Watch Hill YC – Fuller Regatta; Saturday, 08/08/09
Crew: Brian, Seth, Bob & RW
Winds: NW, W to SW at 4 to 12 kts
Current: flood – Napatree Point 0700, ebb 1300
Start time: 1050, finish 1515
Start/Finish: Off the beach of the Ocean House – Watch Hill, RI
Course: 195 degrees at 3.5 nm, 2 laps (shortened from 3)
Distance 14 nm
Shrouds: Base

The various wind forecasts were not very encouraging, 5 to 10 at best.  Though it was to be a beautiful clear day, and with a cool breeze out of the north a possibility of a so-wester building in the afternoon.  We left the dock at 0830 for a posted 1030 start motoring against the flood for nearly 2 hours arriving with little time to spare.  Picking up the scratch sheet from the chase boat, we pieced together the start sequence.  There were only two classes, both spinnaker (A & B), a small turnout typical of the WHYC events and we were to be the last to start.

WHYC prefers the traditional race management/start sequence system, relying soley on visual & sound signals, versus clarification by radio so common of many yacht clubs today. With the wind blowing off the beach, a downwind start was the order of the day.  We started very well, running down the line on starboard towards the committee boat and popping the chute short of Wild Angel at the boat end of the line ahead of the J24-Thriller and J22-Ricochet.  A couple of minutes later still ahead of the J22, and not wanting to get pinned to starboard, I called for a temporary jibe, wishing instead to work the port up-current side of the course.  Clearing the J22, we jibed back to starboard losing a good minute or more for the total effort, but now free to work the port side of the course.  Our strategy was to maintain a course to port of the rhumbline, requiring a broader spinnaker reach than our completion.   Salud, Ursa Minor & Wild Angel pulled well ahead as we sailed somewhat parallel to Thriller & Ricochet well of to our starboard.

This appeared to work for us as we arrived at the drop mark to hoist the genoa and douse the chute on the sterns of Thriller & Ricochet, and exited outside & alongside both boats on a much looser course.  We established a range early and again favored the up-current, now starboard side of the course.  Wild Angel far ahead was the only other boat in our class to do so.  Two-thirds the way back to the beach, we noticed the beginnings of a southwester, as the wind backed thirty degrees or more and picked up from the fours to the sixes, so we set the spinnaker again. Thriller and Ricochet had been swept down current and we beat them to the mark as they struggled downwind to the mark.   There was a race committee discussion on the radio concerning shortening the legs for the third lap, but the decision was made instead to call it at 2 laps.


With a school-book hoist & douse, we rounded the inshore mark clear ahead in an eight knot freshening breeze for the second and last lap. It took the whole leg for both boats to pass us just short of the offshore mark.  All three of us rounded in jibe-sets for the last run to the shore with the wind building from 8-10 to 11 & 12 kts in the last half of the run with Thriller & Ricochet crossing the line just a couple minutes ahead.   Interestingly, the first lap took twice as long to sail as the last.

We arrived back in Noank five-o’clockish, later yet by time the boat was put to bed; too late for the drive back to Watch Hill for the party and results.   So we retired to the Seahorse for a good dinner and a couple beers,  -  a memorable birthday.

Link to chart

Addendum: Results were posted today. We corrected to 3rd.