Thames Yacht Club Commodore's Race 2003

Thames Yacht Club Commodore's Race, Sunday 09/07/03
Current: ebb 0901 Ram Island
Course: V-DG-SE-V-DG-V, 13.9 nm Distance: 13.9
Weather: Clear, low 80's, Wind: SW 10-16 kts
Crew: SR, BF, RW

Crew: Seth- foredeck, Bob- mid, trimming, RW-helm
Start: 1150

Sunday dawned a beautiful day, though with less than 10 knots forecast out of the west. Arriving early at 9am and finding no launch driver we fortunately hitched a ride out to the mooring with Steve on TOW BoatUS.  Leaving the mooring, the borrowed outboard pissed no water on start up and quickly heated up.  So we began to sail, reaching Groton Long Point around ten in a dying wind soon to find ourselves drifting backwards with the ebb.  There was no way we'd make the two miles to Vixen in time for the first start at 1100.  We were the fourth class scheduled to start.  Shortly Seth noticed Legacy coming out of the Mystic River and hailed them for a tow.  They kindly dropped us hundred yards short of the line and we promptly anchored waiting for the wind.  After a false start of the Non-spinnaker 2, the RC delayed the race for a half-hour and reset the course as the breeze began to fill out of the southwest at 13.9 miles, three to the Dumping Ground, two to Silver Eel, 2.9 to Vixen plus 6 to DG & back.

With Seth steering, we finally got our gun at 1150, crossing next to the committee boat.  Our strategy was to flop to port shortly after clearing to make westing in the current shelter of Black Ledge. Seems most of the fleet had the same idea and we quickly found ourselves in their shadow. Some, Rusty-Nail for one, with local knowledge sailed on across Black Ledge into the Thames.  The most northern boat, we were set up for the Pine Island Pass into river, clear of Black Ledge. I vaguely remember thinking about the adverse current in the channel and concern about overstanding the Dumping Ground.  For some reason, I chickened out and stuck to our original game plan up the east of Black Ledge with two pairs of tacks, prior to a port hitch across the river once clear the south side of BL.

Reaching the far side of the river in ten knots of wind, we tacked for the long haul out to the Dumping Ground.  With all of us on the rail in 10 to 13 knots, we kept high as possible, footing a bit in the chop to maintain speed. Clear of the river, the eastward ebb began to set us down.  The three mile haul to DG nearly over, twenty-five yards short of the mark, a short hitch on port was required to clear the mark. A great set got us off and running, the current in our favor, to Silver Eel in 12 - 14 knots of wind.  The next leg, following smooth jibe at Silver Eel was a bit tight- Seth lowered the pole a foot and everyone moved aft to the cockpit. Nearing Vixen, occasionally luffing the main, we conservatively chose a leeward douse three to four minutes shy of the mark giving us a smooth fast mark rounding. 

Now a quarter of two with the current subsiding, we hung on port through Pine Island Pass to the far side of the Thames prior to the long tack for the Dumping Ground in 10 to 14 knots and significant chop. On a windward beats in similar chop we should consider twisting off the genoa a bit more by setting the car back to #5. With less set from the west, we laid the mark without any further tacks to round and jibe set, made much easier by the leeward douse at Vixen. In 12 to 16 knots, the three mile broad reach to the finish took us thirty minutes, for a 6 knot average, with an occasional burst over seven. 

We finished 6th on corrected time, seven seconds behind Legacy with the 4th, 5th & 6th placed boats within the same minute. Those initial four tacks up the east side of Black Ledge may have cost us our chance to finish in the money; ... 2.5 minutes in extra distance, plus at least another half minute in tacking  for three minutes

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