December 18, 2011
After being dealt a discouraging blow (literally) last race, we were determined to create a course that insured that the entire fleet would finish Race 4. Doomed to similar circumstances as experienced in Race 3 (lots of current and no wind), our options were limited as just how to accomplish the this. We flashbacked to a race a couple of years ago in which we had to drift down to a buoy and reach out and physically touch it. In reality that was really a cover up for a way for the boatyard to make an extra buck or two by doing some quick gelcoat repairs. That scheme, the money making version of it anyway, never panned out and furthermore, not everyone finished that race either. Today we made the course a little easier to get downstream and take our time as we rounded Buoy 1 - just in case that was the only buoy we were going to be able to make. See the snazzy color map below for complete course details that also exposes the exact location of the infamous "Three Hour Nun". Would the fleet end up camping out today at this buoy as we have often done in the past? Read on!
Apparently, the conditions of the day were discouraging for a number of our regular participants. Not only did my crew mutiny but I think there were a few captains that took a look at the forecast and said, "uhhhh..,.no." At least it was a pretty and mild day, making the lack of wind a bit more bearable. (I seem to be getting a lot of mileage out of that last sentence this season.)
Although I have often times been late for a start of a race, I have never been late in my duties to "start the race." In other words, I am always near the line (more or less, and most of the time pointed in the right direction) to sound the horns to get the fleet going. But today's 11:15 start snuck up on me a bit and although I had a visual with the fleet, I was still well back in the secondary channel making may way (working that trolling motor hard) when the 5 minute mark came up. I was still far enough away that I seriously thought of grabbing the handheld, pressing the transmit button, and blasting the horn directly into it - THAT would have gotten everyone's attention for sure! I resisted the temptation and fortunately the fleet was able to hear the horn blast from a distance, perhaps surprising some that I didn't delay the start until I got closer. Nope, the race committee does not get any preferential treatment! (Something I was unaware of when I signed that lifetime contract.)
Soon after the start it wasn't long before a gentle breeze developed, spinnakers blossomed, and the fleet charged downstream. Okay, "charged" might be a bit of an overstatement. Nevertheless, the wind appeared to be filling in and I soon hailed the fleet stating that, " it looks like we will be able to sail the entire course. Let's go for it!" The reply of nothing but a quiet hiss on Channel 72 must have meant that everyone was in agreement and in full support of this decision, right? Actually I could physically feel my approval rating plummet amongst the fleet... especially when the wind died, shortly after the two front runners,Whata Ride! and Maniac rounded Buoy 1 and were en route to the dreaded 3 Hour Nun!
It is never a good sign during a sailboat race when you have to set an anchor or admit that running aground isn't the worst thing that could happen. Getting across the lake to the 3 Hour Nun was one thing. Sailing upstream of it and getting to the finish line was going to be another. It was around this area I no longer felt my popularity dropping - I actually heard it! Yes, a few candid comments from a neighboring vessel let me know exactly where I stood. Fortunately, the comments weren't too hostile - after all, Christmas was only a week away and you never know where Santa Claus is hanging out and listening in (and seemingly giving out pointers on proper mainsail trim)!
In the end I think it was determined that we drifted close to a quarter of a mile downstream of the 3 Hour Nun when finally, FINALLY there was a glimmer of hope. A southerly breeze appeared to be developing. Unlike the previous southerly breeze that appeared to be developing an hour ago - you know the one that lead to a bunch of spinnaker hoists and drops when it only lasted a few minutes before a northerly draft took over - THIS breeze was accompanied by little wavelets over the water - and it was headed our way. Spinnakers were quickly rehoisted as we waited.... and waited. And then waited some more. The wall of wind was approaching slowly. Finally just as it appeared to be almost on us, the wavelets on the water began receding back to the south. What was this, some kind of joke on the Shackleton fleet? Sometimes it is hard not to take these kind of things personally.
With sails still hanging limp we sat there astonished with the 3 Hour Nun still in proximity. But a common trait among sailors is that they have the "patience of Job" and therefore... well, most of the time they are patient and... okay, yeah I DID mention something earlier about the verbal abuse dished out on the race committee but... okay, never mind, scratch that thought. Anyway, the wind appeared to say, "Ha, ha! I was just messin' with you!" as the fleet was soon engulfed by a nice (actually the better word would be "sufficient") southerly breeze that would carry us to the real finish line - no need for an abridged race today as everyone finished! Of course once again, the best wind was AFTER the finish. (See video at this youtube link.) Honestly though, it isn't a very exciting video in terms of cinematography. In fact, this one shot earlier in the race is probably better for entertainment purposes. The clunking noise heard at the end I think is my head hitting the boom as I nodded off. Yes, Race 4 was a bit of a yawner and we congratulate... EVERYONE who stayed conscious through all of it. But staying the MOST conscious was the crew on Whatta Ride! as the Wavelength emerged victorious. Nice job everyone! See everyone in 2012 for the second half of the series!
RACE 4 RESULTS
|SKIPPER||BOAT||NAME||PHRF||ELAPSED TIME||CORRECTED TIME||POINTS|
|Chris Cyrul||Wavelength 24||Whatta Ride!||156 (S)||2:28:13||2:21:27||5|
|Tim Chambers||J 29||Maniac||105 (S)||2:32:20||2:27:47||4|
|James Drozdek||S2 27||Carol Lynn||186 (S)||2:39:41||2:31:37||3|
|Eric Almlie||J 24||Luna Teak||168 (S)||2:40:45||2:33:28||2|
|Patrick Sweetman||O'Day 25||Stella||255||3:04:00||2:52:57||1|
|Tim Chambers||J 29||Maniac||28|
|Chris Cyrul||Wavelength 24||Whatta Ride!||21|
|Eric Almlie||J 24||Luna Teak||21|
|James Drozdek||S2 27||Carol Lynn||21|
|Shawn Douthat||Ranger 33||True Blue||7|
|Patrick Sweetman||O'Day 25||Stella||6|
|Michelle Cash||Ericson 29||Lady Kiki||5|
|David Barrow||Mariner 36||Moriah||3|
|Larry Garner||Catalina 22||Tapatai||2|
|Mike Miller||Tanzer 22||Asylum||1|
|Ellen Long||O'Day 222||Sassafras||1|
|Race report written by Eric Almlie. ©Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.|