November 19, 2006
A Shot in the Dark crewmate Mike Burrus called up Chuck Alexander (captain of Beago), who happened to be running a little late this morning, and asked a simple question, "got ballast?" The specs on the O'Day 222 state that this vessel is equipped with 800 pounds of lead below. Would that combined with a crew of 4 people and one wet dog be enough for today's breezy match? Well, make that 4 not so dry people after retrieving said wet dog from the lake. More on that later.
With lots of crew in attendance at the skipper's meeting, it appears that our participants are a bit more serious these days. A brief bidding war ensued when Tim Chambers offered his services to any interested party in the fleet. Surprisingly, David Freye's tempting sub sandwich bid was trumped and once again, Tim would be on board I Soar. With his daughter already sailing with him (and we know how good of a team Warren and Katie make), the addition of Tim would make I Soar tough to beat today. Of course, that's no different than any other day. Andre also had crew consisting of 12 year old Jesse and 13 year old Nathan on board Hasta La Vista. What the two boys lacked in sailing experience, they more than made up for in competitive banter as Nathan's first words to me were, "be prepared to get your butt kicked by Andre today!" Hey, if psychological demoralizing your opponent is your strength, then go with it. There will be plenty of time to develop those sailing skills later.
Speaking of David Freye, we welcome him back after he has uncharacteristically missed a couple of races. David has been busy working at TVA keeping the lights on for us so we thank him for his sacrifice, but we must say it is always a better race with Banana Split out there. David said he was breaking in a new crew today, a friend who had never sailed before, so he was just going to relax and take it easy. Yeah, we've heard that story before. Mike Rice had Clarence Myers aboard Just Ducky, who last time they sailed together obliterated the rest of the fleet - of course that can happen when sailing a shorter course in comparison with everyone else, but regardless, they team up quite well. And once again, Mike Miller had his son, Tom, aboard the Tanzer 22 Asylum. Tom also does an excellent job but did not quite go that extra mile when Captain Mike requested that Tom get in the water and clean the boat bottom before the race. Having smart crew is not always a good thing now is it?
After the skipper's meeting came to order (a miracle in itself) and the race course maps were distributed, the counting began. The buoy counting that is - 14 in all. That might be a record. If anyone wishes to review the Shackleton annals to double check, please feel free to correct me if mistaken. Regardless, 14 is an awful lot of buoy roundings and we just knew someone would miss at least one today. An 11:15 start was agreed upon and after last race's starting fiasco, I instructed the fleet to listen for some type of series of horns and start the race at 11:15 regardless of what the horns say. Let's just hope we all had our watches synchronized properly. Perhaps still bleary eyed from some intense map scrutinizing, all participants were somewhat subdued as we adjourned the meeting and there was only one question posed by Mike Miller, and that question was "why?"
As mentioned, wind conditions today were breezy and a few of the boats put in reefs. In all my years of sailing I have never seen Andre put one in. Of course I have mostly witnessed him sail Dutchess, which will carry full sail in anything short of hurricane force. Although very well balanced, Hasta La Vista is a bit more tender than the Trintella, but still an extremely fun boat to sail, especially in these conditions. And after a victory in Race 1, Andre does not appear willing to relinquish the boat anytime soon. Furthermore, once again, Hasta La Vista was off to an excellent start.
Speaking of excellent start, Comfortably Numb did not have one. I THOUGHT I put myself in good position and was going to foul up I Soar in the process. However, my command of "head up!' was overruled by their "starboard!" In the end we were both over early and had to retreat. Can't I claim some type of immunity or special treatment by being the committee boat? And those horns were dead on accurate by the way!
Getting out to the course well before the start, but still somewhat rushed was Chuck and his crew on Beago. As stated in the opening paragraph, there was a wet dog situation on board. We didn't know it but Beago is the official Chickamauga Lake K-9 Rescue Boat. Before the race commenced and while we were all jockeying for position, we heard a dog barking on the Regatta Point shoreline. The dog turned out to be Grizzly, Mark Welsh's devoted pooch who had run from the marina to the subdivision point and actually started swimming out to the channel searching for her master! Chuck and company were the only witnesses to this and went to her rescue, scooping her up out of the water and immediately putting her to work on board, washing the decks and interior of the boat with the lake water that she shook off. Finding a dry spot to sit on board early in the race proved to be problematic as amazingly, Grizzly dried off before the boat. So a big kudos to the Beago crew for their heroic efforts and sailing a portion of the race standing up (or with wet britches)!
After a brief downwind leg to start the race with, we sailed an even briefer upwind course (one tack if you were one of the privileged), only to sail back downwind again to the Grasshopper Creek nun. Spinnakers anyone? No, in what must be another record, we have now had two consecutive races without even a hint of a colorful chute being hoisted. Neither the recent courses or conditions have warranted a spinnaker flight, that is unless you are some kind of crazed fanatic...that said, it is REALLY a surprise that none of us have flown one.
There were lots of tacking battles and crossings after we rounded the Grasshopper Creek mark and headed upwind for a few miles. And as always, the NW winds gave us some shifts and gusts to play around with. Although lead positions changed often, several boats made up the front portion of the fleet, Asylum, Banana Split, Hasta La Vista, I Soar, and Just Ducky. A Shot in the Dark, Beago, and Numb trailed, again wondering what all the big rush was. As we rounded the upstream mark and continued our course back down the river, reefs were shaken out and some even changed to larger foresails, hoping to maximize the sail area to wind ratio. The return trip called for a continuance of buoy weaving and it was as if someone conducting the race from shore said, "Simon says, serpentine!" No position of sail was discriminated against in this race and we saw every one of them on the way back while we rounded practically every buoy imaginable.
As the fleet rounded the Grasshopper nun for the second time today, it appeared that Banana Split (not in the picture) had the race in hand. Remember, though, all 14 of those buoys had to be rounded properly and...David hit all of them and sailed an excellent race and would emerge victorious in Race 2. Congratulations, David! Just Ducky would cross the finish line in second position, losing valuable time by doing one of those 360 things after striking a green buoy on the course. Someone advised that it would be good idea for Mike to only hit red buoys in the future since his red hulled J 24 will hide the scuff marks better. Mike and Clarence did a great job, but as everyone knows, the penalty for sailing a J 24 is severe, and they have to give about 6 hours in time to every other boat in the fleet and therefore finished 5th overall. Andre had some kid mutiny issues to deal with on Hasta La Vista but still sailed extremely well to gain 4th place The battle for 2nd was intense between I Soar and Asylum and the edge would go to Mike and Tom in the Tanzer. They, along with Warren and crew on the Ranger 23, all sailed a great race. There was a photo finish between Numb and A Shot in the Dark with the Ericson 29 crossing the finish line 2 seconds in front. But Mark and crew would still have to surrender about a minute in time for the handicap difference. And our heroes of the day in Beago did have enough ballast after all, although finishing 8th, they still sailed a great race and most importantly, had a blast!
There was some talk about a protest being filed about a violation of Rule 13 but apparently the 2 skippers arm wrestled over it or something. Good thing - not only are we unsure as to what Rule 13 is but what in the world is a protest? We never had one of those before! Just kidding. All parties of interest had good points and a good discussion over what went on out there and for those who do not know, Rule 13 deals with right of way WHILE TACKING ("after a boat passes head to wind, she shall keep clear of other boats until she is on a close-hauled course.") And none of this starboard/port, leeward/windward stuff. You keep clear until your tack is completed!
Anyway, everything ended well - the way it should be. Fun race, fun sailing! See everyone at Race 3!
RACE 2 RESULTS
Race report written by Eric Almlie ęCopyright 2006. All rights reserved.
Photos by Clarence Myers and Eric Almlie.