January 17, 2010
If this does not restore our reputation as being the hardiest sailors in the Sale Creek metro area I certainly don't know what would. Just a week after bowing down to the conditions of Race 5, there was absolutely no way we were going to let a little bit of rain, fog, ice, and lack of wind spoil our sail this day. Giving in two weeks in a row? Not in our vocabulary! Although the Arctic blasts we had been receiving the prior couple of weeks had finally retreated back up north a few days before Race 6, we were still left with all this frozen lake water to deal with. Despite the warming trend, the thawing out process was taking its time. And although there was a clear path in the harbor by Race Eve, the 2 inch plus thick ice still had a stronghold on the sailboats berthed in their slips. The exception here were the boats on the outside of A dock that were freed by the generous swath that Blue Moon cut during a couple recent tours. It was good for those participants but the rest of us were still frozen in and rather solidly. Therefore a few ambitious Shackleton participants (James, Mike Burrus, Mark, and myself) took it upon ourselves to free the rest of the fleet from the suppressive grip the ice had on our respective watercraft. With the assistance of turbulence caused by the prop wash from Carol Lynn and Comfortably Numb, the pure force of a couple of small aluminum skiffs (horsepower is overrated), and the brandishing of an impressive array of blunt objects, it wasn't long before the Shackleton fleet and all other boats were at liberty! And to think all that effort was expended JUST for the opportunity to drift around in the rain for a couple of hours!
Honestly we were anticipating a little bit of wind for Race 6 and there was some grumbling (is there ever NOT?) about a mere 3.3 mile journey that would be today's task. It was the timing of the wind that was uncertain and although it was certainly possible that the course might be sailed in a very short time span, it was equally possible that we would be out there awhile getting our money's worth out of our foulies.
We did initially set an 11:30 start time to allow for the fog to lift, the rain to stop, and the wind to build - none of which transpired at 11:30. We were quite prepared to deal with the rain and fog but the lack of any breath of wind was the biggest issue. So much so that getting any kind of forward momentum going was a challenge. Therefore we did something we rarely do - especially in a Shackleton race, and that is we delayed the start until 12:00. Well noon arrived and still nothing had changed resulting in a second 30 minute delay. At 12:30 those who were desiring time spent out on the water today appeared to be getting their wish. Because once again we had to further postpone the start. Those with less expensive foul weather gear were beginning to understand the concept of "you get what you pay for." However, there was a glimmer of hope as not only was the rain was beginning to subside, there was a very slight draft that lead to actual boat movement. This hope led to only a 15 minute delay and just prior to the 5 minute horn, the wind filled in nicely. At 12:45 we were off!
Now the fact that our actual races seem to be getting shorter time wise is not any indication that this will be the norm for future racing out of Sale Creek. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Although a good sprint is nice every now and then, we really do prefer those of the marathon variety and always remain hopeful of seeing that triangular shaped land mass known as Hiwassee Island on the race course maps in the near future. But for today, it would turn out that the time spent during all those starting delays would be longer than the race itself. Now that might not have been the case had the wind not blown the fog away by the time the fleet reached the Grasshopper Creek buoy. Even though we could not visibly see the familiar red nun upon exiting the secondary channel, sailing to it in a brume was certainly not an issue as I think every Shackleton sailor through the process of evolution has developed a homing instinct the directs us to that buoy. Finding our way beyond it, however, that is where we could have run into trouble. But again, the wind had picked up nicely and visibility on the river improved greatly.
Yes, Race 6 was practically over right after it started. If you blinked, you missed Opus Dei and Maniac sail the course. If you blinked twice, you missed everyone else. And speaking of missing, we are beginning to have a truancy issue with some of our fleet - MIA were that very same bunch that were absent for Race 5 - or would have been marked absent since Race 5 was the race that wasn't. A little bit of jet lag from flying back after several days in the BVI's perhaps? The group was indeed back in town but with little sleep coupled with the poor weather conditions prevailing, we would guess that the motivation for rising and shining was a tad lacking this a.m. So sadly we were without the services of Moriah and True Blue. And Smoke on the Water had Kristin crewing in place of Chuck while Ellen was the surrogate captain on Athena.
I must say that this was an exciting race once it got underway. There is just not much to report - this race was too clean - there were no groundings to entertain, no buoy ramming, and no controversial tactics by anyone. That said, I guess it really wasn't that exciting after all! It was, however, a fun sprint and we actually came very close to those two speedy boats that have been occupying the top two slots as of recent (as opposed to one speedy boat almost always occupying the top slot.) Of course when everyone finishes with a corrected time of less than an hour the results are a little more compact. But it was Beatnik that nearly pulled an upset over Manaic, correcting out just 42 seconds behind. It would be that other fast boat with all those people on board that would be the victors of Race 6. Congratulations to Chris Cyrul and the Opus Dei crew. Excellent race sailed by them and everyone else. Carol Lynn would take 4th while the spinnaker run on Smoke on the Water was just a tad bit too much for Hasta La Vista to overcome. Bob did another nice job of soloing on Nightwind and the half crew on board Athena would finish ahead Anthony on the USS Georgia.
Winter is still in full force around here and the trend of trying conditions looks to continue for Race 7. Of course that is the way we prefer it now isn't it? See everyone then!
RACE 6 RESULTS
Race report written by Eric Almlie. ęCopyright 2010. All rights reserved.