June 27, 2004 Sunday, George, Bob, Seth and I sailed Shennecossett?s Pine Island Regatta, and for once the winds were as forecast. The day had dawned clear & bright which held through the morning as we motored towards Vixen with a 12 knot westerly our bow in the last hours of the ebb.
With winds well into the mid-teens near start time, we put in a reef and prepared for a brisk afternoon. The committee posted a windward-leeward course from Vixen 2.8 miles to southwest beyond the entrance of the Thames to Rapid Rock at 258 degrees for two laps and a total of 11.2 nm.
Noon came with the warning for the cruising class, followed by the Ensigns start at 1210 and our class gun at a quarter past. With good position on starboard next to the committee boat and windward of the fleet, we flopped for the Pine Island channel soon as we felt comfortable. Strategically, we felt shooting the channel offered fewer waves and chop than the offshore route, with little or no adverse current, if not a slight boost of nascent flood. Other than a few Ensigns I believe we were alone in choosing that route.
We hung on port to the far side of the river, tacked to starboard, eventually finding ourselves a few hundred yards behind Second Draft (a Catalina 30) when they came across the river from south of Black Ledge and tacked ahead of us. Superb hiking by all the crew paid off as we occasionally had the heel down to 10 degrees in 14 knots of wind. Creeping up on Second Draft, we took a short tack to port to avoid their gas, tacked back for the layline, rounded in a bearaway and setup for downwind in 14 knots of wind. At the halfway point a jibe port took us the rest of the way to Vixen. With a conservative douse a good distance (actually too soon) from the mark we had plenty of time to put a reef back in and get setup up for the next beat, very reminiscent of the first beat though with slightly less wind.
In retrospect, with winds abating some (down to 12 & 14 kts), we may have faired better, had we tacked offshore after the leeward mark and gone south of Black Ledge. The waves and chop would have been heavier, yet the current may have been more favorable. Other than Tumult and some Ensigns, we were again alone in our choice of Pine Island Channel. We jibed to port shortly after the second rounding of Rapid Rock for some distance inshore to avoid the flood, though we jibed back to starboard too soon, hurting us doubly, as we should have gone farther to avoid the current and secondly, had we gone farther our reach would have been fresher.
We crossed the line with 2 hour 45 minute elapsed time. With multiple reefs, a lot of gear changing and plenty of hiking, a pretty good workout was had by all.
Comments: - A rough rule of thumb for determining the jibe point: continue the present jibe until the angle to the leeward mark is double the angle of the tail of the windex. - It appears reefing earlier at 14 kts may payoff rather than waiting to 16 or so as we have done in the past. - 24 seconds faster would have put us in 2nd - 4 min 20 seconds faster would have put us in 1st
Overall wind average: 13.6 kts, 1st windward leg 15.1, 1st downwind 13.5, 2nd windward 13.7, final downwind 13.6.
Link to Chart