Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Southern Straits Recap...

Here is a brief recap of the recent running of the WVYC Southern Straits from the perspective of "Big Blue"...

The start was very light with current pushing us towards the line. Unfortunately most of the big boats set up a little too far from the line and ended up drifting across with the smaller classes which started five ten or fifteen minutes later! Half an hour or so into the race a light 4-5 knot northwesterly filled in and we could get some speed up. We were south of most of the rest of the fleet who kept to the classic route close to the beach. It payed off for us and we were able to get back in touch with the leaders of our class who had escaped the start in much better position than us.

The wind faded again just past Pt Atkinson down to around 2 knots consistent. There was some cris-crossing of routes as boats tried to make the most of the isolated zephyrs that were the only wind available. After a couple of hours of dreadfully light upwind sailing the wind began to fill from the SE. This compressed the fleet and brought the slower boats toward the bigger boats at the head of the fleet. Around 2 pm the wind filled in quite nicely giving a wide angle spinnaker run down to Ballenas Island. The right time to jibe was discussed at length and boats chose very different routes to get to Ballenas. After all that we rounded Ballenas very close to our competition and began the beat upwind in 12-14 knots to Flat Top.

We made quite a bit of time up on the beat to Flat Top sailing in 6-12 knots most of the way. The reach from Flat Top to Halibut Bank was exciting with our big runner up very powered up - only a couple of nightime spinouts! A tug and tow provided some jockeying before the jibe at Halibut. Then the same tug and tow again made some interesting decisions on the next leg from Halibut back to Ballenas! We made up considerable time on these legs are were on Braveheart's stern the whole time.

We rounded Ballenas the second time about 1 am under a beautiful night sky. The full moon through the clouds gave lots of visibility and NO RAIN which was very nice. The beat to Entrance Island was full of interesting navigational and tactical decisions. Better wind outside to the east but much better VMG on port tack to the west inshore. We had to make good decisions on when to head east on Stbd and did a good job of playing the shifty land breeze which was all over the place. Ended up rounding Entrance no more than a mile behind Braveheart in very light shifty land breeze.

After getting away from the land the wind steadied out from the SE around 10-14 knots on a close reach back toward Pt Atkinson. We cruised along in the mid 10's with the blast reacher up and the boat felt very good and steady and fast. Kurt Gurtunca took the helm for the last two hours to steer us to the finish in fine form. Peeled to the Code2 jib a few miles from the finish as the wind backed to more Easterly closer to the finish. The wind slacked and the end of the race was very difficult giving us hard decisions where to tack in order to stay in the breeze.

We did a good job though and finished only thirteen minutes behind Braveheart after 130 miles. On corrected time the top boats were only separated by a couple of minutes!

We ended up fourth over all beating out Glory (Buchan) and Dark Star (Jonathan McKee) and losing to Braveheart by only two and a half minutes on corrected. Kudos to the smaller boats who were able to correct on us in TOD format after 130 miles which is a good accomplishment.

Overall we had a great race with a great crew. Everyone did a good job in their role and our result is definitely something to be proud of for only our second big race and the first distance race with some other big boats that are rated very close to us. Results can be found on the Southern Straits website. Check out the corrected times and how close they are showing a very competitive fleet (even the next div smaller boats who sailed long course).

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