The regular Circe Crew were reduced to just four for this race so we drafted Island friend Susan Roy to assist. Susan has little actual sailing experience but is fascinated by the concept so we thought this would be a good introduction to the reality of sailboat racing.
Foredeck - Pam, Susan Roy
Mainsheet- whoever was available
Timing - Ron
Jib Sheets- Nansi & Ron
Tiller - Skipper Susan
WIND & JIB SELECTION
It was blowing strong out of the west all night and most of the morning. But as soon as the Skippers Meeting started at 10:30 it had just about died. We went out and raised the main and waited to see how things evolved. The wind was about 2 knots and all over the place. We rigged the light #1 but kept it on deck. Then I looked out the gap and saw a boat rail under in the lake. Seconds later a 10 knot wind came in from the NW. We switched to Black Magic. A good call.
There were 17 boats out. Graham had divided the fleet into two divisions. The first division was 29’ and above. Of all the boats out I figured we had to worry most about the Star sailed by Karahanas mother and daughter, Bandoleer, and Alpha Omega.
Based on a likely light wind Graham set the course to the Gibraltar buoy with a turning mark in the north east corner of the bay. The start line was only a couple of hundred yards west of this mark and close enough to the city to also be within the “dead zone” where the wind is all over the place in strength and direction.
We decided the best start would be at the starboard end of the line to ensure buoy room at the turning mark. With a west wind it should have been a down wind start but the wind inexplicably shifted to the north just before the start. We timed the start perfectly and hit the line close hauled on the gun right at the Committee boat. But the wind had shifted so much to the north that laying the mark looked problematic. But Susan kept high and the wind shifted back just enough so we were able to round inside Alpha Omega and Bandolier and take the lead. We never lost it.
We got through the gap and hardened on to a long close hauled starboard tack along the island shore. It was a nice breeze with about 12 to 15 knots apparent. Black Magic was working well and Susan had Circe pointing higher and going faster than the boats behind. A hard combination to beat.
But now being lead boat we had to find the damn mark. Pam saw it first with binoculars. We opened up our lead and tacked short of the port tack layline then tacked again for the mark and then gybed around the mark. Each tack and gybe was successfully completed but each was a bit of a gong show with me yelling at Nansi to tail the jib sheet and Susan yelling at Nansi to trim the main while Pam and Susan R calmly skirted the jib. Unfortunately we only had one Nansi so she was one very busy girl trying to do a dozen things simultaneously. And she did it it amazingly successfully!!
The return leg eastward along the island was mostly a broad port tack reach doing 5 to 6 knots with Pam continually calling the jib and and Nansi trimming the main. Only once did the wind go behind enough to wing the jib but not even long enough to get the pole on.
It was up wind through the gap so we had wind all the way through but had to throw in a short hitch to make it. But as we approached the rounding mark in the “dead zone” things got really squirrelly with huge oscillations in strength and direction. Skipper Susan was up to the task, however, having learned the prerequisite vocabulary from her father in similar circumstances.
We finally got round the mark and headed to the finish still with a good lead looking back at Alpha Omega still trying to deal with the fickle “dead zone” wind. The last leg was a beam reach in an increasing breeze. The apparent wind hit 24 knots as we crossed the line. Alpha Omega was still not around the last mark.
It was a good race.
Susan did a repeat. First in her division and first overall. On corrected time we were four minutes ahead of the second boat, Bandoleer. The Star finished third.
Well done everyone especially Susan Roy on her Maiden sail.
Ron, on behalf of Skipper Susan.