February 7, 2009
For years people have asked me if I have good wind and
weather ordered up for an upcoming race. Well, of course - it is ALWAYS on
order. But there is often a discrepancy between what is ordered and what is
actually delivered. When the good stuff gets back ordered, those in charge of
delivering are quite
willing to ship rain, cold, hail, lightning, and anything nasty they can think
of our way. Today,
however, was about as good a day as it could get for an early February race.
Sunny skies, temps in the mid 60s, and strong, STEADY southerly winds. Didn't go
sailing today? SHAME on you!
We did have our usual gang of folks anxious to sail today.
Unfortunately, at the skipper's meeting, Greg on Wavelength mentioned something
about time restrictions and the high probability of not being able to finish the
Therefore he was pushing for an early start - well, not for the whole
fleet mind you, but for himself personally. We envisioned heading out to the
race course a half hour later only to find him at the finish line saying
something to the effect of, "Whew! What a wind - allowed me to complete the 10
mile course in only 30 minutes! Too bad the wind is dying down for the rest of
you now!" As cruel as it sounds, we didn't allow what would have surely
been a record shattering performance and Greg had to start with the rest of us!
But still, even though his day of sailing was cut short, Greg had a great time
out there today.
Also having a good time, as always, was the crew on
Sassafras. All smiles here, they are true competitors out on the race course
and continue to exhibit a true Shackleton spirit on the water. Little does
anyone know that once again this year there is another award for the most
spirited crew. Last year Mike Miller (Tanzer 22 Asylum) provided a really
nice water color painting of Sir Ernest himself that was awarded to David Barrow
on Alexa. Although Mike was unable to provide another nice painting this
year (should have put a carbon underneath the original when he painted it)
he did provide another neat award to be given out at the end of this season. I
would say that the Sass crew is the front runner for this year's award
with one race still left to go. And it is a really nice gesture of Mike Miller
to provide these awards - we are sorry he has been unable to participate in this
season's series due to other commitments.
Getting back to the conditions of the day - they were
perfect. But you already know we wouldn't be sailors if we didn't gripe about
something. And since we know that everyone is thoroughly satisfied with their
handicaps and the handicaps of all other boats in the fleet...
Oh, sure they are! Seriously, if there was one thing we could
complain about (but won't rant too heavily on) is that the winds were a wee bit
stronger than the forecast predicted. Personally, I was banking on the 10-15
forecast to be closer to 10 and not in the low 20s as it was for a large portion
of the race. But even so, all captains like myself have a certain list of
Rights. And one of those Captain's Rights is to always, ALWAYS hold strong in
their convictions. Therefore, I will fiercely argue and go down swinging,
remaining convinced that the
155% genoa was the choice sail for the day...if your ports needed a good
washing. The proof is in the video:
did my keel look today?
Okay, so Hasta La Vista was overpowered a wee bit. So
I was sailing more sideways than forward. What about it? It didn't change the
fact that I was still having fun. And yes, pounding on the waves, getting
sprayed with cold river water, straining muscles, and getting bruises while
sailing is having fun. Refer back to the Captain's Rights in the preceding
paragraph if you disagree. By the way, crewmembers are not allowed to weigh in
their opinions on the Captain's Rights which, come to think of it, is probably
why I rarely have crew! Speaking of having fun, Andre was doing the same on
Dutchess with his big 155% deck sweeper (you will note he was single
handing, too). Even though the mighty Trintella can handle a much windier blow
than the likes of San Juan 24s, the rail on Dutchess was often buried as
well. But I am positive Andre will defend his choice of sail also, along with
his recent addition of some used self tailing winches.
True Blue was looking good out there today as well
(and also appeared to be flying a big foresail.) Unfortunately, Shawn would have
to retire early from the race due to a young crew member getting ill. Now
seriously, that is good skippering - tending to the health of your crew first.
Kudos to Shawn for this action.
Also flying a 155% and actually doing the best job of anyone
handling a large sail today was the crew on Ugly Red. Chris, Scott,
and Bill were doing an outstanding job on this boat again. And although the
sails on the D&M are several years old, Chris was mentioning that they only have
about 12 hours of use on them. All this boat needs now is a little bit of putty
and some buffing and voila! But then "Ugly Red" might then be a misnomer. But
again, great job by this crew today.
Earlier this racing season, James and Kristen on
Carol Lynn were kind enough to spare me seeing a photograph of my gory
grounding in Race 4 and were also unable to capture my textbook hourglass
spinnaker flight in Race 6 on camera. Today, they had some spinnaker issues of
their own that I happened to catch on film. At first I thought to keep these
pictures to myself but alas,
the paparazzi in me is coming out as I simply owe it to the readers to keep them
informed of all the news that is fit to
publish. Therefore I am afraid I cannot
reciprocate their kindness! Seriously now, if the photo of me on the ground was
not so grainy like they said, I am sure I would have a copy of it and certainly
would not hesitate to use it against myself even! And besides, James and Kristen
made an excellent recovery with the spinnaker and finished this race strong as
they have been all season long. Excellent and solid sailing as always!
Well so far I have mentioned all but 3 boats this race -
Maniac, Beatnik, and Smoke on the Water. As far as Maniac
is concerned - gee do I even have to type out the words "Maniac wins
again" any more? We should just assume this and in fact, I have already started
writing the Race 8 report and am already congratulating them on their win! Just
wait until you hear what Tim said in his victory speech...for that matter, I am
sure Tim himself can hardly wait to hear what he said, too! I know, I know,
never assume anything and yes, we have beaten the Chambers' team before. It does
not happen often. But today...
It would not happen again. Although Ugly Red would
correct out in second place just a mere 1:44 behind the J 29 (to clarify, that's
a minute and 44 seconds, NOT an hour an 44 minutes), congrats again to Maniac!
Nice job as always!
Winning the actual race... well, I guess that is sort of
important. But we always say, this series is not about winning, it is about
getting out there with your fellow sailors, competing in the elements, the
camaraderie... okay, okay - enough of that. A good rivalry among boats squashes
all that other sappy, feel good rhetoric! What about Beatnik and Smoke?
If you recall, there was a little side bet early on in the year in which all
other race happenings and results
would be rendered insignificant. That is, in which it was stated that the Ranger
23 Smoke on the Water would beat, boat-for-boat (no handicaps applied),
last year's Shackleton Series champion, the J 24 Beatnik. Let it be known
it was witnessed by many and even photographic proof was provided -
congratulations to Mike Edge and Chuck Alexander on the best race they have
sailed this season. The bet was for 2 cases of cold brew. But it appears that
there is a bit of an uncertainty as to whether the 2 cases were to be a cheap,
watered down domestic or some expensive, highbrow import. I do not mention
specific beers here (especially for the "cheap domestic") for fear of offending
someone who might say, "hey, now! That's some pretty good beer! And at $2.99 a
12 pack, a bargain, too!" So we conclude Race 7 with a photo of what we will
simply call "The Finish". But I guess I must add that since the picture was
taken from far distance and not quite the sharpest image, years from now
conspiracy theorists will debate whether or not this event actually took place.
See everyone for Race 8!