John Pitcher Regatta 040508

Wednesday before the regatta, I found out there’s a race on Saturday.  Since Keith and I had made arrangement to work on the boat a bit, I didn’t round up any crew for the race.  At the last moment, we couldn’t resist the temptation of racing the boat against the competition, so we did the minimal tasks such as adjusting the shrouds between skipper’s meeting and the starting time and rig the boat for non-spinnaker race.  We are afterall, an ISO-9000 boat and need to test all repairs to make sure all of our repair is verified, right? The course was #8, which is a figure 8 course of Z-A-4-C-8-Z with Mark A and 4 to round on starboard and Mark C and 8 to round to port.  It’s mostly a reaching course, so there’s not much to think about for strategic decisions:  Given the waning flood, we head inshore a bit to get on the inside track then tack to the windward mark. From there, we crack off the sail for a close/beam reach to Channel Marker #4 and round to Mark C; From C, we gybe and do a run/broad reach to Channel Marker #8 hence to finish.  

We had a good start, just a few seconds late and we were leeward to Paradigm but since we can point higher, it’s not a bad position since we can control our own destiny.  Indeed we started to climb up on Paradigm and after a bit, Paradigm tacked away while we continued for another 100 yards then tack to cover her.  However, during the next tack we didn’t seem to have as much speed and pointing ability that Paradigm was able crossed ahead.  We followed Paradigm around Mark A and head for Channel Marker #4.  Paradigm decided to head high inshore to avoid the current, but given we thought the current is near slack, we kept to the rhumb line and made some gains, but lost a bit when the wind got lighter and being caught in Paradigm’s wind shadow. As we approached Channel Marker #4, there were two fishing boats stationed by the channel marker.  One of them was actually tied to the ladder of the channel marker.  We had to round the mark, but given Paradigm rounded first, she chose to go between the two fishing boats and raised a lot of angry words from both fishing boats. We followed suit and created more antagonism from the two fishing boats.  Ironically, one of the fishing boat was named “Anger Management“!  It seems, the owner of that boat needs more work on his anger management as his cussing certainly didn’t seem to be under management as we thread across his stern and the other fishing boat’s bow.  As we left a trail of wake and insults, I can only chuckle at the thought of the other seven boats that are following our tracks and wonder if this is an unscripted part of his treatment for anger management as there’s nothing he can do except to vent as the rest of the fleet follow the prescribed race course.

After that little levity, we set a rhumb line course to Mark C and at this point we neither gained nor lost distance to Paradigm.  At Mark C, we gybed the main and winged out the jib to run DDW until we had to head up a bit to make the Channel Marker #8.  Once rounded channel marker 8, I took over the helm for a bit to get a feel for the boat in the increased wind range now blowing at 20 knots.  The boat felt pretty good, but I still think we need to have more weather helm so we can steer by feel rather than by sight.  We’ve overstood marks consistently and I believe it’s due to the fact that we are focused on steering because of the lack of feedback from the helm.  In the short leg that we had before the finish line, we climbed ahead of Paradigm but failed to pay attention to the layline and tacked after Paradigm had tacked which gave them the shot gun finish and us the horn.  Despite the second place finish, it was a fun race and I was plenty sore from having to do both the jib trim and the main sail after a long absence from crewing.