Crew: Brian, Seth, Bob & RW
Winds: SW mid to high teens, gusts low 20’s
Temp: 75 F, Baro: 29.77
Weather: high thin overcast; lowering frontal clouds
Current: flood – Bartlett Reef 1135, Two Tree Island 1230
Start time: 1105
Start/Finish: mid Niantic Bay
Course: s/f-A-W-I-A-I-s/f; “A” 215 @ 2.2 nm from RC; Total Distance: 10.7 nm
*Heavy #1 Genoa
The Niantic event is the farthest west we care to venture for a same day event, and this year the current was on our nose both going and returning, two hours each way. Leaving Spicer’s at 8am, the motor over was in smooth water, under clear skies, with little to no wind. The forecast was a bit ominous wind wise, so arrival we donned PFD’s, cinched the keel down & the shrouds to their tightest, & prepared for a stiff wind.
The RC set up in the middle of the Bay with a Gold Cup Course. We were the second class to start. It was nice to witness another start and benefit from that knowledge. Seeing that port was favored I should have hung back to start at the committee boat. Thinking that the fleet would quickly to tack to port, I decided lead the fleet down towards the on the pin end, with the thought of being the most windward boat following the tacks. We ran down the line on starboard leading the class, yet found soon after the gun, few were in mind for a tack. So we threw in a quick tack to duck a few sterns, which really paid off. Euphoria and the J24 starting near the RC were the only other boats on port. After tacking back to starboard for the hitch offshore, Salud had to duck us, one of the few if only time that’s happened.
Short of clearing Black Point, Euphoria (Pearson 30), slowed to change headsails allowing us to pass. A bit later the J24, Ten Speed did the same and we pulled ahead of them also. We were third to round the windward mark following Spirit, right behind Salud, and comfortably ahead of Euphoria & Ten Speed. I believe that’s the closest we’ve ever been to Salud at the windward mark. Rounding in near 20 kts of wind and rough waves, we decided not to set the spinnaker, electing wing & wing instead. Neither Salud nor J24 set their chutes, broad reaching instead. Behind us Euphoria set theirs with some difficulty, eventually passing us to windward. The wind moderated some (mid to high teens) as we sailed back into the Bay and in somewhat less confused seas we set our reacher.
Approaching the jibe-mark “W”, we trailed Euphoria & led Ten Speed. Seeing that Euphoria could not maintain the spinnaker after the jibe (rounding up badly), we doused short of the mark for a port broad reach down to the leeward mark and rounded just ahead of the J24. In retrospect I believe we should have continued with the reacher at the jibe-mark as the AWA was never forward of abeam and the wind in the mid-teens. Ten Speed tacked off first; then suffering some bad air from boats ahead we followed, as Salud & Euphoria continued west across the Bay. The flood had begun in earnest by now. Port had been favored on the first beat, but now the tacks were fairly even. I still felt going offshore for a port approach would pay off. Clearing Black Point, the seas & wind had again picked up, now into the low 20’s.
This time we did not compensate for the current and overstood some at the mark, rounded and again felt it prudent not to set. Spirit & Euphoria were the only ones to do so. By now Spirit was comfortably out of sight. We felt quite confident of our time on Salud & Euphoria ahead and the J24 still trailing at the moment.
Just as Euphoria was entering the Bay on starboard jibe, they lost the chute out to the side, wiped out and broached, stuck the spinnaker pole in the water, and broke it in two. They laid there on their side perpendicular to the course for what seemed a long while as the spinnaker held them down. Evidently, the sheet was snaggled up and would not run, so they let the halyard go the she righted herself. Fortunately, no one was hurt or thrown overboard. They finished the run under main & genoa.
Again as in the first downwind, things moderated as we entered the Bay, and as we contemplated setting the spinnaker, the J24 for beat us to it and slowly pulled ahead on our windward, beating us to the leeward mark. We had a clean douse & rounding followed by a tack at first opportunity and began the short beat towards the finish.
We trailed the Euphoria across the line by two & a half minutes, yet corrected to second place.
1 minute, 7 seconds faster would have put us in first place.
* The Heavy #1 began life as a std Waters 155 Class Genoa. Joe recut the leech after it developed a slight hook. So we now use it as our heavy wind sail. This we fold, while we roll the "Light" #1 for storage.