Crew: Seth, Erin, Bob & RW
Winds: SW at 5 to 12 kts
Current: ebb - North Hill 1442
Start time: 1220
Start/Finish: just north of Vixen
Course: s/f-E-I-V-E-s/f, Distance: 13.4 nm
Shrouds: Base +3, +5, +3
It was showery on the drive to Noank, yet by the time we arrived the rain had subsided leaving a low ceiling & some fog. The motor over to Vixen Ledge with a flood in accompaniment was uneventful.
With six classes our class was next to last starting at 1120. In about 8 kts of wind, we got a very good start most windward right at the committee boat. Bandit(J24), directly on our stern was unable to pull up to windward and shortly bailed out on port for clear air, a move we also were forced to do a couple minutes later due to the header from Salud after she pulled out from our alee to directly ahead. Back on starboard and nearing Seaflower, Salud tacked to port for the better part of five minutes, tacking back well to our windward. We had no difficulty weathering Seaflower (yet lost some current lift in its lee), so continued on starboard till closing on fog shrouded North Hill (Fishers Island). As some boats sounded an occasional fog horn, instrument & compass awareness was paramount. Lacking the usual visual cues, I was unaware of the header we sailed into for three minutes or so short of North Hill; a fact I became aware of post-race studying the chart. Had we tacked at 1245, we’d have picked up about two minutes.
Instead we tacked as the North Hill R”2” came into view. I’ve found in the past a diminished breeze near Fishers Island’s western shore, so wished to remain well clear. On the tack back offshore, we may also have benefited from the current curling around North Hill to the south for a bit before it merges with that from the Race and continues westward. Two more tacks took us to the layline, overstanding slightly for a good set. We did our best to stay offshore and in the wind on the course back up to North Hill. Through the Dumplings, focused on the flood I ventured too close to So. Dumpling and lost our wind. Had I recognized sooner the slack tide we would have sailed near the channel center where the breeze appeared much stronger.
I noticed boats far ahead, Salud and others rounding Intrepid Rock in a fresh breeze, some with difficulty continuing under spinnaker. So we prepared for a close spinnaker reach and lowered the pole prior the jibe at the mark. On rounding we found diminished wind (4 to 5 kts) for the thirty minute beam reach to Vixen, so switched to beam reaching with the genoa, our worst point of sail. Fortunately, the current was with us or it would have been much worse.
After rounding Vixen at 1425, a short tack to starboard quickly told us that port was favored. After thirty minutes on port (interrupted by a 1 minute exploratory tack to starboard), we took a 25 minute starboard in a fresh breeze to close on the shore and the eventual rounding of the Silver Eel bouy. The run back to the finish was a good one (no mistakes) with a jibe to port abeam North Hill factoring in the ebb port side.
We corrected to 2nd out of eight boats.
Link to - chart