Thursday, 9 September 2010

Iris Fights Back, Hawkestone Race 2

With the first race behind us, and feeling pretty confident that we had won it, I worked quickly to strip the torn mainsail from the boat. I was working a little too quickly, and lost one of the screws that hold our mast gates, a pair of metal covers that hold the sail slides in place. The gates are supposed to be held by 4 screws, and now I was down to 2. Not a critical problem, but still, a problem.

I slowed down and starting thinking more critically. Without a mainsail, there was no need for a boom. An empty boom would just flop around in the wind, and get in the way. It may as well come off.

In a matter of minutes I had taken the mainsail, boom, mainsheet, and boom vang off the boat and stowed them all below. Chuck and I folded the main up, and headed back out into the raging wind under jib alone to face the race. We got some strange looks from folks on other boats, but het, there we were, and we were still in the running.

After a quick sail past the committee boat to thank them for waiting for us, we got some practice sailing with half a sail plan in wicked winds. We quickly discovered that going upwind was not a very good thing to try to do the way we were set up. We also struggled to tack the boat without the main sail pushing the stern around.

I got the boat set in a good spot for the start and we guessed the time by the flags on the committee boat. Our electronics were still soaked, and refusing to come on.

The one minute flag went up, and we turned for the line. I made “S-Turns” to blow speed and tried to stall the boat. We sailed closer and closer to the start line, then past the committee boat. Just once we were too far to make the line, the start flag went up.


We tried to turn the boat back to the line, but our tack failed. Another attempt, and another fail. Someone lost crew overboard up the bay. The committee boat started pulling up its anchor to assist with the rescue. We were 5 minutes late to the line and had to get between the committee boat and start float before they left.

Finally, we just dipped below the start line, and crossed it legally, then turned Iris toward the fleet.

Being under powered may have been an advantage in the downwind race to Hawkestone Yacht Club. The boat that had lost its crew, had broached trying to go up spinnaker, and 2 people had gone overboard. One of the crew made it back on to the boat, the other was picked up by another boat. Iris chugged along like a freight train, surfing the waves and slicing a path toward big bay point, rarely being over powered, but always on the edge of control.

From Big Bay point to Long Shoal was a close reach, and we managed to hold a reasonable course, making time on the boats ahead of us. By the time we rounded Long shoal and pointed the bow at Hawkestone, we were back in the mix of things. The wind was strong, and waves were big, but Iris handled everything thrown at her without pause.

Other boats, especially those with full sail plans struggled against the wind. Canadian started the race, but dropped out shortly after the start line, still shaken from his near-sinking in the previous race. Second Wind, another of our usual competitors tore both jib and main sail, and was forced to drop all sails and retire just before reaching long shoal. Newfie Screach and Icarus carried on through the race, but we managed to pass them both on the way to Hawkestone.

Chuck and I shared the effort of fighting the wind as we sailed across the lake. She would drive allowing me to fix things as they broke, and I would relieve her when things were going well. The effort paid off. We crossed the finish line behind Icarus, but ahead of Newfie Screach, totally drenched, and with everything on the boat holding water.

Once handicaps were applied to our finish times, Newfie would come out ahead of us and Icarus behind. We were left with another 2nd place finish behind Newfie, but our time was very close to his.

In Hawkestone Harbor, we tied off to Tecumseh, plugged in the boat, and began to assess the damage we had suffered through the day. Everything on the boat was wet, from the V-berth to the transom, and up to the top of the mast. The wind howled and rain continued to come on and off through the evening. A double rainbow appeared over the finish mark, and as Iris quietly sat next to the Indian chief, Zephyrus abated.

I phoned SWMBO and told her we needed an emergency delivery. A second mainsail was in the basement, and if she could make the drive to bring it to us, we could do well the next day. SWMBO agreed, and a couple hours later arrived with the sail, and Buddy, who is always a hit at the yacht clubs.

Someplace between the finish of the first race and the BBQ following the second race, a rumor had started that the wind had torn our sail and boom off the boat together. When SWMBO arrived with the replacement sail, a few folks asked how I was going to rig it. When I heard the rumor I quickly set things straight. It’s funny how stories spread.

By bedtime, we had cleaned out the boat, hanging as much as we could to dry, and had taken the torn sails to the van for transport home. I hadn’t had time to put the boom back on and rig the new mainsail though. That would have to wait for morning, and be ready for race 3 of the weekend, a long sail around Thorah Island, in winds to match those from the day before.

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