SHACKLETON RACE 3
December 11, 2004
On the eve of Race 3, I received an e-mail from David Freye asking the improbable, "what is your take on Saturday's possibilities for scoring and beating The Maniac?" Interesting...not so much the question since we are ALWAYS asking that as race day approaches. No, I had simply noted that Maniac had earned a Donald Trump like "The" in front of their name, giving them an even loftier status amongst their rivals.
My response to David's question was a simple shrug of the shoulders which was received...well, by no one since I was staring at the computer screen at the time. That's sort of like nodding your head at the fast food drive through speaker when asked if you want fries with that (old Gallagher joke). Actually, today's prospects of breaking Maniac's countless string of Shackleton victories (among others) did look as promising as it gets. The forecast was for heavy wind, not a favorite of the J 29 (yeah, right). Today's course would also involve a lot of reaching since the winds would be westerly, therefore keeping the fleet tightly packed. Furthermore, with all the talk of alliances throughout the years, we now had an official one. Andre joined forces with David Hoover and would be crewing on True Blue. And not to forget, the fleet is highly competitive and optimistic this series. Finally, it is the that special time of year for miracles to happen. 'Tis the season, as we were so appropriately reminded by the reindeer adornment on the aft deck of Food Acres! Surely, one would think having all these things in place (didn't check the planetary alignment), odds would be favorable for an upset. Yes I am totally serious and (adding one last cheap joke), don't call me Shirley.
One thing for certain, it was definitely Shackleton weather. Cold, cloudy, windy, and an actual chance of snow flurries. But it turned out to be a tad too warm for flurries and even that extra cold point for the participants (just slightly over 40░). There was some precip in scattered areas on the course but it was very light and virtually vaporized from the heat of the battle. Yes, it is possible to work up a sweat while sailing in this type of weather.
Once again, it was my duty to handle the starting sequence while soloing on Comfortably Numb. Always up for a multitasking challenge, each horn was dead on accurate as was my start (about time for the latter). Numb even lead the way boat for boat to the first mark but I will conveniently leave out as to how short a leg that was. Tim and Warren in Mainac soon pulled ahead of the fleet on the reach to the second mark a little upstream and across the river. Well, what did you expect with an 83 PHRF? They should be in front! But even fighting a hefty current (TVA was dumping 133,000 cubic feet per second down at the dam), the fleet had good speed and kept pace.
One might say it was cutthroat. Mark Simms on Miss Problem Solver was dead on my stern until building up some speed to pass, David and Andre on True Blue were going for the gold, Dan on Myrtle the Turtle was to leeward of the beam reaching fleet but gaining and passing (how is that possible?), Food Acres and Seaqual were sailing strong as always. And David Freye and son, Christopher on Banana Split - well, they are always in contention.
After rounding the fourth mark and heading downstream, Maniac appeared to be widening the gap ever so slightly. But the determination aboard True Blue was unmatched. That is, until they realized that a channel marker was passed on the wrong side and they had to sail about an extra 3/4 of a mile to make up the oversight and pass it correctly. Afterwards, they really sailed with determination! At this point it appeared that Food Acres was flirting with victory as they were in second position and looking to strike. And in the meantime, David and Christopher on Banana Split went for broke and were the only brave and hard working soles to attempt a spinnaker flight with the prevailing fluky westerlies. Good job, guys!
It would come down to the wire. David Hoover did say that sailing with Andre gave him an inside look as to how Andre thinks. At one point, with his best Dutch accent impersonation (which I'm afraid sounds more like Boris Badenoff), David quoted Andre as stating, "now is when I do something mean to Dan!" who had quietly snuck up towards the front of the fleet. We are not sure what that mean thing was or if his plan was ever implemented. Whatever it was, it didn't work and it would be Dan in Myrtle the Turtle that would have the final laugh. Not only did he beat True Blue boat for boat, but he emerged victorious in this race, correcting out in front of Maniac with some room to spare!
When crewing on Maniac at the Pig Regatta, Dan mentioned to Tim that his life long dream was to beat the insuperable J 29. After the race Tim was quoted as saying to Dan, "well I guess you have nothing else to live for now!" On the contrary, with victory comes the satisfaction of a race well sailed, and Dan should be very proud of today's performance as he did an outstanding job. But winning a race gives you something much more important - something that we all strive to achieve - BRAGGING RIGHTS! And those bragging rights are forever!
Good job today, everyone! There was a true Shackletonian spirit out there in the cold. But winter isn't even officially here yet and it appears that our coldest days are in front of us. Makes me thankful that we are not divided in teams and have to do the "shirts and skins" thing!
Next race is Sunday, January 9. Will see everyone there!
Story and pictures by Eric Almlie
ęCopyright 2004. All rights reserved.
RACE 3 RESULTS
SEASON STANDINGS THROUGH RACE 3