SHACKLETON RACE 5
If you have been following our winter racing on a regular basis, and if you know a little bit about some of the folks here, then it should come as no surprise to you that we had a record turnout for Shackleton Race 5. The attendance at the skipper's meeting was at an all time high. This was good since more bodies in a confined area equals more heat in that area. Temps were sub freezing at the time, a cold north wind was blowing, the sun was buried beneath the clouds, but at least all of the snow and ice that was on the ground and boats yesterday had melted away. Always look at the bright side. Speaking of bright sides, in addition to the 11 captains that were preparing for the rumble on the river, 6 crewmembers were present as well. Only seven of the boats were single handed. See, we are starting to grow on people!
Once the course was announced and all watches set to Sale Creek Standard Time (SCST), we headed out to the starting line which seemed to be more congested than normal. The shifty, fluky winds at the start, 11 enthusiastic captains, and the narrow lane which we had to work with all spelled chaos and catastrophe. But everyone held their own, there were no collisions, no shouting matches, just a good, clean start. Always said that this was a good group of people to sail with! However, two boats, Food Acres and Wavelength, were squeezed out as the line apparently had a capacity for only 9. Nevertheless, they both made good recoveries and avoided the shoals as the fleet headed to the first mark on a short off wind leg.
We all hung out together for the first reach, blocking each other's wind, holding conversations, just having a good old time. A little better planning and we could have served appetizers and made a little party out of it. And the clouds were just beginning to break up - it was going to be a beautiful day. A beautiful 35 degree day! In some areas of the country in January, that's practically like sailing in the tropics. But like any good social event, we knew it would soon break up once we rounded the mark and began our first upwind beat.
The nice thing about sailing in the cold is that you can disguise yourself. This can be advantageous in a couple of ways. First, this keeps your opponents guessing. They won't know who might have passed them like a rocket or who maybe forced them into tacking early (either legally or illegally). No one can protest you if you are incognito. Secondly, if anyone questions your sanity for sailing in the winter (can't imagine why), you can always say, "that wasn't me! On a whim someone must have borrowed my boat to sail with those other crazies! Yeah, that's it!" The sailor on the right might be Greg, might not be. We will never tell...well, at least not until the race results are revealed below.
Before this year's series, in regattas past, we normally kept the course confined to the main channel, insuring that everyone passed each buoy on the channel side. But that became too easy, too mundane. So with this series we have only concerned ourselves with the buoys that we have to round. This has lead to a little more risks being taken and ultimately, more groundings. Endurance was this race's casualty as seen below in Rodger's picture. Not to overaccentuate Anthony's great misfortune in this race, but for those taking notes on sailing techniques, Rodger has also illustrated a primary cause of a grounding below:
Gotta watch your position relative to the buoys at winter pool - "red, right, return", "bleeding hearts going to sea", all that stuff! There are many places you can fudge a little and disregard the buoys - the "Sale Creek Shoals" isn't one of them, though. Like sirens they seem to lure you in and then before you know it, your dreams of victory are crushed!
The downwind leg was as challenging as the first upwind beat was. More shifty winds in direction and velocity made for a wild but fun ride. Maniac lead the pack as usual followed by David Hoover on True Blue and then Banana Split. David Freye had a prior commitment as a basketball coach for his son's team and since he also had a third of the six player team on board, it was necessary for them to bow out early to make it to the game in time. As usual Split was sailing strong. (BTW, the basketball team won it OT).
Meanwhile two other races were going on. Myrtle the Turtle (above left), Dutchess, Comfortably Numb (both left), and Food Acres bunched up while Enchantress, Manana, and Wavelength seemed to swap positions in their pursuit. I would like to say I made a textbook spinnaker run in Numb but that was hardly the case as the .5 oz. chute let me know who was really in charge for a portion of it. No one ever said a spinnaker run had to be pretty to be effective!
Maniac and True Blue must have been in a hurry as there was no doubt that they took first and second place respectively. Excellent sailing by both as always. Rounding the last mark and preparing for the final upwind leg, it appeared that there would be a battle for 3rd but Andre pulled out all stops, set his sails on turbo, and took off without looking back. Then Dan and Rodger became entangled as they approached the finish line. To avoid being consumed by the much larger S2, Myrtle crossed the line 3 seconds ahead but the correction factor would favor Food Acres by a close 17 seconds. Apparently, I must have fallen alseep aboard Numb as I was left behind by the three of them. It was the proverbial rabbit and turtle story (the reason Dan named his boat as such) and a hare like chase at the end was not enough.
As it happens many times, when a portion of the fleet has completed the course, the wind diminishes and finishing becomes more of a challenge for those still on the lake. Today was no different and Robert, Jeff, and Greg continued their battle. In the end Enchantress edged out over Ma˝ana and Wavelength soon followed. Great job of hanging in there!
Thanks to everyone who participated and if we had 11 boats show up on a cold day like today according to Tim, "if we have 6 degrees and snow, we will probably have 20 boats show up!" We will wait and see in Race 6.
Thanks to Andre and Rodger for the photos!
RACE 5 RESULTS
POINT STANDINGS THROUGH RACE 5
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