Wind: SW 12 to 21, avg 16 kts
Crew: SR, BB, GC & RW
Course: Windward/Leeward 2.5 nm at 225 degrees for three laps,
Distance - 15nm- Current: Seas: three to four feet
It was a gray dreary morning, the visibility down to a mile, small craft warnings with wind forecast 20 to 25 knots and it took longer than usual for the race committee to get set up in the rough conditions. Arriving at the Groton Long Point start area an hour early gave us plenty of time to ascertain the wind conditions. We initially rigged for the #3 jib & first reef, though by start time decided on the genoa and first reef.
We were the first class off, following a forty minute delay, with a good start at the windward end of the line. One long starboard tack followed by a long port got us to the mark with Brer Rabbit, Salud, Jolly Mon & Petrel rounding just in front of us. With winds peaking at twenty knots, we passed on the spinnaker to run wing & wing downwind instead.
I remember approaching the mark, thinking (thankfully) ?my, we got here awful fast?, and sure enough, near the bottom mark, we heard comments on the radio that all of Class 1 and a few of the Class 2 boats had mistakenly rounded the ?jibe mark? set for the non-spinnaker class. A jibe mark, it was not, lying nearly on the rhumbline to the windward mark. Three boats in Class 2 withdrew, yet we continued to race as did our whole class.
We followed a similar course as the first on the first lap yet with a much longer port tack taking us out to the true windward mark. With the crew calling the waves and doing my best to steer between them an occasional one would seemingly bring us to a halt. About three quarters of the way out to the mark with Seth, George and Bob on the rail in eighteen knots of wind and we took a good one over the bow all the way back into the cockpit. , and Seth riding point had his life vest suddenly inflate. Even wing & wing (downwind against the current in 16 to 20 knot wind) was an effort largely due to the waves. Upon rounding the leeward mark we departed from our two previous beats and continued on port instead for smoother water on the right side of the course. We found the seas less severe, yet lost a significant push from the current in deeper channel on the left side of the course. We set the spinnaker in 12 to 16 knots of wind halfway down our final run. Even with the moderating winds, it remained a handful in the gusty conditions and seas, with Bob doing a superb job trimming, easing abruptly in the critical moments then immediately getting back on the gas.
Many times during the race we discussed the wrong mark situation and reasoned that since we all did the wrong course, concluding the race at the end of the three laps would be fair. Yet, finishing the third lap just behind Petrel, we failed to note Salud (Pearson 30), Brer Rabbit (C&C 3#) and Jolly Mon (C&C 30), all significantly ahead, beating back out for a final fourth lap to resolve the course issue.
So Petrel & SeTherin raced 13 nm and DNF?d, while Salud, Jolly Mon & Brer Rabbit went for 18 nm. Regardless, we had a great sail and I can?t say enough about the hard work expended by all the crew. For once, the forecast was right on the money; as we stepped off the launch it began to rain cats & dogs for the next couple of hours.
Link to Race Chart