January 9, 2010
Now THIS is what the forefathers of the Shackleton Series envisioned. The above photograph of the marina harbor was taken on Thursday, January 7 less than 48 hours before Race 5 was to commence - almost perfect conditions! And although the snow showers and flurries would end early Friday morning leaving only a light dusting in their wake, the subfreezing temperatures which had plagued us since the hanging of the new calendar would continue throughout the weekend and work on freezing up the rest of the Sale Creek harbor. Definitely PERFECT conditions for a winter sail. Anything less would simply be another leisurely day on the water, something anyone could do. But extreme sailing... breaking through the ice to sail on a 25 degree day with winds making it feel near zero. That is a challenge worthy of consideration by your average Shackleton participant. Always remember - "regardless of conditions!" Referencing and echoing The Code's sentiment was Captain Burrus of Beatnik. "Shackleton didn't have a choice and neither do we!" Well as the conditions deteriorated as the dawn of Race 5 grew nearer, it appeared that in all this time and all these years, yes we DID have a choice!
Shackleton purists and traditionalists will be very disappointed in hearing that for the first time ever in this series, we did not race because of the conditions. It was not the bitter cold temperatures that postponed Race 5 as we have proven we will race when it is below 30 degrees. Well technically, maybe it WAS the temperatures as they were responsible for creating the 1 to 3 plus inch thick layer of ice that held every marina boat captive. I can already hear the next question coming, "But there wasn't there a race where you chopped through the ice to go sailing? You did it once, why didn't you do it again?" True, it was January 5, 2003 that we used all methods available to us to make our way from our slips and through a thin floe in the harbor. But that ice was not nearly as thick and we are no longer equipped with the ultimate icebreaking machine - the Lancer 28 that was piloted by Anthony.
So sadly there would be no repeat of 2003, where boat hooks and axes (see file photo on left) were wielded in a way the inventors and designers of which probably never imagined. For the most part, this decision to postpone Race 5 for another day was met with a collective sigh of relief among the fleet. Yeah, there were a few that were a little bothered by this decision and I personally hate to give in to any conditions myself. But really it was the prudent decision to postpone this race. Breaking through this much ice would have most likely done some damage to our hulls - again this ice was over 3 inches thick in some areas - unlike the 1/2" - 1" we broke through in 2003.
So with this decision our reputation may have been smeared. And that could either be a good thing or bad thing. Some may actually think, "gee perhaps they finally came to their senses up there." Yet others might see this deferment as wimping out. In fact, those very terms were used... by some of our regular captains and crewmates! Of course I think it necessary to mention those responsible for making such viciously slanderous remarks were actually nowhere near the Race 5 arena. No, they had expertly timed their winter vacation to the British Virgin Islands and were enjoying slightly nicer conditions than those being experienced in the Tennessee Valley. Well they are in for a surprise when they return for Race 6 - the forecast is for a good dose of cold rain and although a little ice remains present as of this writing (less than 24 hours before Race 6), we will proceed with the contest as planned. Gotta work on rebuilding our rep! Stay tuned for this and for the make up of Race 5!
Above photo of Clarence Myers "walking on the water". No, this is not Photoshopped!
Race report written by Eric Almlie. ©Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.