December 15, 2012
I was in a bit of a rush as I cast off the dock lines and headed out the the channel for the Race 4 jamboree. The race start time was set for high noon and it was fast approaching as it was now 11:30. No, the main channel and starting line aren't that far away but with nothing but a trolling motor "boasting" 28 pounds worth of thrust power in bold italic print - which I think converts to .005 horsepower, it takes me awhile to get out there. Especially when a bit of northeasterly breeze is blowing straight up the secondary channel and into the marina harbor, dead on the nose. Isn't it always that way when a sailor wants to get somewhere with a quickness?
The fact that it was a northeast breeze was a bit unsettling, too - the same reason it was for the last two races. Again, we were promised southerly winds to build today and the regurgitated race course from last year's Race 6 was our boldest yet this season - 8-1/2 miles. We all knew the wind WAS coming (promising words spoken by every skipper since the dawn of sailing craft), we just did not know WHEN it was coming. It's ETA amongst the experts (meaning everyone) was noonish, which seemed inconceivable at 11:35 as I glided past Andre in Dutchess, which still remained tethered to the dock. Andre seemed skeptical as well. His initial plan was to crew with me today, but did not seem to confident in the forecast. Not wanting to partake in any kind of drifter he said he would be out in the Trintella if and when the southerly winds arrived. Further, he might have added something about asking me to delay the start until they arrive, but it was hard to hear over the roar of Luna Teak's trolling motor. The commencement of Shackleton Race 4 waits for no one! (Including me.) So I turned the throttle to Mega Thrust and inched my way out to the channel.
Upon my immediate arrival to the open waters of the Tennessee River, there was a definite calm looming in the main channel. Then someone flipped the breaker to the "On" position and just like that there was a southerly wind (see top photo.) And we saw that it was good. It was building nicely - with 10 minutes to spare even. Noon start it is! And looking back up into the Sale Creek channel, we could see that Andre stood true to his word as Dutchess was chugging her way out to the river. The race wouldn't have to wait!
I must say that in regards to today's course, it was by default, met with protest... 36 hours before the course was made public knowledge and distributed throughout the fleet! It was Captain Tim that e-mailed me Thursday night stating, "for the record, I already don't like the course you are going to set on Saturday. We should take that mark to port instead of starboard, and the course is to shong. Or maybe it is too lort." Just what every RC loves - another comedian in a fleet already overflowing with them!
It is all in good fun and today would be just that. There was even going to be enough wind for the big boats today. But unfortunately were in the midst of a big boat shortage. Camille and Tatiana had long since had a scheduling conflict with today's contest, so we knew in advance they would be absent. Meanwhile, Captain Barrow had other priorities to attend to today so the Mariner 36 would also leave a vacancy on the water. And Knot on Call had other urgent chores on board (we can't wait to see the next nifty items he has - a cockpit Jacuzzi by chance and added surround sound for the flat screen hanging on the arch?) and thus did not make the trek upriver. This left the big boat fleet to consist of only Dutchess and True Blue. With all these absentees it WAS a bit quieter out there today. But with winds like this, there isn't much time for talk!
We had fewer boats than average for Race 4 but somehow the starting line seemed more congested. Then again, maybe it is always like that - I wouldn't know as I am never near it! Is it every bit of exciting as they say it is? I prefer the "clear air" tactic - yeah, that's it! Clear air! Anyway, Dutchess appeared to have the favorable spot approaching the leeward starting buoy and it looked like every boat was going to have an excellent start. But then there was this wind shift. Soon Andre found himself head-to-wind and stalled, without any helm response, covering the starting buoy well. Maniac and Whatta Ride! were about middle of the line and had a bit more room to adjust course, thus able to escape with a clean start as the horn blasted (drat!). The bow on Dutchess slowly passed through the wind forcing a chain reaction of crash tacks on Luna Teak, True Blue, and PDQ³. This confirmed the answer to my question
- yes indeed it IS exciting when everyone meets on the starting line! So exciting I think I will revert back to my old ways! Clear air.. yeah, that's the ticket!
We zigged and zagged our way out the secondary channel without further incident - except for a grounding by True Blue. I guess about 15" of deeper keel DOES make a difference as just a mere 10 seconds prior I was at that very spot without any problems whatsoever. I know what you are thinking. And just to absolve myself as a heartless person, I definitely would have warned Shawn and Brandi about the shallows if I knew what the actual depth was when I made my tack. Most likely I would have done so - IF there were a depthfinder on board. Yeah, I probably would have made mention of something. Maybe.
Anyway, True Blue's grounding was brief as Shawn and Brandi recovered quickly but still had a little catching up to do. Speaking of groundings, there are, without a doubt, some very strange magnetic forces in our waters that are buried along the shoal line extending from the Grasshopper Creek area downstream towards the Three Hour Nun. They seem to have a greatest effect on the keel from Dutchess as the Trintella struck bottom in this vicinity today. Now Andre had some catching up to do!
This upwind leg was the most fun yet this year. By default, Maniac and Whatta Ride! led the way - it appeared from our vantage point ("our" meaning everyone else in the fleet that was further back...much further back) that Captain Cyrul and crew were giving Tim and Bob a good match on the J29. PDQ3 and Luna Teak were in their own battle and True Blue and Dutchess were also dueling it out. But then True Blue began gaining as the wind speed accelerated. Dutchess, although built for such wind velocities, had not raced since having a fair amount of sail cloth dissected from her foresail - and alas, is not as efficient a sail as once was. Plus a summer's worth of growth on the bottom has a negative effect, too. Nevertheless, Andre toughed it out!
True Blue had made a move to pass PDQ³ and was fast closing the gap on Luna Teak, which was starting to get a bit overpowered in the building winds. Some ballast tanks might be in order if I am going to try and single hand in these things. Adding them to the wish list now! Our downstream marks were just north of Possum Creek and the reach across the river from Buoy 1 to Buoy 2 was a scream - 8.3 knots was registered on Dutchess when Andre made this crossing. Luna Teak? Don't know - no knotmeter either! (The wish list continues to grow.) If we ever have a night time race, I will be forced to navigate by the stars!
It was right at the Buoy 3 turn that True Blue moved ahead of me in Luna Teak. Shawn asked if I was going to fly the spinnaker. Although having some success with flying it solo in the lighter air races we have had this year I was leery of leaving the helm with winds in the upper teens and low 20s. And about the time I was mulling it over a small gust hit and I figured it best to hang with the genoa on the downwind ride.
I looked back to see a solid teal colored chute hovering over the foredeck of PDQ³, now also gaining on me, but did not see Dutchess - probably because that barge making its way through our course for the 2nd straight race wasn't transparent enough. Unlike Race 3, where it almost appeared that Tatiana was engaging in a game of chicken with the barge (I am almost sure I heard James say, "he's bluffing! I just know he is!") there were no close calls with the larger watercraft this time. Andre passed in front with plenty of distance to spare.
Meanwhile, Maniac and Whatta Ride! were reduced to nothing but little colorful thumbnails off in the distance. That happens when the wind is up BUT although boats look far apart in such instances, they really are not as far ahead or behind as they appear to be. But we would not end this race on this downwind run. Nope - gotta show off those spinnaker handling skills, perform a douse, make a short upwind beat to Grasshopper Creek and if adventurous enough, rehoist after the G.C. Nun and fly the chute to the finish. No one was up to the challenge this race (unlike last year's Race 6 - again, it was the exact same course) but honestly, it really looked as another hoist would be of little benefit to anyone. Or maybe we were all just a little tired from getting a workout from some decent wind for a change. And even so it appears in the picture below that Maniac is chasing a couple of boats, that is not the case - they have already rounded Buoy 4 while the rest of us (except Whatta Ride!) are still fetching Buoy 3.
But although Maniac crossed the line first in this race, it would be Captain Cyrul and crew to correct out with room to spare after a brilliantly sailed race. I am sure the Whatta Ride! crew felt, "okay, we have finally won a Shackleton race this season, so there must be no better honor - we will now announce our retirement." For directly after the race, the Wavelength was hauled out, mast unstepped, and loaded up on a trailer! Actually Chris is getting his boat prepped for the upcoming NOOD regatta in St. Petersburg and unfortunately will not be back with Whatta Ride! this season. We are always appreciative of Chris and our friends from PYC sailing with us and they just might return... in Chris' Olson 30 - that could really throw a monkey wrench into things! Maniac would have to "settle" for 2nd place today, while Shawn and Brandi had their best outing of the season taking 3rd with True Blue. Outstanding job by everyone! You know, we made a pass or two of Grasshopper Creek last race and suddenly the wind gods have smiled on us. Look for us to resume our frequent visits to said buoy in the future. See what happens in Race 5 coming soon to a theater near you! Better yet, come out and race! See you there!
RACE 4 RESULTS
|SKIPPER||BOAT||NAME||PHRF||ELAPSED TIME||CORRECTED TIME||POINTS|
|Chris Cyrul||Wavelength 24||Whatta Ride!||156 (S)||1:57:20||1:35:14||6|
|Tim Chambers||J 29||Maniac||105 (S)||1:53:45||1:38:52||5|
|Shawn Douthat||Ranger 33||True Blue||178||2:08:40||1:43:27||4|
|Eric Almlie||J 24||Luna Teak||183||2:11:31||1:45:35||3|
|Eric Davidson||SR 21||PDQ³||158 (S)||2:09:30||1:47:07||2|
|Andre Rijsdijk||Trintella 33||Dutchess||191||2:19:55||1:52:51||1|
|Tim Chambers||J 29||Maniac||31|
|Eric Almlie||J 24||Luna Teak||24|
|Chris Cyrul||Wavelength 24||Whatta Ride!||22|
|Eric Davidson||SR 21||PDQ³||19|
|Chuck Alexander||Cheoy Lee 41||Camille||14|
|Shawn Douthat||Ranger 33||True Blue||10|
|James Drozdek||Tayana 37||Tatiana||7|
|Ginger Noble||Catalina 22||Mother Ship||6|
|David Barrow||Mariner 36||III||4|
|Chris Edwards||Hutner 340||Knot on Call||3|
|Andre Rijsdijk||Trintella 33||Dutchess||1|
|Race report written by Eric Almlie ©Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.|