January 8, 2011
During the preparations for this race, I think we all would have put good money down that we were in store for our coldest Shackleton Series ever, with half the season already behind us. After all, winter had definitely reared its head over the past few weeks and there did not appear to be an end in sight. Today we were greeted with temps near freezing, winds gusting to 30 knots plus, and a few brief passing snow showers as we suited up and headed out to battle (more with the elements than with each other!) And as the crew of Beatnik and Boat X would find out even before getting out of the harbor, trolling motors are an ineffective armament in attempting to motor a J 24 into these types of winds! If today was any indication of what the rest of the series would be like, the next four races are going to be very grueling!
With westerly winds, we charted a course down to Opossum Creek and back, a mere 10.8 mile journey that we anticipated sailing rather quickly this day. Which was fine, the sooner we finished doing our thing out there, the better! Although a few boats did pack spinnakers at the dock, we really did not expect to see any flying out there today. That is until...well, the start when Opus Dei popped theirs out. The Olson was sailing along nicely and lead to the first mark at none other than Grasshopper Creek. This is before making that slight turn to head directly downstream. Gusts and shifts turned it into a broaching fest, even with which, Opus Dei maintained their lead. But the valiant spinnaker run would be aborted well before reaching the turning buoys down at Opossum Creek.
Ah, the turning buoys. The source of a very uncommon controversy, of which there has been no precedent set in this series. By the way, this has nothing to do with this picture (below) I posted of Andre perched on the foredeck - it was a good picture that I simply wanted to include in this write up! And there really is no where else to put it, since unlike most pictures that are posted on these reports, it has nothing to do with the topic at hand. But it DOES promote safe boating as we witness Andre sporting a nice inflatable lifejacket, one of which could be purchased through the marina ship's store. Hmmm... I see a new angle emerging in these race reports - promoting merchandise! Suddenly it appears that my year long affliction with writer's block might be coming to an end!
Okay, now where was I? Ah yes, I was writing about a controversial moment on today's course. It really wasn't a controversy but rather, a mistake in the drawing of the map not discovered until after the race finished. The red nun that sets JUST downstream of Opossum Creek was not drawn on the map (nor has it ever been on the map template used). This happened to be the red nun that Opus Dei and Maniac rounded before heading to the green can that also lay just a bit further downstream of the creek. When drawing out the course, it was intended that we were to round the NEXT downstream red nun and not the one that Opus Dei and Maniac turned at. In attempting to hail the two front runners, I noticed the little battery icon flashing on my Cobra handheld VHF (only $55.95 if you order one now) and assumed my message to them about rounding the wrong buoy was not transmitted as we heard nothing in reply. And the two boats were too far ahead to hear our shouts or see our gestures pointing to the proper buoy. Meanwhile, the remainder of the fleet, somewhat bunched up, sailed to the proper red mark before going to the green.
Heading back upstream and to the finish, we figured there would be some "discussion" when we all returned to the dock. Again, at this time, we were unaware of any course map errors and assumed the two front runners simply misread the charts, which would have resulted in a DSQ for both Maniac and Opus Dei. Hold off on that applause though - unless of course you are pulling for these big guns - that's kind of like rooting for the New York Yankees or something though, isn't it? I thought everyone rooted for the underdog. Seriously, after the deliberations took place at the dock, it was determined that the missing buoy on the course map led to different interpretations as to which red buoy was the first one below Opossum Creek the fleet was supposed to round. And since Maniac and Opus Dei technically DID round the first red nun below Opossum Creek a DSQ would be considered an unfair penalty to assess. So that means an automatic 1-2 finish for these boats - just a matter of who came in first among these two, right?
Well, hold on a minute. It was also determined that since the rest of the fleet sailed vast expanses to circle the "proper" red buoy, some concessions would have to be made here. And yes, the three-tenths of a mile extra distance sailed by the majority of the fleet easily constitutes and is deserving of the description "vast expanse"! (At least it is in my world!) The fairest way we could solve this dilemma was to take the average speed the J29 and Olson 30 sailed over 10.5 miles and use that to calculate what they would have sailed over 10.8 miles and adjust their elapsed times accordingly. Since this race and portion was mostly reaching and the wind was fairly consistent, we can assume that Opus Dei and Maniac would have covered this distance in that average time. Of course by that same token, we can assume that both boats ran aground, ripped their keels of, and will be dry docked the rest of the season! Too much assumption? Well, yeah I guess. We wouldn't wish that on anybody - at least the keels ripping off part. BUT the boatyard happens to be running a special on keel repairs this week, so..
Now if you followed those last 3 paragraphs and have any understanding as to WHAT actually happened out there... please clue me in! Most of you have probably already surmised that the preceding is just a bunch of mind numbing text that in the end STILL adds up to congratulating either Opus Dei or Maniac for their victory. Well, you're half right! Although perhaps slowed a little by sparring with their spinnaker, Opus Dei sailed a FAST second half of the race to finish out front. Congratulations to Chris Cyrul and crew for an excellent job as always. Meanwhile, it would be the Old Reaching Curse that plagued the J 29 AND the slight time adjustment that would give Boat X the advantage for 2nd. Although everyone else sailed extremely well, there would be no other corrections over Maniac. Beatnik and Carol Lynn were close behind and an excellent job done by Bob single handing on Nightwind and Michelle with a different and smaller crew on Lady Kiki. It was a cold but definitely FUN race! Everyone keep warm and be sure to stock up on your 12V VHF chargers, GPS units, and Tennessee River Charts - all on sale THIS WEEK ONLY! See you next race!
RACE 5 RESULTS
|SKIPPER||BOAT||NAME||PHRF||ELAPSED TIME||CORRECTED TIME||POINTS|
|Chris Cyrul||Olson 30||Opus Dei||99 (S)||1:44:20||1:26:30||8|
|Eric Almlie||J 24||Boat X||186||2:00:30||1:27:01||7|
|Tim Chambers||J 29||Maniac||123||1:50:00||1:27:51||6|
|Mike Burrus||J 24||Beatnik||186||2:06:47||1:33:18||5|
|James Drozdek||S2 27||Carol Lynn||204||2:11:25||1:34:41||4|
|Bob Rupe||S2 24||Nightwind||241||2:40:18||1:56:54||3|
|Michelle Cash||Ericson 29||Lady Kiki||211||2:44:00||2:06:01||2|
|Tim Chambers||J 29||Maniac||35|
|Eric Almlie||J 24||Boat X||31|
|Mike Burrus||J 24||Beatnik||21|
|James Drozdek||S2 27||Carol Lynn||19|
|Shawn Douthat||Ranger 33||True Blue||15|
|Chris Cyrul||Olson 30||Opus Dei||15|
|Michelle Cash||Ericson 29||Lady Kiki||9|
|Bob Rupe||S2 24||Nightwind||6|
|Mike Miller||Tanzer 22||Asylum||3|
|Race report written by Eric Almlie. ©Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.|