I did say "regardless of conditions" didn't I? Furthermore, the question was brought up last year as to whether or not the skipper had to be present during the race. Or in other words, could one of the crew sail the boat with the captain not present? Although this is allowable in probably the majority of series racing throughout the country, we were adamant in our decision, "THE SKIPPER MUST BE PRESENT...on the boat...during the race!" We have to be specific in our wording as there are a few around here (well..., practically everyone) that will search for loopholes. No, we would not send in the understudies today. Not only do we adhere strictly to the code of this series, we simply don't have any bench warmers eagerly waiting in the wings dreaming of that day they get their shot at Shackleton stardom. Too bad. We could use some people like that on days like this!
Yes, it was a cold and rainy December day. We were expecting it. We were expecting wind. We were expecting cold, rain, and wind. Despite the fact that we all donned foul weather gear, we still expected to get wet. We were expecting to see a spinnaker run on I Soar. We were expecting another great race course. We were expecting cold, rain, wind, wetness, a spinnaker flight on I Soar , and a great course. Guess which one we didn't get.
We handed out the non waterproof race maps at the skipper's meeting. Better memorize it. "What is this? About a mile and a half?" inquired Tim, referring to the length of today's challenge. No, in hindsight a mile and a half would have been a godsend. We had a 3.7 nautical mile course compacted into 1 statute river mile with 7 buoy roundings. You GOTTA love Andre's race courses, this is what makes them great! And regardless of how far in front or behind everyone was, we would all be in talking distance! Sort of. Not that there was much chatter out there today anyway. Well, not unless you include teeth.
It was cold and wet from the get go. Banana Split and Hasta La Vista (the light air boats) pulled out front early. "Yeah! San Juan's rule!" exclaimed Captain Freye. The knotmeter on Hasta La Vista does not function but if it did and read anything above 0.5 at that point it would have been a surprise, so we weren't exactly making a bold statement. But nevertheless, our respective vessels were leading the way.
I guess what ensued was kind of a hunt and peck method of sailing. There would be little patches of draft here and there coming from every direction possible. Wind indicators were basically useless and telltales were hanging limp. We relied upon the steam coming off the water and the sight of our breath to see what the wind was doing. The latter would work well until our internal body temperatures dropped to the surrounding air temperature, which happened about 30 minutes into the race.
Seriously, it was a grueling day out there, perhaps the most demanding Shackleton race to date with the constant rain. Well, to be honest it did quit after about 2-1/2 hours. Summer Breeze was the first to abandon the race. Mike did a good job and was hanging well with Dutchess and I Soar for awhile. But the need for sleep after coming off another night shift took precedence. Andre did a great job piloting Dutchess, which was not designed to sail in non wind conditions. I Soar also does not prefer light air days but Warren did a good job as well. And yes, we did see the spinnaker pop out on the Ranger 23. Although Hasta La Vista and Banana Split had a good lead, the spinnaker on I Soar was a concern...for about 30 seconds, the amount of time it stayed full. Either they lost whatever puff they had or the spinnaker just got weighted down from all that wet stuff falling from the sky. Still, it was amazing how much ground I Soar gained in the short time the spinnaker was ballooning.
In the end, however, the day (or whatever you want to call it) belonged to Hasta La Vista. This boat LOVES light air! Crossing the finish line with the remainder of the fleet well behind there was no doubt that I had just scored my first Shackleton victory. I'm sure that any spectators viewing from the comfort of their warm lake home living rooms had long since dozed off and so the fanfare was limited to a greeting by a few American Coots swimming up to me. They didn't hang around long, perhaps unimpressed that we couldn't sail faster than they can swim. Nevertheless, it was good to be finished (and finished first) and the remaining boats would have to take their own times - I was heading in to get warm and dry!
For reasons unknown Banana Split DNF'd enabling a second place finish for I Soar. Warren may have had David beat on time anyway at the point Split opted out. Or I Soar may have actually been ahead. Does hypothermia mess with one's vision? Andre toughed it out the longest of anyone today as he was out there alone for a good while (been there before...more than I care to admit). That extra point may come in handy! Great job of everyone hanging in there today! We are the REAL Soggy Bottom Boys!
RACE 3 RESULTS
Race report and photos by Eric Almlie ęCopyright 2005. All rights reserved.