Monday, August 31, 2009

Second Day - Patience (and confidence) are virtues

My nickname this morning would have to have been "General Disarray." I dawdled around trying to set something up for work back home, then had to scramble to get the boat rigged and my gear on. I left my Clif Bars in the truck, and forgot a minor piece of sailing clothing. With all that, I still got onto the water about in the middle of the fleet.

We're sailing WAAAAY on the other side of the bay from the yacht club. Today it "only" took 1.25 hours to get out there. I did some tuning with a few younger American sailors, and we came to the conclusion that the left side of the course was favored. One of them dutifully followed the plan, nailing the left side of the start line and booking out to the left corner. He was looking pretty good out there when my fleet's starting signal was made.

The breeze was dying and I watched the boats racing ahead. My gut was telling me to watch out for the right, and with the right side of the starting line favored, I NAILED the start and took off in the new right breeze! Unfortunately, a number of starters in my fleet were over early and we were called back to restart. The breeze went so far right the committee canceled the race for the prior fleet as well. My buddy came back and relayed that he had enough of a lead to limp out of the left in OK shape, but others behind him weren't so lucky.

The breeze stayed right, and the race committee moved us another mile away from the yacht club. While waiting for the gun to go off, someone came up to me and said "this offshore breeze must be pretty similar to what you have on Long Island Sound." His comment made me think a bit and settle down, as I tried to imagine myself back home, in my fleet, with that same confidence in the conditions and my ability.

Around 3pm we finally got a start off. Again I started well near the committee boat. A big left shift came through right after the start and I tacked over onto port, heading right with about 10 other boats. Most of the fleet to our left tacked over as well, and for a few minutes we all sailed on port tack toward the right.

After awhile the boats over my shoulder were starting to aim toward me. Normally, this means that the wind is shifting in your favor and you should tack to cross the fleet. I second-guessed myself for a bit, worried about the guys to my right gaining more, but decided to sail my own race, do the percentage move, and cross the fleet while I could.

At first it didn't look so hot. The breeze was kind-of light, and while I managed to cross the boats behind easily, the guys I let go right were looking pretty good. Then the breeze freshened a bit and went more forward. Again, I looked over my shoulder and the people now coming out of the right were aiming toward me. With that confirmation, I tacked again, and blasted off into the lead in a great left shift that held almost til the weather mark. I rounded about 10 boatlengths ahead at the first mark, and managed to extend the lead to about 1.5 minutes at the finish. It was satisfying, to say the least!

While waiting for the next race the breeze went left towards the standard seabreeze direction and freshened considerably. Again I started at the committee boat and had a decent first leg, rounding in the top 10 or so. The breeze got lighter and lighter. It was excruciating, staying crouched in the boat in a little ball, concentrating like crazy to get the boat to go forward with each little tiny puff of breeze. Then the wind died completely, and filled in from the right. The poor guy in the lead dropped almost to the very back--I, too, fell precipitously, before the race committee sounded three sweet horns to indicate that they were abandoning the race--halleluya!

After a long slow tow home I touched the dock at around 7:30, or 8 hours after I left it. Long day for only one race.

Tomorrow is the last day of qualifying. My 1st place dragged me up from 11th to a tie for 3rd overall. It's exciting, but there's still a lot of regatta to go!

We had a beautiful sunset tonight:
And much to my surprise, parked across from my Toy-home was a rare, Toyota-based Mirage. Never managed to find the owner, but here's a pic of this futuristic-looking thing with my rig in the background:
Check out the space-age fiberglass body and groovy front spoiler, fender flares and running boards!

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