SHACKLETON RACE 4
Upon arriving at the marina I saw Rodger and Annie still in their car, perhaps mulling over their participation in Race 4. After all it was a dreary looking day - the forecast was for cold, cloudy, damp, and rainy conditions with light and variable winds. I suggested that since they arrived first, they take first place, since I was second, I will take second, and so on for the next arrivals. This way we could honor Shackleton the best way possible - raising our glasses in a toast in front of a warm fireplace somewhere! We knew it was wishful thinking and that once the entire fleet arrived, the madness would spread rapidly, collectively consuming each skipper until one by one, we walked down the docks in a dutiful trance, got in our watercraft, and went out and actually sailed Race 4.
Andre, who has come up with some very good courses for this series, initially called for a short one. Would have been maybe about 4 miles - we could get out, do our thing, come back in - hopefully before the rain set in, which was lurking awfully close on the radar. Clean and simple. When presented with this short course option, however, Shackleton participants balked, as if our inalienable rights had been violated. "We must sail in these conditions - it is the code of the series," was the general consensus of the group. And as any ordinary observer might conclude, a show of hands made it unanimous - yes, we were officially nuts and the byproduct of our brain damage lead to a longer course being set.
But before you throw up your arms and abandon all hope for us, you must realize that this turned out to be a good day! And even if it hadn't - that's what foul weather gear is for, isn't it? Too cold you say? Believe us, all you have to do is sail single handed, hoist, set, and douse a spinnaker, and you will be plenty warm and toasty. And think about it, what would you rather be doing - driving around a mall parking lot somewhere with the anticipation of having to fight the masses to get the latest PS2 Yu-gi-oh game or out on the water spending an afternoon with your sailing buddies? We had the lake to ourselves! Insane? We think not!
Our unique downwind start at the mouth of Sale Creek coupled with the phrase, "no, you don't have to stay inside the channel markers" presented each captain with a myriad of options. You could go the safe route and follow the channel but sail a little longer distance, or you could risk finding that secondary channel along the bluff and cut off a few hundred yards. In addition, the downwind start gave an opportunity to block the front runners. However it was Andre in Dutchess that was to receive the brunt of this tactic as he looked back and saw nothing but a wall of dacron spread from Enchantress, Comfortably Numb, and Myrtle the Turtle. "Yeah, block him, block him!" David Freye shouted as he pointed towards Dutchess. Dang it - we we're unwittingly going after the wrong boat as Tim "Lucky Hat" Chambers in Maniac and Banana Split escaped the onslaught. No one said that the Alliance was smart! Well, Andre is in 3rd place in the standings and was within our sights. Besides, we weren't going to alter our course just to go after someone else.
The upwind skirmish started with the fleet tightly packed but with a lift here, a header there, a little sail tweaking, some groundings, and some variation in wind velocities, we spread out again. I had almost forgotten that gut wrenching feeling when one hears that thud and all forward motion is suddenly halted. Not to mention the cloud of mud in the water. Yes, the Sale Creek Shoals gave me my first grounding in about 10 years and victimized Banana Split as David hit hard twice and was unable to free himself without the assistance of the engine. Further observations on the upwind course included battles between Dutchess and Food Acres with Andre invoking several starboard right of way privileges. A few of those were also exchanged between myself and Robert in Enchantress as he sailed very well. Although he had an excellent start (first over the line) somehow we left Anthony behind in Endurance. We could almost hear him call out, "come back, come back!"
The second downwind leg which began at the can in front of the Lakewood neighborhood found those darn J boats leading the pack and pulling away. Okay, Dan is now officially out of the Alliance! Maniac blazed the way flying the chute. Andre had pulled out in front of Rodger who made an innovative run which we have not seen the likes of since David Freye's "blooper incident" at PYC. Yes, Rodger had snuck aboard Possible Mallard before the race and grabbed "Big Red", that incredible 300% genoa. While Big Red was quite the intimidation tool on the Hunter 25.5, it loses it's effectiveness and is humbled riding on a forestay of an S2 35C. Another "A" for effort for a Sale Creek sailor - we are a creative people if nothing else. Meanwhile Robert and I continued our match and whatever position was gained in the short spinnaker run aboard Numb was lost in the setup and takedown as the final leg back to the starting line would be sailed close hauled. Only a favorable wind in the closing minutes of Race 4 gave Numb the edge for 5th position.
Surprisingly it was a good sailing day. We all beat the rain, there was a nice breeze, and most importantly, we all delayed (or maybe got out of) that dreaded Christmas shopping for at least one day. One thing for sure - we will all be looking for lucky hats in our stockings.
Thanks to Rodger for all the photos including the file photo of the lucky hat from last years series that we saved! See everyone in Race 5!
RACE 4 RESULTS
POINT STANDINGS AFTER RACE 4
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