

I held her as long as I could, but then she rounded up even herder. It was a battle to hold the boat, and Newfie was getting past us.

I pulled back harder, feeling the tiller flex in my hands, and the boat rounded up again. I decided that maybe a reef would be a good idea.

Judi took the tiller while I put a reef in the main, and the boat settled down. Trouble was that now we were only doing 5.5 knots while Newfie was doing 6 and clearly getting away from us. We were holding our position against Canadian though.

At the top of the reaching leg we had a lot of time to make up on Newfie. As we rounded the mark to run down to the windward leg, I shook out the reef, and worked the jib to maximize our drive. It would be tough to catch Newfie.

For the rest of the race we followed Newfie around the course. We got close to him, but never passed, and as we approached the second reaching leg I talked to Judi about reefing again.

“Let me show you a trick” she said, and I became the student.

Sailing is a game of inches, but I tend to think in miles. Judi took the mainsheet and played it out an inch at a time until the sail was on the verge of collapsing. Doing this allowed the sail to drive the boat forward without the wind pushing it over and rounding it up. All along the reaching leg Judi played the sail out for the gusts, and drew it in when the wind eased off. I had learned this in sailing school, but had let the lesson slide. Now it came back. It worked. The second time around the course, the boat never rounded up at all.

Throughout the race the rain pelted us, but the winds were perfect. The water that splashed up from the lake was warm, but the rain was cold. Every “ying” had its “yang” and all in all it balanced out to a great race.

We finished the race in second place, 3 minutes behind Newfie. I think we lost those 3 minutes when I was fighting the tiller and rounding up. Next race, I’ll have another weapon, and maybe I’ll be able to catch him.

Right now we are first overall in LSIS White Sail High PHRF division. We'll have to keep holding off Canadian and Newfie if we are going to maintain our position.

Course and Stats to be edited in later.

LSIS Race 4 Stats:
Distance Covered: XX.X Statute Miles (Slip to Slip)
Time on course: 1:39:14
Corrected time: 1:29:04
Time out of 1st Place (Corrected Time): 0:04:19
Iris was on course 5.09% longer than the first place boat.

1 comment:

  1. Guess I'll have to get more comfortable with the steering part of things if we're going to do well if I get the chance to crew again.


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