Beer Can Race #2

After the previous Friday's first place, it was quite the honor to be asked to be skipper for the second race while the real skipper attended his daughter's college graduation.  Game on.  I was sent all the Eastport YC Notice of Race information, the latest amendments to the SIs (sailing instrctions) and brushed up on my racing rules.  By 1730 (5:30PM) this past Friday, when I stepped aboard N'Surgery, I was ready to go.  There was one funny exchange with a crew member, who'd not been on the boat yet this year, when he asked me if I had a chart of the race course.  I questioned in what respect and he asked if I knew the channel markers (which are used as the race markers).  I replied that I had the various courses mapped in my head and had already figured on which couple of courses might be the most likely choices for the night given the wind direction and speed.

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We headed out to the race course and in diminishing winds, about 7 knots at best, course G was chosen, the one I suspected above all - way to go me - and we waited for our class (our class flag above) to start.  Last week, we had only 3 boats of 8 show with only 2 finishing.  This week there were 9 boats registered in our class and 6 raced.  Just a little more competition and the chance for me to either shine brightly or fail miserably.  Which was it going to be?  When our 5 minute start signal went off at little after 1845 on EYC starting committee time, we were ready and by the time the last minute came I was looking to be close to the starting line, but with the wind dying and the current against us, we crossed 5th...  Not so good, but what I did do quite well, was keep us from the windward shore and that gave us slightly better air but still second to the air that went to our toughest competitor who was getting the puffs just seconds before us even a little further from shore than we were.  As we continued upwind to the first mark, we slowly passed 3 of the 4 boats we started behind.  We rounded the mark and almost caught up to the leader.  But they just seemed to be catching all the right wind!

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It was then that the bowman spotted wind way ahead on the course and we watched as the line came towards us.  We amazed as the first class of boats struggled to get their spinnakers in and round the second mark to head to the finish line.  It looked like the race was all new with 20+ knots headed our way!  I had everyone hike to the high side, be ready with their sheets and prepare for some big wind - after barely 4 knots at the mark, this was going to be a drag race home.  We watched as the leader of our class bowed down to the wind and then it hit us.  Wow.  Awesome and we were sailing fast.  My only regret of the day is that I should have sailed further in the direction I was going before I tacked to the second mark.  I was not over the "layline" as the navigator felt, but I tacked about where the above example red boat is when I could have sailed further.  Live and learn.

I called the tack, we flew to the second mark, blocked the wind of another boat in the second starting class who'd just made our lives a little exciting round the mark, and on home to the finish we went and in to second place!  Yes!  Now of course I had wanted to win.  Yet, for such a pathetic start (my second race start ever) and knowing how fast the first place boat was, it was unlikely that I had much of a chance to win.

After we crossed the finish line, we cracked open our beers, cheered, and enjoyed a leisurely sail home in 25+ knots of breeze.  A far cry from the start of the evening.  My skipper contacted me and congratulated me for a job well done and even noted that our PHRF rating had not been changed and that if that had been done correctly, that we would have gotten second by only a few seconds instead of over a minute.  Well, since the placing points still have us in overall first place and the time will get sorted out, I was happy nonetheless.  We'll celebrate in person after race 3 on June 1st.

I must thank my crew for putting their hearts into it and trusting me to sail my best.  Here's to Hilton, Eric, JJ, Brian, Mike and Martin.