62nd Annual Invitational Race
Crew: Bob, Seth & RW Course: 1,
Around Fishers Island (ccw) Race length: 15.0 nm
Winds: SWW, 10 kt avg Barometer: 29.92 to 29.96 Temperature: 78 to 75 F
Current: ebb 09:52 Ram Island (3.3 kts) Spring tide, lunar eclipse Monday night
On the drive to the boat in the morning Seth & I discussed our strategy for the day providing the forecast proved true. Our primary goal was to proceed from the start westward along the Connecticut avoiding the current as much as possible until we were assured of weathering Race Point, without any further port tacks into the ebb. Secondary, was praying for ten plus knots of wind up Lord's Pass on the east end of Fishers and to the Stonington Gong.
Following a half hour delay waiting for a promise of wind, race committee finally got things going about 1030 in a six-knot breeze. There were a total of 86 boats spread amongst ten classes. The first three, the Ensigns, Shields & CG Colgate 26's were assigned the inside course. Ours, the first spinnaker class was seventh to go following the two non-spinnaker classes.
We stuck to our strategy, crossing the line at the committee boat on the western end of the line. I had planned on tacking right away but Sparky & Bad Dog went first, so we delayed until past their windward hips. What followed, was an hour-long slog (winds varying 4 to 6, sometimes less) westward along the Connecticut shore past Vixen (which Seth & I had set as our first decision point). Many times we were tempted (to tack a bit farther offshore) by boats paralleling us farther south in more wind. A bit short of Vixen, Jolly Mon tacked for the point. Passing abeam their stern, we saw them being swept towards North Hill. Creeping up to Black Ledge in three knots of wind, we began to appreciate a lift from the Thames River ebb and finally tacked offshore. A quarter of the way to Race Point, a ten to twelve knot breeze began filling from the southwest. Other than a short port tack to parallel some large powerboat waves, no other tacks were necessary to weather the point. After a great bearawy set by Bob & Seth, we continued out on starboard as has paid off in the past, current wise. Abeam Wilderness Point, we swapped to port the predominant jibe down the backside of the island. This hour plus, seven mile run grows wearisome, requiring a great deal of concentration, and I commend Bob (trimming) and Seth (guy) for their hard work.
A good douse at Lords, a reach up the pass to C7, then a beat to C9 (avoiding the current) preceded a beam reach across channel to the Stonington Gong in twelve knots of wind. From there the remainder resembled that of last years Ram Island race. Continuing northwest along Noyes Shoal and nearing shore we began to sense a favorable flood current tending to balance out the diminishing wind and easing the temptation to tack out for the greater wind to the south (in less favorable current). This time we tacked around the south side of Cormorant Reef and in towards Mason YC. We noticed Gizmo aground north of the nun, and planned passing them safely to the north. We learned later that Looney Tunes ran aground there also earlier in the afternoon. But with wind continuing to soften, we tacked short of the reef and out towards the finish. One more port tack in the current lee of Gates Rock (which we should have done last year) took us abeam the pin for the last starboard to the finish.