For years people have asked me if I have good wind and weather ordered up for an upcoming race. Well, of course - it is ALWAYS on order. But there is often a discrepancy between what is ordered and what is actually delivered. When the good stuff gets back ordered, those in charge of delivering are quite willing to ship rain, cold, hail, lightning, and anything nasty they can think of our way. Today, however, was about as good a day as it could get for an early February race. Sunny skies, temps in the mid 60s, and strong, STEADY southerly winds. Didn't go sailing today? SHAME on you!

We did have our usual gang of folks anxious to sail today. Unfortunately, at the skipper's meeting, Greg on Wavelength mentioned something about time restrictions and the high probability of  not being able to finish the race. Therefore he was pushing for an early start - well, not for the whole fleet mind you, but for himself personally. We envisioned heading out to the race course a half hour later only to find him at the finish line saying something to the effect of, "Whew! What a wind - allowed me to complete the 10 mile course in only 30 minutes! Too bad the wind is dying down for the rest of you now!"  As cruel as it sounds, we didn't allow what would have surely been a record shattering performance and Greg had to start with the rest of us! But still, even though his day of sailing was cut short, Greg had a great time out there today.

Also having a good time, as always, was the crew on Sassafras. All smiles here, they are true competitors out on the race course and continue to exhibit a true Shackleton spirit on the water. Little does anyone know that once again this year there is another award for the most spirited crew. Last year Mike Miller (Tanzer 22 Asylum) provided a really nice water color painting of Sir Ernest himself that was awarded to David Barrow on Alexa. Although Mike was unable to provide another nice painting this year (should have  put a carbon underneath the original when he painted it) he did provide another neat award to be given out at the end of this season. I would say that the Sass crew is the front runner for this year's award with one race still left to go. And it is a really nice gesture of Mike Miller to provide these awards - we are sorry he has been unable to participate in this season's series due to other commitments.

Getting back to the conditions of the day - they were perfect. But you already know  we wouldn't be sailors if we didn't gripe about something. And since we know that everyone is thoroughly satisfied with their handicaps and the handicaps of all other boats in the fleet...

Oh, sure they are! Seriously, if there was one thing we could complain about (but won't rant too heavily on) is that the winds were a wee bit stronger than the forecast predicted. Personally, I was banking on the 10-15 forecast to be closer to 10 and not in the low 20s as it was for a large portion of the race. But even so, all captains like myself have a certain list of Rights. And one of those Captain's Rights is to always, ALWAYS hold strong in their convictions. Therefore, I will fiercely argue and go down swinging, remaining convinced that  the 155% genoa was the choice sail for the day...if your ports needed a good washing. The proof is in the video:

External link opens in new tab or windowSo how did my keel look today?

Okay, so Hasta La Vista was overpowered a wee bit. So I was sailing more sideways than forward. What about it? It didn't change the fact that I was still having fun. And yes, pounding on the waves, getting sprayed with cold river water, straining muscles, and getting bruises while sailing is having fun. Refer back to the Captain's Rights in the preceding paragraph if you disagree. By the way, crewmembers are not allowed to weigh in their opinions on the Captain's Rights which, come to think of it, is probably why I rarely have crew! Speaking of having fun, Andre was doing the same on Dutchess with his big 155% deck sweeper (you will note he was single handing, too). Even though the mighty Trintella can handle a much windier blow than the likes of San Juan 24s, the rail on Dutchess was often buried as well. But I am positive Andre will defend his choice of sail also, along with his recent addition of some used self tailing winches.

True Blue was looking good out there today as well (and also appeared to be flying a big foresail.) Unfortunately, Shawn would have to retire early from the race due to a young crew member getting ill. Now seriously, that is good skippering - tending to the health of your crew first. Kudos to Shawn for this action.

Also flying a 155% and actually doing the best job of anyone handling a large sail today was the crew on Ugly Red.  Chris, Scott, and Bill were doing an outstanding job on this boat again. And although the sails on the D&M are several years old, Chris was mentioning that they only have about 12 hours of use on them. All this boat needs now is a little bit of putty and some buffing and voila! But then "Ugly Red" might then be a misnomer. But again, great job by this crew today.


Earlier this racing season, James and Kristen on Carol Lynn were kind enough to spare me seeing a photograph of my gory grounding in Race 4 and were also unable to capture my textbook hourglass spinnaker flight in Race 6 on camera. Today, they had some spinnaker issues of their own that I happened to catch on film. At first I thought to keep these pictures to myself but alas, the paparazzi in me is coming out as I simply owe it to the readers to keep them informed of all the news that is fit to publish. Therefore I am afraid I cannot reciprocate their kindness! Seriously now, if the photo of me on the ground was not so grainy like they said, I am sure I would have a copy of it and certainly would not hesitate to use it against myself even! And besides, James and Kristen made an excellent recovery with the spinnaker and finished this race strong as they have been all season long. Excellent and solid sailing as always!

Well so far I have mentioned all but 3 boats this race - Maniac,Beatnik, and Smoke on the Water. As far as Maniac is concerned - gee do I even have to type out the words "Maniac wins again" any more? We should just assume this and in fact, I have already started writing the Race 8 report and am already congratulating them on their win! Just wait until you hear what Tim said in his victory speech...for that matter, I am sure Tim himself can hardly wait to hear what he said, too! I know, I know, never assume anything and yes, we have beaten the Chambers' team before. It does not happen often. But today...

It would not happen again. Although Ugly Red would correct out in second place just a mere 1:44 behind the J 29 (to clarify, that's a minute and 44 seconds, NOT an hour an 44 minutes), congrats again to Maniac! Nice job as always!

Winning the actual race... well, I guess that is sort of important. But we always say, this series is not about winning, it is about getting out there with your fellow sailors, competing in the elements, the camaraderie... okay, okay - enough of that. A good rivalry among boats squashes all that other sappy, feel good rhetoric! What about Beatnik and Smoke? If you recall, there was a little side bet early on in the year in which all other race happenings and results would be rendered insignificant. That is, in which it was stated that the Ranger 23 Smoke on the Water would beat, boat-for-boat (no handicaps applied), last year's Shackleton Series champion, the J 24 Beatnik. Let it be known it was witnessed by many and even photographic proof was provided - congratulations to Mike Edge and Chuck Alexander on the best race they have sailed this season. The bet was for 2 cases of cold brew. But it appears that there is a bit of an uncertainty as to whether the 2 cases were to be a cheap, watered down domestic or some expensive, highbrow import. I do not mention specific beers here (especially for the "cheap domestic") for fear of offending someone who might say, "hey, now! That's some pretty good beer! And at $2.99 a 12 pack, a bargain, too!" So we conclude Race 7 with a photo of what we will simply call "The Finish". But I guess I must add that since the picture was taken from far distance and not quite the sharpest image, years from now conspiracy theorists will debate whether or not this event actually took place. See everyone for Race 8!



Tim ChambersJ 29Maniac108 (S)1:59:551:41:0110
Chris CyrulD&M 22Ugly Red258 (S)2:27:541:42:449
Mike EdgeRanger 23Smoke on the Water231 (S)2:29:541:49:288
James DrozdekS2 27Carol Lynn189 (S)2:27:171:54:127
Mike BurrusJ 24Beatnik171 (S)2:30:032:00:076
Andre RijsdijkTrintella 33Dutchess176 (S)2:35:052:04:165
Eric AlmlieSan Juan 24Hasta La Vista2312:46:332:06:074
Ellen LongO'Day 222Sassafras2793:03:452:14:553
Greg HollisCoronodo 25Wavelength255DNFDNF1
Shawn DouthatRanger 33True Blue165DNFDNF1


Tim ChambersJ 29Maniac74
James DrozdekS2 27Carol Lynn53
Mike BurrusJ 24Beatnik46
Eric AlmlieSan Juan 24Hasta La Vista41
Mike EdgeRanger 23Smoke on the Water40
Andre RijsdijkTrintella 33Dutchess39
Shawn DouthatRanger 33True Blue30
Chris CyrulOlson 30Opus Dei28
Ellen LongO'Day 222Sassafras24
Chris CyrulD&M 22Ugly Red18
Christopher FreyeSan Juan 24Banana Split18
Greg HollisCoronodo 25Wavelength10
Andreas MontgomeryPearson 30 5
Race report written by Eric Almlie. ┬ęCopyright 2009. All rights reserved. Photos by James Drozdek, Andre Rijsdijk, Tim Chambers, and Eric Almlie.