Now THAT was a good turn out! We had 16 boats on the water (13 boats racing) with 23 racers on my score sheet. Encouragingly, many of our Learn-To-Sail graduates were coming out for their 1st race of the season (7, by my count)! Winds were actually pretty decent for the first race (9 knots maybe, from the W — enough to have some fun hiking) although they died down to ~6 knots for race 2, and there was a good amount of “floating” for race 3. Speaking of race 3, the unthinkable happened — read on!
(Note – I’m awful with faces and names, and errors are possible with the score sheet. If you notice any mistakes like “I’m pretty sure I finished in front of Tony” or “I was sailing an Albacore with Bill, not a Laser by myself”, please let me know. Links to the score sheets at bottom of post)
I knew it would be a good night what I saw Corinne, and Leopold blasting along in an Albacore. We had several LTS graduates in Albacores, a few in Lasers (and a Byte), and some of the race veterans sailing a mix of catamarans, Tasars, Albacores, Lasers, and even a Laser 2.
The area around the start line was pretty crowded, but several of the sailors stayed well back of the line before the start sound — I guess they read about Carla/Jean’s OCS last week and got scared off. This let Ken/Peter S (sailing the Laser 2 together), Jason (Laser), Chunshu (Laser) and Jean/Frank (Albacore) to get a jump on the fleet. Cameron/Matt (Albacore), Gabriel (Byte), Corrine/Leopold (Albacore) and Tony/Annie (Hobie 18) followed, with Mark/Ellen/Yona joining in later. It wasn’t long before the first mistake… Jason tacked onto port and tried to cut ahead of Chunshu who was on starboard tack. Chunshu had to turn to avoid and you know what that means — penalty turns for Jason. To make matters worse, he got tangled in the mainsheet hanging down from the boom as he was doing his turns, and was near the back of the fleet by the time he got things sorted out.
The cat, Frank/Jean’s Albacore and Ken/Peter’s Laser 2 played leapfrog for most of the race, while the rest of the fleet separated out. The exception was that Jason was able to catch up to sneak past Chunshu and Corrine/Leopold on the second reaching leg by heading up a bit to gain boat speed, and rounded behind the leaders. Chunshu was right on Jason’s tail, a little too much so, and bumped Jason’s transom at the leeward mark. Doing his turns, Chunshu was passed by Corrine/Leo, Mike R/Lynn and the 3-person Mark/Ellen/Yona Albacores.
Meanwhile, the Annie/Tony cat was in 1st place, but when she rounded the windward mark, she took a wrong turn and headed to the gybe mark. After realizing her mistake, she turned to head to the proper finish line, but had been soundly passed by Ken/Peter. The cat was in a drag race for 2nd with Jean/Frank’s Albacore, and it came down to about 6 inches… the Albacore took it! In terms of rookies, Mark/Ellen/Yona scored a respectable 6th, Cameron/Matt nabbed 9th, and Gabriel 10th.
This race we were joined by Steve/Carla in a Tasar. Norm/Tom N in an Albacore, James in a Laser and Lydia in a Laser. Thirteen, count ’em, thirteen boats racing! I think that’s a KSC record, at least within the past few years.
The start was a lot more competitive, with numerous boats threatening the line. Steve/Carla were flirting quite dangerously with the start line, and I admit I was kinda hoping one of the veterans would come from downwind and enforce its right-of-way to push Carla/Steve over early. Alas, didn’t happen.
The wind was starting to slow, and the upwind legs were very much about who could hold speed through their tacks, and squeeze out power from marginal conditions. The single-handers didn’t fare too well, with the jibs on the double-handers helping them point. Steve/Carla led the fleet (by a mile) while Ken/Peter, Mike/Lynn, Jean/Frank, Jason, and Chunshu were all duking it out for second. Jean/Frank ran afoul of a boat (Mike/Lynn?) and had to do some penalty turns on the second reaching leg. Mike/Lynn were leading by the second upwind, a good distance ahead of others. While most boats elected to tack early and head to the left side of the course, Jason spotted some dark water in the distance and sailed right. This move paid off, and he had caught up to Mike/Lynn by the windward mark. Somehow Frank/Jean also caught up with Jason and Mike/Lynn — Frank won’t tell me how they made it upwind so fast, but the end result is we had 3 boats rounding the windward mark at the same time. Yes, Carla/Steve were done the race before anyone else even got to this point, but you already knew that.
Jason was able to get on the inside, and round the mark with about 1/2″ room to spare (which prompted some choice comments from Mike). He started his downwind run with a few boat lengths lead over the double-handers. Jean/Frank were sailing wing-on-wing while Mike/Lynn tried to get their Tasar on a deep reach. Jason held on to take 2nd, with Jean/Frank just passing Mike/Lynn (3rd and 4th). A few of our normally faster racers got caught in a patch of dead air, and we had surprising results like Norm/Tom finishing 13th, Tony/Annie 12th and Ken/Peter 8th. Weird. That’s okay, the scoring system we use lets you have the odd bad race without killing your season (see the “Dropped scores” section).
Before the race, Steve and Jason switched boats — Steve was now in a Laser, and Carla/Jason were racing a Tasar together, with Carla at the helm. The wind continued to slow, and we sailed a shortened course, with the finish line at the end of the 2nd upwind.
The start was slow, and favoured the pin end. Generally good starts with little drama. The fleet had separated by the end of the first leg, with Steve leading (no surprise), Jason/Carla close behind him (surprise) and Ken/Peter coming on strong too (no surprise). The path around the course was largely processional, with the exception of rookies Matt/Cameron. They had a start near the back of the fleet but Cameron was using every trick in the book: tacking on headers, maintaining boat speed through turns, hitting the gusts, and generally moving up the fleet constantly.
Steve rounded the leeward mark a few boat lengths ahead of Carla/Jason. The wind was virtually dead on the right side of the course, so both boats tacked and went left after the mark, and stayed on starboard tack to try and ride the wind as long as they could. (This next part may or may not be a bit embellished…) Are you sitting down? Okay, here we go: Steve made a tactical mistake.
Knowing that both boats would have to tack onto port to hit the finish line, Jason/Carla kept their eyes on the dead right side of the course. A small, narrow gust was starting to develop. They knew they’d never beat Steve if they stayed on the same tack as him, so they elected to tack early into the developing right-side gust. Steve decided to stay in his wind instead. About 30 seconds later, Steve hit the layline and tacked toward the mark, but missed the opportunity to stay in the fresh air that was developing. Carla/Jason were able to take the race by a few seconds. Believe it or not, this is the first time Carla’s won a race (other than when she’s sailed with Steve). She’s one of the strongest sailors at KSC, and almost always in the top 3, so I was shocked when I found out. Congrats, it must’ve felt good!
So what could Steve have done in this situation? Given that the Laser can tack very quickly, he might have tacked as soon as Jason/Carla went on port to “cover” them and get in front of any wind they were hoping to catch. I don’t know whether or not it would have worked, but it’s what he mentioned after the race. Regardless, I expect him to have formulated a plan for next week, and I don’t expect him to lose a race this way again.
Ken/Peter finished 3rd. Remember how I mentioned Cameron/Matt’s efforts to move up the fleet? They were rewarded with a 4th place finish, ahead of veterans like Frank/Jean (5th), Mike/Lynn (7th), and Norm/Tom (12th). Great job guys! A huge shout out also goes to Mark/Ellen/Yona’s 3-person Albacore (6th), Corinne/Leopold (8th), Chunshu (10th) and Lydia (11th). Note the online score sheet doesn’t list anyone has having finished in 9th place. I’ll have to check the paper version, but there may be adjustments to the final standings.
Apres sail & Season/Series Standings
The on deck party was a fun time as always, and some leftover beverages from Sailpast were a nice touch (big thank you to our social director, Annie). Tony brought burgers and race night was a complete success. We had light winds, but next week (July 27) we expect bigger air. Come on out, rain or shine (we cancel in the case of thunder, but don’t let rain scare you away)
Speaking of July 27, that’s the last night of “Summer Series 1”. The scores for the series can be found here. Steve is in the lead by a mile, with Ken S in 2nd. The complete season (spring series + summer series 1 + eventually summer series 2) scores can be found here. Please check your scores and let me know of any mistakes.