Rum Race 08/15/12
There was little or no wind to start with, but the Hunter 23.5 was moving so I was not complaining any more than usual. Full batten mains seem to be a significant advantage in ghosting conditions. I think I knew that, but here was additional evidence. Nine boats attempted to make the start. Ole Yeller got delayed by a shallow spot, and eliminated by either a total lack of wind or help from Lance, never quite got clear on that story. Show Me had returned the weather bubble from the keys, and I had hoped to camp in that air from the start, but alas the Hunter has a unique way of turning (as in not), so the blanketing window passed. Show Me was ahead by several boat lengths long before we had anything remotely resembling boat speed. Patrick’s Viper was gone, the 29er was stuck in traffic out on the interstate, that Fat Cat was flying the big pink, Lance’s sail-power-boat was over in the dirt with the San Juan, Bob’s Catalina 25 Mon Cheri was pushing us over the line, Show Me was over the line and trying to decide either, what time it was, if they should start again, or just go for a sail around the island, in the opposite direction.
Matt’s Catalina 22, Millihelen, (so named because it’ beauty is just enough to launch one ship instead of a thousand) was hot on the trail of the Viper, but even the technora head sail was inadequate to keep that trail from cooling. The 23.5 squirted out just enough to get over Mon Cheri and Show Me apparently decided to sail toward the mark after all. Lance got the power-sail-boat pointed in the same direction as the rest of us and crossed the line about the same time as the Hunter 260 Susanitosan.
Wind was up good by now, almost a knot. When the puffs hit we actually gained on the Precision (Show Me) then we handed that air off to them and away they went. Far off in the distance, the XLR8 (the Viper) had jibed their A-sail and glided into a vacuum. Show Me was four or five lengths below us and just ahead when they caught the Viper and handed them the puff they got from us. After that it looked like it might be just another Rum Race Parade except for that cloud to the North-West. The wind had been North North East which makes for a nice tight reach back to the finish. As we rounded, behind Show Me, behind the Viper, and way behind the Fat Cat, that cloud was spreading to the North and the West. The wind stepped up to 10 or so knots and went right so we had to tack a few times.
The 23.5 sailed well, it was clear that gentleness was the key however. Over-trimming was strictly an exercise in excessive heal and horrible weather helm, but if you let up a little, it held a pretty good line, and a very manageable groove. Show Me crossed us once and I fully expected the slam dunk but apparently she got a good lift and chose to take advantage of it. Interestingly, we got a great lift at the same time, four or five boat lengths away, and on the opposite tack. The wind went left after that a little and we gained some ground on the bubble boat. Lance’s boat-power-sail rounded the mark just ahead of Susanitosan and Millihelen and the cloud was North, East, West, South and Black, with increasingly frequent flashes of bright white. We were close to finishing so we continued on, taking an anchored Catalina 25 close to leeward (inspecting the gelcoat cracks and the small print on the registration sticker). Then we got headed and the bubble boat took back their advantage. Our finish was just another rounding on the way to the dock as the cumulo-ominous blackness was consuming all light except what it was generating. Lance’s sail-boat-power, Susanitosan and Millihelen opted to drop sail and respect the cloud. The 23.5 sailed in to the West basin on a dead run at full speed with just the main, and was reminded that his boat does not spin. The required radius of the turn to get head to wind was marginally perilous but no contact was made. Mon Cheri sailed to the finish in defiance of the weather, I don’t think anyone got rained on, another successful and exhilarating Rum Race. See the scores for the rest of the story.