SHACKELTON RACE 1
November 6, 2004
There are the obvious, familiar signs of winter approaching that we are all aware of - birds migrate south, trees shed their leaves, bears hibernate. Over the past few years, onlookers paying close attention may have noticed a new indicator - an influx of sailors at Sale Creek. They come from all over - Nashville, Ringgold, Signal Mountain, and of course, "The Nooga". What is it that brings them to the water this time of year that is normally void of extensive boat traffic? It can only mean one thing - it is time for another Shackleton Series.
Will Maniac continue its dominance? Will Eric and David (Freye) remember that there are course marks out there that require rounding? (Yes, I refer to myself in the third person here). Will Anthony continue on his quest for that secret weapon that will propel him to victory? Will our crewmembers abandon us when the weather turns foul? Will we all continue to be a case study for psychology interns as we sail without regard to the winter elements? Stay tuned to this site over the next few months to find answers to these much sought after questions.
But now we start out fresh. All boats and captains are even and have an equal shot in their quest for the cup, ...or plaque, ...or pat on the back...whatever this year's budget allows for the victors. Hey, the $15 entry fee doesn't buy what it used to! But have no fear - as always, all participants will be rewarded with some type of prize when this is all over.
Starting out fresh also means that we are starting with some brand new handicaps. Virtually every boat in the fleet that has raced in the past year had some sort of adjustment to their PHRF number. Data from prior races was studied, complex formulas were developed, midnight oil was burned, but we finally came up with some new figures. Like any new invention, however, the new handicaps were not without flaw and it was realized that some limits would have to be set, without such, Maniac's PHRF rating would be in the negative numbers. Yes, I know the question of "so, what's wrong with that?" is echoing across the Shackleton fleet right now. (Well, maybe not at the Chambers' household.) No, using the initial calculations would have yielded some strange results and most likely would have wrought havoc to our modest fleet. So with a few more late nights, a little caffeine, and sharpening our pencils, we came up with some more conservative and seemingly agreeable handicaps. Most of us just gained or lost a few seconds. And I do know that no one in the fleet will loose any sleep over Maniac being docked 28 seconds per mile. As Tim said upon hearing the news, "we will wear that 28 seconds as a badge of honor!" Well to be honest that is the second thing he said. The first was, "Ouch!"
And just how did these new adjustments effect the outcome of Shackleton Race 1? Well, it was a perfect day for a race! Skies were sunny, the temps were mild, and we had nice southerly winds. It was initially thought that we had nine boats participating but doing a headcount on the water I noticed an additional vessel gunning for position as we approached countdown. It was Andre on Dutchess making another one of his last minute showings. Yes, the same guy that declared a non candidacy for the race prior to the skipper's meeting reversed his decision stating that, "I can't afford to be 9 points behind this early in the series!" Can't we DQ him for these tactics? And what is worse is that he had a great start! Well, it was too bad for him that I didn't - in more ways than one. You see, not only was our position on Comfortably Numb poor, but I was the RC (race committee) and entirely messed up the horn sequence to start the fleet at 11:30. Therefore a recall had to be issued and the race restarted at 11:45. Our position on Numb for the second start wasn't much better but I figured botching a second sequence might arouse a little suspicion. So we took our lumps and Shackleton Race 1 was underway!
Early on we could all see, new handicaps or not, the speed and competitiveness of the fleet was up. Tim and Warren on Maniac were pushing hard. Four captains were soloing - David Freye on Banana Split, David Hoover on True Blue, Robert Wheeler on his fairly recently acquired Hunter 33 Seaqual (cool name), and of course Andre on Dutchess. Sailing in their first Shackleton races and sailing with good speed were Mark Simms on Miss Problem Solver and Mike Miller in his Tanzer 22. As usual, Shackleton veterans Rodger and Annie were piloting Food Acres around the course with great finesse. Dan's J 24 - always fast. And finally, my secret was out after the first time Numb heeled over and exposed a new and slick coating of VC 17 on the bottom.
Not to fuss or anything, as writing these race reports is a great privilege. But when you all sail so well, it makes my job harder to pen a good story - there is no one to poke fun at! Seriously, it was a good, clean race. Unfortunately we had two disqualifications regarding (again) those dang buoys. The Tanzer 22 actually went outside a secondary channel mark and passed over the Sale Creek shoals. Unfortunately due to the shoal, it was required that we all stay on the channel side of the markers. Mike, who races regularly (and quite well I might add) on Percy Priest Lake, had a great time and sail regardless. Meanwhile, David Freye had some equipment problems and then just decided to have a good time and kind of chose his own course on the downwind leg - we never even saw his spinnaker flying that he packed with care before the race. You know the one that Tim tied the knot in while David was packing, the act of which had all the subtlety of a "hand grenade in a picnic basket" as Foghorn Leghorn would say. Yeah, we call caught that, Tim!
To answer an earlier question, the new handicaps, although tightening up the times a little, made no impact on the overall outcome. Maniac still won, Dutchess finished second, and Myrtle the Turtle placed third. Great job everyone. Thanks to all those who participated and thanks to my crewmember Matt who handled foredeck duties once the spinnaker on Numb was hoisted. See everyone at the next race - Sunday, November 21.
We apologize that there are no great action photos to illustrate this particular race. We were all searching for that competitive edge, not the camera!
SHACKLETON RACE 1 RESULTS
(S) - Spinnaker
Story written by Eric Almlie
ęCopyright 2004. All rights reserved.