SHACKLETON RACE 8
March 6, 2004
All Shackleton participants were eagerly present for this, the final match of the series. It didn't matter that the series had already been won and catching Maniac would be an impossibility. Not even those mysterious PHRF formulas and adjustments could save us now. Furthermore, there are no "throw outs" in the Shackleton Series - all races count. Wouldn't matter anyway as Maniac has won every race.
In spite of all this, each skipper showed up as if on a mission today - something to prove, something to build on for next year. And it was a great day to do it. Igor* had given us a lake wind advisory for the day and we were to expect west winds any where from 10 - 30. Many put in reefs at the dock, anticipating the blow that would come. Some chose to wait until pre-start maneuvers, others took their chance and literally threw caution to the wind with the thought that more sail area means more speed. It would that, but it would also mean more bumps, bruises, and achy muscles.
Andre did an excellent job of confusing the fleet with the five minute horn being five minutes late. Next year's budget will have allowance for a new digital watch! Not a problem though as everyone figured it out and we simply started the race at 11:05. It was Comfortably Numb off to an early lead quickly followed and even more quickly passed by Maniac. My fortunes on Numb were very short lived as not even 2 minutes into it I was stuck in the mud. Recent heavy rains made the lake water the unique color of an ice cappucino in spots. However, they did not raise the level of same to the altitude I had thought to allow a clear passage over the shoal. Recovery was fairly swift but not before losing many positions.
Boats under full sail pulled away, rub rails dipping into the water, as southwesterly winds immediately began giving everyone a workout. Tim and Lynn with their crew naturally lead the way along with Food Acres, Banana Split, True Blue, and Dutchess. Food Acres received the crewing services of John Hale and Stephanie Rinehart (from the Race 8 crew pool). Hey, if you are going to crew, why not do it on the most comfortable boat in the fleet? And rumor has it, that they sometimes serve lunch on board! David Freye was the only one of the front fleet single handing. "Crew? Why start now?" he said.
On the beat down to Soddy Creek, it seemed likely that the wind, although gusting here and there was not going to be too overwhelming and one by one, reefs where shaken out. The front of the fleet had built a good lead, in the middle of the pack were Enchantress and Numb battling it out, followed by the remaining boats, Myrtle the Turtle (good to see Dan back on the course), Wavelength, Ma˝ana, and Endurance. Meeting at one of our many crossings, Robert in Enchantress inquired about whether or not I rounded the Grasshopper Creek mark a few miles back. Miss one mark in the past and you get a reputation that you can never live down! "Of course I made that mark, Robert!" I replied with confidence.
As the beat went on, Dutchess suffered a mild grounding below Eldridge Slough but was able to push off and get back in the race. Meanwhile as David Hoover in True Blue approached the downstream mark, a disgruntled juvenile crew began plotting a "kid mutiny". The final straw was when Captain Hoover announced the halfway mark of the course. "Take the sails down and start the engine now!" they demanded. This reporter was too far off to witness the event and details of the uprising are sketchy. But the sails did remain hoisted - exactly who was in control of Blue after the mark is unclear.
Maniac was the first around the buoy and heading back upriver. No surprise there as Tim, Lynn, and crew were sailing strong as always. No chute was set on the J29 but on board Dutchess and Split, it was all about the spinnakers. The mighty sails went up and at about that time, those crazy west winds showed up giving the two boats an even greater workout. How David Freye was able to handle the spinnaker single handed in these winds is unknown and we did witness a couple of broaches. David thought he smelled something burning and looked down to see that a spinnaker sheet had burned right through his glove. Dutchess lost a spinnaker sheet, crewmate Dewey Norris also suffered rope burns, and Andre's chute suffered some mild damage. "Live by the spinnaker, die by the spinnaker," were David's words after the race. Still, a valiant effort on both boats. Split's spinnaker remained hoisted until the NW winds came.
On my way back up to Sale Creek my path crossed with Endurance still on his way downstream. It was Anthony's turn to take a poke at me and once again, I defended my rounding of the Grasshopper Creek mark with conviction! As the front of the fleet stalled in a calm patch and Enchantress and I began catching up (along with the rest of the fleet), I began replaying the race in my head...I didn't recall not missing the mark but then again, I couldn't recall keeping it to my starboard side either...dang it! Score another DSQ for the Numb!
Meanwhile, it appeared that David Hoover had thwarted the rebellion aboard Blue, was back in control of the ship, and sentenced the youngsters to hard labor - as rail meat. Not sure if this is in violation of any child labor laws but since there was no brig aboard the boat, the race committee approved of the action.
Speaking of passing, once again that Grasshopper Creek mark came into play. Both Food Acres and True Blue were on the opposite end of the lake and would have missed the final mark if not for the advise from Maniac that had finished the course some time earlier. If you want to get technical, we could probably DSQ all for offering advise and taking advise and all that stuff but bottom line is that both Food Acres and True Blue were tied for 3rd place in the series coming into the race, it was better to have them both finish the race than not. In the meantime, Rodger and I are lobbying to have the option to "throw out a buoy" since we are unable to throw out a race.
A lot of close finish times in this one so it was time to get out your slide rules and abacuses (or would it be abaci?). After it was all said and done, Maniac would once again emerge victorious. Well, there never really was any doubt about that. Congratulations to another job well done! Second and third place went to Banana Split and Enchantress respectively. Food Acres was next edging out Dutchess. But it would be Andre finishing in 2nd place overall in the series while Rodger and Annie would take 3rd.
The remainder of the fleet was tight as well - excellent sailing by everyone. Could not have asked for a better day to conclude this series. We would like to thank everyone - captains, crew, first mates, swabs, juveniles, etc. for making this series happen. We have said it before and we will say it again, this is a great group of people to sail with. Regardless of the weather and how one sails, it is ALWAYS a fun time just getting together and being on the water. And isn't that what it is really all about?
*Years ago, the National Weather Service began experimenting with computerized voices on weather radio. The first voice sounded like someone with a bad Arnold Schwarzaneger accent and the NWS affectionately called this person Igor. Igor now has a few brothers and sisters that have apparently immigrated and are now providing the forecasts you hear on weather radio.
RACE 8 RESULTS
FINAL SERIES STANDINGS
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