Monday, 7 June 2010

Lagoon City is in the books for 2010

On Friday after work, Chuck and I headed up to Iris as fast as we could after our chores were done and SWMBO was hugged. Loaded up the boat, and pointed her at Lagoon City. We left JP at 18:33 (Chuck has that engraved on her brain for some reason) and after motoring without event all the way across the lake, we pulled in to LCYC at 21:15 just as the sky turned dusky. We were treated to a slip with power right in front of the clubhouse, and greeted by friends.

As the darkness quickly closed in on the club, we barbecued some dinner, and visited friends. Everything was great, and we quickly settled in to the Yachtie Life (food, drink, and weather reports). After catching up on everyone’s winter it was time for bed, and we retired to Iris for the night.

The mosquitoes were awful but we did our best to get some sleep despite them, then were up bright and early for scrambled eggs and sausages, race registration, and the skipper’s meeting.

The first race was to be the Thorah Island distance race. (You can see last year’s report here: ) In our first 2 attempts of this race our record stood at “couldn’t reach the finish line” and “came in so far behind the last place boat that a special standing had to be declared.” If previous performance was an indicator, I didn’t expect much out of this attempt, but then hope springs eternal, and I had had that incredible sail bring in the boat home from launch. Maybe this year would be different. At least that was what I kept telling myself as we nosed our way out to the start line.

The sail selection for the race was dead simple. With strong winds blowing spray off the tops of the waves, tree branches whipping back and forth and rain in the forecast, everyone was going down a sail size. We hanked on our 110% jib without question. There is just one problem with this sail – I had never used it before, and it has battens in its leading edge. I didn’t think much of that at the time, but would soon learn about flying a headsail with battens.

As we did our pre-start dance the boat was handling well considering the wind, and my crew (Chuck) was doing a great job of helping out where needed. Then someone sailed by and told me I had a twist in the foresail. I looked up from under the main, and sure enough – the jib was hour glassed I ran forward to tug it free, and the battens just flexed, not letting the sail untwist itself. No problem, I ran back to the cockpit, gybed the boat and as we went around the wind, it pushed the sail back around the forestay, untwisting it.

The clock ticked away, and finally we were into the heat of the pre-start. With less than 2 minutes to go, I noticed that the sail was once again twisted around the forestay. No problem, I would sail the start, then find a good spot to gybe again.

The clock ticked down, I was hot and early on the line. Needed to pull a donut and burn speed. If I went through 360° clockwise, I would open up space on the line for another boat to squeeze me out. To go counterclockwise would protect my position, counterclockwise it was. I warned Chuck to hold on and that we were going to spin around, and then we went. Around the boat spun. The main snapped across the centre of the boat, the jib wrapped itself around the forestay a second time. Crap. A double hourglass, no way to undo it, and the fleet bearing down on us from behind. To make matters worse we were still early on the line.

I held a straight course, and went over the line early. The fleet parted around us, and continued up the course. I turned iris toward the end of the line, spun her around to untwist the foresail, and then restarted the race, giving myself a 2:30 penalty before the race even started. I was both the first and last boat to start the race.

With much hard work, Chuck and I made our way to the windward mark. It was a long slog, and we did our best to stay as close to the wind as possible, outpointing as many boats as we could all the way. Slowly we caught up to the back of the fleet. We passed Gryphon (who we later found out had torn a sail and was forced to retire from the race) and we passed another boat whose name I don’t know. Then with much hard work we caught up to and passed Icarus. Almost at the windward mark we were hot on the tail of Second Wind.

In order to pass Second Wind, I thought I would push them off the mark, and pass inside. I pinched up Iris, and approached the mark, wedging myself in between Second Wind. Then the wind shifted and we were low on the mark. The boat lost speed. Then it lost more, and then we were drifting sideways as the wind howled through the rigging. The boat refused to turn. The jib back winded, wrapped itself around the forestay, and laughed at me.

It was only after Second Wind and Icarus had rounded the mark that we were able to sort things out. The other boat we had passed was close behind as we finally rounded the mark, and made a beeline for Thorah Island, trying to hunt down Icarus and Second Wind.

As we rounded the back of Thorah, I took a long route, not wanting to be caught in the shallows that surround Thorah Island as the waves crashed around us. I knew I could take a shorter and faster inside route, but that would risk hitting bottom in the troughs of the waves that were all around us. The other boat that was chasing us elected to take the riskier shallow water route, and I kept a close eye on them as they slowly caught up to us. I was demoralized, but kept on sailing. Eventually, the unknown boat tacked out from the island, an dI thought they had lost their stomach for sailing in the shallows, then just as suddenly, they turned 180° and were headed straight towards the island in some very shallow water. I was worried, but there was nothing I could do for them without risking my own boat.

That was about when I heard a call on the VHF – a distressed vessel calling for the coastguard to lend assistance. I was worried that the distressed vessel was the one behind us. Listening on the conversation, I realized that it was unlikely the two boats were the same one, but for the rest of the race I spent as much time looking behind as ahead, and hoping all would turn out well.

After the race, the skipper told us that his furler had jammed, and he had to free it, no emergency at all. I was relieved.

We plodded along for the rest of the race. I was grumpy. I had a bad start followed by a bad mark rounding and generally felt like the race could have gone much better. We finished, tidied up the boat, and headed to the clubhouse. At the Yacht club, SWMBO was waiting with Buddy, so that was nice, but I had to tell her I wasn’t an ubersailor, and tell her how bad the race was. Then I drank too much beer and complained loudly to everyone about how poorly things had gone.

Mid whining, I felt a hand on my back. It was Icarus’ skipper. He leaned over and whispered in my ear – "you took second."

I guess it wasn’t such a bad race after all!

Sunday Racing to follow...

LSIS Race 1 Stats:
Distance Covered: XX.X Statute Miles (Slip to Slip) - Tracklog incomplete
Time on course: 3:49:21
Corrected time: 3:21:36
Time out of 1st Place (Corrected Time): 0:15:23
Iris was on course 8.26% longer than the first place boat.

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