SHACKLETON RACE #1
Another winter sailing season is upon us. One can almost feel the chill in the air already. It seems like only yesterday that we were fighting blustery days, dark and gray skies, piercing wind chills, cutting through the ice, dodging growlers, being showered with ice crystals after hoisting a spinnaker that had recently taken a partial dunk in the water, frozen jib sheets, fog, frost covered decks, menacing currents, and anything else nature could throw our way. And once again, with the type of persistence that only Sir Ernest Shackleton himself could exhibit, we find ourselves pitted against those very same brutal elements. Why do we do it? Why? It is a question that we may never know the answer to.
A pretty, 75 degree, autumn day slightly deflates what we have built up in the preceding paragraph and by most, probably won’t be considered harsh conditions. I guess a parade in our honor upon return from the race course would be a tad much to expect then. However, it is said to never make judgment of one until you walk a mile in their shoes. Or at the very least, drift around the lake for several hours looking like an idiot and getting excited when the knotmeter reads 0.3 and pouncing on the sail controls the split second the anemometer starts to spin, thinking, "this time for sure the wind will fill back in." Mother nature just loves to torment sailors. For the day did not start out as such.
A very nice northerly breeze was present at our 11:00 start, which turned out to be a good starting time despite the fact that a few of us we were a little rushed to get to the line. With the breeze we expected, we laid out a BOLD course to and around Hiwassee Island. Just in case you are thinking, "won’t those guys ever learn not to rely on the forecast?", realize that in the season that has passed, we have grown older and wiser. A shorter, alternate course was also laid out in case wind conditions fizzled. We would remain in touch via channel 68 on the VHF and come to a consensus when the first boat (I mean, Maniac) reached the bridge. At that point the wind was becoming spotty and it was unanimous – cut several miles off the course and have everyone turn at the bridge. Pretty smart thinking, eh? This way, everyone could make their way to the bridge, simply round it, and if the wind died completely, drift back to the finish line with the current and finish the race. I said, this way , everyone could make their way to the bridge, simply round it...oh, you know where I’m headed with this.
Once again, a barge was ineffective in running Maniac down. Furthermore, Tim and Lynn had crew aboard. Crew! Well, it was only one guy, but still! They pretty much skated through the course and did a magnificent job as always. Built to move fast in light air (I would still like to know what conditions that boat will not move fast in) the J29 smoked the entire fleet. Finishing over an hour later was Banana Split who with determination and creativity, flew the spinnaker all the way on the downwind (?) course. Also a great job by David and Christopher. At 5 hours and 13 minutes into the race, the bow of Rodger and Annie’s S2 35C crossed the finish. Not sure how long it would have taken the entire boat to cross over as the engine was immediately started to clear way for a 2nd barge that disrupted the course. This was the same barge that previously passed Enchantress and myself about 2-1/2 miles upstream. Apparently the captain was a little agitated about our boats drifting near his projected path in the channel and hailed us, "sailboats, you are living dangerously!" Well, of course, didn’t he realize this was the Shackleton Series? I thought better of responding with that comment and simply said, "we will stay clear". Meanwhile, Anthony’s boat Endurnace mysteriously disappeared. Looked back one minute and he was there and the next he was gone, quietly headed back to port.
After about 6 hours into it, I finally gave up as well, never making it to the bridge. When it comes to finishing races this year, I believe I am batting below the Mendoza line. Shackleton would be disappointed. Robert , Susan, and Ali stuck it out for about another 30 minutes but never made the bridge either. So, we have Maniac, Banana Split, and Food Acres finishing in that order followed by 3 DNF’s. However, that is before we apply our super, secret, creative, PHRF math formulas to the equation. Well, of course then it is figured out that Food Acres actually has to give Banana Split time – hey, I had to give Banana Split time! For some reason, that just does not seem right! Acutally...correct that, I didn’t fly a spinnaker. No matter, a DNF is still a DNF!
Great job by everyone! We expect a greater turnout for future races as the weather will soon take a turn for the worse. Next race is on November 8. See you all then! Despite the high embarrassment factor, official race results are posted below. A time on distance (TOD) correction factor based on an 8 mile course was calculated.
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