Thursday, 8 September 2011

Hawkestone Weekend - Race 2

Following our finish in the first race, we Hove-to and waited for the start of Race 2. Hoping we could repeat our success from teh first race, I thought about what my strategy should be and surveyed the bay leading to lake Simoce. The race would be a windward leg out of Kempenfelt bay, then across the top of Lake Simcoe on a shortened course leading directly to Hawkestone Yacht Club where a corn boil waited for us.

Our start was incredibly lacklustre. We not only started late, but we were in poor location and poorly trimmed. Slowly we headed to windward and began "climbing teh ladder" to work our way upwind and out of the bay. Since we weren't sailing fast, I started looking for ways to sail smart. At first I thought of success I had had in the past by running right to the edge of teh water before tacking on each upwind leg, but now I noticed that the wind was not very strong on the south side of teh bay. After trying that once, I decided to stick with the north side of teh bay and to tack as soon as I felt the boat decelerate, no matter whether Iris was being lifted or headed.

The strategy worked. In three tacks we had caught up to the fleet and worked our way into a comfortable position, crossing tacks with a few boats from the low PHRF fleet. As we continued up the bay though, the strategy fell apart. The wind was weaker in the north half of the bay than it had been. We lost some speed, the other boats regained their places, and we fell back. We left Kempenfelt bay with 4 or so boats behind us, and nothing to brag about.

As we continued across the north shore of lake Simcoe, the wind gradually fell off until we were sailing in "ghost mode" trying to hold our speed at 1 or 1.5 knots and hoping our momentum was unbroken. Iris moved silently through the water, and we sat very still trying not to disturb the tiny bit of motion we had.

I tried to hold wind lines coming from the shore, and avoid turbulence. Far out in the lake I could see other boats looking for wind, and I hoped that the shore breeze would pay off. It didn't.

Eventually the breeze died altogether, and I saw the other boats finish. Three boats were still behind us, but we had no motion at all. We bobbed in the heat, eventually allowing the whisper of wind still on the lake to nudge us over the line. Teh race comittee sounded their horn, and folks on the pier cheered us for our determination. We brought the boat in and tied up next to Allegro Andante.

The next boat would come in 45 minutes later, and the last boat nearly an hour behind us, as a thunderstorm pelted us with all of its fury. On corrected time, we finished fourth out of the five boats entered in the race.

We were glad we had made it ashore when we did. the night was spent merry-making into the wee hours, and then we retired to bed, waiting for a glorious breakfast the next morning.

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