Faithful Friends and Crew of Strategery,

Would you believe 3 in a row? Well if you’d seen the crew in action last night in a come from behind victory, you would for sure.

The crew last night was Shawn on the Bow, Chris on the Main/Tactics, Dewey on Jib, Jim on chute and making her new boat debut was Kim working the Pit and as Squirrel (the belowdecks machine that gathers the spinnaker on the douse).
The breeze was between 11 and 14 knots, the seas only 1 to 3 feet and the sun warm and consistent. Independent of the race, you couldn’t ask for better conditions.

Prepping for the race we had a couple of interesting discoveries…2 lovely rips in the jib along the leech (or trailing edge) of the sail.  This is a major problem, as we were hoping to make our current jib last until at least September, when new and more durable materials are incorporated into the sails according to class rules. For last night we made do with the poor man’s sail loft – duct tape liberally applied by our resident repair man – Shawn. Thankfully it was white tape (Shawn is a perfectionist), and not the normal nasty grey, so our problem was a secret from our competitors (who were all out for blood).

A last minute wind shift caused a delay and the setting of a new upwind mark. The course called was course 2, 3 times around. This was going to be a real marathon for us all.  

As we started to gear up for the countdown, I heard over the VHF: “For your information, there is a log floating in the water about 30’ to the stern of the committee boat”. Great. Not bad enough that the other 105’s are already jockeying with us, but now we have to worry about holing the boat on an obstruction. Then, as I tend to do, I wondered if this couldn’t be used to our advantage… 

Making sure we were below the line and not in danger of being shut out at the start, we began our run as the clock ran down.

“1 minute, 15 seconds” called Chris…

”45 Seconds, we can start heading up”…

“Shawn!” shouted to him…” Where the hell is that log?”

“You’re OK!”

That was all we needed to hear. Went for the start at the committee boat end in clear air and above the fleet. Position couldn’t have been better as we hit the line at the start about ¼ of the way down the length of it. Marlen was below us (we controlled their breeze), Ubuntu had been over early and Uproar was well below, but in clear air and moving well.

With the current flooding into the harbor we continued sailing on Starboard tack until Marlen tacked under us to get to clear air.  We covered, and sailed out to what we thought was the layline. Layline is a term that refers to the “line” you would sail to “lay” the mark…since boats cannot sail directly into the wind, the layline is course that would allow you to sail around the mark at the “close-hauled” or closest to the wind angle your boat can hold at speed. 

We made the first of 2 mistakes at this point. We tacked too early. This was a huge error that I will take full credit for. Similar to the first race, I tacked too soon and found myself under the mark and stalled in the breeze of other boats. This is bad, bad, bad.  We tacked back, sailed up a couple of lengths, and tacked back over again to clear the mark.

While we were fixing our mistake, Uproar rounded ahead and inside of us at the mark, as did Ubuntu. Marlen was close on our heels.  We set the chute and started sailing downwind. Here is where we both made our second mistake and got the biggest break of the day. Typically, the course that was called would be a windward/leeward course, 3 times around. That is, the race committee sets a course that is directly up into the wind, and down with the wind, forcing lots of tacks. Because of the massive shifts, the marks we had were an upwind mark (that was reset and was perfectly upwind) and a downwind mark that was off to port by about 1 mile. It had originally been set as the upwind mark before they changed the course. We didn’t believe that they wanted us to sail to the mark well off to the side, and thought that they wanted us to use the “pin” set at the starting line as the downwind mark. Therefore, we started sailing deep. Our mistake. 

The break we got was that the boat Uproar (now the leading boat) thought the same thing. They were well ahead and committed to the bottom mark when we saw the other 105’s heading for the offset mark.  When we saw Marlen shooting for that mark we decided to alter course and clawed our way up to the proper course. If we had waited a minute more, we wouldn’t have been able to fetch the mark. As it was we were sailing a very hot angle, and the boat speed leapt up to 8 knots as we plowed through the waves. Very unusual course and sea state to say the least. 

By this time, Ubuntu, racing a very solid race this week, had moved into first place ahead of us. We executed an excellent takedown and rounding to stay on their tail and head for the mark. Playing a combination of the current and tactically staying ahead of the following fleet, we were able to round the upwind mark in a close second position. Executing the every difficult one hand holding the halyard while the other cleared the foot block tangle with the spinnaker filled, Jim led the set with Kim.  Agressively balancing weight on the bow and the windward side let us fly downwind through the chop, reaching for the mark with the other 105’s in close proximity (Marlen behind and above and Ubuntu in front and slightly higher).

Chris got the team set for the rounding, as we established overlap (got rights for room) at the lower mark rounding, executed a perfect Mexican takedown (Dewey worked the pole, tack and halyard brilliantly with Kim, Jim and Shawn getting the big sail down), we turned inside them at the mark and squirted in front, blocking Ubuntu’s breeze. For the first time of the day, we were in first place! 

Sailing the last upwind leg, we covered the other boats as they dueled it out. Finally, it became clear that they were doing each other enough harm that they were no longer going to catch us – we headed for the upwind mark. 

Rounding about 5 lengths in front, we set the chute and had a good, fast run down to the last downwind mark. Chris called a jibe at the lower mark and we sailed a close reach with the chute up towards the mark.  Kim, the alternate helmsman, drove the last leg to her first victory on her first sail on the boat.

Definitely the most hard fought victory so far, and one that we were all proud of. 

See this writeup and others on our updated site:

Next week…the search for a new jib.



6/21/05 - Race 4