Another night of racing

When I joined the local yacht club years and years ago, I was annoyed at the constant push by some of the members to acquiring more racing-type boats. I was interested in cruising. Those racing-type boats are uncomfortable for cruising and without the accommodations for a pleasant trip about the islands. They were always pushing for acquiring another C&C whereas I was more interested in the Catalinas, Hunters, etc.

Somewhere along the line, something went wrong and I find myself owning a C&C and invested in the racing.

Last night was another race, and we took third. That leaves us with one more race in the series and no possible way to move up in the standings unless we win the race, which is possible but so unlikely as not to be even worth considering. In addition, the third place boat would have to take fourth in the race which is also possible but also very highly unlikely. So we’ll likely conclude the series in fourth place. Which, for a first season of racing, with a brand new crew, a boat that still needs a lot of work, using very old stretched out, ragged, sails, ain’t bad!

It was an interesting course last night, basically an oval around two marks, but with the starting line halfway between them. We had a bad start, partly because we had some traffic that got the inside track on us, pushing us further from the start line than I wanted to be, and partly because I probably SHOULD have been at the other end of the start and on a port tack instead of starboard.

As we headed towards the first mark I was debating. Should we fly the spinnaker or not? We’re down a two crew, though we gained one back due to someone bringing their friend. in addition, this crew has never raised the spinnaker before, though our foredeck has only flown an asymmetic (opus has a symmetric spinnaker, which is a very different creature) before. What the heck. Might as well.

Raising a spinnaker requires good coordination between the helm, the line handlers, and the foredeck. As this was the first time doing it, that coordination was… not there. Fortunately, we didn’t do any of the things like hourglassing it.

We raised the spinnaker behind the genoa and that went reasonably well. Then we started to furl in the genoa and that’s where things started to take a bad turn. We should have been more downwind to inflate the spinnaker. Instead, it kept collapsing onto the genoa as we were trying to furl it in and that, in turn, would cause the spinnaker to start twisting around the genoa… so we would have to unfurl the genoa a bit to free the spinnaker, get the spinnaker off the genoa, and then furl the genoa. That lost us a lot of time sorting out, but eventually we did and it turned out to be a good move. Under Spinnaker, we rapidly were catching up to, and then passing, three boats from the pack, catching them about 3/4 of the way to the downwind pin.

Dousing the spinnaker went better as we yanked it down with about 4 boat lengths to go to the turn. Though we still managed to dip it into the water for a moment before bringing it up. Still some work to go on that maneuver! 🙂 We rounded the pin and set up for a close reach to get back to the “gate”. However, this took us further out into the Georgia Strait, which was something we had said we did NOT want to do since the tide was incoming and bringing currents against us. Better to stay in-shore where there would be some protection from that current. Oops.

We made it back to the “gate” at the halfway point (the starting line acting like a funnel that all boats had to cross again) and beat upwind for the windward mark and headed for the finish line, crossing it in time for third place!

Turning around we headed for home, still under sail, while the crew got the boat back together, we held a debrief, then took the sails down and motored back to home tired, sore, but happy.

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