sbyra w#4 cpyc

For February, the weather was down right balmy. Temperature in the mid sixties, scattered high clouds – the high pressure system off the eastern pacific diverted the storms north of us. It’s a nice day out on the water, but the wind was noticeably absent at the start. We drifted around the starting line until the RC put up the postponement signal and side-tied to Paradigm to visit and wait for the wind to pick up…

Around one o’clock, a scant 3-5 knot breeze picked up, the race committee dropped the postponement and we were off to start the race. We were late to the line about 20 seconds due to miscommunication, but we started next to the committee boat, and stayed high compared to Paradigm and Sea Biscuit. Slowly we picked up speed and height as we sailed on starboard tack to inshore to minimize the waning flood. We looked around for areas of stronger pressure and made sure that we always are heading towards the next pressure area. As we near 2/3 of the upwind leg, Paradigm decided to tack to port and head out towards the middle. At first, we thought Paradigm wanted to cover us on the weather side, but they continued to the deeper channel. We took a glace at the committee boat and saw that the current is still flooding at the RC boat, we stayed on starboard tack to keep out of the current. Finally, when we were nearing the layline, we tacked to port and crossed ahead of Paradigm by a good 5 boat length. Gotten closer to the first rounding mark, we were still short and needed to tack again, we tacked away from Paradigm and tried to approach the rounding with enough time to preset the chute for a quick hoist at the mark.

As we rounded the mark, we were hoisting the chute and the pole was brought back to catch the wind. Although Paradigm rounded ahead of us, we were able to pull ahead because we had our chute drawing before Paradign, but this gain was short lived as Paradigm filled their asym and was able to blanket us from behind. We then chose to head deeper as defense and tried to create some separation between the boats. Given the asymetrical chute on Paradigm cannot sail deep, we found separation and manage to get the boat moving in the ghosting wind.. The tide had changed now and it’s becoming more against us once again. We were constantly looking for wind and currurrent. About half way through the course, we decided that the wind had looked about the same on either side of the course, but the current would be decidedly less if we get out of the channel. So we made a decision to head inshore – at least until our water depth read less than 20 feet, then gybe over to the port gybe. In hind sight, this was a good decision from another aspect – we were in the beginning of a good ebb, and the current is light for now but will undoubtedly build. By heading inshore, we can minimize our exposure to current – assuming the wind pressure is more or less the same on either side.

There were times we wondered if we made the right decision, but the proof of the pudding became evident when we converged on the next mark, Channel Marker #8. Although Wired was able to squeeze ahead of us, Paradigm was struggling to catch up as she was in deeper water and the wind is bearly a zephyr with the current having a huge effect on appearant wind. We finally rounded Mark 8 behind Wired. The two boat length that separated us approaching the mark turned out to be a gain of 20 boat length for Wired as she rounded the mark and ride the current towards the finish, while we struggled in the dying breeze to fight the ebb at Mark #8 and round. Likewise, Paradigm was maybe about 100 yards from us, but by the time they finished, they were 20+ minutes behind us. So we felt pretty good that we would have them on handicap. Overall, I felt our decision making skills have improved and our crew is getting much better at focusing outward to look for wind and water changes overall on the course.