SHACKLETON RACE 7
February 21, 2004
In the war room here at race headquarters we monitor the weather patterns on a regular basis as race day approaches, preparing ourselves accordingly. Uh oh - looked like Race 7 was going to be met with sunny skies, mild temps, and a NW breeze. Might be too good of conditions for a Shackleton Race. Better weather might mean less participation as well - remember, we just love sailing in rotten conditions.
Turned out 10 captains showed up at the meeting - no crew were present. Ah, we were now all equal, pitting nothing but captain, vessel, and a tenacious will to crush our adversaries. That was until we saw Andre out on the course. Two from the Race 6 "crew pool", David and Robin, showed up after the meeting and Andre scooped them aboard Dutchess and snuck them out onto the battlefield. The remaining single handing skippers protested this maneuver but it would not hold up officially - none of us had a red flag, not to mention the fact that having crew is perfectly legal! And we do thank the Wooten's for sailing with us again.
Once the starting horn blew, it was time to play, "Let's Find the Breeze", for the epitome of fluky winds would be thrust upon us. Our photo start (as opposed to photo finish) was an impressive sight as every one was at the line on time. Maniac, Banana Split, and Dutchess began what was assumed to be a downwind course with their spinnakers ballooning...well, sort of. Early on we could see this was going to be interesting race. Although equipped with mighty chutes and inching away from the fleet, the spinnaker clad boats were having to work for it as the wind was in a constant state of change - in velocity and direction. It was only a short jaunt to the first mark at Grasshopper Creek but the aforementioned three along with True Blue lead the way. The rest of us remained in tight formation, mere inches (if that much) apart fore, aft, and abeam - even in our rounding of the first mark. As Rodger said, it was a feat paralleled only by a Blue Angels air show. Not a bump or scratch among us but I am sure everyone was sweating just a little.
The next leg was interesting as True Blue stalled in a calm patch, the tranquility of which was disturbed only by the noisy bow wakes of the fast approaching armada. Meanwhile Maniac and Banana Split pulled away. David Freye was definitely in a groove keeping pace with Maniac, both doing some innovative spinnaker handling. Dutchess was doing the same but approaching the second mark was met with a wind shift that hit them head on, rendering the spinnaker useless. The spinnaker flight was briefly aborted to enable rounding of the mark, but not before losing several positions.
Continuing our so called downwind course in which we saw every possible wind direction, Dutchess rehoisted her spinnaker while Tim apparently thought that about 20 plus jibes was enough with the inconsistent winds. David Freye still hung tough until the confused NW wind persisted on blowing up from the south. Since Split was caught with the chute still flying, Maniac was able to take the lead and hold it for good. Meanwhile Enchantress, True Blue, Food Acres, and Comfortably Numb were engaged in a gentleman's race: "After you", "no, you go first - I insist," "No, I couldn't, you lead the way." The four of us swapped positions for the next mile or so. Close on our tails, though, was Dutchess, Endurance, Ma˝ana, and Wavelength, and not allowing any room for error.
Continuing on this run Dutchess was met with the wrath of Endurance. Yes, Anthony had found someone new to torment as he shadowed every move Andre's boat made, blocking the wind any chance he got. Anyone who thinks a Lancer 28 is slow, never saw one break six knots easily downwind.
The upwind portion of the race began with Maniac in the lead with a following wind (yes, you read that correctly). Another spinnaker hoist was implemented but halted halfway when the wind finally settled (more or less) on it's predicted NW track. Split was next followed by Food Acres, Enchantress, Numb, and True Blue (the latter four of which were still being sporting to one another).
Finally, one by one, we all began to find the settled wind and a fun ride was in store to the finish line. True Blue broke away and crossed over in second position but was unable to beat the corrected time of Split. Dutchess, once again, came on strong at the end, passing Numb, Food Acres, and Enchantress. Not quite enough though, as Robert in Enchantress corrected out for 4th place, sailing perhaps the finest he has in his young racing career.
For reasons that I will never know, I somehow managed to forget all about the last marker at Grasshopper Creek. The embarrassing factor here is that I drew out 10 course maps to hand out to the participants, I SHOULD know where all the markers are at without looking or thinking! Is 37 too young to have a senior moment or am I simply starting to lose it? Before you feverishly go scrambling for the closest e-mail link on this site and bombard me with a barrage of comments, it's a rhetorical question - don't answer it! Just let me type out "DSQ" next to my name and let me move on about my business!
Endurance crossed next followed by Ma˝ana and then Wavelength. Anthony (shown on the left blocking Food Acres earlier) gave a thumbs up on this one!
Great job by everyone in what was perhaps our most exciting race. Although lacking the force 5 winds in Race 2 and the intensity of it, this one required great concentration and it could have been anyone's race at anytime. As David Freye said, "sometimes when you are out of it, you are really in it." Makes sense on a day like today.
Our series concludes on Saturday, March 6. Only 22 boats have to show up and beat Maniac, while Dutchess would have to emerge victorious in order for Tim to be knocked off. Anybody out there feeling lucky?
RACE 7 RESULTS
POINT STANDINGS AFTER RACE 7
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