Race 3 Bullet Blog: June 6, 2012
The 107 crew appeared to be on a harbor tour to nowhere for the second week in a row, drifting out of Brenton Code against a surprising current as most competitors waited on their moorings. We’d done the same a week ago and received a bit of kidding for our enthusiasm; this time we were well positioned, along with 74, Bill Shore, as a light southwesterly filtered down the East Passage. Both of us were able to sail upwind near to Fort Wetherill and have a look at the wind and flood current.
We learned that the wind seemed stronger and more westerly on the right, toward Jamestown, and there was less current. We also discovered that as a crew, we were a bit rusty (or distracted, which produces similar results), so we ran off a series of light-air jibes to get ourselves in as smooth a groove as possible while maneuvering.
With a cruise ship anchored by Goat Island, Dr. Wallace’s race committee set a starting line a bit closer to Fort Adams than usual, and signaled a course to Hammersmith Farm and back to the green bell by Rose Island, twice around if the wind held. We decided we didn’t like the look of the light winds by the Fort and aimed for a windward end start, even though the breeze turned left 10 degrees more than we’d yet seen, to 210, not long before the start.
We had a good start and had soon tacked to port, with Stubby, 59, on our lee bow, and Tom Derecktor, 17, down to leeward, both leading us toward Clingstone. It soon appeared that there was a nice breeze by the Fort and it looked as if those on the left were crushing us, but we were patient and kept going. I can’t say it felt very good, compounded by the fact that we always like to foot and go fast, while Stubby prefers to point, so we had to adjust to his style to keep our air clear and he gradually pulled ahead.
Eventually we reached the right corner, once owned by Bryce Muir and more recently favored by Andy Burton, and by then were pulling forward nicely on the rest of the fleet. At the house on the rocks, Stubby and Tom tacked toward Hammersmith; we made a big duck under Tom and kept going past the house before we tacked. Bill Shore came across next and ducked us, digging in farther, followed by Andy Segal, 101, who went the farthest, which turned out to the best place to tack, benefitting from the least amount of negative current. Although we all had cases of the slows crossing the channel at some point, Andy’s westerly position allowed him to sail around all of us to round comfortably ahead.
The wind had gotten really spotty against the Newport shoreline at this point; despite being becalmed for a while Peter Denton’s 226 (I didn’t see if he was aboard or not) and Tom in 17 caught a little breeze on the port layline to round behind Bill and Andy. We were fifth, with Wendy Lotz, 138, just behind us.
We rounded with speed, and after a nice quiet spinnaker set by Pete, Rachel, and Matt , we reached down the shore softly, considering our options. The four boats ahead had all jibed out into deeper water but didn’t have much pressure. So we carried on, trying to sail as smooth and fast as we could, making the most out of the breeze we had. A small puff filled behind us, encouraging us to jibe, and we jibed out as the leaders reached the channel and jibed in, still in light air.
Soon the wind began to fill in earnest back near the weather mark, and we watched Stubby in 59 and Jeff Gladchun in 108 who had both jibed early, start to storm down towards the leading group. Eventually we picked up some of that breeze and sailed it down the middle of the channel before jibing on what seemed like a reasonable angle for the green bell off Rose.
Three of the leaders were on the Newport side of us, in lighter air, while Tom in 17 had held out farther toward Jamestown. Our streak of the breeze allowed us to sail in between them and into the lead, with 108 close on our tail.
In the interests of full disclosure, we weren’t unhappy to hear two guns and Robin’s voice on the VHF with the shorten-course announcement. For a while, it looked as if 17 would have the angle to run us down before we got there, but a timely heading puff helped us down to the finish in front of Tom, who just nipped Jeff on 108 for second. Wendy in 138 and Stubby in 59 rounded out the top five.
Excellent mainsail trim by Reed Baer, spinnaker trim by Matt Buechner, and wind calling by Rachel Balaban all contributed to our success last night, but the key difference just might have been the smooth moves on the bow by Peter Schott whose off-season work at the gym has moved the center of gravity much farther aft aboard 107 this season.