|Lavished with fair winds thus far in this young
Shackleton season it was only inevitable that our luck runneth out. The
above title photo sums up Race 4 rather nicely, not that there was really
anything nice to say about it. But as avid boaters we are programmed to
revel in the aphorism that a bad day on the water is still better than a
good day at work (or pretty much anywhere else for that matter). But with
each painfully passing hour and every fleeting buoy (in the wrong direction,
I might add), we sober out of our carousal - metaphorically speaking... , or perhaps not.
The only thing more frustrating than sailing in a
drifter is not being able to finish sailing the course in a drifter after
the time invested. Two boats had wisely (in hindsight) adjourned early. At
the time the decision to DNF seemed a tad premature as surely, ONE of the
countless number of wind predictions of 5-10 for the day would help us
battle a modest but determined river current. But as the afternoon
waned, so did our patience and endurance. The radio airwaves came to life
for the first time this season. That's VHF radio and not FM or satellite
just in case anyone was wondering. Although the thought of our own satellite
radio show to be aired during the races would be kind of a neat luxury item.
You know to broadcast important course info, ever changing weather
conditions, and even some music for our listening enjoyment. The only
stipulation is that Edge and Chuck are barred from programming the latter
since we would hear nothing but Smoke on the Water broadcast 24/7...
Sorry, I drifted off (the official slogan of
Race 4) on one of my tangents.
Anyway, the question amongst the fleet was what the
plan was since the upstream turning buoy was over two nautical miles away,
and getting further away for those of us who were too lazy to drop an
anchor. Several ideas were bounced around - the thought of shortening course
seemed to be logical but since two boats had already retired, it seemed
unfair to call for a shorter course at this point since their decision to
DNF might have been different had they known a shorter course could
have been made up on-the-fly. In the end I made the unprecedented decision
to call the race a draw at 4:00 (officially abandoned at 4:15 and some
change) and although there was some talk about how to handle the points (do
the boats that endured for 4 hours deserve more than those that endured only
one?), it would be open to further analysis and discussion.
First of all, after much thought I don't think it was
really the right call on my part to abandon the race. This is simply based
on the spirit of what the Shackleton Series is about (see the description of
the title page on this web site.) And we have never set a time limit on a
race in the past and there have been boats finish after 8 hours of sailing
and after sunset. Only once in the history of this series has no one
finished a race - and the decision to drop out of that one was up to each
This brings up the question of whether or not we need
to consider abandoning races in the future that are really not finishable
within a certain time period by any boat in the fleet. Say if we are not
done by "dark-thirty" or something, we retire and give in to the elements.
Or do we continue to leave it up to the skipper and crew as to how long they
want to tough it out? If we keep it as such, the question was posed about
remaining anchored even overnight (if need be) and having another boat come
out with provisions and more comfortable accommodations to raft up next to,
dinghy to shore, build a bonfire, etc. Well, yeah that sounds like a fun
thing but it would be like requesting outside assistance or something. So I
would be of the opinion of having to stay aboard the boat you race on. And
this would be whether or not I am sailing a cozy Catalina 27 with full
accommodations or a bare bones J24.
Finally, the other variable brought in the discussion
was simply to throw out this race and use the make up race instead. Albeit a
logical solution, it would be a bit unfair to those that did suit up and
battle the elements today (by the way, everyone gets an extra moisture point
for the misty fog and that did soak down our decks and required foulies to
stay dry). We feel it best to reserve the make up race for a race that
cannot or should not be started due to extreme or dangerous conditions.
Therefore, our final decision was that if you raced today, you got the point
for starting, and you received the moisture point - regardless how long you
were out there. And for those of us who endured it a few hours longer, well
I guess we have some bragging rights about that - if that is the sort of
thing we are proud to brag about! We shall put an ugly Race 4 behind us and
move forward towards Race 5 - see you then!
2 points for the following skippers and boats today -
David Barrow The Blue Pearl, Andre Rijsdijk Dutchess, Mike
Edge Smoke on the Water, Eric Davidson PDQ³,
Peter Lindeman Respite, Tim Chambers Maniac, Eric Almlie