November 13, 2005
No, we don't mind those gray skies! In fact, we expect to have a few overcast days in this series. Not only expect it, but hope for it - sunny and balmy weather kind of takes the edge off a WINTER series. To be truthful, today was only gray for a little while and the air temperature was quite pleasant. In other words, another great day for sailing.
It was a light five boat turnout for this fine match. Once again, Andre would be commanding Dutchess. This time with crew consisting of Clarence Myers (Irwin 37 Bon Vivant). The bets were on to see how long it would take for Clarence to realize that he had just become about 160 pounds of US Grade A Rail Meat. Warren Sickler on I Soar had the services of Tim Chambers again. Banana Split would be captained by David Freye along with his daughter, Jacquelyn and a friend of hers. Mike Rice would again sail solo on Summer Breeze, BUT, Mike indicated that since he did not work the late shift last night and that he was rested up, the remainder of the fleet should beware! And finally, I was soloing on Hasta La Vista, which continues to be a work in progress (both the boat and me learning to sail it)!
By the way, a quick word on the name Hasta La Vista. The official name of this vessel has yet to be announced but I needed to call it SOMETHING other than continuing to refer to it as "the nameless boat". My wife suggested a Spanish name since it is, after all a San Juan. Que Pasa was the first thing that came to mind but was not quite original enough as there was an O'Day 30 moored here sometime ago with that name. And since my Spanish is limited to extremely simple phrases, I settled on Hasta La Vista. It was either that or El Kabong, for those who remember the old Quick Draw McGraw cartoons. Next race, it may be known as something else and for those who believe in the bad luck associated with renaming a boat, I just might get an "I told you so!" after you read this report.
Once again, Andre developed another great race course. With the exception of having to keep one buoy to port instead of starboard, this was the exact same course as the River Drop (2nd attempt). And for one of us not paying attention to the map, this would come into effect later.
At the start Dutchess was off and running, leading the way to the short downstream beat to the infamous Grasshopper Creek nun. Banana Split was not far behind and after a poor start, I was chasing in Hasta La Vista. I Soar made a couple of tacks soon after the start for clear air. Summer Breeze also made a couple extra tacks due mainly to what Mike sailing what he called, the "Boxoneer", referring to the Buccaneer's somewhat square shape. In fact, Mike has issued a challenge to anyone out there to sail a box as well as he does!
One by one we rounded the Grasshopper mark and began the downwind portion of our program. The first spinnaker out was on Dutchess. Since David was breaking in a new crew he opted to wait to finish the short leg we were currently on before hoisting his (there was a jibe involved). For those of you curious to see if I Soar would raise their chute I would ask, are you kidding? The real question is: what do the conditions have to be to where we WON'T see a chute hoisted on I Soar? Meanwhile, on Hasta La Vista, although loaded and ready, I had promised myself I wouldn't use the spinnaker unless the winds were really light. After all, I was sailing solo, there was no topping lift for the pole (I would have to utilize the fixed boom topping lift), and to top things off, there was only one halyard available up front. And the genoa's airborne status indicated that that halyard was presently in use. The genoa would have to be lowered and I would have to attempt to hoist this beast behind the main. Now, for those of you curious to see if Hasta La Vista would raise their spinnaker, again I ask, are you kidding? Not having quite enough obstacles to contend with, and the propensity I have to make things more difficult than they should be, OF COURSE I raised it! Besides, I Soar had just passed me and the rest of the spinnaker equipped fleet was drifting away.
It is said that some NASCAR fans view their sport for the sole purpose of seeing a wreck or two on the race track. Well, maybe not the sole purpose, but it is an added bonus. If there are any Shackleton spectators who harbor such wistful expectations of a gory scene on the race course, the spinnaker run on Hasta La Vista should please. It was ugly, ineffective, and the take down resulted in a complete spinnaker dunk. Make no mistake, a dragging spinnaker makes for an outstanding drogue. To add insult, while reeling it in (it fought like a trophy game fish), I noticed there was a gut wrenching amount of halyard that appeared to be paid out in the water. In all my years of sailing and rigging, I have failed to tie a knot in the end of a line maybe four times - this was one of them, and the entire halyard, the only forward halyard presently available, had whizzed through every pulley leading it back to the cockpit, through, up, and out the mast, and was now being rescued along with the spinnaker. The race would have to be finished on mainsail alone!
Meanwhile, Andre and Clarence remained focused on Dutchess' chute and did a great job. But for the second straight race, I Soar earned bragging rights on another excellent spinnaker run. And even with his new crew, Banana Split had a successful downwind leg, although the crew's conversation on the foredeck during a jibe was a little less technical than average. David reported that he overheard, "he wants this thingumajig changed with this thing clipped on this thing." That's okay, though, Jacquelyn and her friend did a fine job and as I recently read in an excerpt from the 2005 Mariner's Book of Days, it is permissible to substitute certain words in a pinch when the actual terminology escapes the mind. And yes, "doohickey" is one of those words allowed. (Read last year's Race 8 for reference.)
The wind had built up during the downwind portion and our upwind beat back promised to be a fun ride. The battle for first would be between Dutchess, Banana Split, and I Soar. Summer Breeze was gaining quickly on Hasta La Vista and I knew it was only a matter of time before Mike passed me with ease. I guess it was only inevitable that about the time I reached Buoy #6 I realized that I had rounded Buoy #5 incorrectly. There is saying that a bad day of sailing is still better than a good day of work. That theory was stretched greatly today and instead of going back for Buoy #5, I decided to let it rest and score myself one of those dreaded DNFs.
In hopes of accomplishing SOMETHING of value today, I decided to motor back to the finish line and be the official timekeeper. So there would be no confusion or discrepancies, a little bit of modern technology was utilized as each boat was photographed along with the stopwatch in the foreground. With determination not to let Warren finish this one in front, Andre and Clarence worked hard and crossed the finish line first. We were a little surprised not to see a spinnaker on I Soar's run during the last 1/2 mile of the race. Or maybe Warren and Tim realized they were close enough to Dutchess to correct out in front. That, they did quite easily. Following a couple minutes later was Banana Split, and with the Portsmouth ratings, David would correct out over Andre by a mere 2 seconds! I awaited Summer Breeze's finish but at about the time Mike reached the last buoy at Grasshopper Creek, the sails came down on the Buccaneer. The report upon returning to race headquarters was that Summer Breeze had suffered a broken rudder (weakened from years of moisture) and without it, was experiencing some difficulties in maneuvering. But fear not for Mike, who did an excellent job getting the boat back to the dock steering only with the motor. Summer Breeze is already back in commission with a lighter weight, stronger, sharper edged rudder. To the rest of the fleet and to anyone else out there, Mike says, "lookout!"
Race report written by Eric Almlie. ęCopyright 2005. All rights reserved. Photos by Clarence Myers and Eric Almlie.
RACE 2 RESULTS