06 August 2010

Well, that was an interesting weekend.

For Harbor Springs, we were ready. Most of the crew had just come off of the Mac race, Abby was already at the boat, and I had driven up and gotten plenty of rest.

The Saturday race at Ugotta Regatta is a “Tour of the Harbor,” which consists of using almost all the marks in Little Traverse Bay, depending upon the wind direction; it can be as many as 14 marks, and the race courses are 18+ miles long. It really is a great time. Trust me. Usually…

We motored out Saturday morning, and were ready for action. We had a half-way decent start, after quite a postponement, and shot out in front of most of our section. None of our usual cast of characters happened to be there; we were racing primarily J35s, some J109s, and our sister ship, Blue Dog.

We hit the pin end of the starting line at full speed, and managed to get good position on our section. We were in 3rd or 4th place rounding the 1st mark, and by the time the wind was dying towards the second mark, we were well out in the top 3 boats. We rounded that mark, and then headed across the harbor on the second longest leg of the race.

We were headed to where we were watching the larger boats round, and Don started asking if we were headed towards the correct mark. I came back to double check the GPS, and we were headed towards the wrong mark, but visually; it was programmed correctly, we were just playing follow the leaders and got wrapped up in the wrong course.

Well, with the wind shifting, this actually played quite to our advantage. Suddenly, we were in a dual for 1st place. We played the shift correctly, but as the wind began to die again, some more boats from our section managed to catch up to us.

We were behind Falcon, and then one of the J109s passed us as if we were standing still, which we were dang close to doing! However, we were not drifting, and even though it was not easy to get the boat to go where we wanted to, we managed to take another wind shift to our advantage, and once again, we rounded a mark in 2nd place.

By the point, they had already called for the race to be shortened, and we watched quite a few of out competitors drift around the mark, unable to fetch up to it. We had already passed it, so at least we were drifting in the best direction, towards the next mark. At this point, the R/C decided they needed to shorten the race even further, so they declared that the mark we were headed towards would be the finish! We were either in 1st place, or very close to it at this point.

We had about a 2 mile leg, and a mile into it was had managed to get to 1.8 kts of boat speed, when I heard the radio crackle… I knew what was coming, and it would only be bad news.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your race committee, we are currently flying the “N” flag, we are abandoning the race for today.”

Yup, that’s right. They abandoned the race, as we were sailing nicely along, and had 1st place in our sights!!

Oh, that was a heartbreaker.

So, we went back to the dock, and hit the parties.

On Sunday, we went back out, determined to race well, and win a little bit for the boat.

Race #1 (of 3,) we had a good start, sailing full speed again at the pin end, rounded the top mark in 3rd or 4th place, and then the wind cut off again… a little frustrating, but we managed to climb our way around the course, and finished in a decent position, but most importantly, we finished 5 seconds ahead of Blue Dog, scratch. They normally rate 66, but were given a 72 so that we would simply race head-to-head.

After a short delay, we got to race number two…

Race #2, they decided to set at .5 mile course. Yes, that short. This makes the start extremely important. As we were dueling at the start, Rally, a 36.7, was agressivly coming up under us, trying to push us over the starting line early. We went nearly head to wind, and they slid by under us, and then Bozos Circus did the same thing to them, but they did not have room to go up that far, and were over early at the start. We had already picked up our speed, so Rally was trapped over Bozo and under us, unable to turn around for at least the first 100 yards of the race, unable to restart. We managed a good race, but with such a short course, the positions as we rounded the top mark would pretty much stay the same through the race. We again managed to beat Blue Dog, and of course, Rally.

Race #3, we were in the same position with Rally as in race #2, however, we were much closer to the line when Rally tried to take us up and over. We did not have a great deal of room to maneouver, and about 10 seconds before the start, Don decided to get out from over them, and turned the helm down to pass behind their boat. As we did this, they turned down also, which causes their transom to move right (opposite the turn.) Well, our bow cleared no problem… however, we do have that spin pole out there….

Carly managed to stay on our boat as our spin pole rubbed against Rally’s transom, pushed hard against the bow pulpit, and exploded into 2 pieces as it came up against the side of the pulpit. It was quite loud! We left a small mark in Rally, but more importantly, we were really not in any position to race from here. We could have continued up the course, and then gone downwind with either only the jib, or free flying the ‘chute, but really we needed to clean up the mess from the pole, and make sure that we didn’t have carbon shards on the deck to lance anyone (the way that we lanced Rally!)

We sailed up the course, just to watch the fun as the other races raced…. We licked our wounds a bit, but we made sure everyone on board was ok, and then withdrew from the race.

We finished 1 spot behind Blue Dog, but more importantly, we finished 1 spot ahead of Rally. J

Quite a weekend of racing. Something always happens in Harbor Springs.

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