Crew: Brian, Seth & RW
Winds: East @ 15 to 18 kts, peak 19, low 10 kts
Weather: Low Overcast. Temp 64 F; Baro 30.04, possible rain showers
Current: ebb - flood to begin at 1811 Ram Island, 1836 North Hill
Start/Finish: offshore of GLP Starting Area
Course: s/f–R–I–R–s/f; Distance: 7 nm
Shrouds: +4,+4,+2 above Waters Base
Motoring out, the flood was in evidence an hour early, not surprising with this extended easterly flow. We were cinched up, reefed, with weather gear & PFD’s prepared for a workout; our first race of the season, wishing Bob was along. Six out of eight in our class turned out, but less than half to the boats currently registered on the scratch sheet showed. This early in the season it's not uncommon to have a small fleet, though last night's weather was certainly discouraging. along with a Spring adverse to boat preparation.
Our strategy was to tack along the CT shore up-current and sail downwind mid-channel. Sticking to our
strategy, we led the class down the line for good start near the pin, holding starboard short of the rocks off Groton Long Point. Four or five tacks got us to Ram R20 for a smooth set and a fast run down to Intrepid. Nearing the mark, our rustiness surfaced. At the rounding, the spinnaker sheet got hung up in the douse and we lost a good minute or more sorting things out (stuffing the bag & stowing the pole).
The second windward was similar to the first, other than a close encounter with 2nd Chance, we on port, she starboard downwind under spinnaker. I tried luffing slightly to insure clearing her spinnaker, yet her exhaust put us over into an unintentional tack, taking a couple moments to sort out. We had discussed another tack into shore for current avoidance, and should have done so soon as we perceived the close crossing. Back on port on our way to the layline, down-current of the Ram Reef, we experienced significant chop slowing us some.
Concerned about being swept into the buoy, we overstood the mark too much. Our rounding and set was smooth, and quickly jibed for deeper water and favorable current. The fog had rolled in with visibility less than a third of the way down the course to the finish. In the poor vis, I extended on port much farther than intended. Prior to the jibe the spinnaker halyard came uncleated. Sailing by the lee Brian & Seth got it back up within a minute or two. On starboard, our run became a reach, nearly too tight for the high teens. Yet we kept the spinnaker flying, with some difficulty to the finish.
We finished 4th boat for boat and failed to correct higher. Watercolors was late starting and never made up the deficit.
• Upwind nearing shore on starboard, the wind often dropped to the low teens. I may have been too focused on current reduction. Had we tacked out, the increased breeze may have overcome the hit from the current.
• There were a few early season mechanical issues easily addressed; also a problem with the instruments in that the GPS output was not getting to the system & software, so our data collection was nil.