64th Ram Island YC 'Around the Island Regatta'
Crew: Brian, Seth, Bob & RW
Winds: NE-E-SE at 3 to 8 kts, & 10 for a short while following the start
Current: ebbing, flood Napatree 1356
Start time: 1015, Finish 1340
Start: W of Groton Long Point, Finish: shortened at Lord's Pass MOA
Shrouds: at Base
On drive home from the yacht club Saturday night, weather clearing, Bob & I strategized the race, West wind in mind. Sunday morning, an East wind & a low overcast required a bit of a re-think. As we approached the starting area it appeared a port reaching start would be in order, though while maneuvering in the start area, we soon realized it would be spinnaker start.
We had a great start on the line, right at the committee boat, popping the chute at the signal, with the fleet bunched mid-line and near the pin. Our first leg strategy was to stay up-current and avoid being pushed into the Dumplings & Fishers, hoping to benefit from the current flush sooner. This worked well and allowing us to stay with the pack three quarters down the west shore. We were by far, the farthest offshore of the sixty boats. Approaching abeam Silver Eel, there were occasional small bursts of current in our favor, which became constant and steadily increased to over a knot once past Silver Eel.
Nearing Race Point, we saw numerous boats caught in the eddy offshore between Race Point & Race Rock. We raised the genoa, hardened up momentarily under both genoa and chute, found the wind not fresh enough to fly both, and doused the spinnaker. We were not able to cut the R”2” buoy as close as intended, yet close enough to escape the eddy.
We continued offshore with the current, farther offshore than in previous races. With a lot of twist in both genoa and main, (winds in the 4 & 5’s) steering continued to be demanding in the deep swells left over from Tropical Storm Dan. The rollers were deep enough at times to nearly lose sight of boats ahead , masts alone visible, as they or ourselves sailed into troughs between waves. The shore would occasionally disappear in the fog and intermittent drizzle. An additional crew duty surfaced- cleaning the skipper’s glasses. Tiring, I found a bit more genoa cunningham helped, widening the groove a bit. Having our competition close enough to identify was encouraging.
Three quarters down the island and 2.6 miles offshore we finally tacked to starboard and the shore, wind now down in the 3’s. Short of the beach and of the wind-hole (a few boats were wallowing in) along East Point, we tacked back out.
We tacked above the layline, as I wished to stay well clear of the wind-hole. About a mile ahead, it appeared they were finishing boats at Lord’s MOA, a good call by the RC. By now the ebb had diminished and there may have been a hint of flood. We moved the sheet to the outside track and forward for a loose reach to the finish. It was a good feeling- finishing a 3 hr, 25 minute race, to have all our completion within sight and able to record their times as they crossed.
We finished first in class- fifth year in a row, and first in fleet for the second year in a row. As Bob said: “to prove it was not a fluke, we now have two flukes”!