The conditions that presented themselves for Race 3 serve as hard evidence as to just how stressful an occupation on the Race Committee is. Statistical analysis has repeatedly shown that the life spans of those in this field, already shorter than average, are on the decline - and that does NOT take into consideration life spans cut short by disgruntled fleet sailors! So stressful is this occupation it is destined to trigger a new catch phrase. Instead of describing someone on a rampage as "going postal" you are more likely to hear, "did you here about that dude in Soddy Daisy that lost it and went all 'race committee' on everyone? Man it was ugly scene!"

Speaking of ugly, that is only one in a long list of available adjectives that could be used to epitomize this day of sailing. I should have realized it was going to be one of those days when my digital watch died 10 minutes before the skipper's meeting. And that is bad because it is only time keeping device known to existence that is set to Sale Creek Standard Time (SCST). We do have a backup analog watch, but with a minute hand that does not always fall on the exact minute - sometimes it is in between numbers when the seconds hand rolls around on the 12, sometimes making starts more interesting - "no, that was the 4 minute horn, not the 5 minute!"  In the end this was no big deal, though as we were able to convince a "volunteer" to handle the start which honestly, works for me and would work fine for me from here on out (I have a feeling that is going to take some serious bribing, though).

Today's forecast was actually a good one - partly sunny, mild, and southerly winds around 10. One model even said 10-15, which makes for good sailing, even in a Class 5 rapids. Okay, maybe that is a slight exaggeration of the Tennessee River current flowing this day. It was enough for some to say, "okay, so when I have 6.1 miles (today's course length) of river water pass under my boat, that means I am done, right?" Wrong! We had that much water flow under our keels before we even started this thing. Delay after delay after delay waiting for the wind to arrive would have convinced any onlooker that the Occupy movement thing that has been all over the country had now spread to the waters at the mouth of Sale Creek. We were all just kind of hanging out there at the starting line and appeared to have no plan! Well, we DID have a plan to go sailing but a dead calm lead to almost an hour and a half of delays - much to the dismay of the crew on True Blue, who were expertly timing a  textbook Coast and Drift start for 11:30. But it would have to wait and finally at 12:39:23, the decision to sound the 5 minute horn at 12:40:00 was made. (Good thing our appointed horn sounders were nimble and attentive.) The wind had arrived and we were soon off battling a current that was dumping 106,000 cfs just 25 miles down river!

If only the 10-15 prediction would have come to fruition... for the entire race. No, we didn't hit 15 by any means but we would have certainly settled for what was blowing early on, a nice breeze that pushed us upstream through another maze of buoys - as one participant noted afterwards, "I almost kinda liked that course." Let's see... we went upstream to Buoy 1, then downstream a short distance to #2 before going back upstream to #3, across to #4, upstream further to #5, downstream to #6, across to #7 (which turned into going back upstream with the dying wind and swift current), and then downstream, hoping to get across the river  to the finish line before being swept down to Guntersville Lake. What's not to like about that? It was designed to give the "spinnakered" boats a bit more of a workout. What was really  planned to be 2 spinnaker hoists turned out to be 4 hoists on Luna Teak and Carol Lynn, 3 for Maniac and Whatta Ride and 1 for True Blue. And kudos to David on Moriah, who single handed and eventually found the "This End Up" label on his spinnaker!

Yes, the diminishing wind made fetching Buoy 5 (the one most upstream) a burdensome task for half the fleet and an impossibility for the other half. And making buoy 7 which, as mentioned earlier, was supposed to be a short sail across the river also turned into a laborious, if not somewhat comical affair as spinnakers were hoisted to get every single ounce of speed to combat the ebbing waters.

The photo above of Moriah pretty much summarizes the day. I have said it before - there is nothing more discouraging than a draping spinnaker. There was a nice little breeze for about half an hour today but that was it. Despite this, there were actually two different exciting finishes. The two front runners,Maniac and Whatta Ride! (note the added exclamation point - I just noticed earlier that it IS on the boat that way) were neck and neck on corrected time.Maniac would fend off our friends from PYC and claim victory. Over an hour later (yes, you read that right, an HOUR!) Luna Teak and Carol Lynn had a tight finish - and a northerly breeze that picked up for several minutes - AFTER crossing the finish line. We only have one thing to say about that:  (Sometimes you just gotta use an emoticon to express yourself!) Anyway, it would be James and Kristen on the S2 27 getting the edge on the J24. Nice job! Thank you to everyone for participating. Again, we were blessed with mild temperatures, which made the day a good bit more tolerable. Better wind is on order for Race 3! Let's hope they deliver it!

Race 3 Course Map. Note: The ability to decipher our course maps takes years of schooling and work in the field. Many have employed the "when in doubt, follow the leader" technique!


Tim ChambersJ 29Maniac105 (S)1:33:031:22:228
Chris CyrulWavelength 24Whatta Ride!156 (S)1:39:141:23:227
James DrozdekS2 27Carol Lynn186(S)2:49:102:30:156
Eric AlmlieJ 24Luna Teak168 (S)2:47:502:30:455
Patrick SweetmanO'day 25Stella255DNFDNF1
David BarrowMariner 36Moriah192 (S)DNFDNF1
Shawn DouthatRanger 33True Blue162 (S)DNFDNF1
Michelle CashEricson 29Lady Kiki233DNFDNF1


Tim ChambersJ 29Maniac24
Eric AlmlieJ 24Luna Teak19
James DrozdekS2 27Carol Lynn18
Chris CyrulWavelength 24Whatta Ride!16
Shawn DouthatRanger 33True Blue7
Michelle CashEricson 29Lady Kiki5
Patrick SweetmanO'day 25Stella5
David BarrowMariner 36Moriah3
Larry GarnerCatalina 22Tapatai2
Mike MillerTanzer 22Asylum1
Ellen LongO'Day 222Sassafras1

Race report written by Eric Almlie. ┬ęCopyright 2011. All rights reserved.