Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Hawkestone Weekend - Race 1

Its been a pretty poor sailing season for Iris so far. Life has gotten in the way of living, and she has sat far too many times when she would rather have been on the go. I made the promise that we would bring her to Hawkestone, and made sure we kept it.

Friday night Chuck, my 14 yo daughter and I sailed across the lake and tied off in Barrie Marina (aka "The Duckshit Docks"), a 15 minute hop away from Barrie.

In the morning we put-putted to the Barrie Yacht Club and tied up outside their harbour, then went ashore for breakfast and the skippers meeting. Since we have only done one other race this season, there was a lot of catching up to be done.We heard stories from previous races and learned how our stiffest competition was doing.

I am Canadian has retired his old boat, buying a new one, Sorcery. A couple new boats have shown up in our division, most notably, Butterfly and French Connection. French Connection sails from our club, Butterfly from Cooks Bay. Both boats are well sailed.

Following breakfast we headed out for the first of the races. The windward-leeward course would take us across Kempenfelt bay, and give us a chance to get things working before a longer race from Barrie to Hawkestone. We hanked on our sails and headed out.

IN the pre-start we tooled around back and forth waiting for the horn. As we tried to get to the preferred end of the line, I realized that we and most of the fleet were on starboard tack. This forced a dilemma. If I tacked to cross the line, I would be on port tack. Starboard tack has rights over port. The rest of the fleet was on starboard. I could get in serious trouble if I didn't work something out.

Then, as if on cue, most of the fleet tacked to port to go for the line. The port tack was preferred for the start. We were suddenly in the best spot of the entire fleet, close to the committee boat, and in good air, accelerating to the line. a horn went, my timer showed start time, the rest of the fleet was still flogging sails and hadn't pulled them in for some reason. We blasted past everyone, and hit the line with speed as the other boats pulled in their sails. Then a second horn sounded and timers on boats surrounding us went off just as we reached the line. My timer was set minute early, but since I had miss-judged the start, we were the first boat to the line, and were right on time, with speed. A happy accident.

We made our way to the windward mark on a close reach, and were met there by 4 other boats, Butterfly rounded first, followed by 2 low PHRF boats. Not realizing that Butterfly was my competition, I let him get ahead, and focused on the boats behind us.

We rounded the mark and reached to the leeward mark, losing a couple more places to boats in the other fleet, then headed back to what had been the windward mark. By now the wind had shifted, so the windward leg was actually a run. Rounding the mark, we realized that even more of the fleet had passed us, including most of our competition. In the last leg, we would get passed by the rest of the fleet, narrowly ending as the second to last boat to finish the race.

With the boats coming and going from the fleet this season, an interesting development has been that Iris is now the slowest rated boat in our fleet. This means that although six boats finished ahead of us, we still took third place on handicap, and were out of second place by only 20 seconds. Butterfly and French Connection, the two new boats had beat us. An interesting development for sure.

Not knowing we had taken third, we were happy with our start and pondered ways to improve our results for the next race. The Hawkestone race.

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