Crew: Brian, Seth, Bob & RW
Course: X-W*2, 220 at 1.5 nm Distance: 6 nm
Current: ebb North Hill 1145
Wind: SW, 18 to 22, lull 15, gust 25

The first day of autumn dawned rainy & dreary. A small craft advisory, forecast showers & 20 kt winds gusting to 30 made for a gloomy morning. We spent some extra time and left the mooring: #3 jib on the deck, main furled with first reef, keel frictioned down, hatches locked, PFD's donned and a safety briefing as we motored out towards the Groton Long Point starting area.

The RC set a course dead into the wind, the windward mark approximately a half mile southwest of North Dumpling. Our stated strategy was to finish safely. The fleet of roughly twenty boats was split between two spinnaker classes and non-spinnaker. The classes started numerically, our spinnaker class second to go and we trailed across the line in a tight starboard group with Gnat leading, Salud, Hocus Pocus and Tumult ahead.

The initial starboard tack took us about a quarter of the way up the course. An occasional glance to windward saw Gnat sailing quite flat, pulling above the fleet. They probably had more bodies per foot LOA than any other boat. We certainly would have benefited from another on the rail (Megan?).

The next tack (we were the last go, tacking on Tumult’s windward hip) was our longest (nearly fifteen minutes) roughest and fastest to windward exceeding six kts SOG with the current. The 20+ knot wind opposing the last of the flood made for a wild ride in the five-foot waves. A bit beyond and to weather of Seaflower we laid the mark some distance out, a good call by Seth.

Rounding the mark in a drizzle, we bore away on starboard then jibed prior to flying the twenty-five year old 150 drifter, dousing the #3 and setting the whisker-pole dead-downwind, sailing occasionally by the lee to make the mark. None of the boats in our class flew their spinnakers.

Following a good leeward rounding, I remained on port with the thought of taking the brunt of the ebb near shore rather than the channel. After weathering Horseshoe, we took a long starboard to the top of the course, followed by a short port to where Seth called the layline on the same range as previous. Much closer now, the range gave us an overstand requiring a bear down for the mark. As the ebb had begun, the waves were not as severe the second time out though still quite deep.

This time we jibed and got the drifter flying a bit sooner for a rousing downwind in five-foot seas and some great surfs, one peaking at 8.6 knots.

Corrected Finish Gnat Salud SeTherin Hocus Pocus Tumult

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