With Tim away on bidness, Garrett, Brian, David, MJ, and I took LinGin out into a no-wind Severn River on an otherwise beautiful evening. It had been 0 knots, gusting to 1 all afternoon. The high pressure had been passing near, but not over, Annapolis long enough to clear the air and calm the water. Glassy and still makes great motoring, we got to the start area with twenty minutes to spare, but less than exciting racing. Challenging, yes. Fun, yes. Exciting, not so much. But for my first race at the helm this year too little breeze is a lot less stressful than “boat loads” of it.
Ghosting around behind the starting area we learned how little wind there was…and what air there were, t’were out of the east. Very gently out of the east. Of course we got the very shortest course, A1.
As the last starters, the Albergs have the luxury of watching every other fleet start and gauging their success. As it turns out the pin-end was heavily favored and even with watching for over fifteen minutes I still failed to get us even on the pin half of the line. Well at least we were on the line with “speed”. Plus we were on starboard and we were gonna use it like a club on anyone who dared get in our way.
All five Albergs passed well clear ahead on port. Dang.
By five minutes into our race we’re still on starboard, what felt very much like the wrong tack, heading for Greenbury Point and the fast boats who started thirty minutes before us are already a pretty procession of starboard tack spinnakers heading for the red nun. This put us right between them and the mark. We’d sailed about 250 yards by now. Brian pointed out we could keep going until we’re able to tack above to avoid being shadowed by them for our whole upwind leg. I liked that idea so we kept going, realizing that taking a flyer five minutes into a race is nobody’s idea of smart tactics. But a fun gamble, nonetheless. On top of that, trying to call the layline from half a mile out, while the mark is mostly obscured by those same pretty spinnakers was a fun challenge in itself. We finally tacked onto port, above the spinnakers and right about on the layline. Ha!
The rest of the beat was playing chicken with slow-moving starboard-tack spinnakers while trying to lay the mark. As it turned out, we slightly overstood. I rationalized the longer distance sailed by claiming we should be moving faster than all the opposition who went all the way to the right. It might have been that. It might have been staying above the spinnaker shadows. Either way we picked up lots of ground on the fleet. While Argo rounded with a solid lead, Caliope and Second-2-Nun close together, we approached the mark on port only to meet Laughing Gull approaching on starboard. They had made the layline call well and left us no room to tack under them and still make the mark. But we couldn’t cross them either and I decided to risk the tack. It came this 0><0 close to working. What felt like ten minutes later, as they slowly trundled over us and we “powered up” after the tack, we were almost able to pinch up and round the mark.
We touched it very gently, on the stern quarter, with the tiller hard-over trying to swing the stern out. Dang.
We did our turns very slowly and set the chute as low on the mast as it would go. The breeze hadn’t gone anywhere but it hadn’t come in either. Garrett did a good job with very little and we had barely discernible boat speed. We sailed fairly high, outside the windex triangle, looking for any amount of flow. Skybird rounded behind us and set up shop to windward, hunting. For twenty long minutes we worked hard looking for anything that might get us moving. Skybird was still above us and Laughing Gull gybed to port early and headed the other way. We kept going and of course the breeze increased ever so slightly as the sun started setting.
I once again overstood the gybe and we got to feel a little sensation of speed as we headed for the red nun on port at a broad reach. Fortunately we had seen what looked like Argo dropping the sails before getting into the harbor and now realized they were finishing us at the nun. (We could not find the radio before we left and still don’t know where it is.) We finished 5th out of 6 and had a fine motor home…
…as the breeze filled in from the southeast. By 9pm it was a fresh 17-20. Dang.
Division: Alberg 30 (7 boats)
||Start Date/Time = Thursday, May 12, 2011 18:40:00.0, Length (nm) = 1.78