The weather looked frightful up until just before 6:00, and apparently most of the regulars were discouraged. Two vessels did make it out, Lough Buoy and Gilravage. Andy decided to crew with Mike and I sailed with Fisk and soon to be new member Pauli? on Gilravage. A tiny bit of match racing prior to the start allowed Lough Buoy a head start that was larger than I had intended. The wind was around 10 knots from the southwest and just puffy enough to keep Gilravage from locking in, so Lough Buoy lead until well past the turning mark. The return trip was a little deeper reach and the longer waterline eventually prevailed. The spread between the handicaps was well matched to the time between finishes but alas the timekeeper aboard Lough Buoy was interrupted and the actual finish time became unavailable. Of course it is imperative that you submit an actual elapsed time to the scoring committee or you will be scored as DNF. So, make sure your time keeper is doing its job. Of course, A DNF still qualifies to be in the drawing for the Rum and I am beginning to think that Emma is better at picking a deserving winner by drawing a chip than Portsmouth handicaps and corrected times.
Lough Buoy wins the Rum and makes a gift to Rum Race first timer Pauli. wb
Once Tom and Steve’s first choice fell through, they volunteered to sail with me on the Loose Cannon. Work and other obligations were going to keep the crew from getting to the boat early, and since I had promised a batten to one of the competitors I headed to lake early with a whole pile of good intentions. I brought a choice of battens and a hacksaw to ensure the proper length, which was perfect because one of the battens in my mains’l required a slight truncation anyway. Actually took a cooler with water and beer. I even brought the Velocitek for speed and compass (my GPS has died). Cut and sold the first batten then dragged my goodies down to the boat, feeling very efficient. Normally I sit around and tell people what needs to happen to get the boat ready to go. A thirty one foot boat gets pretty long after going front to back ten times, especially since front to back on the trimaran is more like an obstacle course. The nets are loose, there is not a single level surface and bunches of lines to roll your ankle over if you happen to be susceptible to that sort of thing. So to redefine my system, on the theory that if I write it enough maybe I will remember it; 1. Go to the cockpit, set down the cooler, the hacksaw, the instrument, and unlock the cabin. First project is resizing the mains’l top batten so 2. Remove the sail cover (only the part that can be reached from the cockpit), open the Main halyard clutch to release the main halyard (release the screecher halyard at the same time so that once you get on the cabin top you don’t have to go back to the cockpit) and then untie the main halyard from the aft end of the boom. Take the main halyard from the aft end of the boom to the mast, and along the way unfasten the rest of the fasteners on the main cover, and pull the top batten out of the second batten pocket. Roll the main cover and make it be close enough to the companionway that you can reach it when you get back to the cockpit (could have already save a round trip to the cockpit by bringing the hacksaw). Attach the main halyard to the hole at the bottom of the notch in the main (the same hole that the first track slide is attached). Remove the bungee and throw it at the sail cover, release the boom rotating crank on the front of the mast and unroll enough turns to allow the first batten to be installed. Feed the first slide and luff rope into the mast, raise it enough so that the first batten pocket is clear and wrap the main halyard around the mast cleat to hold the sail up long enough to install the top batten. In this case slide the batten in und make a mark where it need to be cut. I only needed to remove about an inch and a half, which allowed an additional three inches of the length to the batten adjustment strap, making it much less troublesome. This one time only, back to the hack saw in the cockpit with the batten and trim it to the new length. Back to the mast install the batten and adjust the tensioner with new found ease. Next start on the screecher. Open the forward hatch and retrieve the head of the rolled screecher. Attach the screecher halyard, which would have been much easier had I actually remembered to release the screecher halyard when I released the main halyard. Extract the anaconda (forty foot long furled screecher) and lay it on the forward net making sure that the halyard is clear of the jib, the spinnaker halyard, and the forestay, all the way to the point at which the screecher halyard comes out of the mast.
The tack of the screecher attaches to the furling unit on the bow sprit (pronounce “spree” on my boat). My particular body shape encourages attaching the screecher tack to the furling unit from the dock rather than lying on the anchor locker and sticking my head and hands out different openings in the bow pulpit. So I hung the tack of the screecher over the bow pulpit and on top of the furling unit so that I could reach it from the dock. At rest the sprit is retracted to keep the boat from hanging out into the marina quite so far, that means that the boat has to be untied temporarily to move the boat back far enough for the sprit to be extended, not so far that you can’t reach the sprit from the dock but just far enough to prevent having to move the boat back more than once. Something else that should have been released when I released the main halyard and then the screecher halyard was the screecher furling line. If it is tight and cleated, which of course it is when we finish putting the boat away, the sprit cannot be extended. One more trip back to the cockpit to release the furling line, at least I had the foresight to untangle the bowsprit tensioner or I would have had to return to the bow from the dock. By now, 30 feet is getting to be a long way. I untied the dock lines an eased the boat back, avoiding the seawall, and attached the screecher to the sprit without any further issues. The sprit tensioner is set so that it is tight when the sprit is pinned in place, naturally that makes it difficult to pin the sprit. I struggled with it for a while, trying to kick it out far enough to line up the holes for the pin, and an eighth of an inch is too large of a discrepancy to get the pin in the hole. Just before I got frustrated Steve showed up and I returned to the cockpit. I checked the gas can and debated about whether or not a quart and a half would be adequate. Steve offered to go to the store and get a gallon and it was then I realized that even though I had left the house with everything I needed to reach this point, I had neglected to bring my wallet. Since we were somewhat ahead of schedule and Tom had not arrived yet, Steve took the gas can and left for the store. Shortly thereafter Tom arrived and we completed the pinning of the bowsprit, with him on the dock and me on the boat. Aside from running the screecher sheets, we were ready to leave the dock. Tom cleared the halyards that we would not be using from the cabin top winches and, while I got the mainsheet ready to run. Steve returned about that time and it was time to go. We were out on the lake by 5:50. I was quite pleased that everything described from the time I cut the first batten for a customer until we had the mainsail on the way up the mast took less than an hour. I was not hurried nor did I dawdle but making the effort to be efficient seemed effective and successful.
We made our first pass at the start line shortly after six but Tom remarked about the way the tell tales were out of sync so we jibed around and adjusted the starboard jib car forward to get the top of the jib working a little better. It seems like nearly everyone had started near the beginning of the thirty minute window which was ok with me, I have to give everybody a lot of time anyway so starting near the back of the fleet just gives me an opportunity to pass them all. Fisk started just in front of us and we quickly got out of his air. Pointing higher than necessary and driving from the most comfortable but least optimal position, we were averaging about seven knots in eight to ten knots of wind sailing between closed hauled and a real tight reach. The trimaran handicap does not really allow any time to mess with opponents that have significantly different ratings. As we approached the required starboard rounding we had gained enough on the Viper 640 to at least identify what it was. At the rounding the Precision 23 Show Me rounded in front of us. Our plan was to deploy the screecher as we rounded and then furl the jib, once the screecher filled we passed under show me and head up wind to stay in clear air and more importantly these days, deep water. As we passed under the Hunter 26 Susanitosan still headed to the rounding there were noises about “spinnaker, spinnaker” but we were not set up for that as it really does require a larger effort. The next object of interest was the Viper a good distance ahead and flying their asymmetrical spinnaker. They headed up do discourage us, but the wind had freshened and we were making eleven knots. We caught them and played with their air a little but they bore a way and gained some distance back. I was still being comfortable instead of effective and Steve started calling the trim on the main because I couldn’t see upper critical telltales and admittedly was kind of caught in lazy mode. When finally let the main out far enough for Steve to be content we accelerated to twelve point eight and soon finished. As several boats had a good distance yet to go we elected to try another lap, this time using the screecher both ways. We were well on our way to dramatically improving our time on the second lap when we saw the Catalina 27 Free Spirit with an excessive amount of bottom paint being visible. As was our obligation we abandoned our attempt at a better time and offered to provide assistance. After donating my two crew to assist with heeling the Catalina and attaching bowline to stern cleat, multiple attempts to provide motion failed. A complete counter clockwise rotation did not help so I suggested a call to the towing service. The skipper wanted to continue in lieu of calling so I started another rotation and very shortly we were actually moving. Disconnecting the bow to stern connection was a little bit frantic but managed. Retrieving my crew was satisfactorily uneventful, and since the sails were stowed the most practical option was to head for the slip and prepare for my scoring duties. Almost immediately the Yamaha started sputtering, and I was grateful that Steve had replenished our gasoline reserves.
At scoring we finished fourth and only forty six seconds out of first place. As is usual we found more than enough opportunities in our mental replay to account for forty six seconds several times over. The winner of the Rum is determined by a drawing and this evening the winner was none other than Capt Don of Free Spirit. Don’s gratitude for being freed from the Lake Monroe muck landed on me as an excessive distribution of his newly acquired Malibu Red, which I gratefully accepted and applied to my obstreperous theories of tactics and strategy. Forty six seconds. wb
I considered taking the Loose Cannon out for the Rum Race but the low water, shallow slip, concrete seawall proximity factors, required more experienced assistance than I could gather up on short notice. I accepted an invitation to sail on Gilravage, one of the more comfortable boats. Strange that comfort has become a criteria for sailboat racing, when the hell did that happen?
Mike Loughlin and I headed out to the start area and started getting set up. We were early so we sailed on the mains’l till the rest of the competition began to filter out of the marina. Wind direction and water depth made being towed the preferred method of marina exit for those unwilling to suffer the burden of carrying artificial propulsion. As the field of competitors began to fill in I observed that Show Me presents itself differently when looked upon from another boat than it does from being on it.
Show Me was setting up to start at the very beginning of the thirty minute start window which was our plan also as the weather report had predicted the wind to drop off right at six o’clock. Seemed like the perfect opportunity to camp on Show Me’s air. Since it was a downwind start we headed for their transom. Alas, we were late, too late to cover and too late to keep the notorious Ol’ Yeller from getting between us. Our strategy was to sail deep reaches and jibe as needed because we did not have a whisker pole. Before describing the rest of the race I feel it necessary to release my plethora of excuses.
The Precision 27 like all Precisions that I am familiar with is extremely tender WHEN COMPARED TO THE BOATS THAT I AM MORE FAMILIAR WITH. There is a narrow range of heel angle between sailing fast and having excessive weather helm WHEN COMPARED TO THE BOATS THAT I AM MORE FAMILIAR WITH. The Precision 27 is very sensitive to puffs and waves WHEN COMPARED TO THE BOATS THAT I AM MORE FAMILIAR WITH. The wheel is a lot more sensitive than a tiller and provides different feedback WHEN COMPARED TO THE BOATS THAT I AM MORE FAMILIAR WITH. Had I additional wherewithal, I might be persuaded to make a few minor modifications to Gil Ravage, except of course that I am not an owner of Gil Ravage. I might add a longer genoa track or additional block to allow the top of the genoa to twist off, I might reset the luff of the mainsail because it looks as though the luff rope has shrunk with age and the hoist might be able to be extended. The outhaul might be able to be increased by removing a track slide in the boom and connecting the outhaul cable directly to the mains’l. I also have trouble picking the optimum angle versus boat speed solution and that doesn’t seem to matter WHAT BOAT I SAIL ON.
On the first starboard reach we were about to cross behind Ol’ Yeller and the bottom grabbed his keel. Now it is not really my nature to go out of my way to be rude on the race course but if sailing my best race includes a little rudeness I might be persuaded to carry on. In this instance Ol’ Yeller requested a little slack so he could go below, which I mistakenly thought he meant go below us and get out of the way. Naturally I headed up to go over him. Before Mike let me know that Fisk was going below to raise his keel I saw a facial expression on Ol’ Yeller that indicated going above him was not the plan he had in mind for us. We jibed to port and avoided additional facial expressions. We sailed the port reach down to the channel before jibing back. Ol’ Yeller cleared us, but the constant bearing of and decreasing range to Free Spirit indicated additional rudeness was soon to be involved. As leeward boat and still a good distance from our next jibe angle it was necessary to maintain our course and remind Free Spirit that we were in fact leeward. Free Spirit was kind enough to demonstrate that the reason an upwind boat is required to stay clear of a downwind boat is because the upwind boat has the wind and is under no obligation whatsoever to share. While I am sure it was only a couple of minutes it felt like hours before Free Spirit had room to go behind us, by then we were near our jibe angle. Back to port, this time crossing behind Free Spirit and on to the final jibe before the rounding. Show Me and Ol’ Yeller were around the mark and headed toward the North Side of the lake. We followed Free spirit around the mark but managed to take a slightly higher angle and eventually got well to windward. I thought we made some time on Ol’ Yeller but I was kidding myself. Show Me was well ahead and staying much further to the left than what was common on Wednesday night, when she tacked to starboard we could see that what should have been a straight line to the finish veered dramatically and additional tacking was soon to be involved. As we sailed the final port tack toward the mark, the wind backed and lifted us above the perpetually anchored houseboat in the middle of the lake, and its 50 to 1 anchor rode. A short tack near the line allowed us to finish ahead of Free Spirit and Mon Cheri which had made up a lot of time. After finishing, there was (as usual) some more relaxed sailing, combined with some shouted conversations, and an almost universally glorious sunset. Near dark the contestants gathered at Wolfy’s for scoring and refreshments. Show Me, the winner by several minutes, was helmed by Diane Forrest, with Jeff Laydon as mains’l trimmer, and Andy Forrest as jib trimmer and everything else. The Rum went to Patrick Daniel by virtue of the weighted drawing, who in turn donated it to Zach Gloer for his towing kindness, whom in turn caused it to be shared by those in attendance. wb