5-29-13 Bullet Blog
Sometimes the best way to a bullet is to be way over the line at the start with the I-flag flying. Knock the Windex off Maverick’s mast on the way back. Take some extra time spinning a circle. Sail up the wrong side of the first beat.
…And hope there’s a second race.
Fortunately, our prayers were answered (and Maverick (33), with Andy driving, took advantage of its low-windage configuration to win the first race). The course signaled was to the special mark at Hammersmith and then the special mark by the bridge. Tide turning to flood and southwesterly, softening and backing.
After being over early not once, but twice (yes, that’s twice in two races), we started well and sailed up to the tidal relief near the Fort. Tacked to leeward of Bill Shore in Karasalet (74) and began a long port tack, gradually lifting, until national champ Tim Dawson (254) tacked right in front of us and pinged us inshore for clear air where we found a fresher breeze and current relief.
Lisa (59) with Stubby at the helm, was in a fast lane, and we took his transom with the usual banter and then tacked on his weather side. We’d both overstood, but were able to reach into the mark, Stubby with a nice lead and us just ahead of Virginia (224).
With the shift, Charlie flag was up, directing us to R, the bell buoy across the channel by Clingstone. Unfortunately, we couldn’t head that way and keep the kite pressured up. So we reached along the shore and worried that the boats behind us were sailing a lower angle in a different breeze. Ahead of us, Stubby was even closer to the shore than us, and fell into a hole. He jibed, and we again took his stern but there was less banter this time.
We carried on down the shoreline until we indisputably owned the corner, then jibed on the layline, or perhaps a bit past. Fortunately for us, the rest of the fleet now had no more wind than we did, and we were able to sail a fast angle across the channel.
Robin made the excellent decision to shorten course at R, and we crossed the line to the welcome salute of the gun. Virginia finished close behind in second, and Maverick won the evening with a third-place finish just ahead of Karasalet.
A few lessons I picked up along the way:
Starting on the correct side of the line has its advantages.
- It doesn’t hurt to follow Bill in 74.
- Sometimes the national champ is doing you a favor by planting one on you.
- On a light-air run, keep the boat going fast, even if you might be going the wrong way.
- On the most beautiful of sailing evenings, don’t object when the race is shortened and you’re in the lead.
Lastly, my special thanks to crewmates Rachel, Matt, Pete, and Reed. I promise not to be over early this week, but from our perch on the race-committee boat, we’ll be looking out for you!
– John Burnham