Crew: Brian, Bob, Seth & RW
Winds: E at 4 to 6 kts (5 avg)
Baro: 29.95-GON, Temp: 60
Current: ebb - North Hill 1310
Start time: 1800, 1:45 left of ebb
Start/Finish: between GLP & Horseshoe
Course: s/f- V, Distance: 2.6 nm
Shrouds: @ base

Approaching the starting area off Groton Long Point we realized the RC was set up for a downwind start, which they subsequently posted for Vixen, two laps, which was shortened to one as boats approached the windward mark.. 

Our strategy was to favor the shore downwind for current relief, then offshore on the return, current in our favor. The wind was varying 4 to 6 in the few minutes leading up to the start, so I chose the pin end for a starboard start giving us the most of the line in case the wind went to six. We set the chute in four kts with a minute to go, Sans Souci to our lee near the pin with the remainder of the class down near the RC. 

We had an intelligent downwind, sailing target angles of 150 to 160 for the most part in a 4 to 5 kt wind. Interestingly Watercolors went offshore and did not fair well, while Sans Souci, Cosmic (leading) sailed along with us on similar courses. We along with Cosmic ducked behind Horseshore momentarily prior to jibing around, while Sans Souci skirted outside without the jibes.  After rounding Horseshoe we gradually pulled ahead of Sans Souci for the rest of the leg. A few minutes later we heard a loud crunch as “Breaking Wind” came upon the rocks of Horseshoe.

Watercolors finally found some air and beat Cosmic to the mark by a minute or so, we followed a couple minutes later, with SS on our heals. Immediately after rounding Cosmic jibed for shore, and as did SS eventually.*  We did not see a benefit in doing so, as the wind appeared weaker inshore and the current more favorable offshore. Though unbeknownst to us, our strategy began to unravel over the next few minutes.  

Studying the one-minute chart below one finds we failed to sense two headers, one at 1843, another at 1855 hours. Had we tacked on either, the results would have been significant- a minute or better gain. I was leery of the inshore route, for fear of losing pressure to the many large boats coming up from the rear.  Yet, had we gone as far as Cosmic & Sans Souci we would have been to windward of the them all.  Somewhere around Horseshoe, Cosmic and Sans Souci benefited from some fresh wind and pulled ahead, and we could only watch from afar.

Later at the Seahorse, Andy (Cosmic) said he was in close quarters with Salud and Jolly Mon at Vixen and jibed for clear air, also with the sense that there was better pressure inshore, reinforced by Watercolors’ struggle downwind.  His choice was reinforced crossing the line minute or more ahead of Salud and Jolly Mon. Also, John Bwabe (2nd Chance, C&C 35) remarked he was able to sail nearly the rhumbline to the finish following the Vixen rounding, as did many of the later starting big boats.

* Rule(s) of Thumb- Tack or jibe towards the new wind, once there you’ll be on the favored tack/jibe & in better wind, windward of the fleet.
Based on our experience, the starboard (favored) jibe did the most for us (an E to ENE breeze) downwind to Vixen, so we should have given more weight to the inshore route back upwind.
More importantly, we should consider covering Sans Souci nearly every race. Cosmic is often too far ahead to cover. Though, we should consider it when able. 

Now that the corrected results are posted, had we just tacked on the headers, we would have won!
116 seconds faster would have put us in fisrt place.

Link to chart

Link to chart 1-minute intervals

Link to Results

Level racing with Ensigns- PHRF 273
Based on last year and thus far this season (light air for the most part), I find we seem to fair better downwind than Sans Souci, and have a difficult time beating them upwind.
Where on the weekend Thames YC Regattas in moderate or better airs, we’ve done quite well against the Ensign fleet upwind, but have a more difficult time with them downwind.