The journal of a Melges 24 and her racing crew...
The Boat
Faithful Crew and friends of Strategery,

Well, the second race of the season has come and gone. Before we go into that, let's discuss the results from the last race. Prior Tuesday results were :
1. Trinity
2. Breakaway
3. Veladare
4. Strategery
5. Fianna
6. Indigo

As discussed, it was a great race and we were pleased given the relative rustiness of the crew.

On the 8th, armed with a forecast of 20+ knots and a fully charged TackTick, the same crew of 3 hit the water. Due to last minute forecast change, we were unable to get an alternate on board. We were pretty certain that it was going to be a wild and wooly night... we were not disappointed.

If you haven't seen the photos that were taken by Trisha on the committee boat, check out the gallery page. Thanks Trisha.

We had a great start as usual - Chris called the timing perfectly - clear air at the committee boat end at Max hull speed. Most of the other boats had to kill time or hit the line toward the pin end. Breeze fluky and dying to numbers in the 5 to 10 knot range as the race progressed.

The conditions for the race did not favor Strategery. Pretty sloppy chop that proceeded to cause us grief upwind throughout the race. We decided to stay in the middle of the course upwind, and rounded the mark in the middle of the pack.

It was a pretty long course given the breeze. 2KR to Gunboat Shoals to the downwind mark. 2 times around with an upwind finish.

This race seemed plagued with trouble for us, and we had a few things happen that contributed to a poor showing on our part. One, we sailed away from the fleet, expecting clean air to provide a better advantage for us. It is a fundamental rule that you want to stay with the fleet. Risk does equal return, so on the upside you can get better air and current to beat the fleet, but it is generally rare that the collective mind of the fleet is not aware of something going on the course.

Probably the reason that I like racing so much is that it is a microcosm of the market economy. Wind and currents are like market trends, the boats they race are the products and services they have to sell, and competitors execute strategies and tactics to win against one another.

With 7 boats racing and an average crew size of 5 and an assumed 10 years average experience that means that at any given point there are 350 years of experience on the water trying to pick the right course/trend. The movement of the pack is very important. Be a wide variant at your peril!

As the race progressed we were reminded of this well documented lesson and will likely not repeat our sin in the too near future, although I'm sure we will invariably repeat it again.

The chop remained a major factor for us. Versus the competition, Strategery isn't a heavy boat and has little inertia. Where the others in the fleet were powering through the waves, we were pounding up and down, or zig-zagging to avoid the pounding (which causes you to sail slower and a further distance over the entire race).

Finally, there was a ton of kelp in the water. This stuff particularly likes our keel, which is designed differently than our competition. When we cranked it up at the end of the race, what we found would have made a sushi chef's mouth water.

Downwind was notable due to our encounter with a powerboat...whom I will name Rodney. Rodney was a 40' sportfisherman with a wake that would thrill those kids on wakeboards. We took it off the stern quarter in a light breeze and it proceeded to rip the boom from Shawn's hands and project it into the side of my skull...proving that sailors do name all parts of their vessel for a reason. The CT scan found 2 things out - 1) that I have a mild concussion and 2) that my brain is larger than average - which anyone can tell by looking at my big melon!

After that, the race was a bit of a blur, but we did cross the finish line and we weren't DFL as I had feared.

The results were:

1) Trinity
2) Breakaway
3) Veladare
4) Fianna
5) Strategery
6) Indigo

Check out the photos from Trisha (thanks again)!

Until next week.

6/8/02: Tuesday Night