Friday, 9 September 2011

Hawkestone Weekend - Race 3

Morning came too early. It always does after a yacht club party. It came with a breakfast of bacon and eggs with side trimmings of fruit and yogurt and everything else. We ate and talked and looked at the flat water of lake Simcoe and the weather warnings on the VHF and wondered how the race would go today.

A skippers meeting followed breakfast, and we were all informed that the race would start late. Folks pulled out iPADs and Playbooks, and instantly radar tracking of the storms was shown with exactly when they would hit and what the wind following them would be. a year ago this sort of thing would have been unheard of, but technology does great things, and sure enough the storms came, blew through, and right on time, the wind came up for the race.

Our course was shortened and simplified. We would sail to the weather buoy, round it, then come back to Hawkestone, rounding one of their race marks, and finally ending back in the club.We prepped the boat and lined up for the start.It was fairly calm in the start area, and we were stalled out right at the end of the line when the committee boat started the 5 minute countdown for the flying sail fleet.

Not wanting to screw up the start for the other fleet, I started the outboard, and motored out of the start box, then killed it and hauled the engine back into the raised position. This raised the ire of other boats around me. I thought nothing of it, and nothing came of it. None of the flying sail boats thanked me, but the white sail guys seemed to think I was looking for an unfair advantage. I shrugged it off and continued with my start sequence.

Our start in this race was one of the tightest we have had. We manged to keep ahead of the boats to windward, but the leeward boat was crowding us tightly. I headed up to avoid him, and very politely he pointed out how close we were to hitting him with out stern. I looked back, and there was about 6" of separation. I headed back down, locked in beside his boat, my start being controlled by his.

After a few seconds, he called us up, and we pushed up the boat next to us, and so on. In the end we started right in the front row of boats, but in a mediocre position. I still chalk it up as a good start.

We went to the weather mark doing fairly well, but somehow we did better on one tack than the other, losing whatever we gained each time we tacked. And our tacks themselves were sloppy, costing us boat lengths every time. By the time we reached the weather mark we weren't at the head of the fleet at all, but we weren't the last boat there either.

As impossible as it seems, I recall the trip back to Hawkestone as a windward leg as well. I may be wrong. Perhaps we reached to the weather mark or something like that. In any case, we worked hard at keeping our tacks to 90° on the way back to the club, and kept a few key boats in sight.

In the end we finished the race an hour after the winning boat from our division, French Connection, and 45 minutes behind our nearest competition, "Sorcery". A dismal finish. Despite my misgivings, we managed to get a third out of the 6 boats entered, and a reminder that we needed to work a lot harder in teh next race.

We were tired, and I tried not to beat myself up too much, but I knew we could have done better. After a hot dinner, we went to bed early, and started thinking about the final race of the weekend, scheduled for the next morning.

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