Wednesday Night - 052108
Crew: Brian, Seth, Bob & RW
Current: Flood - Ram Island 1840
Winds: SW 220 at 9 to 14 kts
Start/Finish: between GLP & Horseshoe
Course: s/f-N-I-N-s/f , Distance: 7.0 nm

It was late morning by the time I arrived at the boat, having stopped by Defender on the drive down for some supplies. By mid-afternoon the winds picked up into the high teens with gusts to 25 according to GON's ATIS.  I began to wonder if we might get more than we bargained in our first race of the season.

 Motoring out at 1730 in a chilly breeze of 10 to 12 knots, we all donned jackets and hoped the reported rain would stay ashore.  With a half hour of ebb remaining, I elected to start at the committee boat with a tack to port once we were clear, thinking we may get lifted slightly by the current. In retrospect, I believe we may have had more current on our nose than on our lee. Noo Problem over early, re-crossed on port near the RC and hung on till short of Seaflower.  The remainder of the class went left on starboard and all of them appeared to eventually approach North Hill through the Dumplings.

The slog through the chop on port was slow going, yet I hung on till well past Seaflower where we laid the mark for a much smoother board. We had a decent bear-away set and run down between the Dumplings up to six and a half knots at times. Nearing Intrepid, we jibed and lowered to pole from 5 to nearly 2 in preparation for the tight spinnaker reach to the pin at the starting area  This helped us significantly (again exceeding six a good bit of the time) as many boats were unable to fly their spinnakers successfully.  We rounded the pin at 1855 with a reasonable douse and hardened up on a headed port tack. A tack to starboard well short of Seaflower put us on a long layline to the windward mark.

 Later at the Seahorse, I learned that the RC had used us as a gauge; figuring if SeTherin were to finish the first lap by 1900 hours & prior to the fast boats nearing the top mark, it would not be necessary to shorten the race at North Hill (at the end of the second beat).  I found also that MiniMaxi missed the pin and rounded the committee boat instead, not realizing their mistake till too late in the game.

 On the second beat the wind picked up to 13 kts requiring the flattening reef. At first I was reluctant to put it in, thinking other flattening measures would be sufficient.  I failed recognize the colder air (this early in the season) may demand it sooner than at the 14+  kts we are used to in the warmer summer months. All of us were slow in depowering the rig in the increasing wind. Thanks to Brian for his attentiveness, and also for remembering to shake it back out with the decrease to twelve knots near the top of the course.  Hopefully, we can get the rust worn off quickly.

 About five minutes short of the mark, ahead a good bit and slightly to our lee, Seaquester tacked directly of ahead of and too close for Tumult to avoid.  I could not see as they were shielded by the genoa & I only heard the noise of the collision as my crew watched Tumult ride up Seaqueaster's reverse transom.   Fortunately, we were well enough to windward to avoid them and the numerous boats converging on the mark. Following the rounding with another bear-away set and a jibe to port at the first opportunity, we had good run to the finish, almost catching Tumult (w&w w/o spinnaker) at the finish. 

 Our elapsed time exceed that of the whole fleet (34 boats), yet we corrected to 14 and finished 4th in class.  Though it would have been 5th had MiniMaxi not made their error. Would we have faired better not splitting with the class at the start?  Maybe!

Chris Field (Hurcules, J22) was first in fleet overall on corrected time. I wish I knew which path he took.
Link to chart