Monday, July 16, 2012

Off to a Quick Start This Racing Season

Given we are still relative rookies when it comes to sailing, any accomplishments we have in racing are likely more attributed to luck than skill.  However, based on the BHYC race results so far this season, there is one other possibility: the Redwing is just a fast boat.  Of course, as our most recent race result (a DNF) will attest, there limits to any theory.  We know that in extraordinarily lighter winds, Exploits, is not a happy boat.

The traditional first race of the season at BHYC is billed as a "fun race", with a staggered start according to boat speed.  This year we had some new boats in the fleet and one of them Willit raced for its first time at BHYC.  A total of eight vessels made the start line in spite of the forecasted rain and were treated to a nice sail on a day with no rain.

We battled the whole way around and seemed to be in a dog fight at every mark, which made the race more exciting.  Exploits doesn't seem to perform as well on down wind legs, but we quickly regained our position on the windward leg and finished a respectable 4th out of 8 boats.  Abigale (a Redline 25 - which of course is related to the Redwing) led the entire race, with Wings (our sister boat) finishing second despite problems with their spinnaker.  Our dock mates, Fly-Bye-Wire (a C&C 30 - cousin to the Redwing) finished third.

Our Wednesday Race Series kicked off on June 27.  I recruited the Skipper of Abigale for Wednesday nights and he has been great.  Our first race turned out to be a drag race.  We finished first on corrected time with Wings second.  Redwings first and second would become a theme for the next few races.

June 30th was our next race and Jude was back running our sheets.  We finished second to Wings which was a great boost to Judy who was getting tired of Abigale's Skipper having success aboard Exploits when she wasn't there.  Nut Case was back for the July 7th race and we fully expected to see our placing drop given the fact that the J27 looks fast even when it's tied to the dock.  Nut Case lead from start to finish but once again the Redwings were first and second followed by the Redline on corrected time.

We had a fantastic windward leg and closed the gap on Nut Case and passed Gaila.  Abigale choose to make a quick tack rounding the last mark which likely allowed us one less tack and a solid second place finish. If we were feeling over confident, that was quickly going to be put to rest after our second Wednesday (July 11) night race.

The evening started with the crew announcing he had gone for a cortisone short earlier in the day for a frozen shoulder condition he was battling with.  He felt good to go despite the treatment so we headed out.  Just after we received the 5 minute warning there was barely a ripple on the water.  I just knew it was going to be a long painful evening for us.  Little did I know how long and how painful!

We unfurled the jib with 4 minutes to start and watched the jib slowly and gracefully slide off the furler and into the water.  The snap shackle on the jib halyard came undone, which not only meant the sail was released, but the end of the halyard was now at the top of the mast.  I looked at Steve, who was white as a ghost, either from the shot in the shoulder or the realization that one of us (the lighter one of us - him), was going to have to go up the mast and retrieve the halyard. We borrowed a "chair" of sorts from Wings and hoisted Steve to the top, without incident. Fortunately for us, the fleet delayed the start for 5 minutes to give us time to redeploy our headsail.

It turns out that I snagged the snapshackle during a practice session with the spinnaker.  Of course the sail was rolled up so we didn't know it had become detached until we unrolled it.  I made sure the put plenty of tape on the snapshackle before we hoisted it to avoid a similar problem in the future (altho I believe I am cursed when it comes to that spinnaker).

The race was straight out to Jollimore's Reef and back, about 3 miles.  The only wind, which we discovered too late, was a light breeze coming off the shore.  We got out into the Bay and the only progress we made was from the tide, which unfortunately was also pushing us away from the mark.  As we approached the mark, the lead boats were on their way back.  The Skipper of Between the Sheets was actually fishing for mackerel, an indication of the conditions.  It didn't seem to hurt him tho, since they eventually finished 3rd.  Maybe he hooked a fish and had it pull him in!

We actually missed the mark and had to tack back, against the tide and do a 270 around the mark.  If we had any forward momentum it was gone by that point.  We actually rolled up the head sail and maintained the same speed, altho I expect we were going backwards!

Of the 7 boats that started, only 3 managed to finish, altho all were well over 3 hours.  Unfortunately our rules for calling the race are not clear, so the results stand which really hurts us in the standings (like we care about that!).  We're going to miss a number of races when we're off cruising in the Bras d'Or Lakes next month so we're racing for the enjoyment not the trophy!

In between races we have had some fantastic weekend sails, including hosting the crew of Nut Case this past Saturday and our neighbours from the cottage on Sunday.  Both were great all sails aboard Exploits seem to be!

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