Crew: Brian, Seth, Bob & RW
Winds: SSW, avg 7 kts; increased to high teens 100 yards short of finish
Current: flooding, ebb - North Hill 1307
Start/Finish: offshore of Vixen
Elapsed Time: 208 minutes
Course: s/f(Vixen)-Rapid Rk-NorthHill-DM(V)-SL-s/f(Vixen); Distance: 13.5 nm
Gene Fiese & RC chose a great course. We elected to start on port near the pin knowing the likelihood of ducking some sterns, as port was favored and the pin got us farther offshore with the possible advantage of clearing Black Ledge without tacking.
Five minutes into the race, we were in the lead momentarily as the rest had all extended out on starboard prior to tacking, and it looked like we would clear Black Ledge. It was just brisk enough for all of us to be up to the high side hiking a bit and feeling good as our competition egan to creep up to windward, Watercolors on our beam, when suddenly the wind quit. The boat straightened up and heeled over to windward and all three crew got wet. Fortunately, the lull lasted only a minute or so and we were again back in the hunt. These extreme velocity changes along with erratic changes in direction were the theme of the day.
Prior to rounding Rapid Rock, we chose the reacher; though the halyard got hung up on the #2 batten in the hoist, taking an exasperating while to clear. The remainder of the reach we held our own, rounding North Hill with a good douse & genoa hoist for a port beam reach (too tight for the spinnaker) back towards Connecticut shore and the leeward mark near Vixen.
Halfway down the leg we could see boats ahead- Salud, Watercolors and others struggling into the mark. As the wind continued to back we again hoisted the spinnaker. Then less than a mile from the mark, the wind shut down completely. We tried wing & wing for a short while, then switched back to the spinnaker as a slight southeasterly built for the remainder to the mark.
Shortly after rounding for the final beat to Rapid Rock, Stealth ahead of us withdrew. Upon entering the Thames, we could see numerous boats struggling towards the mark against the ebb. We chose to favor nearer the shore for less current and a slight breeze, with the hopes of eventually approaching the mark from up current. Our strategy worked, and on the west side of the river, 500 yards or so short of RR, the spinnaker was set again. Ahead we witnessed Watercolors kissing the mark. In just a zephyr we ghosted safely around the mark. Upon the clearing the mark in the drift of the ebb, the spinnaker collapsed and blew back into the rig mostly from current wind I believe, and maybe some from a wind now backed to the SE.
We switched back to the genoa for the river crossing, then back to the spinnaker alongside Black Ledge. Many boats ahead that had favored the right on the return were now struggling in light air. A couple hundred yards short of the finish the wind shut down briefly to come back strongly out of the east high teens. Fortunately, we saw it in time to quickly switch back to the genoa for a great finish in the tight company of Watercolors, Salud, Plain Vanilla & Sanibel. This was a classic case where sometimes a slower boat benefits from the rear vantage point. The young lady crewing on Plain Vanilla responding to my remark, likened it to” reading the tea leaves versus seeing the whole chess board.”
SeTherin - First Place, Spinnaker Class 1
Link to the results