February 15, 2003
RACE 7 - JUST WHEN YOU THINK YOU HAVE SEEN IT ALL!
If breaking through a little bit of ice to go sailing for an afternoon got us a feature article in the newspaper last week, what would Race 7's antics get us? It wasn't like we were caught off guard since rain had been forecast for Race 7 for the prior 10 days. No matter what, it was going to rain. That was a given. Not only because of the forecast, but also because it is the one form of weather we have yet to encounter in this series. So it only seems fitting that a little bit of rain be thrown into the mix.
So how many valiant sailing commandos (I read that line somewhere) would gear up and VOLUNTARILY spend an afternoon drifting around a river filled with mud and flotsam due to recent heavy rain and knowingly get wet in the process? In any ordinary situation the sum of commandos would be small. But remember, THIS is The Shackleton Series, and those who sail in it are a special breed. I guess that it is a nice way to put it. And remember that the main rule of The Shackleton Series is that we race REGARDLESS of the conditions. It is for the latter that I should not wonder why fewer people are speaking to me now.
But nevertheless, six of our stouthearted captains took to the challenge. The great seers at the NWS were on the money with the rainy forecast as well as the temperatures - low 50s. There was a slight chance of afternoon thunderstorms and we did wish to get this race over early because even as Shackletoners, we will ail in any condition except that in which involves potential high voltage discharges from above. We do actually have our limits. But fortunately, there was no thunder and lightning in the sky today. Unfortunately, there was none on the race course either due to a complete absence of wind.
Apparently rain and no wind was not enough to hamper our efforts. We needed the assistance of fog (another new element) and the approximate 125,000 cubic feet per second release of river water at Chickamauga Dam. Still, this did not stop us from attempting to race. The fog was not so thick at the start of the race and the first leg was to go downstream. Easy enough. But oddly enough, rounding the first mark proved to be a difficult task for the majority of the fleet. How so? Personally, about a quarter mile upstream of the mark, while in the middle of the channel, I (and a couple other nearby boats) made a layline to it. The current being what it was and the wind what it was not did not allow us to sail to the edge of the channel where the turning buoy was. Instead we drifted about a quarter mile below the mark not having rounded it on the proper side. Finally, a light southerly breeze enabled us to fight the current and calw our way back through the muddy water (or watery mud, depending on how you look at it) and round it properly. Once accomplishing this task, one would have thought we had each won the America's Cup.
During the intense concentration of sailing like a salmon swimming up the river, the fog was settling in thicker and one by one boats eerily disappeared. At one point, only the mast tips and sail tops could be seen which gave the appearance of shark fins protruding from the water. And then those fins disappeared altogether. And then the shoreline disappeared! The fog settled in for the duration - longer than any of us wished to stay out in it. With no breeze and a swift current (Tim's speedo read 1.8 knots at one point while he was anchored) one by one, each skipper dropped out, beaten by the elements. And similar to Sir Ernest not reaching The South Pole on his first two expeditions nor crossing the Antarctic on his 3rd, no sailor was able to vanquish in the conditions set forth in Race 7. Regardless, everyone who participated received two points, one for starting, one for the wet conditions. Next race is March 1.
|Tim Chambers||J 29||Maniac||49|
|David Freye||San Juan 24||Banana Split||40|
|Rodger Ling||Hunter 25.5||Possible Mallard||32|
|Eric Almlie||O'Day 23||Katzenjammer||26|
|Andre Rijsdijk||Trintella 33||Dutchess||23|
|David Hoover||Ranger 33||True Blue||14|
|Robert Wheeler||Hunter 25||Enchantress||10|
|Steve George||C&C 27||7|
|Anthony West||Lancer 28||Endurance||7|
|Jeff Fletcher||Morgan 22||Manana||1|
Race report written by Eric Almlie ©copyright 2003. All rights reserved.